Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
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HistPolity
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Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by HistPolity » 24 Jul 2019 02:48

One aspect that I have a difficult time understanding whether from my undergrad years or in grad school. Is why did the United States commit it's self to a total war economy during World War II? With total military production, rationing, etc.?

From my understanding before the War, the United States economy was far more substantial and more dynamic than either the Third Reich's or the Empire of Japan's combined. While the same went for other members of the Coalition such as Britain or the Soviet Union. While the US was never seriously threatened with invasion like its other two wartime partners, furthermore, the combined American industrial, financial, and scientific base would see it through the Cold War as well.

So why did the US commit to total war? A stimulus program to erase the final effects of the Great Depression? Uncertainty of the duration of the war, especially given the early struggles in North Africa and the Pacific? A way to boost the domestic political prospects of the FDR Administration? Or all of the above?

Kelvin
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by Kelvin » 24 Sep 2019 04:34

I think you are correct in one reason : erase the effect of Great Depression, Stock market and US economic recovery boomed only after WWII broke out.
And in the worse scenairo, if USSR was defeated in 1942, US needed more arms and infantry to fight against Nazi Germany and if Japanese carrier force was not destroyed in Midway, US will Need more arms to fight against Japanese Navy. in July 1943, German had 200 divisions in Eastern Front, if they won the war in the east and they could divert at least 150 divisions in other fronts, like Italy, or garrision in France so, battle of Normandy is much harder to win on allied side.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 Sep 2019 11:06

It might just be that the USA wanted to win the war as quickly and overwhelmingly as possible!

Why would it want to conduct a half-@r5ed war effort?

War is not a handicap event.

Cheers,

Sid.

OpanaPointer
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by OpanaPointer » 24 Sep 2019 11:10

Maury Klein's 897 page book, A Call to Arms, covers the development and operation of the US wartime economy in WWII. Bottom line from my reading is that we wanted to win the war and accepted sacrifices in order to do that. Kicking and screaming in some cases, but after Pearl Harbor there was no serious doubt we would do whatever it takes.
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HistoryGeek2019
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 28 Oct 2019 06:05

To make $$$ for the military industrial complex.

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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by OpanaPointer » 28 Oct 2019 10:38

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
28 Oct 2019 06:05
To make $$$ for the military industrial complex.
Yeah, one dimensional thinking.
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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by Sid Guttridge » 28 Oct 2019 10:47

Hi HistoryGeek2019,

You have your timings wrong.

The "military-industrial complex" was what was built up during WWII out of war-winning necessity.

Your cynicism is better applied to the post war world where, having gained a position of global dominance via the war, the USA did not want to dissolve the "military-industrial complex" that was essential to sustaining it.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 28 Oct 2019 15:07

I didn't realize Smedley Butler could time travel.

https://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by OpanaPointer » 28 Oct 2019 16:26

Butler wasn't actually an expert on the matter.
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LineDoggie
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by LineDoggie » 29 Oct 2019 16:54

HistPolity wrote:
24 Jul 2019 02:48
One aspect that I have a difficult time understanding whether from my undergrad years or in grad school. Is why did the United States commit it's self to a total war economy during World War II? With total military production, rationing, etc.?

From my understanding before the War, the United States economy was far more substantial and more dynamic than either the Third Reich's or the Empire of Japan's combined. While the same went for other members of the Coalition such as Britain or the Soviet Union. While the US was never seriously threatened with invasion like its other two wartime partners, furthermore, the combined American industrial, financial, and scientific base would see it through the Cold War as well.

So why did the US commit to total war? A stimulus program to erase the final effects of the Great Depression? Uncertainty of the duration of the war, especially given the early struggles in North Africa and the Pacific? A way to boost the domestic political prospects of the FDR Administration? Or all of the above?
Besides the US CivPop & Military the USA also clothed, equipped, fed

Britain
Bolivia
Brazil
Canada
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Cuba
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Free French
Free Poles
Guatemala
Haiti
Honduras
Mexico
Netherlands
Nicaragua
New Zealand
Paraguay
Peru
Uruguay
USSR
Venezuela

This was a massive undertaking no other nation was capable of
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

OpanaPointer
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by OpanaPointer » 29 Oct 2019 18:04

Not one in a hundred will plow through this. https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/re ... index.html
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Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 Jan 2020 13:43

Kelvin wrote:
24 Sep 2019 04:34
I think you are correct in one reason : erase the effect of Great Depression, Stock market and US economic recovery boomed only after WWII broke out. ...
European purchases did help revive the US economy 1939-1941. It was unnecessary to establish a total war economy to revive the US industry. That had some positive long term efects, but was not a requirement. Had the Allies won the Battle of France & The war ended in 1941 the US economy would have still been in good shape. Not the same as OTL, but good nonethe less.

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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by OpanaPointer » 21 Jan 2020 13:51

People often say that WWII ended the Great Depression. Would an unengaged US have recovered without the war?
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Gorque
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by Gorque » 21 Jan 2020 14:24

OpanaPointer wrote:
21 Jan 2020 13:51
People often say that WWII ended the Great Depression. Would an unengaged US have recovered without the war?
Depends on whether or not Europe is in ruins I'd opine.

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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by OpanaPointer » 21 Jan 2020 14:33

Gorque wrote:
21 Jan 2020 14:24
OpanaPointer wrote:
21 Jan 2020 13:51
People often say that WWII ended the Great Depression. Would an unengaged US have recovered without the war?
Depends on whether or not Europe is in ruins I'd opine.
Which way would benefit the US most?
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