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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Feb 2020 03:36

daveshoup2MD wrote:
01 Feb 2020 23:02
Because nobody in the US who had gone through 1914-19 and was planning and executing the plans in 1939-46 wanted to face a third go-round in the 1960s, presumably.
Within this was the disillusionment & sense of betrayal after the false promise of the last months of 1918. Even after the true nature of the nazi regime began to be revealed folks in the US were skeptical about dying enmass for the goals of yet another set of duplicitous old men.

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

Post by Gorque » 04 Feb 2020 03:40

Its amazing what an unprovoked sneak attack can do for national resolve.

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

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Feb 2020 05:44

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Feb 2020 03:33
Sid Guttridge wrote:
22 Jan 2020 12:02
...

The US way of running WWII was in the finest British tradition - get allies on the European continent to do most of the fighting and dying, and keep them in the field by supplying finance and materiel.

By that metric, I suppose the USA wasn't conducting "total war" because it wasn't as committed on the ground as it might have been. Nor, as things turned out, did it need to be.

To win a world war so decisively while suffering only 1% of collective global fatalities is no mean feat!...
Another way of considering his is the time scale. The US started actual military mobilization in the autumn of 1940. From ten badly understrength Regular Army Divisions & 25 undertrained and badly equipped National Guard divisions, totaling 600,000 men, plus 80,000 Reserve officers the US Army went to 90 divisions and over six million men by latter 1943. It took the nazi leaders five years to mobilize & train 3+ million men in a similar number of ground combat divisions. Over a similar time span the US went from less than 1000 operational Army aircraft to the largest airfare on the planet. There was also a space problem, of moving that new & untried military across a ocean onto a hostile shore.
Good points. There's also the point the US built naval forces (USN, USCG, and USMS/WSA/USMM) larger than the rest of the wold combined, plus air forces that did the same... the USMC order of battle alone put more divisions into action than the Canadian army.

The Germans put what, maybe 20 men ashore in the western hemisphere between 1941-45? The US had army groups in the field and multiple air forces into action in the ETO/MTO 36 months after entering the war.

Seems like the US leadership achieved results astronomically better than any of the other combatants.

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

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Feb 2020 05:57

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Feb 2020 03:36
daveshoup2MD wrote:
01 Feb 2020 23:02
Because nobody in the US who had gone through 1914-19 and was planning and executing the plans in 1939-46 wanted to face a third go-round in the 1960s, presumably.
Within this was the disillusionment & sense of betrayal after the false promise of the last months of 1918. Even after the true nature of the nazi regime began to be revealed folks in the US were skeptical about dying enmass for the goals of yet another set of duplicitous old men.
True enough. FDR, Stimson, Knox, and Truman all were in France in 1917-18; Wilkie made it to France in September and was there until 1919; Hull was a S-A War veteran. Marshall and King had both seen the elephant, as well.Any US officer who had served in the AEF remembered that Pershing had argued the Allies should have refused the Armistice and invaded Germany.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Feb 2020 06:10

...folks who were adults then told me the ToV and how it was ramrodded by a few national leaders was the source of much of the 1919 disillusionment. Actions by the Brits and French that looked like they were aggrandizing their colonial holdings were another of many negatives. I could go on but at the core a lot of idealistic hopes were lost in the tangled mess of European politics and post 1918 bloody fighting across Europe. The leaders of the Entente talked a great deal, but it was clear to anyone in the US with European connections a unstable mess was created.

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

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Feb 2020 06:17

True enough. Wilson was an idealist, but he understood something was needed beyond great power politics. He was proven right in 1939.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Feb 2020 07:47

daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Feb 2020 06:17
True enough. Wilson was an idealist, but he understood something was needed beyond great power politics. He was proven right in 1939.
Earlier really. I'd argue for 1923 when France attempted to enforce the ToV. The failure of the former Entente members to effectively support France & Belgium in their belated attempt to march across the Rhine opened the way for revanchists everywhere, not just in Germany. That the League of nations failed in this as well belabored the point.

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

Post by Sid Guttridge » 05 Feb 2020 11:37

Hi Carl,

We seem to be moving into the same territory again.

Russia has undermined the principles of post-WWII settlement with relative impunity in the Ukraine and the current US President seems more inclined to admire than admonish the culprit. Without US support, the UN appears to be about as impotent as the League of Nations, so we may be in for a bumpy ride, as in the 1920s and 1930s, with "strong men" riding rough shod over established international and domestic norms. Meanwhile, the liberal democracies are busy navel gazing.

Cheers,

Sid.

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

Post by OpanaPointer » 05 Feb 2020 13:14

The frantic building of military infrastructure in the US seems a bit insane from this distance. "A Call to Arms" covers this in exacting detail.
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Re: Why did the US Commit to "Total War?"

Post by daveshoup2MD » 06 Feb 2020 05:56

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
05 Feb 2020 07:47
daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Feb 2020 06:17
True enough. Wilson was an idealist, but he understood something was needed beyond great power politics. He was proven right in 1939.
Earlier really. I'd argue for 1923 when France attempted to enforce the ToV. The failure of the former Entente members to effectively support France & Belgium in their belated attempt to march across the Rhine opened the way for revanchists everywhere, not just in Germany. That the League of nations failed in this as well belabored the point.
True, but it took until 1939 for a true great power conflict to break out, and that wasn't going to end in anything less than a re-run of 1914-18.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Feb 2020 01:51

I'd say the conflict was underway, economically & diplomatically. Germany was still at a terrible disadvantage for another decade, but still it was a conflict as successive German governments sought some sort of way out of their situation. The French & Belgians were concerned enough to maintain large conscript armies and invest in large scale fortification projects in the late 1920s. No one was effective in returning Europe to the 'Concert' that had kept some sense of stability and balance in the 19th Century.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Feb 2020 01:52

Sid Guttridge wrote:
05 Feb 2020 11:37
Hi Carl,

We seem to be moving into the same territory again.

Russia has undermined the principles of post-WWII settlement with relative impunity in the Ukraine and the current US President seems more inclined to admire than admonish the culprit. Without US support, the UN appears to be about as impotent as the League of Nations, so we may be in for a bumpy ride, as in the 1920s and 1930s, with "strong men" riding rough shod over established international and domestic norms. Meanwhile, the liberal democracies are busy navel gazing.

Cheers,

Sid.
If this forum had a 'Like' button I'd be hitting it for this.

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