X-Post: MiWSR: Hodge on Judge, "The Turn of the Tide in the Pacific War: Strategic Initiative, Intelligence, and Command, 1941–1943"

Another of those hypothetical IF, then question arose from the last paragraph to this Review. Actually, a double hypothetical and one which has historically speaking been wondered about for many years.

FDR's declaration that Europe was first because it was more important has always left the wonder. Nazi Fascism was then the stronger of the two threats, so why take on the stronger first ? Doesn't it make some sense to tackle the weaker of 2 opponents first ? IF FDR had divided resources equally between Pacific and Atlantic, could both have been defeated anyway, even if Europe became somewhat harder ? Doesn't really mean the calculation was the greater threat existed in the Atlantic to loss than in the Pacific; this, even despite the threat to Pearl Harbor and West Coast, California ?

Again, the 2nd hypo, If the Pacific had been the First to defeat a weaker enemy, what effect on the outcome of Europe might this have made, even to the point of giving the European threat greater time to make its threat capable of defeating a victorious Pacific first Strategy ?

One does wonder.

Two possible consequences for Europe of a Pacific First strategy seem fairly obvious. First, the Peace Memorial that currently stands in Hiroshima instead would have been located in Berlin. Second, Churchill's Fulton, Missouri, speech would have been said that “From Rotterdam in the North Sea to Basel in the Alps, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

There's no mystery to the decision to make Germany the main focus of the Allied effort, however. To do otherwise would have risked the defeat of the only two significant allies of the United States at the beginning of 1942.

If the USA had adopted a "Japan First" strategy, would then Nazi Germany eventually been bombed by those mass civilian-killer B-29,s even to the extent that Berlin would have been ground zero?


Stanley Sandler

Interesting comments. It may be of interest to state that Nazi Germany was more dangerous than Imperial Japan. The mismatch between Japan and the US meant that it took approximately 30 percent of American combat power to destroy Japan while it took the combined efforts of the USA, the British Empire and the Soviet Union to destroy Nazi Germany. Further if the US had adopted a "Japan First" strategy, there is no indication that the American public would have been behind an effort to defeat the Nazis. Remember, American public opinion was divided about intervening in the war, especially against Germany. Pearl Harbor united public opinion.

That is certainly one of the questions, assuming Germany had not won the war before it cold happen.