Brave New World

Chapter 2 (Part 2 of 4) of the book

The Discovery of First Principles, Volume 3

Edward J. Dodson

Empires in Retreat

Command of the U.S. Pacific fleet was turned over to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz on December 31, 1941, and he immediately unleashed his three aircraft carriers on whatever Japanese targets could be attacked with good prospects for success. In April, sixteen long-range bombers took off from the deck of the carrier Hornet for a raid on Tokyo. These measures imposed a level of caution on the Japanese in how widely they might disperse their military forces without exposure to counter-attack. Everything up to this point had gone their way. MacArthur, whose air support had been destroyed at the very beginning, was forced to conduct a courageous but hopeless battle for survival on the island of Corregidor. Attempts were made to send supplies to MacArthur but most ended up on the ocean floor. Dwight Eisenhower, appointed deputy chief in the War Plans Division, supported General George C. Marshall's conclusion that the Philippines could not be saved, and directed that the U.S. build-up take place in Australia, which was certain to become the next target for Japanese aggression. Australia was particularly vulnerable because most of the Australian armed forces were fighting alongside the British against Rommel in the Middle East.

Late in February, Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to move his command to Australia. He barely made it. Threatened the entire way with discovery by Japanese air or naval forces, MacArthur made the journey from Corregidor to Mindanao by PT boat, then by B-17 bomber to a small airfield some fifty miles from Darwin and then on to Melbourne. The Australians recognized their predicament and immediately yielded to U.S. military direction. Singapore had already fallen to the Japanese in mid-February, and Japanese bombers were conducting regular missions against the northern port city of Darwin. One consequence was that the combined British-Dutch-U.S. fleet was forced to operate from the southern end of Java and could do little to slow the Japanese advance. The low point was reached late in February, when the main ships of this fleet were sunk by the Japanese during the Battle of the Java Sea. Java itself then fell to the Japanese on March 9. Faced with the imminent threat of invasion, Australian authorities recalled their three Australian divisions in April, giving MacArthur at least some troops with which to defend Australia. Corregidor fell on May 6 and all formal resistance in the Philippines ended early in June. The door now seemed wide open for a Japanese assault on Australia. Remarkably, events then suddenly turned in favor of the Allied forces.

The U.S. Pacific fleet next met the Japanese in the Coral Sea, between New Guinea and northern Australia, and for the first time prevented the Japanese from achieving their invasion objective, the capture of Port Moresby on the eastern tip of New Guinea. A decisive blow was delivered by dive-bombers from the aircraft carriers Lexington and Yorktown, whose pilots inadvertently came upon the Japanese carrier Shoho and sent the ship to the bottom in only minutes. A second carrier, the Ryukaku, was also sunk by a U.S. bomber squadron. A third Japanese carrier, the Shokaku, suffered significant damage in a later attack and had to retire from the battle. In return, Japanese planes torpedoed the Lexington (which eventually sunk) and set fire to the Yorktown. Although the Lexington was lost, the Japanese force withdrew on May 8 to its base on the island of Rabaul for repairs, giving the Allies an important morale boost. Japan's four largest carriers and most of the rest of its fleet were at the same time steaming toward Midway Island, the capture of which would provide a staging area for an eventual invasion of the Hawaiian Islands. In the process, Yamamoto hoped to engage and destroy the remnants of the U.S. Pacific fleet.

The Yorktown had made its way back to Pearl Harbor and been immediately repaired, giving the U.S. commander, Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance, a force spearheaded by three carriers. As a diversionary tactic, a Japanese force attacked U.S. positions in the Aleutian Islands on June 3 and landed troops on two undefended islands. The Japanese landing force approaching Midway was discovered on June 3 and two of the four Japanese carriers were sighted the following morning. While over one hundred planes dispatched from the four Japanese carriers bombed and strafed the Midway installations (suffering losses of one-third), all three U.S. carriers had their full complement of planes in the air in search of the Japanese fleet. The first groups to locate the Japanese carriers were torpedo-bombers. Arriving without fighter escort they were shot from the sky without damage to the enemy fleet. Before the Japanese fighters could regroup, however, a new force of U.S. dive-bombers appeared. The carrier Akagi was hit and engulfed in flames. Moments later a second carrier, Kaga, exploded. Both carriers were abandoned and sunk. Their attackers had come from the U.S. carrier Enterprise. A third carrier, Soryu, was then hit by dive-bombers from the Yorktown (which the Japanese thought was still under repair at Pearl Harbor) and then torpedoed by a U.S. submarine. The Japanese commander, Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, retaliated with his remaining carrier, sending its planes against the Yorktown, which was severely damaged and had to be abandoned, later to be torpedoed and finally sunk by a Japanese submarine. Planes from the Enterprise located the fourth Japanese carrier and sent it as well to the bottom. The next day, Yamamoto ordered the remainder of the fleet and invasion force to withdraw. The U.S. Navy had gained for MacArthur and the Australians the precious element of additional time to construct defenses and train new troops. MacArthur now moved his headquarters to Brisbane, on the northeastern coast, determined to go on the offensive as soon as an opportunity arose.

The next Japanese objective was Port Moresby, and their base on Rabaul was being expanded to accommodate a new invasion fleet. Among the U.S. commanders, Admiral Ernest King and General Douglas MacArthur were convinced that control of the island of Guadalcanal was essential to an effective Allied response. Reconnaissance in July indicated the Japanese were constructing a new airfield on Guadalcanal. MacArthur countered by dispatching a force of 16,000 U.S. Marines to take the island, and they were put ashore on August 7 to drive off the Japanese from the airfield construction. Two days later, a strong Japanese naval force surprised the Allied fleet north of Guadalcanal, sinking four large cruisers and one destroyer before returning to Rabaul. On the island, the Marines secured control over the airfield and started work on its completion. By mid-month, the first fighter planes arrived, followed by ships laden with ammunition and provisions. The Japanese reinforced their own force on Guadalcanal in mid-August with another 800 men, all of whom were killed just days later in a battle with U.S. Marines. Japanese and U.S. naval forces engaged one another well into the Fall months with significant losses inflicted on each other's fleets. Neither force was effective in preventing the landing of reinforcements on the island, and by mid-October, the Japanese air and naval forces were imposing heavy losses on the U.S. force trying to keep Guadalcanal supplied. At this crucial juncture, Vice Admiral William Halsey was given overall command of U.S. Naval forces in the South Pacific, and the force under his command enlarged. Halsey, as well as the Japanese, had at their disposal significant numbers of surface ships and mobile air power. Each side also made some use of submarines. They would soon engage in a number of battles that would seal the fate of the Japanese.

On the other side of the world, the Battle of the Atlantic was of a very different sort. Within days after U.S. entry into the war, German submarines initiated what amounted to unopposed attacks on shipping directly off the Atlantic coast. So little preparation had been undertaken for the protection of shipping in the coastal waters that only eight German U-boats were sunk during the first six months of this stage of the Atlantic war; in fact, only twenty-one U-boats were sunk by all Allied forces. In the meantime, German shipyards were turning out ten new U-boats a month (although replacing experienced crews and officers was a far more difficult task). Despite heavy losses of merchant vessels to the U-boats, the U.S. and Canadian fleets were under enormous pressure to keep the supply lines to Britain open. The British, in turn, were protecting convoys destined for the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel. Beginning in October, the U.S. and British ships carried not only ammunition and weapons to the Soviets, but planes and tanks as well.

Despite U.S. and British assistance, the Soviet forces seemed on the verge of defeat. Leningrad was under constant bombardment, Kiev had fallen and German troops were advancing on Moscow. At the outskirts of Moscow, however, the Soviet retreat ended. The weather again turned against the Germans. Heavy rains converted the countryside into a sea of mud, impeding German efforts to bring up supplies. Although the German offensives continued throughout November all along the front from the Baltic to the Crimea, by December they were in slow retreat from their approach to Leningrad. Half their panzer force was lost in a desperate attempt to reach Moscow. Temperatures in the northern theatre fell to well below zero, and all along the front the Germans were forced to disengage. General Guderian now felt the German cause in the East was lost.

On December 6 of 1941 the Soviets counterattacked with everything they had. Some 100 divisions, equipped to fight in winter conditions, advanced along a 200-mile front. Hitler removed Guderian, then Rundstedt and every general who lost ground to the Soviet troops, finally taking personal control of the army. In retreat, the German troops scorched the earth and committed mass murders. Hitler now ordered them to hold their positions at all costs. The Soviet thrusts were, however, penetrating the German front lines and the retreat continued despite Hitler's demands. Leningrad was reinforced in January and its most vulnerable civilian population evacuated. By the end of February, German casualties climbed to over one million, with over two hundred thousand killed. Despite the arrival of reinforcements (largely Italian, Rumanian and Hungarian troops), the German armies no longer possessed the resources to do more than carry out limited actions against the more numerous and heavily armed Soviets. The Germans held on until Spring, when the rains brought a temporary calm and allowed them to regroup for a concentrated push toward the oil reserves in the Caucasus region.

The Spring of 1942 also brought on a renewed German offensive in North Africa, where Rommel's Afrika Korps again threatened the British positions in Egypt. If Egypt could be taken, this would open up the possibility of a southern advance on the Caucasus. What Rommel now needed most were supplies and reinforcements. The means to get them through had been temporarily accomplished in late 1941 with the destruction of Britain's fleet then based at Malta. The U.S. entry into the war allowed a strengthening of the Malta defenses with new Spitfires, and once again Rommel lost his avenue of supply. As a result, Rommel's advance ended at El Alamein, where on July 2 the Afrika Korps was checked by British forces under General Claude Auchinleck. At Churchill's strong urging, Roosevelt now agreed to commit U.S. troops to the North African campaign.

For the moment, however, the center of U.S. military action remained the Pacific. Roosevelt ordered that Guadalcanal be strengthened and held. Late in October, a Japanese force led by four aircraft carriers and five battleships approached in anticipation of victory by the reinforced ground troops. Two U.S. carriers and their escorts were in pursuit. Each discovered the other's existence at about the same time, although planes from the Japanese carriers struck first, attacking and heavily damaging the carrier Hornet (which had to be abandoned and was later sunk by Japanese destroyers). Dive-bombers from the Hornet responded with similar damage to the carrier Shokaku. A second Japanese carrier, the Zuiho, was also hit and put out of action. The U.S. carrier Enterprise also received several hits and had to withdraw. Meanwhile, the Japanese were able to intensify their build-up on Guadalcanal. From the evening of November 12, when a U.S. force of cruisers and destroyers engaged a somewhat more powerful Japanese force to prevent it from shelling the U.S. Marines on the island, through November 14, the naval battle raged on. When the Japanese battleship Kirishima was heavily damaged, the remainder of the strike force withdrew -- for good -- from the fight. Now that air and naval superiority had shifted to the Allied forces, the Japanese high command could either dig in for a fight to the death or pull out; unlike in much of the fighting to come, they elected to do the latter. The U.S. and Japanese forces had each lost around twenty-five destroyers, cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers. These were losses the U.S. was already in the process of overcoming with new and more powerful ships. The Japanese material losses were almost permanent. The losses in men to this point were by standards of the Soviet-German engagements remarkably low. German and Soviet forces repeatedly engaged in battles where the objective seemed far less the conquest of territory than the annihilation of the other side.

As the battles came and went across Russia, the Ukraine, the Balkans and North Africa, the comparative weaknesses of the German military machine were exposed. Not only were the Germans now fighting against Soviet armies and partisans along a thousand mile eastern front and against the British in Northern Africa, military objectives were wholly at the mercy of the social engineering practiced by the Nazi regime. Essential materials were systematically diverted to the Nazi programs of slave labor and human extermination. At the same time, the British and Soviet armies were being strengthened with well-trained reserve troops and by materials from the United States. By the middle of 1942, the Allies were prepared to go on the offensive. In August, Churchill appointed General Harold Alexander Commander in Chief of the Middle East forces. General Bernard Montgomery took command of the Eighth Army. They soon demonstrated that a permanent shift in initiative had occurred. Rommel's eastward advance across northern Africa was brought to a halt on September 3; the German field marshal was recalled by Hitler for a rest. In his absence, the British opened an all-out offensive, driving the Afrika Korps back across northern Africa. Rommel's return did little more than delay defeat. The British now commanded full control of the Mediterranean and the skies, as well as having a much larger and better provisioned army.

On November 7, the Allied force commanded by Dwight D. Eisenhower landed troops in North Africa and began its advance through French-held Morocco and Algiers. The French troops at first resisted but a cease-fire was negotiated with Admiral Jean Darlan and the fighting ended on the 10th. Fresh German troops were airlifted across the Mediterranean to Tunisia, where they established strong defensive positions and waited for the Allied armies to advance. Hitler then ordered the occupation of the southern half of France and instructed his generals to take control of the surviving French fleet at Toulon. The first fighting between U.S. and German ground forces occurred on the 17th of November, some fifty miles west of Tunis. To the east, the Germans were being pushed toward Tunisia by the British Eighth Army. By the 20th of November, Montgomery liberated Tobruk and Benghazi. Heavy rains then intervened, halting the Allied pursuit and allowing the Germans time to bring in additional reinforcements and fighter planes. Despite strong resistance, ridding North Africa of German and Italian troops would take only a few more months. One phase of the war was finally coming to an end.

On the morning of November 19, in the midst of a severe snowstorm, Soviet armored divisions attacked in force through the Rumanian and German positions near Stalingrad. Hitler refused to allow his army to pull back, even to regroup. As a result, by the 22nd of November the two Soviet groups met, surrounding the Germans and leaving them with the option of fighting to the last man or surrendering to a vengeful enemy. A relief force advancing from the south got within thirty miles of Stalingrad, but no closer. The Rumanian and Italian positions collapsed. The German relief column pulled back, abandoning not only the Sixth Army at Stalingrad but their thrust toward the Caucasus oil fields as well. The Sixth Army held on until the end of January in 1943, losing 200,000 men before finally surrendering to the Soviets. Many more would die in Soviet prison camps.

Thoughts Of Peace Run Head First Into An Iron Curtain

Already in late 1942, the Brave New World was taking shape. Following each Soviet victory over the Germans came Soviet occupation and the establishment of Stalinist-controlled provisional governments. With every day the United States and Britain delayed bringing the ground war directly to Germany, the greater the amount of territory destined to come under Stalin's control at the end of the fighting. The threat to Britain of a German invasion had disappeared. Churchill was now confident that Germany and Italy would be defeated. What occupied his strategic thinking was how best to strengthen Britain's hold on its own sagging empire. The foreign policy interests of the U.S. were, as has already been indicated, directed toward a total dismantling of all empires (its own excepted). At a press conference held early in January of 1943, Roosevelt offered the first insights into his own thinking, announcing the primary U.S. objective as that of bringing the Axis governments down in the wake of military defeat:

The elimination of German, Japanese and Italian war power means a reasonable assurance of future world peace. It does not mean the destruction of the population of Germany, Italy, or Japan, but it does mean the destruction of the philosophies in those countries which are based on conquest and the subjugation of other people.[26]

The time had finally come to make the world save for democracy. Roosevelt had in June of 1942 provided the Soviet foreign minister, Molotov, with the U.S. blueprint for a postwar restructuring of the global hegemony. The Soviets were staking claims to Polish, Finnish and Rumanian territory, as well as to the Baltic states. After the signing of a Lend-Lease agreement with the Soviets, Secretary of State Cordell Hull suggested to Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet Ambassador, that "an infinite number of questions would come up at the end of the war, some of which might negate many matters of supposed importance and even urgency"[27] then on the minds of the Allied leaders. What Hull had on his mind was the postwar creation of "an international security organization"[28] with the power to enforce global peace. On July 23, Hull went on national radio to drive home the importance of such a step to the postwar balance of power:

Nationalism, run riot between the last war and this war, defeated all attempts to carry out indispensable measures of international economic and political action, encouraged and facilitated the rise of dictators, and drove the world straight toward the present war.[29]

Not only would the nations of the world need to come together for mutual protection, governments had to come to terms with their protectionist instincts. Prolonged peace and true prosperity, Hull was convinced, required a heavy dose of free trade and cooperation between governments. Hull was also quick to recognize that governments would have to be pressured into adopting monetary and fiscal policies designed to ensure stable exchange rates for national currencies. The difficulty would be to impose stiff budgetary discipline on spendthrift politicians. In an effort to move the discussion beyond the conceptual stage, Hull took the first tentative step by establishing an Advisory Committee on Postwar Foreign Policy (key members coming from the Council on Foreign Relations). Early in 1942 the Allied High Command also appointed a Joint Intelligence Board that, although charged with developing an integrated strategy for the war effort, in important respects paralleled the effort undertaken by Hull. The importance of this group's work is summarized by Adolf Berle, who participated and later wrote that they ended up "working on a proposed international stabilization fund and bank," institutions he believed represented "a revolution in international finance."[30] There was on the horizon, Berle foresaw, another very different sort of revolution:

[T]here will be a European revolution ... as soon as the lid is taken off. The revolution will either be on Stalinist lines or it will be along liberal and individualist lines, depending on how bluntly the problem is stated. Roughly speaking, most of the west of Europe, like the United States and Britain, propose a revolution which shall increase the stature of individuals; the Communist position, like the Nazi position, submerges them.

Likewise, there will be an Asiatic revolution which will probably be on more nationalistic lines. There, political freedom is still the main issue.[31]

Much the same sense of the future was also emerging out of the War and Peace Studies Project undertaken directly by the Council on Foreign Relations. Peace in Europe would depend, the consensus opinion argued, on the ability of the U.S. and Britain to keep the Eastern European territories out of Stalinist control or domination -- and upon bringing a stable and economically reinvigorated German state within an alliance of individualist societies. Marxist historians generally share the view expressed in 1977 by Laurence Shoup and William Minter that "[t]he War and Peace Studies groups, in collaboration with the American government, worked out an imperialistic conception of the national interest and war aims of the United States" which also "involved a conscious attempt to organize and control a global empire."[32] The historical record suggests, however, that CFR staffers and members were at significant odds with the professional foreign service establishment; and, in the minds of some department officers CFR members seemed intent on supplanting the department. Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State and a CFR member, was increasingly acting without consulting with Cordell Hull, going directly to Roosevelt or to the public with his proposals. These tensions would eventually result in the fall of Welles and the separation of direct CFR participation from State Department discussions.

Clear to almost all was that the U.S. would emerge from the Second World War as the world's dominant economic and military power. Even more than during the First World War, large-scale production of war goods was accelerating the development and installation of state-of-the-art capital equipment and a seemingly endless list of new processes and products. The infrastructure was quickly coming into place that would allow the U.S. to become the leading exporter of manufactured goods as well as agricultural products. The great mistakes of the peace of 1919 -- the planners argued -- had been to allow global purchasing power to disappear, to attempt to survive economically behind protective barriers and to bankrupt military preparedness in favor of isolationism. In anticipation of the new global economy, the U.S. would require a strong military presence around the globe, charged with maintaining political stability and protecting the sovereignty of U.S. trading partners. Cordell Hull, taking a far more transnational view, pressed hard the idea of assigning the role of global enforcer of the peace to an international agency. "Even then," Hull felt, "the chances are only about one to two or three that a sound peace can be carried to fruition."[34]

In January of 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill met in Casablanca to discuss the future conduct of the war; both leaders were at the moment far too absorbed with the North African campaign and the Atlantic war against the U-boats to give detailed thought to postwar concerns. Churchill, as one would expect, remained firm in his determination to keep the empire of Britain intact; moreover, although Churchill viewed with great chagrin the fait accompli presented by the advance of Soviet troops into German-occupied territory, he also understood that territory was the price demanded by Stalin for carrying the continental war against Germany. Back in Washington, the strategic planning for U.S. involvement in postwar rebuilding continued, and Hull moved to distance the State Department from CFR domination. He appointed Harley Notter (a strong opponent of CFR interference) Chief of a new Division of Political Studies. Leroy Steinbower assumed a similar role over the Division of Economic Studies. Both individuals reported to Hull through Hull's special assistant (Russian-born economist and, ironically, a CFR member), Leo Pasvolsky. Dean Acheson describes Pasvolsky as "Hull's principal speech writer" and Hull's speeches as "dissertation[s] on the benefits of unhampered international trade and the true road to it through agreements reducing tariffs."[34] Out of these committees came proposals for an international bill of rights, a war crimes commission, trusteeships in place of colonial rule and what would become the United Nations. Two ideas discussed but rejected by Hull were "the principle of automatic membership and the idea for a Security Council whose members would represent the entire world instead of particular states."[35]

The picture emerging of the postwar socio-political environment was one weighed down heavily by the same old relativistic position that might makes right, but with the center of power moving away from Europe's nation-states. What few in the West foresaw was the widespread, almost immediate demand for sovereignty on the part of so many groups of people who had suffered external domination. Nor was there sufficient awareness of the escalating acceptance of Marxist revolutionary doctrine by ethnic nationalists whose experiences under imperial or colonial rule condemned market (to them, multinational corporate) economies and multi-party political systems in their minds as instruments of oppression and corruption.

In March of 1943, Anthony Eden arrived in Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings with Roosevelt. Harry Hopkins, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles sat in as well. High on the list of Roosevelt's postwar concerns was the perverse inclusion of China under Chiang Kai-shek as an equal partner in an alliance with the U.S. and Britain. A year later, Hull suggested to Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) "that China has only a fifty-fifty chance to reestablish herself as a great power" and doing so would require tremendous assistance from "the other major Allies" or "the Chinese Government would tend to dissolve."[36] In his memoirs (published before the collapse of the Nationalist regime in 1949), Hull expressed his belief that Chiang Kai-shek had been faithful to the vision set down by Sun Yat-sen. In truth, the Chinese were drifting farther and farther from whatever opportunity there had been to establish a republican form of social democracy in Asia. U.S. military and financial assistance had helped to forge a limited military response to the Japanese. Beneath this veneer remained an impoverished people dominated by warlords, landlords, corruption, ruthlessness and lawlessness. Not long after the conference in Cairo, Roosevelt became so disillusioned with Chiang Kai-shek that he suggested to General Stilwell that the U.S. "should look for some other man or group of men to carry on."[37] In China, however, there were few individuals in positions of power who even nominally adhered to or understood the virtues of democratic institutions. None of this was as yet apparent to Roosevelt in the early months of 1943. Consistent with his desire to see the peoples of Asia gain sovereignty over their own affairs, he proposed trusteeships for Korea and Indo-China, with Manchuria and Formosa returned to Chinese control.

Churchill favored a division of the globe into regional sphere's of influence, dismissing as unworkable the U.S. State Department's recommendations for a democratically structured international organization to which national sovereignties would be subordinated. Churchill, already pressed at home by political opponents, had been working to impress upon his electorate the need to maintain realistic expectations -- both for the time required to defeat the Axis powers and for whatever dividends might accrue to Britain following the realization of peace. A stable future demanded, Churchill stated, the unification of all European states in a Council of Europe, "with a High Court to adjust disputes, and with forces, armed forces, national or international or both, held ready to impose these decisions and prevent renewed aggression and the preparation of future wars."[38] Churchill also promised his people an expansion of social democracy and equality of opportunity, warning that Britain could not "have a band of drones in our midst, whether they come from the ancient aristocracy or the modern plutocracy or the ordinary type of pub-crawler."[39] He joined Hull in the advocacy of free trade practices, called upon government to provide scientific and technical assistance to farmers, opened the door for a national health care system and called for an expansion of publicly-funded education. "It is in our power," Churchill declared, "to secure equal opportunity for all."[40] Never did he waiver, however, in his commitment to empire as the channel by which British culture and the influence of the British form of social democracy would continue and expand. Ironically, he failed to use his wartime prestige to advance the full cause of individual liberty by challenging his own people to end the monopolistic system of land tenure that prevented the achievement of the very goals he gave voice to. This, I believe, was his great political miscalculation; had he been willing to attack what earlier in his life he had identified as the mother of all monopolies, he would have presented a realistic and effective alternative to the Labour Party's program of industrial nationalization.

What Churchill counted on during the war was the continued loyalty of the people who populated Britain's dominions. What he did not clearly understand was that the war, while effectively uniting the empire for one last time, also raised expectations among those doing the fighting. Historian James Morris summarized just how widespread was the participation of the dominions in the war:

More than 5 million fighting troops were raised by the British Empire, and there was hardly a campaign in which imperial troops did not play a part, sometimes a predominant part. Australians and New Zealanders fought in North Africa, Italy, the Far East, the Pacific. South Africans fought in North and East Africa and Italy. Canadians provided half the front-line defense of England in 1940, a quarter of the pilots of the RAF, and a sizeable proportion of the invasion force that went back to the European continent in 1943. Indians, forming the largest volunteer army in history, fought almost everywhere, and volunteers from the remotest and most insignificant of the imperial possessions ... somehow found their way across the oceans to the British forces ...[41]

For the moment, at least, Churchill saw that the British empire possessed sufficient strength to participate with the United States and the Soviet Union as an equal partner in the formation of the postwar structure. He advanced the idea of creating three regional councils -- under the umbrella of a world council -- charged to deal with any problems arising between member states. After some reflection, Hull agreed to support this type of balance between associations of peoples who shared common borders and participation in an organization of global proportions. Roosevelt, on the other hand, continued to naively cling to the idea that the U.S., Britain and Russia could work together to police the postwar peace, with China added as the representative Asian power. Now that French armed forces were once more fighting against Germans and Italians, provision also had to be made for the eventual return of France to the hegemony of postwar power.

Roosevelt's plan to secure the peace included a proposal that would have left all but the four great victorious powers disarmed. Germany, Japan and Italy could certainly be prevented from rearmament for a number of years. The question was whether any other nations would voluntarily rely upon the Big Four to protect what they perceived to be their national interests. At any rate, the issue was made more complex by the fact that Eisenhower was rushing weapons and ammunition to the French in Algiers in anticipation of the coming invasion of southern Europe. One wonders how Roosevelt could imagine that nations such as Australia, Norway, Finland or even Spain could be cajoled into demilitarization -- or how he could ever have considered Stalin as a potential partner in the pursuit of postwar global peace. Henry Stimson, the war secretary, provides at least part of the answer, observing at the time that Roosevelt "has an impulsive nature and a mind which revolts against the dry facts involved in logistics," characteristics which made Stimson "nervous for fear of the effect of some sudden impulse on his part."[42] George Kennan, who came to know Stalin well enough, writes that "[a]n unforewarned visitor would never have guessed what depths of calculation, ambition, love of power, jealousy, cruelty, and sly vindictiveness lurked behind this unpretentious façade."[43] In the early months of U.S. involvement in the war, Roosevelt's confidence in his ability to carry on diplomacy by personal relationship was revealed to Churchill in a rather arrogant letter:

I know you will not mind my being brutally frank when I tell you that I think I can personally handle Stalin better than either your Foreign Office or my State Department. Stalin hates the guts of all your top people. He thinks he likes me better, and I hope he will continue to do so.[44]

In fairness to Roosevelt, he was not the only high ranking U.S. public official who mistakenly believed a rapprochement with Stalin was possible. Churchill, as well as Roosevelt, was more than willing to divert supplies and weapons to Soviet troops fighting Germans; neither Allied leader was morally or politically ready to expose British or U.S. forces to the kind of losses Hitler and Stalin accepted without a second thought. Materials could always be replaced. The individual, all important in the socio-political philosophies of Churchill and Roosevelt, was wholly subordinate under totalitarianism to the whim of the dictator. There is no need to recount the utter contempt with which Hitler held any who resisted or failed to carry out his orders. Stalin, outwardly more rational, not only imposed a relentless tyranny on his subjects, but millions were slaughtered by Germans because of his intransigence in the face of overwhelming facts or logic. Khrushchev records, for example, that although warned of a trap being set by the Germans for Soviet forces advancing from Kharkov in May of 1942, Stalin refused to permit a change in strategy. The result had been foreseen by Khrushchev, who made desperate but wholly unsuccessful attempts to change Stalin's mind:

Catastrophe struck a few days later, exactly as we expected. There was nothing we could do to avert it. Many generals, colonels, junior officers, and troops perished. The staff of the Fifty-seventh Army was wiped out completely. Almost nobody managed to escape. The army had advanced deep into enemy territory, and when our men were encircled, they didn't even have enough fuel to escape. ...

Naturally Stalin would never admit his mistake. ...For Stalin to have agreed that we had been right when we halted the operation would have meant admitting his own mistake. And that sort of nobility was not for him. He would stop at nothing to avoid taking the responsibility for something that had gone wrong.[45]

Fate had brought the Soviet Union into the war on the same side as Britain and, later, the United States. In no sense did the Soviets under the direction of the Stalinist regime become true allies of Britain and the U.S. Realistically, Churchill could not afford to give much thought in 1940 or 1941 to the problem of Soviet expansionism. Roosevelt simply did not. George Kennan later charged there was "an inexcusable body of ignorance about the nature of the Russian Communist movement, about the history of its diplomacy, about what happened in the purges, and about what had been going on in Poland and the Baltic States."[46] Because of Stalin's failings, however, the people of the Soviet republics were paying an enormous price to prevent the Germans from carrying out their program of mass genocide. They had long ago, burdened by Stalin's insatiable appetite for power, relinquished any semblance of individual liberty. Whatever ideals of the cooperative, classless society Marx offered in the complex web of his writings were reduced to hollow rhetoric. Millions had been murdered or starved to death during Stalin's drive to industrialize and to rid the Soviet Union of private ownership of anything substantive. Collectivization of agricultural production -- turning producers from serfs tied to a landed aristocracy into comrades enslaved by the State -- assured that any remnant adherents to individualism would survive only by going deep into the intellectual underground, waiting for some opportunity to strike back. Even during the height of the war, Stalin continued to display what Khrushchev described as his "compulsive urge to arrest people and have them eliminated."[47]

Khrushchev and many other Soviet leaders worried that the conduct of the war against the Germans was proceeding in a way that promised to leave the Soviet Union victorious on the battlefield but otherwise prostrate. To his credit, Khrushchev acknowledged the crucial difference British and U.S. material aid made to the Soviet war effort. Argument persists among historians over whether the manpower, equipment and supplies could simultaneously have been amassed for a 1943 channel crossing and an all-out push across the Netherlands and France. As far as Churchill was concerned, "[i]t was clear that the most effective aid which we could offer the Russians was the speedy clearing of the Axis forces from North Africa and the stepping up of the air war against Germany."[48] Stalin's frustration might have been lessened had the U.S. and British air strikes also included as targets the munitions factories in occupied France. With the benefit of hindsight, one is able to safely conclude that Stalin's territorial ambitions were hardly global in nature. Had the grabbing of territory in the West been paramount in Stalin's thinking, the delay of Allied landings on the Eurasian continent would have worked to support long-run Soviet interests. Soviet representatives had, of course, already raised questions about the postwar status of eastern Poland, the Baltics and Finland (although Khrushchev would later write that Finland offered the Soviets little strategic advantage and the imposing task of subduing a troublesome and highly nationalistic population) -- sensitive issues for Roosevelt, who would have to deal with the political pressure generated by U.S. citizens of Polish, Finnish, Latvian, Lithuanian or Estonian heritage.

By the Fall of 1943 victory for the Allied powers had become largely a question of time. Sonar had turned the tide in the Atlantic against the U-boats, which were now being destroyed in numbers that German shipyards -- under constant attack themselves -- could not hope to replace. Bombing raids by the British and U.S. air forces were turning German cities into rubble. U.S., British and Free French forces finally drove Rommel from North Africa in May. Sicily was invaded and cleared of Fascist troops in July, and by the third week of the month the last German offensive undertaken in the Soviet Union -- "some 500,000 men with no less than seventeen panzer divisions outfitted with the new heavy Tiger tanks"[49] -- had ended in a devastating defeat and systematic withdrawal of the German army. Fascism in Italy was also facing an unceremonious end. Mussolini was removed from office by the Italian monarch and placed under arrest. The Italian Fascist Party was outlawed and a new government was formed under Marshal Pietro Badoglio, who weeks later signed an armistice with the Allied powers. In response to this new threat, Hitler ordered his commander in Italy, Albert Kesselring, to take possession of Rome and secure the alpine passes between Italy and Germany. The Italian divisions in the north surrendered their positions to the Germans and were demobilized. On the 13th of September, German commandos managed to rescue Mussolini from imprisonment, and with Hitler's support he set up a puppet regime in the north. Taking the rest of Italy from the Germans would now become an arduous task assigned to Field Marshal Montgomery coming up the peninsula, along with other Allied forces soon to be landed at Salerno. Stiff German resistance was to produce a considerable amount of second-guessing within the U.S. and British political establishments.

Significant disagreement existed between the U.S. and British military strategists as well over the wisdom of invading Italy in the first place. Nor did U.S. tacticians think much of Churchill's proposal to attack Germany through the Balkans, the so-called soft underbelly of Europe. While a Balkan operation would have imposed limits on the future domination of Central Europe by the Soviets, the mountainous terrain dictated a slow, costly advance against strong defensive positions. And yet, that is exactly what the Allied forces ran into when they moved up the Italian peninsula. As one U.S. general, Albert C. Wedemeyer, later recalled of the decisions reached at Casablanca and subsequent conferences:

Two of the keenest planners in the Joint War Plan Committees ... maintained that the United States had been outmaneuvered at all of the world conferences because British political aims were clearly enunciated and their representatives in uniform or in civilian government positions acted as one team in support of the realization of those aims.[50]

Wedemeyer, for one, also recognized the postwar problems to be expected as a consequence of the dominant role played by the Soviet Union in the fighting against Germany. Wedemeyer recalled that prior to the invasion of Italy, he warned a British counterpart that "we should realize that the Russians might soon be moving westward and could be well into Western Europe and the Balkans before we could get there."[51] Failing to take advantage of Hitler's concentration of forces against the Soviets was, Wedemeyer, argued, both a political and a military blunder that ended up costing tens of thousands of lives.

In November the Cairo meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt took place, during which they were joined by Chiang Kai-shek. Churchill continued to argue against a channel crossing and against diversion of resources to Burma or the Chinese theatre. The British strategy continued to emphasize control of the Mediterranean until sufficient reserves could be built-up in Britain for the Channel crossing. Far in advance of Roosevelt, Churchill and most British political and military leaders already viewed Chiang Kai-shek as little more than another opportunistic warlord and China as on the verge of prolonged civil war. Arms and supplies diverted to the Chinese were more likely to be used in the future to dislodge British, French and Dutch imperial regimes from Southeast Asia than to fight the Japanese. Despite British resistance, Roosevelt continued to press for a stronger British commitment in Southeast Asia. Churchill later recalled the negotiations:

We anticipated ... difficulties in reaching agreement with our American friends over the ... operations from India. ...Some increase had been made in the air transport available for the China route, but the full development of the air route and the requirements for a land advance towards Central Burma had proved utterly beyond our resources. It therefore seemed clear beyond argument that the full [Burma] operation could not be attempted in the winter of 1943-44.

I was sure that these conclusions would be very disappointing to the Americans. The President and his circle still cherished exaggerated ideas of the military power which China could exert if given sufficient arms and equipment. They also feared unduly the imminence of a Chinese collapse if support were not forthcoming. ...[52]

What Churchill had not considered was the sympathy gained for the Chinese Nationalist cause by Mme. Chiang Kai-shek, who had spent the previous six months on a fund-raising and speaking tour in the United States. Neither Roosevelt nor his key advisers were in any sense operating under an illusion that she or her husband offered an immediate democratic future for the Chinese. Other than Roosevelt himself, there were few who believed Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang party could unite the Chinese people and prevent the outbreak of civil war. Nonetheless, as Walter Lippmann observed that year, "with Asia," there seemed to be among Americans an inexplicable "active participation in all its remote, exotic politics."[53] Roosevelt, who had every opportunity to keep informed and to alter the U.S. position toward China accordingly, "preferred not to look at the weaknesses of the regime to which he was committed," concluded Barbara Tuchman, "because he was intent on China as the fourth corner of a stable world order."[54] Others were certain China would play an altogether different role.

At Quebec, in August, U.S. and British representatives agreed to establish a new Southeast Asia Command, with Louis Mountbatten appointed Supreme Commander. That seemed to satisfy Chiang Kai-shek, whose relationship with General Stilwell had become one of mutual mistrust. Stilwell had little respect for either the Chinese leader's military or political capabilities. For one thing, graft and corruption permeated the Kuomintang bureaucracy. Stillwell was also troubled by the widespread involvement in these activities of his own troops and other Americans. "Smuggling of gold, sulfa drugs, foreign currency, cigarettes, gems and PX supplies," notes Barbara Tuchman, "was carried on by American Air Force, Army, Red Cross and civilian personnel for an estimated take of over $4,000,000 by the end of 1944."[55] As a result, Stilwell was becoming increasingly sickened by the situation he faced in China. His frustration at this juncture was all the more intense because Roosevelt possessed what he saw as a "total misapprehension of the character, intentions, authority and ability of Chiang Kai-shek."[56] Here was a case where the military commander in the field had gained a far more penetrating insight into the political situation of his theatre of operations than the civilian authorities. To no avail, George C. Marshall supported Stilwell's assessment. All that was really expected of the Chinese was to prevent the Japanese from mounting an invasion of India or reinforcing their island positions in the Pacific. Finally, however, Roosevelt was beginning to realize that China -- with or without Chiang Kai-shek -- was in a precarious state and hardly dependable as a potential participant in the postwar reconstruction. He nonetheless continued to devote considerable attention to the Chinese leader's concerns. Stilwell, who made the journey to Cairo and met privately with Roosevelt, recorded later that the President seemed not to have been paying much attention. The extent to which conditions in China were hidden from the general public in the U.S. is suggested by a 1943 review given to the publication of Chiang Kai-shek's wartime speeches:

A good long while from now, when time has blurred the memory of its sorrows and sufferings, this war will almost certainly be described by China's historians as a redeeming ordeal. When the time comes for such a detached reckoning, China's historians will also be ready to say that it was largely because of Chiang Kai-shek's response to the emergency, or rather the emergencies, because of his consistent display of honesty with the people and of the same splendid obstinacy that distinguished Washington during the dark years of the Revolution that the ghastly test of moral staying power was regenerative and not lastingly destructive.[57]

Some of the truth was beginning to appear in the U.S. press and causing unsettling questions to be raised. Stilwell was all too candid with anyone who cared enough to listen to his views, although he continued to see China as key to the overall campaign against the Japanese. Analysts in the War Department were not so sure and now recommended that vital resources go elsewhere.

In October, the Foreign Ministers of the U.S., Britain, the Soviet Union and China met in Moscow. From this meeting came a declaration of postwar unity and backing for a new international organization. After Cairo, Roosevelt and Churchill moved on to meet with Stalin in Tehran. Churchill wanted badly to capture the islands of Rhodes and Leros in the Aegean Sea, keys to absolute control of the air in the eastern Mediterranean. U.S. strategists pressed hard to accelerate the build-up for the Channel invasion force. Churchill would later write that "Eisenhower and his Staff seemed unaware of what lay at our finger-tips,"[58] although Hitler did and strengthened the German air forces holding Crete and Rhodes.

The German decision to hotly contest Italy pressed upon Eisenhower the decision not to divert crucial men and materials from the Italian front. As a consequence, by late November German troops successfully captured or forced the evacuation of the British troops from the Aegean. Yet, when Churchill met with Roosevelt and Stalin he once again argued his case for driving the Germans from these islands. Stalin had no intentions of encouraging actions that might jeopardize his strategic interests in the Balkans or Eastern Europe. Only Roosevelt seemed to act with disinterest on questions of which territories came under whose control as the war progressed. He was highly encouraged by Stalin's commitment to enter the war against Japan once Germany surrendered and agreed with Stalin that with the war's end both the French and British empires ought to be dissolved. The Tehran conference, then, represented a key turning point in determining how the postwar global hegemony would look. War was enabling the Soviet Union to systematically apply force to expand its territorial borders at the expense of other peoples. The United States was by some of Roosevelt's decisions making this possible. Realpolitik and the prerogative of the victorious, had overcome principle as an accepted basis for reaching compromise. For the United States, what was lost was the higher moral ground from which to argue for a postwar world built on at least some degree of just principles and participatory governance. Along these lines, Ted Morgan writes:

[T]he Allies would never again be in as favorable a position to extract concessions from Stalin, for they still held the biggest bargaining chip -- Overlord. But because there was no united British-American position on Overlord, the chance was lost to use it effectively to check Stalin in Eastern Europe. Instead, FDR had to align himself with Stalin to impose Overlord on the British, which made it impossible for him to ask for anything in return for the launching of the invasion.[59]

Churchill later denied any intention on the part of the British either to delay (unnecessarily) or thwart the Channel invasion. His view and that of the British strategists was that a strengthened Italian and eastern Mediterranean campaign would pull larger numbers of Germans away from northern France, while simultaneously putting Allied bombers within reach of targets in southern Germany. Churchill was also eager to bring Turkey into the war or at least gain access to its airfields; pulling Turkey toward the Allied cause would, he added, also open a new and more convenient route for delivering supplies to the Soviets. At the same time, as Stalin well understood, these actions would serve to limit the western advance of Soviet forces to well outside of the heart of Europe. In a 1978 biography of Churchill, Moscow University professor Vladimir Trukhanovsky linked Roosevelt as well to this global Churchillian strategy, writing:

As the Soviet troops moved westwards, politicians in London and Washington gradually saw that they needed to speed up the formation of a second front -- not in order to help their Soviet allies, but so as to land their forces in Western Europe before it was liberated by the Red Army.[60]

Roosevelt and most of the political elite in the United States had come to accept that the peoples living in Soviet-controlled territories were beyond the reach of democratic processes and institutions now being espoused for the postwar world. The United Nations charter being drafted under the direction of Leo Pasvolsky and Cordell Hull nonetheless challenged the sphere of influence formula so appealing to the Big Three. Hull's working document, which Roosevelt finally came to support, was presented to the British and Russians early in 1944 and called for the creation of rather strong institutions for enforcement of international laws. The full plan was presented in London by Under Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Jr. to Churchill and Eden. Over the course of several months, Hull also nurtured support for the plan among key U.S. legislators. The most controversial characteristic of the new international organization was to be the granting of veto power to the four charter member nations -- the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and China.

By the time Hull arranged for a full-scale meeting to hammer out the final agreement, the war situation had changed considerably. Massive bombing raids over Germany and France during the first five months of 1944 decimated the Luftwaffe's fighter strength, severed rail lines and disrupted the delivery of materials to German troops. Albert Speer later pointed to a particular attack on May 12 by nearly a thousand bombers "upon several fuel plants in central and eastern Germany" as the beginning of "the end of German armaments production."[61] A second attack later in May, accompanied by the destruction of oil refineries in Rumania, cut German oil production in half. On the morning of June 6, the combined U.S.-British-Canadian invasion force arrived off the Normandy coast, achieving total surprise, and opening the long-awaited western front. Resistance was light at Utah beach, at the western tip of the landings, and 20,000 troops came rapidly ashore with few casualties. For those landing at Omaha beach, writes Samuel Eliot Morison, "the Germans had provided the best imitation of hell for an invading force that American troops had encountered anywhere."[62] More recently, another writer put the fighting on Omaha beach into even more graphic context:

The American assault on Omaha beach came as close as the experience of any western Allied soldiers in the Second World War to the kind of headlong encounters between flesh and fire that were a dreadful commonplace in the battles of 30 years before, and which were so grimly familiar on the eastern front.[63]

Heavy naval bombardment finally silenced most of the German gun positions, allowing tanks and artillery to strengthen the beachhead. British and Canadian troops came ashore at three other points and rather quickly moved inland. By July 4, the Allied force in France numbered more than one million. The port of Cherbourg fell late in June and was cleared of debris for Allied use by mid-July. Rommel, only days before he would be seriously wounded by strafing fire from an Allied fighter plane, warned Hitler that the war was now clearly lost.

Within a few days after the Allied landings in northern France, the Soviets opened new major offensives in the east and were pressing hard against the retreating Germans. On the 20th of July Colonel Klaus von Stauffenberg made his failed attempt on Hitler's life; in retaliation, Hitler unleashed the Gestapo upon all those suspected of involvement. The executions began in August and continued almost to the end of the war. Also during August a second Allied invasion force dislodged the Germans from the southern coast of France, putting nearly 400,000 additional Allied troops into battle by the end of September.

Soviet troops reached eastern Prussia by mid-August. The Finns and Bulgarians withdrew from the war, and Rumania was overrun and occupied. Before the month ended, the Germans had withdrawn from Paris (the German commandant ignoring Hitler's orders to destroy the city). Brussels and Antwerp were liberated early in September, and the Allied armies were everywhere gaining on the retreating Germans. As the Allies approached German territory, the Germans regrouped sufficiently to stop the advance of forces commanded by Gen. George Patton. And, despite the pressing nature of the war, the German people paused momentarily to pay tribute to the deceased Erwin Rommel, who had been linked by the Gestapo to the July coup attempt but allowed (unlike most of his fellow conspirators) to take poison instead of being tried and hanged. Late in October, the city of Aachen became the first in Germany to surrender to the Allies. By this time in the East, the Germans had also withdrawn from Belorussia, Lithuania, Estonia, most of Latvia, the Ukraine and eastern Poland -- leaving behind more than 400,000 troops dead and nearly 200,000 taken prisoner. Soviet troops crossed the frontiers into Rumania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. In Yugoslavia, Belgrade was also liberated late in October by Soviet and partisan troops. Virtually all the combatants expected the war to be over within weeks; Hitler, however, had one more explosive card to play before the year would end.

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