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Was our involvement in WW II justified?

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  1. Jun 3, 2006 #1
    It's difficult, especially in hindsight, to assert that we were not justified in fighting in World War II. The world faced a very real threat from a fanatic army bent on conquering and ethnically cleansing not just Europe, but the world. Our involvement liberated Europe and ultimately led to the dramatic growth of a free and stable Germany and Japan.

    But what if we framed the events leading up to our entry into the war a little differently than what we typically learn in school.

    Through all the time Japan invaded and effectively conquered China from 1931-1937, the US did not get involved. In fact we maintained trade relations with Japan, just as we had for the previous half century. It was their war, not ours.

    We refused to get involved in the Eurpoean conflict that started in 1939 as well, which technically had even less to do with us, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that we were still trying to recover from the Great Depression. We just didn't have the money or resources to effectively wage a war of that scale.

    Then in 1940, FDR cuts off supplies to Japan, which could be argued as provocation for war since we had stayed out of their foreign affairs for so long, and now all of a sudden put an embargo on them, even though they didn't do anything to us.

    In 1941, they attacked (retaliated?) against the closest military target of opportunity. Our response is swift and heated. Using the heightened emotional state of the American people after the "cowardly unprovoked attack", the President gets congress to agree to a declaration of war against our enemies and within WEEKS mobilizes our troops against...

    ... Germany?

    The sudden rise in manufacturing needed to supply a two-front war created a huge boom in our economy, having the "side effect" of lifting us out of our economic rut... or could that have been FDR's only true motive all along? All accomplished with unilatteral decisions and secret maneuvering, ie lying to the public.

    I'm sure you see where I am going with this.

    My personal answer, btw, even after framing (spinning) it this way, is still, IMHO... Yes.

    Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll be waiting behind this asbestos wall.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 3, 2006 #2

    dav2008

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    If we didn't get involved in the European front then all of Europe would have ended up under communist Russia's control. That's not exactly a good thing in terms of trade for the US.
     
  4. Jun 3, 2006 #3
    The fact that you have the freedom to express yourself on the Internet may be proof that WWII was justified.

    I heard recently on TV the the U.S. was "wrong" not to help European Jewry sooner. If we (in hindsight) were wrong, then what were the Nazis, their allies, or the hundred plus countries that took no preventative action? The ramifications of our pro-Semetic relationship affects us mortally to this day in the Middle East. I understand the isolationists when war is a two edged sword.
     
  5. Jun 3, 2006 #4
    shouldn't this be in the history subforum?
     
  6. Jun 3, 2006 #5
    Well I thought the correlation was self explanatory, but I guess it's not. I asked the question in reference to current events.

    I made assumptions about FDR's motivations, suggesting that he got us into the war purely for money and political reasons... asserted that the Japanese attack was provoked due to FDR's grandstanding... accused him of taking advantage of people's emotions and moving too quickly into war even though we didn't have the resources... and pointed out that his methods of getting us into the war were the results of unilateral decisions that could only have been done by lying to the country.

    Does any of that sound familiar?

    I just wanted to see the response when the question in posed this way with the deliberate omission of the moral side of the argument.

    Keep in mind... I don't actually agree with this way of viewing FDR's actions at all. Yet those are the events that got us into WWII and they could be seen through that prism, applying the mindset of current day liberal critics.

    But none of those things change the fact that ending the menace of both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were justified. Nor is the reality changed that even with a weakened economy, we were the only ones capable of making that happen.
     
  7. Jun 4, 2006 #6

    loseyourname

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    So the point you're actually making is that, regardless of how Bush's motives may be construed, if Saddam and Bin Laden (assuming we eventually manage to take him out) are to be considered dangerous on the level of imperial Japan and Germany, then the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with anti-terrorism efforts overseas, will eventually be justified in hindsight?
     
  8. Jun 4, 2006 #7

    rcgldr

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    Our economy might have been weak, but not our ability to manufacture. One of Hitlers own generals, having visited the USA, warned Hitler that the USA was very far ahead of every other country in the world with it's manufacturing capabilities. It wouldn't take much to change from manufacturing automobiles to tanks and planes.

    Geography of the ocean and the shear size of the USA, it's spread out manufacturing centers, and ample supplly of natural resources, made it impossible to really attack our infrastructure. This is what made it possible for the USA to convert into a weapons building super-power in just a few short years, and fight two wars at the same time.
     
  9. Jun 4, 2006 #8

    Pengwuino

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    Ooops nevermind
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2006
  10. Jun 4, 2006 #9

    rcgldr

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    The first Iraq war, which lasted 100 days was justified since Iraq had just invaded Kuwait. I also think this was a way to demonstrate the level of technology of the USA war machine, based on the extreme amount of coverage of the usage of high tech weapons.

    Regarding Afghanistan, the potential for civil war wasn't as likely as it was in Iraq. Also I think it re-iterated the point of how powerful the USA military was. This time the USA didn't just win a battle, it overthrew a government.

    This second war in Iraq is a bit more questionable. As cruel as it sounds, we should have pulled out as soon as the government was overthrown, or after we got Saddam, and just supplied weapons to the Shiites if that's the people the USA wanted in power, and waited for the Iraqi's to beg for the USA to return to restore order.
     
  11. Jun 4, 2006 #10
    Right. I didn't get the implication. I'll address the question:

    I think when comparing the two wars and asking if either was justified, we ignore a lot and narrow the argument too much. I would propose:
    -In both wars the USA entered to further it's own economy and not for the betterment of Europe/The Middle East/The World.
    -For WW2 it is arguable that the USA improved the world by stopping Germany sooner than Russia and Britain could have alone.
    -In Iraq no such improvement can be significantly noted.
    -In Afghanistan, while there have been minor advances towards the well being of the people, the government is still corrupt and violence ensues.

    If we accept that invading ww2 was worth it and 'justified' because of this. It still seems, at this current date, that in hindsight maybe invading Iraq was a bad idea, and the Jury is still out on Afganistan.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2006
  12. Jun 4, 2006 #11
    Now for some history nitpickings:

    I hope you have evidence to support that because as far as I'm aware Hitler had no plans for invading anything past Moscow and Bordeaux. Even London wasn't on his list until they declared war. He specifically stated England as a potential ally to Germany's struggle in Mein Kampf.

    I see this kind of exageration about zarqawi all the time. They're mass murderer's people, not hollywood super-villains with moon lasers.

    and
    Both of these seem silly to be. Britain was at risk, sure, but it wasn't completely helpless. Their navy was still controlling the seas and if the USA didn't get into the war, then Britain probably wouldn't have gotten into war with Japan either, freeing up hundreds of ships and thousands of soldiers for Germany.
    And as for FDR, he was really more concerned about Churchill using the war to expand it's empire than he was about the Stalin. Remember, before the war Stalin didn't seem imperialist at all and had to go through a similar conversion that the US went through in order to gear up for the war. It would not have been capable of completely conquering Europe and maybe not even Germany it she hadn't been caught on three (and briefly four) fronts.
     
  13. Jun 4, 2006 #12
    More or less.

    I was also misrepresenting FDR with the language that today's conspiracy theorists use to illustrate the absurdity of such accusations. The fact that someone actually agreed with them is a little funny... and frightening, and kinda sad that anyone can be THAT cynnical, even in the light of hindsight.

    While the points I cited were technically what happened when you boil away the context of the events, my spin on the way I framed them were baseless and the conclusions that I reached about FDR's motivations were unjustified. I intentionally ignored the moral implications of not doing anything and omitted the fact that technically, Germany declared war on us (kinda like Osama did).

    There are also the contrasts to consider, one being that our enemy attacked a civilian target -- not a military one -- for far less justified reasons.

    The basic point is... yeah, if you support our actions in World War II, it's hard to justify opposing this war now. Even if you don't, history will.

    Smurf,

    I find it too hard to relate to the mentality required to oppose the war just because it's another way to hate Bush.

    You really don't think FDR got us into the war to stop an evil menace and protect freedom? It's not even possible. You really think, being intellectually honest with yourself, that it was just for money? I have no defense against such an absurd stance.

    But for what it's worth, onto your other comments, I don't have to reach far for sources. It's basic history...

    The British were getting their butts handed to them by the Nazis, starting in 1940, before our arrival. As impressive as Stalin's hold out was thanks to the winter conditions, I have serious doubts he would have held out much longer, either. But we'll never know.

    Germany got as far as North Africa and the Caribbean . If you really think that Hitler would have stopped on his own anywhere you're even more naive than Neville Chamberlain proved to be.

    Likewise, if you think that Stalin only got dreams of expansion because of or after WWII, you don't know Communisit Manifesto very well, which concludes with:

    But I suppose you just read that as nuance.

    Honestly, if you could get Hitler and Stalin in the same room, and keep them off the topic of economics, they'd have been best buds. Their "pact" was worded as a non-aggression treaty until one read between the lines.

    Uncle Joe ended up treating the Jews in his country practically the same way Adolf would have. There's nothing to say that if Hitler had taken Moscow, that they wouldn't have been a loyal supporter.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2006
  14. Jun 4, 2006 #13
    As an Australian I can only say that I am glad the USA joined WWII when they did, because even though the Japanese did not bomb Australia until eight weeks after Pearl Harbour their occupation forces were much closer to landing here than they were to the USA.
     
  15. Jun 4, 2006 #14
    Well, theres more you have to consider than that. Even if you take a generous account of the USA's objectives for going to war my point remains that WW2 eventually resulted in clear improvements over the alternative. However, no such improvements have yet to be seen in Iraq and only minor improvements in Afghanistan. You can make predictions that their conditions will or will not improve if you want, but from the current date hindsight obviously doesn't justify Iraq the way it justifies ww2.

    No. From what I know of FDR I think he wanted to join ww2 mainly to end isolationism. But do I think the main thing on his mind was protecting freedom and spreading democracy? No, of course not. Democracy and Freedom were not treated the same way back then that they are now. Now, mainly BECAUSE of the horrible failures observed in the ww2 era, Modern Democracy (and all the freedoms associated with it) are heralded as the perfect government. Back then people were still skeptical and experimental.

    Germany became Fascist in the first place because they didn't trust democracy. Their first taste of democracy happened right after ww1, and what was the result? Hyper-Inflation, Starvation, Proverty, Submission to France and England. A once strong and proud country was worse off then than many colonies in Africa. They weren't alone either. Japan, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Siam, USSR, Mongolia, ect., So many countries tried Fascism, Communism, or both at the same time. All those countries which we now (with the benefit of hindsight) would call "evil" were at the time seen by the people as benevolent experiments. They weren't condemned by western powers either. Fascist and Communist parties existed everywhere. France, England, Canada, USA. And why? Not because they knew and wanted a stalinist regime, they might have been hippies but they weren't ****ing masochists. Communist was popular because people didn't KNOW what we know now. And FDR bloody well didn't either. He was afraid of the USSR as a potential rival to the USA, not as an "Evil Empire" like so many after him. He was afraid of Britain for the same reason too! And he was actually more afraid of the UK at the time than either Germany or the USSR because he knew that the UK could project it's power over-seas. And this continues over to my next point:


    Submarines don't count. You can't invade a country with freaking submarines! Germany had bugger-all for surface vessels and thus, NO ABILITY TO PROJECT ITS POWER OVERSEAS. You can sink convoys with submarines, you can't bomb New York with them. Or at least, you couldn't at the time. Some modern submarines are quite a bit more versatile.

    Damnit, now I forget what I was trying to prove. I'll just leave it at that and move on:

    Right, because since they're both evil bastards, they must have a whole lot of other **** in common too, right? Why do people forget that Hitler and Stalin were both human beings too, and not just the embodiments of evil? Hitler had a girlfriend, liked poached eggs and studied architechture as a youth. He's not a Martian with only half a face who enjoys killing people, stepping on children's feet and dumping toxic waste in orphanages.
     
  16. Jun 4, 2006 #15
    Oh, and:
    Irrelevant. Germany wouldn't have declared war if the USA hadn't provoked Japan.
     
  17. Jun 4, 2006 #16

    Art

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    America cut off Japan's oil supplies because Japan was building a larger fleet than the US had which the US perceived as a threat to their power in the Pacific region. Japan responded by bombing Pearl Harbour and a few hours later declaring war on the US.

    The US still didn't go to war with Germany and probably never would have except Germany declared war on them 2 weeks later.

    So your question was America justified in going to war isn't really relevent. They didn't have a choice once both of the major axis powers declared war on them.
     
  18. Jun 4, 2006 #17
    Wow. There is nothing I can say to this that would not skirt the rules of the forum. The politest thing I can say is that it's misinformed, but that doens't come anywhere close to accuratly conveying just how wrong your statements are.

    That view of history and of Democracy is just... wow. Okay thanks for sharing.
     
  19. Jun 4, 2006 #18

    LURCH

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    The similarities continue. This is just like the situation we found ourselves in when Afghanistan attacked the WTC, and Hussien declared that he would destroy the United States.
     
  20. Jun 4, 2006 #19
    What are you talking about? I've said nothing about Democracy except how it was perceived in the 30s and 40s. What have I said thats wrong?
     
  21. Jun 4, 2006 #20
    Smurf is not too far off if we consider that pre WWII, especially during the depression, the USA was an isolationist country. We didn't tend to interfere with countries outside of the Americas.

    WWII was indeed a big wake up call. Ironically we don't seem to have accomplished much in the area of promoting freedom and democracy. This is mostly due to the fact that we have supported American financial interests even if it meant supporting Dictatorships ect. For instance, it was the USA who put the Baath party into power in Iraq in the late 70's.

    Our involvement in WWII was definetly justified albeit it was also unavoidable.
     
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