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"An Isolationist President in 1940" Topic


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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian27 Jul 2018 6:11 p.m. PST

If the United States had had an Isolationist president in 1940, would Germany have won WWII?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2018 6:34 p.m. PST

Who would have been the isolationist President?
Let's base our counter factual on as little divergence as possible.
The Republicans nominated Wendell Wilkie PRECISELY because he was NOT an isolationist.
He was certainly more honest than Roosevelt.

The isolationist could have been Roosevelt's VP Garner. If Roosevelt had chosen to not run, Garner would have been more supportive of Stalin than Britain. Like many leftists, it took Hitler's invasion of Russia to break his isolationism.
This is assuming that Garner could have gotten the Democratic nomination. In many ways, Garner was Roosevelt's Spiro Agnew. Impeachment insurance. grin He was not popular.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian27 Jul 2018 6:52 p.m. PST

The three leading candidates for the 1940 Republican nomination were all isolationists to varying degrees: Senators Robert A. Taft of Ohio and Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, and Thomas E. Dewey, the young, "gangbusting" Manhattan District Attorney.

link

Parzival27 Jul 2018 8:05 p.m. PST

I'd say no, because isolationism is a function of momentary popular opinion that can be changed in a flash…or in this case, Dec 7, 1941.
But even so, Hitler's attack on France and Britain in 1939 hardly endeared him to the American public, especially with many of the (now civilian) men who had spent blood and youth fighting against Germany alongside Brits and Frenchies less than thirty years before…men now barely in their 50s.
And America was "isolationist" for that war, too, with Wilson running on the slogan "He kept us out of war!" Until he didn't. And his change of position came just from one sunk ship, which wasn't even US.
So I think in the first place a truly rock-ribbed isolationist president would never have been elected, and secondly that even an apparently isolationist president would have been under pressure from various influential people and institutions (both for economic and humanitarian reasons) to engage against Germany in much the same manner as FDR did. By 1940, the American people already didn't like Hitler and the Nazis, and in 1941 had no problem with going to war with Germany even though Germany had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor.

RudyNelson27 Jul 2018 8:45 p.m. PST

Regardless of who the isolationist president was, the USA would have been in WW2. Remember, it was the Japanese who attacked us first.

A better question would be what if the USA had an internationalist President. He would have entered the war in 1939 or 1940. Some discussion have had an earlier involvement in the 1930 s during the Spanish Civil War.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2018 10:42 p.m. PST

The three leading candidates for the 1940 Republican nomination were all isolationists to varying degrees: Senators Robert A. Taft of Ohio and Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, and Thomas E. Dewey, the young, "gangbusting" Manhattan District Attorney.

True. And they all faded at the convention. Where Wendell Wilkie, the "dark horse" candidate was waiting in the wings to take the nomination.
Ah, we don't have conventions like that any more.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2018 1:25 a.m. PST

+1 Parzival and RudyNelson.

Even if there was an isolationist president, I think we have to assume that the Japanese would still have attacked the USA.

Once that happens, I think that (apart from Japan finding itself stomped in record time if all the US effort is aimed in one direction at a time) there are simply so many variables that it is difficult to tell what would happen.

But by 1943 or 44 the US has a massive army, navy and airforce and Japan is a smoking ruin.

In terms of the original question, I think the Soviet Union survives (and therefore Hitler doesn't win) if the isolationist president introduces some level of Lend Lease.

Merely my 2cents :)

foxweasel28 Jul 2018 1:32 a.m. PST

No, although it would have taken much longer, Russia and the British empire/Dominions would still have won. America entering the war had no bearing on the Germans being stopped at the channel in 1940 and before Moscow in 41. With no lend lease and other aid, due to an isolationist policy, it would have taken a long time to build up the necessary hardware and food would have to have come in from the empire, but once the Germans had failed to achieve the previously mentioned objectives it was just a matter of time. Though yet again, it's just a "what if" no one's right or wrong.

Dynaman878928 Jul 2018 4:43 a.m. PST

The Japanese attack on the US was not a foregone conclusion. A more isolationist president may very well have pulled back on the policies that led to Japan attacking the US and instead focusing solely on the UK and others in the Pacific.

As to Germany winning WW2, if Russian had been a Japanese target instead of the US then perhaps, but that seems unlikely.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2018 5:57 a.m. PST

Dynaman8789, you are, of course, correct to point out that a Japanese attack on the US is not a foregone conclusion.

That said, if we assume that the Japanese pursued their 'southern' rather than 'northern' strategy, I really don't see Yamamato leaving the Philippines untouched. It is one of those strange things: it makes perfect political sense to leave the Philippines (and Hawaii) untouched and effectively dare the US to do something about what they are doing in SE Asia, but I simply can't see the Japanese navy accepting the risk.

Again, that is simply my 2cents and in no way an authoritative statemenent!

Repiqueone28 Jul 2018 5:58 a.m. PST

For an interesting take on this topic, get a copy of " The Plot Against America". by one of America's great novelists, Philip Roth. It premises a Presidency of Charles Lindbergh of the America First Party, and its impact on America and the War. It's a very good read with some interesting insights into America, including present day events.

David Simon, who produced The Wire, announced early this year that he is doing a six-part series for TV of this novel.

Dynaman878928 Jul 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

The Japanese would have attacked the US eventually, but most likely long after it would have made a difference to Germany winning WW2 or not. As it was the Japanese and the US were in negotiations up till the very last minute, talking past each other to be sure, but in negotiations. If the US had continued with scrap metal sales and no oil embargo I doubt Japan would have considered the US an immediate threat.

Lee49428 Jul 2018 8:01 a.m. PST

The USAs shortest path to war was to tighten the economic screws on Japan until they had to attack. An isolationist president that pursued a Munich Style appeasement policy with Japan might well have delayed entry into the war until Germany had knocked England out of the war and caused a second Red Oktober ousting Stalin. One of the few paths to Axis victory in WWII. Of course looking today at the Axis Nations vs the Allies one has to ask who really won the war? Cheets!

Legion 428 Jul 2018 8:38 a.m. PST

As some have said, once Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and the events that followed shortly afterwards. The US could no longer stay out of the war.

And Germany lost whatever chance it could of had winning WWII when they attacked Russia. It may have taken the USSR longer to defeat Germany and it's allies. But the Russians had numbers or all types of assets on their side. And the ability to use them regardless of the losses.

Dynaman878928 Jul 2018 12:33 p.m. PST

Even after the winter of 41/42 Germany was not automatically going to lose in Russia. Although scoffed at the aid from the western Allies kept Russia in the war till mid 43, after that it might not have been essential. Sure the Russians built lots of tanks and had lots of divisions but getting the supplies to those troops is hard to do without trucks.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2018 12:55 p.m. PST

If the USA had been appeasing Japan, and I mean REALLY appeasing…
No cutoff of scrap metal.
No oil embargo.
Roosevelt (or whoever is in office) being openly contemptuous of the European Colonial powers. France, Britain, the Netherlands.

The Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere would have been ripe for the picking. The USA was going to grant the Philippines independence soon.
No need to invade the Philippines. No need for Pearl Harbor.
No plans for war with an isolationist America.
Why not grab the East Indies, Indochina and Malaya?
Or wait until after conquering Russian Asia?
Japan has essentially two foreign policies. One run by the Army and the other by the Navy. And they did not cooperate or consult.

If Japan has no need to worry about America, she can attack Vladivostok and Manchuria while Stalin is busy fighting Germany. No "Siberian" veteran divisions to Moscow in December 1941.

So, an isolationist appeasement policy towards Japan, with much stricter neutrality towards Germany could have knocked Russia. Maybe. grin

Dynaman878928 Jul 2018 5:57 p.m. PST

That is a good point, a truly Neutral/isolationist USA might easily have been a trading partner with Germany and been a little aggravated by the British intervention in trade that surely would have occurred.

28mm Fanatik28 Jul 2018 6:49 p.m. PST

Probably not, but I'd say their odds of winning WWII without the USA getting involved would have improved from around 5:2 to 1.5:1.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2018 11:06 p.m. PST

Wasn't FDR notoriously anti-Semitic? Not against the odds he might jump the other way.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2018 6:27 a.m. PST

FDR anti Semitic?
First time I ever heard that. He may have simply lumped their fate in as one more reason to defeat Germany, and not the primary reason.

Legion 429 Jul 2018 7:22 a.m. PST

Even after the winter of 41/42 Germany was not automatically going to lose in Russia. Although scoffed at the aid from the western Allies kept Russia in the war till mid 43, after that it might not have been essential. Sure the Russians built lots of tanks and had lots of divisions but getting the supplies to those troops is hard to do without trucks.

As I said on another thread here. The rolling stock of various US truck types were critical in supporting a highly mechanized/motorized, etc., military that the USSR had. E.g. fuel, ammo, spare parts, food/water, etc., etc. Any AFV or aircraft, etc., that can't shoot, move or communicate[albeit many Russian AFVs had no radio(s) !] is just a big paperweight …

Some historians have said, that the Generals that won WWII were General Motors, General Electric and General Foods … There is probably a modicum of truth there.


But I still think with the German extended supply lines, the Russian weather, poor allocation of assets, e.g. railroads, Russia's "home court" advantage, geographic size and again finally Russian raw numbers in production and deployment. They Germans were destined/doomed to fail.

They started out strong, but for all those reasons I listed and surely some others. They, like Napoleon before them, they would just end up in a long bloody retreat.


FDR anti Semitic?
First time I ever heard that.
Me too. Could the US have done more to help save the Jews [e.g. The transport ship "St. Louis" link ] and probably others ? Maybe … but I too think it came down to defeat the Nazis first overall. And in doing so saving/liberating many in Nazi occupied areas. In or out of camps. And of course many Nazi camps were in the East. And were liberated by the USSR. Were many of the Russians anti-Semitic ? I've heard many stories that say, Yes, some were. Very much so …

Fred Cartwright29 Jul 2018 10:24 a.m. PST

And Germany lost whatever chance it could of had winning WWII when they attacked Russia. It may have taken the USSR longer to defeat Germany and it's allies. But the Russians had numbers or all types of assets on their side. And the ability to use them regardless of the losses.

I think that might depend on how isolationist as US President it was. If it meant no lend lease and no destroyers for bases deal that puts the UK in a very difficult position. No Stuart's or Grants for the desert, Battle of the Atlantic much tougher. The UK might have had to come to terms with Germany in those circumstances. No lend lease also makes things tougher for the Soviets. While not significant in overall numbers lend lease tank deliveries were crucial in maintaining Soviet tanks strengths at times. Without those maybe the Germans take the oil fields in 42. Even if they can't hold them as long as they are wrecked so it would take years to restore production the Soviets are stuffed. No fuel for the T34's means they aren't going anywhere. No big Soviet offensives, no ability to keep the pressure on the Germans as they did in 43 and 44. The war in the east could end in a stalemate.

RudyNelson29 Jul 2018 12:38 p.m. PST

I have participated in several foreign relations class excercises. In every one the Japanese attacked the USA. Most were over control of the Phillippines. Some were due to Japanese incursions against British territories.
These simulations were more realistic when computer based. A real person exercise tended to see a very aggressive Japanese player with invasions of Australia and India happening. In one case a player invaded Alaska in part to prevent American aid to the Soviets through Siberia.

Tgunner29 Jul 2018 1:09 p.m. PST

Don't forget the trucks!

US trucks allowed the Soviets to build more tanks. No US trucks means that more Soviet production has to go towards replacing those trucks and that cuts deeply into Soviet maneuver capability. That forces a tighter leash on Soviet advances which may dragout the war for even longer.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2018 1:28 p.m. PST

FDR anti Semitic?
First time I ever heard that.

Really? I thought it was common knowledge. Google it: eg:

link

link

He & Joe Stalin at Yalta & Potsdam sat around cracking "jokes" about Jews.

Several US presidents were flawed. They weren't all paragons like Lincoln or Wilson. Of course, anti-Semitism was quite common back then & in reality, it didn't change his opposition to Hitler. But this is a "what-if".

Lion in the Stars29 Jul 2018 1:49 p.m. PST

The Japanese attack on the US was not a foregone conclusion. A more isolationist president may very well have pulled back on the policies that led to Japan attacking the US and instead focusing solely on the UK and others in the Pacific.

Considering that the US put the Oil Embargo up as a response to Japan's invasion of French Indochina (an attempt to blockade China), I'm not sure that an isolationist president would stay in office!

Legion 429 Jul 2018 2:18 p.m. PST

US trucks allowed the Soviets to build more tanks.
Yes, again, The rolling stock of various US truck types were critical in supporting a highly mechanized/motorized, etc., military that the USSR had. E.g. fuel, ammo, spare parts, food/water, etc., etc. Any AFV or aircraft, etc., that can't shoot, move or communicate[albeit many Russian AFVs had no radio(s) !] is just a big paperweight …
Some historians have said, that the Generals that won WWII were General Motors, General Electric and General Foods … There is probably a modicum of truth there.


The war in the east could end in a stalemate.
Maybe … … but I still think in the long run the USSR would have defeated the Nazis …

goragrad29 Jul 2018 5:24 p.m. PST

Canadian and British tanks were a significant portion of Soviet tank strengths starting in early 42 (as I recall in one of the spring offenses Valentines were the bulk of the tanks in one tank corps). In May there were 117 Matidas and Valentines in the South Western Front out of a total of 923 tanks (of which 302 were T-60s, 57 BT-7s, and 33 T-26s).

Without US Lend-Lease how much armor would the Commonwealth have been able to send the Soviets and where would that have left them for the German Summer Offensive in 42?

By mid 42 M3Ms and M3Ls were showing up as the sole tanks in a number of formations.

While not that large a number compared to total Soviet production, at critical times in 42 in particular the Lend Lease tanks were a significant portion of the Soviet tank strength and may have been crucial.

Fred Cartwright30 Jul 2018 3:19 a.m. PST

While not that large a number compared to total Soviet production, at critical times in 42 in particular the Lend Lease tanks were a significant portion of the Soviet tank strength and may have been crucial.

I think that is an important point if you are going down the what if route. A few more German tanks or a few less Soviet ones in the Caucasus' may have enabled the Germans to take the oil fields. Without oil the Soviet war machine grinds to a halt. In those circumstances it is difficult to see how the Soviets can force any sort of victory over the Germans.

Legion 430 Jul 2018 7:05 a.m. PST

While not that large a number compared to total Soviet production,
Russian AFV production once it go rolling was massive compared to the Germans(and Italians, Hungarians, etc.) … E.g.:
German Production:

Pz. IVh 5007

Pz. V 5460

Pz VIa 1350

Pz VIb 490


USSR :

T-34/76c 10000

T34/85 19000

SU-85 7000

SU-100 1200


I realize those are total figures by @ War's end. But IMO it shows the Russians could and did out produce the Germans in the long run overall …


I think that is an important point if you are going down the what if route. A few more German tanks or a few less Soviet ones in the Caucasus' may have enabled the Germans to take the oil fields.
True … But could they have held it ? E.g. Germans held @ 90% of Stalingrad at one time … And then the Russians regrouped, refitted and counterattacked. And many of those forces were Russian Infantry in the attack, supported by AFVS. Not vis versa …

Fred Cartwright30 Jul 2018 7:14 a.m. PST

True … But could they have held it ? E.g. Germans held @ 90& of Stalingrad at one time … And then the Russians regrouped, refitted and counterattacked. And many of those forces were Russian Infantry in the attack, supported by AFVS. Not vis versa …

Doesn't matter if they do or not. As long as the fields are out of action so it would take the Soviets several years to get back production that cripples the Soviet war effort. Remember this is part of the scenario where no US involvement means no supplies coming from the US to replace it. In that case maybe there is no big Soviet winter offensive in 42.

Legion 430 Jul 2018 7:19 a.m. PST

You may be correct … but I still think the USSR's mass in assets of all types would win in the end … As it did …

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2018 8:39 a.m. PST

Several US presidents were flawed. They weren't all paragons like Lincoln or Wilson.

Wilson? A paragon???
He was the most racist president we ever had.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2018 1:48 p.m. PST

Perhaps I meant paracetium?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2018 2:07 p.m. PST

Ok. You lost me there. grin

Legion 430 Jul 2018 3:01 p.m. PST

He was the most racist president we ever had.
That is very true … Even if he did or attempted to get a "good" peace in Europe after WWI, etc.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2018 4:39 a.m. PST

Surely, John, I don't have to explain the joke????

(I like him, you don't. To me, he's a paragon, to you he's a paramecium eg a microbe?).

cheers, old friend.

Legion 431 Jul 2018 7:53 a.m. PST

However some do rate him very high in the list of the POTUS(s ?). But I don't know if I'd call him a microbe. Sadly racism in the US has existed for a very long time and more sadly it is still around in some form or another. And it's more that just "black & white", per se, i.e race. It is still, e.g. ethnicity and religion among other discriminators, etc.

Fred Cartwright31 Jul 2018 8:08 a.m. PST

but I still think the USSR's mass in assets of all types would win in the end … As it did …

We will never know for sure, but it is probably Germany's best shot at victory as a "what if" and only requires one change from the timeline, that of an isolationist President, determined to keep America out of the war.

28mm Fanatik31 Jul 2018 9:38 a.m. PST

It would have taken longer but Russia would have ultimately prevailed because unlike say, France, its vast territory allows for breathing room and Russia can afford to trade space for time to regroup.

Even if the Germans captured Moscow by the winter of 1941 and Stalingrad a year later, victory is not assured. Russia dispersed its T-34 factories and moved them east of the Urals.

So in the final analysis invading Russia was a fool's errand and Hitler's greatest blunder, with the usual caveat that hindsight's always 20/20 etc.

This would also mean that when Russia wins the war in 1947, she would occupy all of Germany and very likely France as well, making the landscape of post-WWII Europe a lot different. Barring other variables and X Factors like Hitler perfecting the Bomb and reducing Russia to a radioactive wasteland, that is.

Legion 431 Jul 2018 3:57 p.m. PST

We will never know for sure,
Well like we see in many war games, e.g. AH's old France '40 game. Optional TO&Es, Scenarios, etc., … What-ifs can be interesting and fun …


It would have taken longer but Russia would have ultimately prevailed because unlike say, France, its vast territory allows for breathing room and Russia can afford to trade space for time to regroup.
Russia was/is still one of the largest nations on Earth. They had/still have a lot of space. 11 time zones, IIRC. France … they could only go to the Coast, i.e. Dunkirk …

Durrati01 Aug 2018 8:10 a.m. PST

Wilson was the most racist president the US has had? OK, am interested. Do not know to much about US presidents but that is quite a statement.More racist than the presidents that were slave owners? What did Wilson say / do to mark him out as the most racist president ever?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2018 7:52 p.m. PST

I would posit a difference between those wealthy planters born into the slave owning class, and those who strived 50 years after the end of the Civil War to reverse its gains.
The former were ….. businessmen. Wilson was a hater. This might be a small point to some but I think it's important. And if you say it's a distinction without a difference, I can see your point.

I Googled "Widrow Wilson racist", and here is the first hit.
link
There are many more.
Note that it starts out with the usual handwringing about snowflakes on campus. But then it agrees with the premise.
Wilson hated the Negro. (Perhaps today that's not politically correct, but back in the 60s and 70s it was the acceptable word. Things change.
Wilson ordered the resegregation of the Civil Service.
He praised the Ku Klux Klan. He praised "Birth of a Nation".

Wilson did more to set back Civil Rights post Reconstruction than any man.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian01 Aug 2018 8:10 p.m. PST

We will never know for sure, but it is probably Germany's best shot at victory as a "what if" and only requires one change from the timeline, that of an isolationist President, determined to keep America out of the war.

And how much of a difference it would have made if the Soviet Union had not had access to 'lend-lease' – particularly all those tanks, aircraft, and trucks!

goragrad01 Aug 2018 11:44 p.m. PST

As to the Soviet Union having 11 time zones – how much of her population and resource production was east of the Urals???

How much of the rail network centered on/passed though Moscow?

Capture the Western end of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and what happens to the logistics of moving men and materiel form Siberia to fight the Germans?

471 Lend Lease tanks in 1941 when the Soviets were losing tanks and men wholesale. Valentines in action at the Battle of Moscow – when things were that delicately balanced it doesn't take much to make a major difference.

As to Wilson, Vox wouldn't be my first choice of references. Not to say Wilson wasn't racist, but that Vox will put their slant on anything they publish and racism is a hot topic.

Legion 402 Aug 2018 8:18 a.m. PST

As to the Soviet Union having 11 time zones how much of her population and resource production was east of the Urals???
How much of the rail network centered on/passed though Moscow?
The fact that Russia, can trade space for time vs. e.g. the French & UK troops during the France '40 Campaign, is the point I was making.


Capture the Western end of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and what happens to the logistics of moving men and materiel form Siberia to fight the Germans?
E.g. 90% of Stalingrad was under German control at one time. Then the Russians counterattacked. And the German flanks wee held by IIRC German Allies, who were not up to the task of holding those flanks. IMO the Russian land mass was/is just too big for the Germans and their allies to "win". Especially with the harsh Russian Winters and very, very muddy following Springs. E.g napoleon

Not to mention the huge Russian population … IIRC @ 20-27 million were lost in WWII.

Of course I could be wrong, as I was not there in either war or century … old fart

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