. THE HIGH PRICE OF RACISMcan talk about what battlefield mistakes Germany and Japan made that lost those nations World War II. Taking an overall strategic view, both nations were basically overwhelmed. The Japanese lost because they simply could not compete with the industrial strength of the United States. No matter how valiantly Japan fought, going it alone against a nation that was launching one fleet carrier and at least another jeep carrier each month, they were going to lose. The Germans not only shared being overwhelmed by the sheer mass of manufacturing that poured out of the United States, Britain, and Russia but also were swamped by the manpower of their opponents. If it weren’t for a fundamental mistake—a tragic flaw, more accurately—by both of the Axis powers, this would not have been the case.problem was the irrational and self-destructive racism that was so heartily embraced by both nations. Racism first cost Germany much at home. Hitler and the Nazis did not need to bash the Jews to get elected in 1933. The fear of the communists and economic collapse gave them that victory. But Hitler and his henchmen were so sold on their Aryan superiority that they overlooked what they denied Germany by banishing or killing off that nation’s Jews. The group that contributed a higher percentage of volunteer soldiers than any other in World War I was the German Jews. Their patriotism was widely recognized during that war. In science and manufacturing, they had always contributed far beyond their numbers. Many of the world’s top scientists were German Jews. Almost all eventually fled the country. Among those who fled to the United States was Albert Einstein. Out of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, if the same percentage had instead been left alone and served in the Wehrmacht in World War II, this would have added at least ten more divisions of highly educated soldiers. Ten more divisions might have taken Moscow.portrays the cost of Aryan racism more than footage of Nazi units “liberating” towns in Ukraine. The Soviet Union had conquered Ukraine. It was never part of Russia culturally or politically, and it is adamantly not today. Ukraine had actually been part of Germany itself for much of 1918, having been sold out by the Bolsheviks as part of their peace agreement with the kaiser. When Germany collapsed, Ukraine became an independent nation with a population equal to that of Poland. Eventually, through betrayal, Ukraine was absorbed by the Soviet Union. Always too independent and resistant to communism, Ukraine was punished by Stalin in every way he could manage. In the years before the second war, 9 million Ukrainians were killed by Stalin either directly or by consciously created famines. So when the Germans arrived, they were treated like lost brothers and liberators. Wehrmacht officers helped open churches and were feasted and flirted by the local population. These millions of people were ready to work for and fight for Germany. Within weeks, the SS began implementing secret orders for occupied Slavic territories. The order included the elimination of all Jews, leaders, priests, teachers, and military officers. The stated eventual goal of the SS plan was to depopulate large parts of Ukraine and enslave the survivors. The then-empty Ukraine was to be settled by German overlords.supportive Ukrainian population could have provided up to a million additional soldiers to fight against Russia. This would have replaced all the losses taken at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942 to 1943. But because of the Aryan myth and the sheer sadism of the SS, three months after the Germans were welcomed in Ukraine, its forests were full of guerrillas. Instead of tying up tens of thousands of soldiers with occupation duties, Ukraine should have provided hundreds of thousands of soldiers fighting alongside the Germans. The story was the same for the Balts, the White Russians, the Tartar, the Mongolian, and even the German Balts. They were a ready source of support and recruits for the manpower-poor German army, but the Nazi leadership could not get past their extreme racism and wasted this great potential asset. The final result was that as the formerly hated Soviets recaptured Ukraine and its neighbors, the surviving men often volunteered to join the ranks of the Red Army. German racism turned a literal army of peoples that hated the communists into their willing recruits.did not have the monopoly on racism in the 1940s. The Americans put tens of thousands of Japanese Americans into camps for no more reason than they looked Japanese. The heroic combat record of the Nisei division in Italy shows the fallacy of that action. There was also the treatment by the army of black soldiers. Many were allocated to noncombat roles and denied promotion on no other basis than their skin color. It wasn’t until twenty years after the end of World War II that the last Jim Crow laws disappeared. But anything any of the Allies did paled compared to the sheer barbarism of the Japanese toward other Asian peoples and everyone else during the war.places such as Indochina and the Philippines, it had not been that long since British, French, and American troops had been battling with local independence movements. One of the reasons the Thompson machine gun was developed was to knock down machete-swinging Philippine rebels who were impervious to pain because of the druglike effects of the plants they chewed. Certainly as soon as the Japanese left, all of Vietnam went right back to trying to throw out the French. Each of these countries had millions who would and did embrace a pan-Asian philosophy. But the Japanese soldiers were indoctrinated to treat everyone not Japanese as inferior and not really human. This attitude was so pervasive that all over Asia it was rare to see any non-Japanese assisting them in combat. This contrasts with the tens of thousands of Indian and Malaysian troops that joined with the British to repel the Japanese. In almost every country where Japanese had been welcomed for throwing out the European colonial master, within days, powerful resistance movements had sprung up.Japanese had a habit of shooting or beheading anyone who annoyed them, even their own soldiers, without as much as a hearing. This behavior reflected the barbarism that permeated all of their behavior. Officers treated their men with disdain, and the common soldiers passed on that hate and brutality with enthusiasm. The Japanese made it clear to all other Asians that they were held in contempt and were unworthy of respect. Americans rarely remember that 80 percent of those who died on the Bataan Death March were Philippine. The Philippine people never forgot, though. By actually acting like they promised to with their co-prosperity sphere, Japan might have been able to recruit literally millions of new soldiers. They could have much more effectively tapped the resources of Indochina and might even have had enough soldiers to complete the conquest of China. The entire war in China and the Pacific would have been far different and an Allied victory far from assured.mistake and cost of racism were obvious even at the time. But like the Confederacy being asked to recruit former slaves as soldiers, the Imperial Japanese and Nazi Germans found that acting against their prejudices was inconceivable. They had every reason, and hard necessity, to treat potential allied peoples well and always failed to do so. Simple racism, more than any strategic blunder, doomed the fascists.
. STUCK TO A BAD BARGAINthe time of the Yalta conference, World War II in Europe was almost over. By February 1945, the Germans’ last gasp, the surprise attack at Ardennes, had failed. There was no further chance of a serious German counterattack. The three leaders who met there, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, knew this. Germany had no more left, and Japan, while still dangerous defending their islands, had no offensive strength left. The discussions and agreements were more about the shape of post-war Europe than about the ongoing war. There were actually two major areas of agreement at Yalta. One was to confirm the formation of the United Nations and its structure. The other laid out who would occupy what parts of Germany and the fate of the rest of occupied Europe.was to be clearly under the Soviet thumb. Russia had not done well against invasions coming out of Poland since the Red Army almost lost the 1920-1921 Polish-Soviet War. They were taking no chances of that happening again, even if it meant occupying Poland forever. There were details, but Stalin publicly agreed that most of eastern Europe would get elected governments within a year or so. History has shown the Soviet dictator had no intention of keeping his word on any free elections, but the United States wanted his help if it became necessary to invade the Japanese home islands, so they accepted this. Any invasion of the homelands was going to be vicious and generate a lot of casualties. A million or so hardy Russian soldiers joining in could make the conquest a lot easier. Also there were Japanese soldiers in Asia—mostly in China, Korea, and Mongolia—who needed pressure kept on them.February and late April, the Allied armies pushed into the heart of Germany. By late April, the question was more one of what areas would be occupied rather than of defeating those remnants of the Wehrmacht that were still fighting. There was also concern about rumors of a guerrilla army forming in the south German mountains. These turned out to be false, but it was a worrisome possibility. The big question was, where would Eisenhower push? To the frustration of Patton and other commanders, the decision was made to turn away from Berlin and to actually reverse any penetrations into eastern Europe. This was ordered even as it became more apparent that Stalin had no intention of granting any real elections or giving up one ounce of control in any part of the nations Russia occupied. Word came down from Roosevelt, and the U.S. Army was effectively ordered to concede eastern Europe to the Soviets. The mistake here was not agreeing to the terms at Yalta. The mistake was not being concerned about a final guerrilla retreat in the mountains that never existed. The Americans’ real mistake was adhering to their parts of the treaty when it was already apparent the communists had no intention of honoring any of it.the U.S. president and army been prescient enough to foresee the Cold War, as Churchill did, would Eisenhower have ordered a continued push? His divisions could have gotten to Berlin first, considering how resistance had collapsed. It would have been possible for the highly mobile American mechanized divisions to reach Austria, Berlin, Albania, Bulgaria, and maybe Czechoslovakia. Would, as Patton expected, or maybe hoped, this have resulted in a shooting war between the former allies? It was a war that neither side would have been guaranteed to win. But Russia was a nation as tired of war as the others.is no way to know what the world might have looked like had Roosevelt and then Truman risked war and stood up to Stalin. What America did instead was stick to the terms of a treaty that had become meaningless. This mistake resulted in tens of millions of eastern Europeans being condemned to fifty years of communist repression.
. MISQUOTEDdiplomat’s tool is words, and it is reasonable to assume someone who has risen to be the top diplomat for the United States means what he says. So when Joseph Stalin and Kim Il-sung invaded South Korea, they were shocked and honestly amazed at the vehement reaction from the United Nations (UN) and the United States. They had every right to be, since effectively they had been given permission to attack by the U.S. secretary of state.of State Dean Acheson, on January 12, 1950, made a speech to the National Press Club. This was a policy speech and not casual remarks. It seemed likely that the speech was intended to act as a warning to the now-antagonistic communist Russia, China, and their satellites. In this speech, Acheson described the American post-World War II sphere of influence as it extended all over the world. The problem came when he described the U.S. interest in the Pacific and mentioned Japan, but not Korea. Imagine Kim Il-sung’s joy when he heard that coveted South Korea was not protected by the United States.problem of mixed signals on Korea was also complicated by politics. President Truman was a Democrat, and the Congress was controlled by the Republican Party. And the Republicans did not like many of Truman’s foreign policies. As a result, when Truman requested $60 million in aid for South Korea, Congress refused to pass it. Then a bill that would finance 500 advisers and training personnel to assist in equipping the South Korean army with modern weapons was defeated in the House by the close vote of 193 to 192. Those in power in Moscow and Pyongyang saw a clear message. America was abandoning South Korea.action taken by Truman on April 25, 1950, might have cleared up the matter and put the North Koreans on notice. This was National Security Directive 68, which committed American resources to counter any communist aggression “anywhere in Asia.” It was a strong and clear statement and could have been an equally clear warning. The problem was national security directives are classified top secret.public statement by John Foster Dulles, Truman’s special envoy to Asia, likely was intended to put the communists on notice. Unfortunately, he worded his statement in typical diplomatic terms, obscuring the message. The closest Dulles came to a definitive statement was in his speech to the South Korean Assembly. He said that America was “faithful to the cause of human freedom and loyal to those everywhere who honorably support it.” Not exactly fighting words to warn off an aggressor.Korean troops poured over the thirty-eighth parallel on June 17, 1950. The poorly armed and disorganized South Korean army was incapable of serious resistance. The few American units in Korea were quickly forced to retreat south. Then the world responded to the invasion.all they had heard, it was likely that both Stalin and Kim Il-sung found the adamant reaction by the United States a shock. Had the Soviet Union or China actually expected a military response from Truman, it is likely that they would have not allowed Kim Il-sung to attack. Certainly they would not have let the invasion happen while they were boycotting the Security Council. Because the Russians were not attending the UN Security Council meetings, the council was able to pass a resolution calling for strong military force to support and restore South Korea. Before the conflict ended, 50,000 UN soldiers, mostly Americans, were killed along with many times that number of North Koreans and then Chinese. It was a high price to pay for what was effectively just sloppy language.
. EGO OVER WISDOMmistake that changed the Korean War and cost more than 10,000 American lives was caused by ego. Not just the ego of one man, though there was a man whose ego was as enormous as his reputation. That man was General Douglas MacArthur. It also involved a bad attack of victory disease by the chief of staff and a good bit of racial prejudice. The problems that resulted from this mistake are still in the news.all began because the North Korean Army (NKA) attacked South Korea. (The diplomatic mistakes that caused this are discussed on pages 335-337.) In the first few weeks after their surprise attack, the NKA forced the few South Korean and American divisions into a small area in a southern corner of the Korean peninsula that became known as the Pusan Perimeter. Then, on September 5, in a bold move, MacArthur landed 70,000 men at Inchon. The successful landing was above and behind the bulk of the North Korean Army. Within days, the Americans had taken back Seoul and fought their way across Korea. At the same time, United Nations forces in the Pusan Perimeter broke out and swept north. Cut off from retreat, not to mention food, ammunition, and fuel, while pressed from two sides, the NKA simply collapsed.Korea was a communist country, and it was known that it got support from Red Premier Mao’s China. When it was apparent that there were no longer substantial North Korean forces left to even slow MacArthur should he push above the old border at the thirty-eighth parallel, the Chinese asked the Indian ambassador to notify Washington that it would be considered an unacceptable threat to the People’s Republic of China for North Korea to be occupied. This was tantamount to a public promise to attack. Unfortunately, the CIA designated the ambassador as an unreliable source and ignored China’s message.were no aircraft overflying China and Manchuria. MacArthur and his staff had been in the habit of depending on the radio intelligence of the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) to keep them informed about the Chinese. But the signal intelligence agency was unable to break the Chinese codes and were reluctant to admit so. What intelligence did come in, before MacArthur’s troops continued north, came from the CIA. Unfortunately, what they provided was more analysis that conformed to their own general beliefs instead of real intelligence. By their own later analysis of their efforts in 1950, they reported, “While full-scale Chinese Communist intervention in Korea must be regarded as a continuing possibility, a consideration of all known factors leads to the conclusion that barring a Soviet decision for global war, such action is not probable in 1950.”while the Chinese felt that they had publicly warned the United States to stop, no one got the message. Regardless, the Chinese communists had put the world on notice, and not responding strongly would have been a terrible loss of face for Mao’s relatively new government. Former admiral and the Japanese ambassador to the United States, Kichasaburo Nakamura, warned the Truman government that China would be required to react strongly if MacArthur continued, but again, the message was ignored. Nor would such a warning have been welcomed. Buoyed by his Inchon victory, MacArthur’s attitude might be characterized as: They wouldn’t dare., urged by the South Korean leader Syngman Rhee, launched his two corps north, sending the Ten Corps up along the southern coast and the Eight Corps to land at a port 100 miles north of the thirty-eighth parallel. Both forces then advanced against little resistance. The operations could be best characterized as a cleanup. As both corps approached the Chinese border, they began to capture first individual and then entire Chinese units. Still everyone on the U.S. side refused to believe the Chinese would attack.CIA had information that they simply refused to believe as of October 13. It correctly placed 498,000 Chinese combat troops and 370,000 additional security and support troops on the Korean border. Daily summary reports were issued by the CIA. Their report for October 13 said that “China had no intention of entering the war in any large-scale fashion.” The three-quarters of a million soldiers were explained as being on the border within miles of the invading UN forces “to protect the hydroelectric plants along the Yalu River that provide power to the Manchurian industrial area.”November 24, the CIA stated that even though they had identified twelve Chinese divisions inside Korea and that China did have the capability for a large-scale offensive, they did not appear to be preparing to launch one. Before this CIA analysis could reach MacArthur’s headquarters, his two corps were under attack by 300,000 Chinese. The Eighth Army took 4,000 casualties as it made a fighting retreat and the Tenth Corps First Marine Division was surrounded and survived only by making one of the most heroic fighting withdrawals in history.Chinese had told everyone they were going to attack. Then they stated that, having done so, they had to attack if MacArthur’s offensive continued. Next they left a half million men along the border for weeks. Then the Chinese sent smaller units into Korea that were seen, and some Chinese soldiers were captured by the advancing American forces. And still no one of authority from MacArthur to the CIA analysts believed that, even after they had repeatedly said they would, the Chinese would actually attack. The cost of this arrogance was two more years of war, tens of thousands of UN casualties, and perhaps a million Korean dead. There is still no peace treaty between North and South Korea.
. DIRTY TRICKat 3M in Minnesota were trying to make a better formula for synthetic rubber. The rubber shortages of World War II had made such research important even into the 1950s. As sometimes happens, one of the lab assistants spilled an ounce or so of one of the many compounds onto the tennis shoe of scientist Patsy Sherman. Trying to redeem himself, the lab assistant worked hard to remove the substance from the shoe. Nothing worked, not soap, alcohol, or water. In fact the stained area repelled everything he tried. Sherman and another researcher, Sam Smith, began working with the spilled substance. Between them, they refined the chemical and, in 1956, 3M began selling Scotchgard.