Years ago I posted a similar thought that was countered by a very knowledgeable and reasonable argument.
First, I believe that American progressives of the era opposed going to war against Hitler after his August 1939 nonaggression pact with their Uncle Joe. Progressives demanded war against Hitler in June, 1941 when Hitler attacked their beloved workers' paradise.
I find it very creditable that Uncle Joe Stalin worried about Japan especially after June. He needed help. Something had to be done.
I first heard from some Europeans that the FDR administration provoked Japan.
It's NOT tinfoil hat stuff to say that some people very close to FDR were communists or sympathetic to Uncle Joe's workers' paradise.
In a biography of Armand Hammer I read that it was he who sold the idea of a generous lend lease program for the Soviet Union to a willing FDR Administration. In the 1930s the Export-Import Bank was created to help the Soviets. I've known FDR Democrats (in 1940s - 50s) who could tear up talking about their Uncle Joe.
IMO, the FDR Administration wanted some kind of act of war from Japan as an excuse. No one likely thought that it would be that big.
Pearl Harbor made the isolationists give full support to FDR. But by 1944 when it was obvious that we'd win Republicans did debate post war plans with the Democrats.
Republicans wanted a tough stand against communism, the Democrats became the isolationists.
Another FReeper responded to my comment that: Stalin worried about Japan.
"Stalin wasn't worried about the Japanese. The Red Army had thoroughly bloodied the Japanese Army's nose in the border clashes of the late '30s. The Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact signed in April 1941 was pushed for by the Japanese, who by then had already decided their thrust was going to be to the south. The Japanese had every reason not to provoke the Soviets and the Soviets understood this, otherwise they would not have depleted their forces in the Far East by sending them to Europe as they did."
Christina Shelton, in her recent biography of Alger Hiss, wrote that Hiss and or Harry Dexter White, kept State Department position papers from either the Sec State or FDR that made the case against the oil embargo against Japan. The position paper(s?) stated that a denial of oil supplies would very likely lead to a decision by the Japanese to attack the Dutch Indies (Indonesia) and British colony of Borneo to seize their oil wells. And probably to attack the Philippine Islands as the US Navy there was in a position to cut the Japense supply line back to Japan from the Dutch Indies.
But having recently readI realize that that apparently is not the case. Because that book make a very credible case that FDR was frantically working to keep Britain in the war from Dunkirk on. The British Army was essentially unarmed after Dunkirk, and FDR sold all the Armys WWI surplus (because the US Army was adopting the Garand) rifles. And allowed Britain (and France, before its fall) to shop for arms in America with little or no restriction. Churchill occasionally sent FDR a telegram warning of Britainsprecarious position - at one point warning that if Britain fell, Churchill obviously could not speak to what his successors might feel obliged to allow Hitler to do with the Royal Navy. FDR did not want the Royal Navy to appear off the coast of New Jersey.
- Freedom's Forge:
- How American Business Produced Victory in World War II
You probably know, as I already had, that the British had sent the blueprints for the Rolls Royce Merlin fighter engine and plans for radar and the Wittle jet engine, and other advanced devices to America. But it had not sunk in to me that that was over a year before Pearl Harbor. The British also paid cash on the barrelhead, as long as they were able, for American supplies - and FDR made sure that that money helped the US build up its military-industrial complex.
As under Secretary of the Navy, FDR had seen first hand that during WWI Americas factories had never delivered any military materiel to Europe, still less the front, before the shooting ended. And he knew that a repeat of that performance would be disastrous in WWII. So he called Bertrand Russell, the only industrialist who had impressed him during WWI. Russell demurred, saying he was too old for the job, but recommended Bill Knudsen. Knudsen had immigrated in 1900, had gone to work for Ford, risen to Henrys right hand man, and had quit in a policy dispute in 1920. He then signed on with a struggling auto company known as General Motors, and brought the Chevrolet division up to parity with Ford. So basically from the time of Dunkirk to the time of Pearl Harbor, Knudsen - operating as a dollar-a-year man - organized the American ability to mass produce war materiel. Knudsen gave FDR an estimate of 18 months to finish preparation for mass production - first get enough machine tools, then enough factory space, and so on - and was ready to seriously ramp up production when the smoke cleared away from Pearl Harbor.
That 18 month period from Dunkirk to Pearl Harbor meant that America was even more of a sleeping giant than Yamamoto knew in 1941. America had few warplanes in 1941 - but it was in a position to undertake to make 50,000 planes (many multiengine) in 1942.