December 15, 2010

Alternative History Questions

Imagine this scenario: Imagine that Hitler and Stalin both died in, say, 1935 and replaced by unaggressive Euroweenies of the Gorbachev sort. Without Hitler's bad example, the leaders of the Japanese Navy arrest the leaders of the Japanese Army and Japan gives up the crazy idea of fighting America. Or imagine whatever you want (Edwin Starr Sr. records "War! What Is It Good For?" in 1938, if you like), as long as it leads to WWII and the Cold War never happening. By 1939, Europe and East Asia have already settled into their long post 1989 peace that we know from our world.

In that situation, would anybody have gotten around to inventing the atomic bomb? Who? When? (Something to consider is the question of whether, in this world, nuclear weapons were ever truly reinvented?)

Now, imagine another scenario in which it's 2010, but nuclear technology has remained at rudimentary 1930s levels ever since the 1930s. Everything else is the same about the world of 2010 -- They've got computers, lasers, titanium, Powerpoint, Twitter, whatever -- just that nobody ever got around to working on nukes. 

Then, some country in this Alternative Present decides to build an atomic bomb. With all the 21st Century advantages, would they do it faster than the Manhattan Project? Would they even set one off by 2020?

119 comments:

albert magnus said...

Atomic fission had been discovered by German scientists (Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman) and was in the published literature before WWII. Once you have that information, someone is going to figure out that you can make a bomb or at least a really good power source.

My answer would be that eventually someone smart enough to realize you could make a bomb would meet a powerful leader who saw the advantages of having a super-bomb when no one else did and get a program going.

The bottleneck is refining weapons-grade uranium which is a unique problem, I believe, and you need lots of smart people to solve it and lots of money.

Markku said...

Without Hitler's bad example, the leaders of the Japanese Navy arrest the leaders of the Japanese Army and Japan gives up the crazy idea of fighting America.

Have you heard of the oil embargo declared on Japan by western powers in August 1941? Oil purchased from West accounted for about 80% of Japan's consumption at the time. Suppose Japan had not attacked any American colonies (particularly the Philippines) in the Pacific and had only invaded the oilfields of Dutch East India in order to secure their supply. How secure exactly would you have thought Japanese supply would have been if the Japanese a) had not secured the long supply line to Japan itself by controlling the Chinese coast plus Taipei and the Philippines, and b) the U.S. Navy had been fully intact in the Pacific. Take into account that American-Japanese relations were already very strained before the embargo because of the Sino-Japanese war, in which America was already de facto heavily involved. In the particular context of late 1941, Pearl Harbor made perfect sense for Japan.

Now, the proper juncture at which to start alternative history speculations is before the Japanese invasion of Northern China. Could the Japanese have created an alliance with nationalist China where the Chinese made a political commitment to Japan and an extensive raw material trade agreement in exhange for Japanese help in fighting the communists? Under that scenario, Western powers would've had no propaganda weapon against Japan whatsoever. And a more powerful China would have provided Japan a much needed ally against all the major Caucasoid empires (the USA, Great Britain, the Soviet Union) it had to face alone.

Since Meiji restauration in 1868, Japan became rapidly modernized and industrialized. Unfortunately, late 19th century and early 20th were the golden age of imperialism. Every major industrial nation (except for America and Russia) had an overseas empire as a source of raw materials. Even the USA had some foreign colonies, mainly the Philippines where a number of rebellions were brutally put down by the occupying American forces. There was no extensive international free market on which raw material producing formerly colonialized nations could sell their commodities.

When Admiral Perry forced the Japanese to open up to the rest of the world and to grant extra-territorial rights to foreigners, his handlers might have chosen differently if they had known what beast they unleashed in convincing the Japanese that they needed to emulate the West in order to secure their place as a sovereign power.

Japanse folly lies precisely in extreme arrogance fueled by racist myths of the Japanese being of divine origin and the rest of humanity being inferior creatures. Oddly, the Japanese did propagandistically call their called the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Zone and pretended to be liberators of Asia. But their extreme brutality against the conquered peoples of Asia revealed their propaganda to be nothing but a bunch despicaple lies and turned them all against the Japanese. The Japanese should have taken a much more humble and patient route. They should've treated the Chinese and the Koreans in particular as potential allies.

Extremely arrogant fucks, the Japanese of that era really deserved to get some humility nuclear bombed into them. They were also incredible lucky to be occupied by the USA and only the USA (with an enlightened man such as McArthur in charge) and not the commie loving Roosevelt who wanted to invite the British, the Chinese and the Soviets (for fucks sake) to share the occupation of Japan. Roosevelt would've have given Stalin not only Hokkaido but the northern half of Honshu, too. After the Soviets had illegally invaded southern Sakhalin and the Kuriles after the capitulation of Japan, Truman sent B-29s to Hokkaido and told them to stay away from the main islands. It was fortunate that Roosevelt died in time before the war ended. Truman had a much more realistic view of the Soviet Union.

John Mansfield said...

Nuclear fission was the subject of attention of many good or great physicists and chemists through the 1930's. WWII motivated accelerated effort, but it also divided and sequestered the research. Many of the scientists were German and Jewish, exiled from old colleagues and carrying on as refugees, even initially as enemy aliens. Since the Curies, radioactivity was the sign of some immense, untapped energy source, and by 1935 means of unleashing it were already on the horizon. Not proceeding to fission reactors by 1950 at the latest is unimaginable, and once you can do that, there is no obstacle to simple Little Boy-type uranium bombs. Plutonium implosion devices and hydrogen bombs are another matter, much trickier to design, and without a Cold War, perhaps no one would have taken up the expensive challenge. And yes, modern computers would vastly speed up the design process if some nation choose to invent Trinity or Ivy Mike in 2010. On the other hand, the state of scientific computational ability wouldn't be where it is right now without the decades of pushing the envelope at the weapons labs.

Anonymous said...

The answer is no; because managers and committees, surrounded by the bozone layer, would impede smart people.

DCThrowback said...

Assuming all technology was the same, wouldn't it be easy to see someone was working on that sort of stuff? Would intelligence gathering agencies have an idea it was going on while it was happening, causing others (even other allies, assuming it was GER) to join the rush as well?

I would think the proliferation of information would cause multiple nations to attempt to join this rush once it was discovered that one nation was pursuing it.

sabril said...

I agree with magnus. Once the basics of nuclear reactions are understood, it hardly takes an Einstein to realize that there's the potential for a very powerful weapon.

As far as the alternate history goes, I would guess the bomb still would have been invented in the US, or possibly Germany. Both countries had the brains and money to do it. And both would have perceived some strategic benefit in doing so.

Let's! said...

Taking this question as an analogy to our present situation, I think we can say that Israel would have been the most likely candidate to develop an atomic bomb, though I doubt they would have used it.

After all, in this era of a more languid arms race, Israel was (allegedly) the first to develop and successfully deploy a true game-changing, next-generation weapon, the indestructible computer virus Stuxnet.

Anonymous said...

They would have been able to do it much faster today along several dimensions. Zippe-type centrifuges (developed by Soviet-captured German and Austrian scientists in the early 1950's) are superior to gas diffusion, able to be built today easily by major industrial powers, but would have been very difficult to build 70 years ago.

There were also major computational problems to be solved using IBM equipment that would make today's average toaster-over laugh. IIRC, I think Richard Feynman's role in the Manhattan Project was related to this.

For most technologically and industrially adept countries, it's mostly a question of a plentiful source of Uranium and the ability to resist surveillance and interference from those that wish to prevent the acquisition.

TH said...

There was discussion on Half Sigma's blog about the fact that the Empire State Building took only 400 days to buid, whereas the new WTC tower will take seven or eight years.

If there were no nuclear weapons, and some democratic regime decided to build some, the red tape could mean that it would take much longer than the Manhattan Project. On the other hand, the Chinese could probably develop nukes in a jiffy.

De Gaulle said...

The French would have developed it for use against a colonial rebellion, and used one by 1960.

fish said...

Well I can tell you without hesitation that the "bottleneck" isn't enriching weapons grade uranium at all! Assuming that regulatory democracy had evolved, in your alternative history, like it has in ours, the bottleneck would certainly be bureaucratic in nature!

Assuming that a fictional non-world war program for the development of these devices started in...say 1980...I can only guess that by 2010 the hypothetical DOE would now be wrapping up their mission statement and "statements of core principles"! Shortly thereafter they could begin the search for asian physicists to do the work!

Anonymous said...

In 1973, the late (and great) American business historian Robert Sobel wrote a fascinating alternative history of North America from 1763 to 1971--in which the American Revolution had failed. It's title was For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga. It was written, however, not as a novel, but as a purported undergraduate-level history textbook, including a bibliography of 475 works and 860 footnotes citing imaginary books and articles. It is great stuff, and I recommend it to all iStevers.

Sobel, being a historian of business and technology, is a lot more credible than those who focus on just political figures and elections. And in his alternate timeline, technological development does not synchronize with ours: for instance, television (called "vitavision" in the other universe) is widespread by around 1910.

But the first nuclear weapon isn't tested until 1962, and then not by a state but by a multinational corporation!

rob said...

Well, Europeans in that world wouldn't be like ours. In the real world, most every European man who was either bloodthirsty or cool with dying so generals and politicians could pretend they had big hoohoodillies died in WWI. The second war culled the population again.

Europeans where Europe never experienced carpet bombing would be much more warlike. Eventually some European politician is going to want to conquer another European country: he'll want nuclear weapons.

How long depends on what sort of nuclear industry exists in that world, and what kind of human rights the country has. Working with uranium and or plutonium is not very safe. They're toxic heavy metals and effing radioactive to boot.

If this world doesn't have nuclear power, there won't be much refined uranium ore. Going from dirt -> 90+ enriched uranium will take some time. From there, not long. Rumor has it there are plans for doing a uranium bomb by accelerating the plug by dropping it down an elevator shaft. Plutonium bombs are crazy harder.

Anonymous said...

Feeling 'Pollyannish' today? This is the generation that wiped out millions. They would not scruple at an atomic bomb. If anything, without the horrid example of firebombed cities they might actually build them sooner.

Why not? It is the ultimate force multiplier. Twenty five years before all of Europe marched their boys into a meat grinder that some countries never recovered from. A bomb that could kill your enemies without killing your men? Hell yes they'd jump at that.

Germany needed to keep expanding its economy and they were militarists at heart. Figure it out.

Alternate history is fun when it is plausible when it is not it is 'could Superman beat Jesus' stupid.

Harmonious Jim said...

Alternate counterfactual: if we'd had nukes in the 30s, would that have deterred Hitler and prevented WW2?

peter A said...

Well, at least in that world John Wayne, Agnes Moorhead and Susan Hayward would not have died of cancer probably contracted on the set of "The Conqueror" due to A-bomb tests in Yucca Flats, Nevada.

Anonymous said...

Albert: Plutonium, though. Fat man.

IMAO it was inevitable, although it may have taken longer, with power generation coming first. Something to keep in mind is how long the realization of the dangers of radiation took. Using nukes for great public works projects (digging harbors, etc) seemed like a good idea well into the 60's. This may have been a path for the development of weapons. Similar to TNT, rather than gunpowder.

Harry Baldwin said...

Leaving aside the question of nuclear weapons, it's fascinating to wonder what today's geopolitical landscape would look like had Hitler not risen to power. Would there be a state of Israel? Would the colonial powers have felt themselves morally disarmed in the face of popular uprising? Would the civil rights movement taken the course it has? Would Non-Discrimination Uber Alles have become the defining moral virtue of all Western societies?

Speculation on what would have happened had WW I not been fought is perhaps more interesting. WW I seems like the most unnecessary war of all time, and of course gave rise to all the conditions that led to WW II. I think the astonishing stupidity and carnage of WW I brought about the collapse of confidence among the peoples of Western societies.

Anonymous said...

Had Hitler not been a racist, Germany could very well have been the first nuclear power. Many of the scientists who developed the atomic bomb in the US were immigrants / refugees from what up intill WWI would have been considered the German sphere of incluence (Germany, Austra - Hungary, central Europe). Being the smartest and first to feel the winds of change they got out while they could, much for the worlds good.

A similar result might have occured if Germany has won WW1. A Non-Nazi Germany dominating Europe.

Vilko said...

albert magnus said... (...)
The bottleneck is refining weapons-grade uranium which is a unique problem, I believe, and you need lots of smart people to solve it and lots of money.


Nevertheless, there may be thirty nations in the world with both the brains and the money. China, for instance, with her high IQ population and money reserves of 2 trillion US$. Besides, because of the one-child policy it has 30 million young men who'll have to go abroad to find women. No problem to recruit soldiers.

Th Russians wouldn't launch a costly atomic bomb project: their economy, based on the export of fossil fuels, is too shaky (and it has an uncertain future: Russia's oil production is post-peak), and their shrinking population wouldn't enable them to exploit military dominance (they'll soon have difficulties manning a large army because of a shortage of young men).

The USA? The decision to build nukes would depend on domestic political considerations. I guess that the USA would probably choose not to build nukes, since it would mightily worsen the debt problem.

France, Germany, the UK: no. Israel? Maybe.

In Steve's alternative year 2010, we could wake up one morning and learn that China is the sole atomic power.

I don't know if that would be a bad thing. A good thing, rather (OK, I may be biased on this, my wife is of Chinese descent). It would certainly be good if the Chinese invaded Africa for mineral and agricultural resources and Lebensraum. Whitey is doomed anyway, and the only serious question is: will tomorrow's mankind be black/brown, or yellow?

Anonymous said...

Steve, the atomic bomb was a child of its time.
The astonishing series of discoveries since Becquerel had a photogarohic plate developed by the emanations of uranium, coupled with advances in the understanding of the deep structure of the atom, combined with quantum theory and Einstein's discoveries, strongly suggested in the minds of physcists a source of 'unlimited' power - and the destructive force was especially noted.
If you have to blame anyone, blame the developers of quantum theory.

adsfasdfaf said...

"With all the 21st Century advantages, would they do it faster than the Manhattan Project? Would they even set one off by 2020?"

Of course, with full government backing. Look at the speed at which the DNA was decoded once we got advanced computer technology.

Anonymous said...

Radioactivity was discovered because of a chance occurence happening in the purview of a scientist interested in such phenomena.
Starting in the 1890s and involving the labors of a long list of brilliant and dedicated researchers, 50 yeras later mankind was presented with two alternatives:
1/. a weapon so destructively powerful that it could wipe out the human race several times over.
2/. A source of limitless energy - thus bridging the major constraint (the energy problem), to unlimited wealth.

That shows the power of real science, based on real relicable results and theories.Compare and contrast to the sheninanigans of a certain cargo cult science I can mmention, that despite endless theorisising and bombast is fully unequal to make the measure of what it is supposed to be all about.

Jim Bowery said...

Albert Magnus is essentially correct. The Manhattan Project was straight forward engineering. The reason the Germans didn't develop it first the abuse of their limited resources. From the Wikipedia article on Heisenberg:

Paul Harteck was director of the physical chemistry department at the University of Hamburg and an advisor to the Heereswaffenamt (HWA, Army Ordnance Office). On 24 April 1939, along with his teaching assistant Wilhelm Groth, Harteck made contact with the Reichskriegsministerium (RKM, Reich Ministry of War) to alert them to the potential of military applications of nuclear chain reactions. Two days earlier, on 22 April 1939, after hearing a colloquium paper by Wilhelm Hanle on the use of uranium fission in a Uranmaschine (uranium machine, i.e., nuclear reactor), Georg Joos, along with Hanle, notified Wilhelm Dames, at the Reichserziehungsministerium (REM, Reich Ministry of Education), of potential military applications of nuclear energy. The communication was given to Abraham Esau, head of the physics section of the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR, Reich Research Council) at the REM. On 29 April, a group, organized by Esau, met at the REM to discuss the potential of a sustained nuclear chain reaction. The group included the physicists Walther Bothe, Robert Döpel, Hans Geiger, Wolfgang Gentner (probably sent by Walther Bothe), Wilhelm Hanle, Gerhard Hoffmann and Georg Joos; Peter Debye was invited, but he did not attend. After this, informal work began at the Georg-August University of Göttingen by Joos, Hanle and their colleague Reinhold Mannfopff; the group of physicists was known informally as the first Uranverein (Uranium Club) and formally as Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kernphysik. The group's work was discontinued in August 1939, when the three were called to military training.

The development of the computer in the US suffered a similar fate when it removed Atanasoff from his post at the Agronomy Department of Iowa State University (then called "Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts").

Jim Bowery said...

Albert Magnus is essentially correct. The Manhattan Project was straight forward engineering. The reason the Germans didn't develop it first the abuse of their limited resources. From the Wikipedia article on Heisenberg:

...informal work began at the Georg-August University of Göttingen by Joos, Hanle and their colleague Reinhold Mannfopff; the group of physicists was known informally as the first Uranverein (Uranium Club) and formally as Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kernphysik. The group's work was discontinued in August 1939, when the three were called to military training.

The development of the computer in the US suffered a similar fate when it removed Atanasoff from his post at the Agronomy Department of Iowa State University (then called "Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts").

adfadsfadsf said...

Even without WWII, someone would have worked on the atomic bomb.
Why?

Suppose a technology appears on the horizon to build something called the hurricane bomb. A single bomb can take out an entire nation. It's much more badass than even the most badass nuclear bomb.
Suppose this bomb can be made by any reasonably developed nation, and it can turn any middling nation into a military superpower overnight. No matter how many conventional weapons and nukes a nation, it is no match to a nation with a single hurricane bomb.

Suppose no one has the hurricane bomb yet but scientists say IT IS POSSIBLE. Suppose world leaders try to come together a sign a treaty banning the development of the hurricane bomb. But there are some rogue nations who tell the world to 'go to hell'. There are suspicions around the world that some of these rogue nations MAY be working on the hurricane technology. This will be justification enough for US, Russia, or China to build one, and then some nations will follow as well.

Also, even without WWII and reforms in the USSR--by someone like Gorbachev in the 30s/40s--, there would have been cold war tensions as long as the communist edifice remained. The Cold War, no matter how lowkey, would have been reason enough for both US and USSR to work on nuclear weapons.

At any rate, all militaries want the best weapons, and whenever new technology comes along, 'we wanna have it before they do' and 'we wanna have more of it than they do'.

The more interesting scenario is this. Suppose Hitler died in 1935, and Nazi Germany dropped extreme antisemitism. Suppose Jewish-German scientists were allowed to work. Suppose some Jewish-German scientists had returned. Suppose Nazi Germany apologizes to Jews and accepts them as 'aryans'. Would Germany then have built the bomb first?

Max said...

Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are natural progression for physics. They would be invented much earlier than 2020 war or not. If you ever studied nuclear reactions and have a slightest bit of scientist and explorer in you you would understand the pull to discover and apply the power of the stars is practically irresistible

Manhattan project was necessary to build the weapon fast. But it was inevitable.

With no war nuclear power would be primary direction of development and its likely first bomb would be not uranium but plutonium one since plutonium is relatively easy to produce in breeder reactors

Explosive lens design is complicated but its was solvable even before the invention of computers and modern advances in material science (mostly the explosives and detonators have to be manufactures to very precise specs to cause implosion)

JerseyGuy said...

Steve,
OT but I thought you would enjoy this article about the Central Valley by Victor Davis Hanson. Quite interesting:

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/255320/two-californias-victor-davis-hanson?page=3

Harmonious Jim said...

"With all the 21st Century advantages, would they do it faster than the Manhattan Project?"

Not in the West. Here's a data point: "The only reactor under construction in America, at Watts Bar, Tennessee, was begun in 1973 and may be completed in 2012." (wikipedia) That's four decades to build! The pyramids were constructed more quickly.

Jim Bowery said...

The primary consequence of the lack of war-time footing for the development of nuclear energy most probably would have been the development of LFTR technology. This would have obviated the need for oil and all the attendant geopolitical concerns.

But more importantly, WW-II, far more than the Cold War, has formed the basis for a new global theocratic regime whose mythic basis is the crucifixion of Jews as the innocent light unto the nations. This theocratic regime has essentially brought about the destruction of the Eurosphere through immigration.

dfasdfasdfas said...

"Imagine this scenario: Imagine that Hitler and Stalin both died in, say, 1935 and replaced by unaggressive Euroweenies of the Gorbachev sort. Without Hitler's bad example, the leaders of the Japanese Navy arrest the leaders of the Japanese Army and Japan gives up the crazy idea of fighting America."

This is an interesting scenario. Most historians say WWII began in 1939(or earlier with Japanese invasion of China), but I'd argue WWII began in 1941 with German invasion of USSR. WWII was not inevitable until 1941, only possible.

Up til the taking of Sudetenland, Hitler did almost everything right. He was in nationalist than imperialist mode. He was for Germans under German control. Thus, taking Sudetenland was justified since it was mostly populated by Germans. The problem began with Hitler's turn to imperialism, which trampled on the nationalism of other nations. First, he took over Czech lands. But he got a break from UK and France. Then he attacks Poland. Horrible, but still no WWII. USSR invade Poland with him.
UK and France, two major powers, declare war, but it's still not a world war but a regional affair between Germany and UK/France. France is taken out quickly, so it's becomes Germany vs UK. Hardly a world war. Almost all of Europe is either neutral or allied with Germany. UK is isolated; it gets supplies from the US, but most Americans don't wanna get involved in a war. Anyway, Hitler had every means to maintain the status quo. Especially with USSR supplying him with raw material, he could have fended off the British, and Brits would have had to call it quits. Thus, there would have been no WWII.
But, Hitler attacks the USSR in 1941, and that sets the wheels turning. It is now Germany and its allies vs the USSR, a massive nation. And through most of 1941--even with the horrible Russian winter--, experts are saying it's only a matter of time before Germany wins. Japanese think... 'Our allies Germans are gonna conquer Russia. They're gonna support us from behind and provide us with raw materials. We can take on the US'.
Also, the idea of a small nation(Germany)kicking butt against a much larger nation(USSR) lift the spirits of the Japanese as they look to taking on the US.

Thus emboldened, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, which brings US into the war. It is now an all-out world war.
If Hitler hadn't invaded Russia but kept an alliance with Stalin, Japan would have faced two major rivals: Russia to its back and US across the Pacific. TOO MUCH, even for Japan ruled by crazies.

It was Japanese prediction of Russia's fall that gave them the reckless spirit to take on the US.
So, WWII really began in 1941. If Hitler hadn't attacked Russia--and he had every chance NOT TO--, the war would have fizzled out between Germany and UK within a few yrs, with both nations coming to the table for a ceasefire and agreement on how to split up the Middle East.

Eric said...

I don't see any scenario where the cold war (or its hot war analog) doesn't happen. But even assuming some deus ex machina that has everyone holding hands and singing Kumbaya in the 1940s, the great gaming that led to the first world war is human nature, and someone looking for an edge would have developed the bomb. The Germans, probably, since they would have been farthest along.

The Manhattan project was an extraordinary achievement, and if nuclear technology had stagnated in the 1930s, I suspect it would take us much longer to build a bomb today.

Without a war on the project probably wouldn't get the funding it needed. The EPA would have you filling out forms for a decade before you could even spin up your first centrifuge.

corvinus said...

Imagine this scenario: Imagine that Hitler and Stalin both died in, say, 1935 and replaced by unaggressive Euroweenies of the Gorbachev sort.

Ha, at first I thought you were channeling Mark Steyn.

I think that nuclear research would have still come about, although much more slowly. If making highly-enriched fissile material was ONLY good for making bombs, then perhaps nobody would have done it. Another question to pose would be: who would have decided they needed to make a bomb?

Anonymous said...

There's no way to know any of the answers to these questions. But the fact is that most European nations in the 1930s were extremely angry about their new borders and it wasn't just Germany and Italy and Soviet Union that wanted to act on that anger.

Also note that White guilt was beginning to gain real momentum in the West and that left-wing fascists such as Roosevelt were ascendant everywhere.

The cult of science as religion had already taken over and even the beginnings of political correctness can be seen.

One way or another, there would have been some kind of conflagration and even in the absence of an aggressive Germany, it probably would have started in central and eastern Europe where all the lines had been drawn through the old empires.

I think about this question a surprising amount though. The old Prussian officer corps always hated Hitler and it would have been so great if they had simply shot him in the head and taken power themselves. Those officers were rational, if somewhat blinkered, gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know how to imagine the counterfactual world you have in mind.

It would have to be one in which leaders of nations don't aggressively pursue the best weapons they can get, for defensive if no other reasons. That's not an easy world to imagine.

But if you are simply requiring us to imagine that, somehow, we just didn't get around to making nuclear weapons up to now, and now seek to, and you want to know how long it would take to create nuclear weapons, I'd have to think it would go far far faster than before.

My sense is that much of the hardest problem getting nuclear weapons to work (or at least fission bombs) was the development of centrifuge technology that could do the trick in purifying weapons grade uranium. (It remains the central problem, if the development in Iran is any indication). My guess is that that is a problem that would have been solved for other purposes by now in any case, and better solved than in the Manhattan project.

helene edwards said...

A better question: how much different would our politics look now if only Nixon had been less paranoid in '72?

jody said...

enrico fermi was a little ahead of those guys, doing his nobel physics prize work on fission in 1934. but i guess you could say, since every important step was built on the previous step, multiple people helped discover fission. people before fermi too.

i've posted about ateve's question before before. the difference would be, there would be war, not peace.

nuclear fusion devices delivered by missiles or jets make it so that the good militaries can't engage each other anymore. hence the cold war. read up on "distant early warning" and the extensive efforts the US and canada went through to detect incoming russian bombers or missiles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distant_Early_Warning_Line

that's why they don't fight anymore. not because they are smarter, more enlightened, have more to lose, see the error of their ways, or any other reason. it's because now they can't hit without automatically being hit back.

without fusion devices or at minimum fission devices, they would still be fighting each other. the falklands 1982 would be common.

a year 2010 conflict, with great missiles and submarines and jets, delivering thermobaric bombs and MOABS, would be terrifying shit.

Anon said...

I suspect that nuclear weapons ARE the reason why the major powers haven't fought any epic wars among each other since 1945. If "the big one" didn't start in 1939, it would have started 5 or 10 or 15 years later. The protagonists and ideologies could have been somewhat different or even wholly different - the main thing is that WWI, like every epic war before it, would have had a sequel eventually. Peace is an anomaly in human history, powerful interests always crave conflict. So there would have been another big war, it would have led to the invention of nuclear weapons, and then there would have been a long period of peace because that's simply the effect that nukes have on leaders of men - they make them far less likely to want to start anything than they would have been otherwise.

Possible scenarios in a Hitlerless world: a leftist America fighting it out with a rightist Russia for control of Europe (extrapolate Putin vs. Bush into the past). Or same thing, just with left and right reversed. Or we could have had a war of a similar magnitude to WWII, only wholly fought in the Pacific, with Japan's conquests in Asia pissing off the US or the British Empire, then every major power, including European ones taking sides and sending millions of troops to fight in the Orient. For freedom or some such nonsense. Nukes, not pacifism, are the only things that are preventing these sorts of blowouts now.

jody said...

with regards to developing a fission device from scratch, to detonate, in the time frame from 2010 to 2020, the question is a matter of whether the nation developing this thing is at war or not.

not at war? then they won't develop this technology from scratch in 10 years.

at war? it can probably be done.

i pretty closely watch all the US defense department technology intitiatives. most of this stuff takes a long time to develop, even with a budget of 400 billion dollars, and 2 wars. it's not urgent to develop battlefield lasers or railguns. important, but not urgent, and those are taking decades to field.

robots and cybernetics are ahead of those in importance, and are being developed faster by the defense department. it already fields a lot of robots (way better than anything japan has even on the drawing board) and some terminator-level cyborg limbs for veterans who have been blown up by IEDs.

ironically, in 1950 it was thought that robots and AI systems were "easy" things to build. it turned out that good robots were much harder to crack than "hard" stuff like building nuclear reactors or semiconductor factories. it's 2010 and we still don't have good robots.

Geoff Matthews said...

Well, what if someone figured out how to alter the smallpox virus and released it now?
Potentially, this is just as deadly, and harder to control.

Anonymous said...

...replaced by unaggressive Euroweenies of the Gorbachev sort...

Not to steal Whiskey's thunder or anything, but the men of that era were substantially less "weenie" than they are nowadays.

If you get rid of "Hitler" [Frankenberger] or Stalin, then they might very well have been replaced by men who were even more monstrous than they.

Jim O said...

Don Meredith died this week. One of his stock phrases was "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

Merry Christmas!!

gwern said...

> In that situation, would anybody have gotten around to inventing the atomic bomb? Who? When?

As Albert says, the idea of nuclear bombs was already in the cards by the 1930s.

However, my understanding from reading about the Japanese and German nuclear programs is that they weren't Manhattan size projects because their physicists (even Schrodinger) had made a subtle mistake in calculating critical mass for uranium and concluded you'd need something like a ton of refined uranium.

Obviously, that's quite impractical.

So, if somehow the mysteries of nuclear physics didn't obsess the physics world, we could wind up with a situation where the conventional wisdom that 'atomic bombs require impracticably much uranium' would remain for indefinitely long, until some bright young turk redoes the calculation correctly and notices he gets a wrong and very small answer.

Given that some mistakes go unnoticed for centuries (logical mistakes in Euclid's _Elements_, eg.)...

Simon in London said...

I've always had a suspicion that atomic weapons (and nuclear power) was 23rd century technology developed far too early. Without the Manhattan Project it'd be like nuclear fusion today - possible in theory, but the practicalities seemingly insurmountable.

Luke Lea said...

Based on everything we know about history being a story of warring states in a relentless competition for power -- is there any period in which it wasn't so -- my guess is that if Hitler and Stalin died someone else would have taken their place: i.e., the history of conventional war would have continued.

On the other hand, the fact that we now have nuclear weapons is the best guarantee imaginable that this history of warring states may finally have come to an end.

That's why proposals to abolish nuclear weapons (as if such a thing were possible) would be a nightmare in my opinion, at least until such time as there is but one political state in the world. Hopefully a democratic one.

adfadsfsa said...

"Albert Magnus is essentially correct. The Manhattan Project was straight forward engineering. The reason the Germans didn't develop it first the abuse of their limited resources."

Wrong. Even on the theoretical level, Germans got it substantially wrong.

jim said...

Interesting. It does seem that white-guilt and white self-hatred had already spread among the euro elite after WWI, but maybe it took WWII to spread to the middle classes. The elite intellectuals of the inter-war period were pretty convinced that WWI showed the utter moral bankruptcy of the west and the white man.

adsfasdfasdf said...

"Imagine that Hitler and Stalin both died in, say, 1935 and replaced by unaggressive Euroweenies of the Gorbachev sort."

Had only Hitler died in 1935, there would have been no WWII. Stalin, though brutal, was not a gambler. He joined with Hitler in the invasion of Poland, but the initiative was entirely Hitler's. Stalin merely responded to Hitler's offer.
Even USSR's limited attack on Finland was emboldened by Stalin's partnership with Hitler in divvying up Poland and Baltic States.
And Stalin would have been only to happy to keep the peace with Hitler. So, if Hitler had died in 1935, there would have been no WWII. Stalin would NOT have started a major war. (Even in the Spanish Civil War, Stalinists were more committed to killing other leftists than fighting rightists.)

No WWII would have meant Germany remaining under Nazi control and most of Central Europe being non- or anti-communist and allied with Germany. USSR would have been a rising power but not a superpower. Thus, Cold War might have been averted too.

asddsaass said...

Gorbachev was a very decent man. Let's not call him a 'Euroweenie'.

none of the above said...

Had Europe not had aggressive leaders, I think someone else would simply have developed nukes, and used their 5-10 year jump on the rest of the world to build up a big empire. In particular, Japan was pretty intent on becoming a big colonial power. The USSR would presumably have been interested, for both practical and ideological reasons. Either one becoming the world's only nuclear power in a conventionally-armed world at the same tech level as the world at the end of WW2 would have built up a nice little empire.

A more interesting question, to me, is what would have happened if nuclear weapons were somehow impossible--say, if there simply had been no supply of fissionables available on Earth. My guess is, more war and bloodshed, not less.

In some sense, a cold war with nukes is a kind of "picking up nickels in front of a steamroller" strategy for mankind. The expected number of damage of the wars is much lower from year to year, but every year, there's a low-probability of a civilization-ending nuclear exchange that ends up killing a couple billion people in a year.

Baloo said...

Yes, in that alternate history, it's hard to imagine the state of Israel coming into existence.

Anyhow, here's an alternate history where Texas was the first to develop the bomb:

Roswell, Texas

Baloo said...

Yes, in that alternate history, it's hard to imagine the state of Israel coming into existence.

Anyhow, here's an alternate history where Texas was the first to develop the bomb:

Roswell, Texas

beowulf said...

One Washington official has called it "the greatest single source of this type of material in the world, the first orderly exploitation of an entire country's brain-power."

How the collection came to be goes back, for beginnings, to one day in 1944 when the Allied Combined Chief' of Staff set in motion a colossal search for war secrets in occupied German territory and tenacity.
"Secrets by the Thousands"
By C. Lester Walker
Harper's Magazine
October, 1946 Page 329

http://www.wanttoknow.info/war/4610_secret_nazi_war_technology

Anonymous said...

Nuclear weapons may have been speed up by the war, but not by 70 years. There was a lot of research going on in the 1930's regarding nuclear fission. Furthermore quantum mechanics which is essential to developing the A-bomb was already pretty much complete by the early 1930's.

dfasdfasdf said...

"A more interesting question, to me, is what would have happened if nuclear weapons were somehow impossible--say, if there simply had been no supply of fissionables available on Earth. My guess is, more war and bloodshed, not less."

It's too bad nukes hadn't been invented before 1939. Even gambler Hitler would have been more cautious about invading other nations.

Another question. Suppose Germans got the bomb first around 1943. Would they have won the war? I suppose it depends on how many bombs they could make. A few might not have stopped the Soviet juggernaut. Germans probably would have needed at least 5 to 7 to win. Germans could also have defeated UK with the bomb. But US woulda been a different story. US airforce mighta been able to shoot down German planes before they got anywhere near the US.

Now, what if Germans got the bomb first in 1945 when they on the verge of defeat. Suppose they have enough material to build 3 bombs. Would that have been enough to win the war or at least stop the Allied advance? I suppose it depends on how well Germans could bluff their enemies about having a whole bunch of bombs. If Germans had been forced to use the bomb in 1945, where would they have used it first? A Polish city occupied by Russians? A US command center in Paris? But would Germans have adequate air power to deliver the bomb to the right target?

Bill N said...

There were two separate tracks on the Manhattan Project, Uranium and Plutonium. Uranium required massive scale isotopic separation. Plutonium required massive scale plutonium producing reactors. It's unlikely either would happen without funding on the scale of a large national lab.

The bomb technology essentially selected the types of reactor technology designed for use in the US. Absent weapons, a more likely path towards nuclear power would have been natural uranium with heavy water or graphite moderators. Ultimately, plutonium might have been the natural choice for the first bomb. (ironically, that's the way it actually worked out anyway)




Centrifuge technology is much more advanced today, but in large part this may be driven by the need to support the power and weapons industry.

Computer modeling would be much easier today, but we wouldn't have the modeling software that has been developed over the past 60 years.

Anonymous said...

The Nazis did not put much effort into nuclear weapons for the same reason they did not put much effort into jet aircraft (which they had available as early as 1941), and for the same reason they did not even bother to place their economy on a war footing until the latter half of 1943 - they constantly assumed that the war would be over in six months from "now". Or Hitler assumed it, at any rate.

A long term project like the Manhattan Project, which took even America until after the war was over in Europe, was just not the sort of thing the Nazis were into.

Anonymous said...

"Speculation on what would have happened had WW I not been fought is perhaps more interesting. WW I seems like the most unnecessary war of all time, and of course gave rise to all the conditions that led to WW II. I think the astonishing stupidity and carnage of WW I brought about the collapse of confidence among the peoples of Western societies."

I tend to think of WW1 as being a case of Western Civilization practically destroying itself. It was the beginning of the end.

dfasdfasdfas, I agree completely on your interpretation of "WW2 began in 1941". 1941 was a fascinating moment. Fascism almost looked set to replace liberal democracy.

"He joined with Hitler in the invasion of Poland, but the initiative was entirely Hitler's. Stalin merely responded to Hitler's offer. "

The Soviets did invade Poland (and fail) a couple decades earlier though.

Anyway, without Hitler, wars would have just kept continuing most likely. As another poster said, there would always be a sequel. Nukes have scared the major powers away from continuing that... so IMO there just would have been a different major war (such as Europe vs USSR, as in the video game Command and Conquer Red Alert :) ) that would have ended with nukes, in the years between 1950 and 2000.

Dave said...

"Japanese think... 'Our allies Germans are gonna conquer Russia."

I doubt that's what the Japanese thought. In reality, the Japanese intelligence was the only major intelligence service to take Russia's military capabilities seriously. That's because the Russians under Zhukov had kicked their asses at Khalkhyn Gol in Mongolia in '39.

"The Nazis did not put much effort into nuclear weapons for the same reason they did not put much effort into jet aircraft (which they had available as early as 1941), and for the same reason they did not even bother to place their economy on a war footing until the latter half of 1943 - they constantly assumed that the war would be over in six months from "now"."

Hitler thought in terms of Friedman Units.

SFG said...

"And Stalin would have been only too happy to keep the peace with Hitler."

Yes and no. Isn't there some new evidence suggesting Stalin would probably have attacked sooner or later (fearing a large and aggressive Germany) and Hitler thought he could beat them to the punch?

Anonymous said...

"The French would have developed it for use against a colonial rebellion, and used one by 1960."

No. The US famously offered them two atomic bombs ("Not one, not three," as... uh, some high-up French guy said) to clear up their little embarrassment at Dien Bien Phu.

They turned them down.

Cennbeorc

dearieme said...

Szilard invented the bomb in London in '33; the patent was assigned to the Admiralty in '36. Without Hitler and co, though, the UK would not have set about persuading the US to take up the development of the bomb and might, perhaps, just have developed it itself. A better world would have resulted.

Ian said...

Harry Baldwin said: "Speculation on what would have happened had WW I not been fought is perhaps more interesting. WW I seems like the most unnecessary war of all time, and of course gave rise to all the conditions that led to WW II. I think the astonishing stupidity and carnage of WW I brought about the collapse of confidence among the peoples of Western societies."

And Anonymous said, " I tend to think of WW1 as being a case of Western Civilization practically destroying itself. It was the beginning of the end."

Great points.

By my estimates, ~115 million white people died in the trauma that I think of as a single interconnected event: "The White People Civil War of 1914-1947" - that is to say, the First World War, the Russian Revolution, Spanish Influenza plague (which started in WW1's trenches), Stalin's genocides, the Second World War, Hitler's genocides, and the post-WW2 ethnic cleansing. Many of those that died I imagine to be the most noble and heroic of their peoples.

If somehow Europe had managed to keep the Belle Époque peace in 1914 and thereafter, I imagine that the flow of peoples in the world would have continued to have been whites/Europeans into the rest of the world (Brits to India Malaya South Africa etc, French to Algeria, Dutch to the Dutch East Indies, etc) rather than a flow in the opposite direction. I also imagine that anti-racism/post-colonialism/multiculturalism would mostly exist only in the minds of left-wing dreamers and desperate alpha-male colonialized revolutionaries.

Ian said...

Dfasdfasdfas wrote, "Hitler had every means to maintain the status quo. Especially with USSR supplying him with raw material, he could have fended off the British, and Brits would have had to call it quits. Thus, there would have been no WWII."

As SFG said, there is actually evidence that the Nazi's Operation Barbarossa kicked off but two weeks before the Soviets were about to launch an invasion Westward of their own. The most significant piece of evidence: the armies Soviet were in attack formation, with armored units concentrated together, rather than dispersed, as one would expect for an army arrayed for the defensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_offensive_plans_controversy
http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html

Markku wrote: "Now, the proper juncture at which to start alternative history speculations is before the Japanese invasion of Northern China." -- "Extremely arrogant fucks, the Japanese of that era really deserved to get some humility nuclear bombed into them. They were also incredible lucky to be occupied by the USA and only the USA (with an enlightened man such as McArthur in charge)"

Two excellent points.

Ian said...

But I disagree on: "How secure exactly would you have thought Japanese supply would have been if ... the U.S. Navy had been fully intact in the Pacific."

The only significant impacts that the Pearl Harbor attack made on WW2 were (1) the sad loss of 2,400 lives, and (2) it brought America into the war.

Surprisingly, the loss of eight battleships made an impact just a hairsbreath above zero. By late 1941, battleships built before 1930 (ie those with a speed under 25 knots, and with less than fully modern torpedo bulges) were fit for only two tasks: shore bombardment and convoy escort. These tasks were of tertiary importance, and were dependent on air cover from shore bases or carriers. Thus, the total loss of the Arizona and Oklahoma, and the temporary loss of six other battleships was, again, inconsequential to the strategic outcome of the war. Put another way: had all American battleships at Pearl Harbor somehow escaped the attack unscathed, yet America still declared war on Japan (remember when the US actually *declared* wars?), I imagine that the war would have progressed about the same way as it actually did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor#Tactical_Implications

By the time of the Battle of Midway, a mere seven months after Pearl Harbor, the American navy was able to put together a battle line of seven of the old battleships (repaired Pearl Harbor survivors the Maryland and Pennsylvania, plus five ships that had been in Puget Sound for repairs or in the Atlantic when the Japanese struck). This force, under Admiral Pye, lacked appropriate air cover or speed, so they puttered around between Hawaii and California, wisely staying far away from the actual battle, and making no impact.

The loss in the Pearl harbor attack of 188 planes destroyed and 159 damages hurt the US military some, but, actually, not much . Most of the planes lost (like the P-26, F2A, and B-18) were superannuated. Also, Wikipedia says America produced over 300,000 combat planes by the end of the war.

mmsch said...

All sides in WW2 already had the capabilities to use WMDs on a grand scale: Chemical weapons, deployed by planes or long-range artillery.

But nobody used them, despite their obvious potential. I can't see A-Bombs as a game-changer. The game-changer was the hesitancy to use chemicals on a grand scale, despite their availability.

David said...

Hitler invaded Russia because he had credible intelligence that the USSR was massing for an invasion of Germany. Probably both dictators (Stalin and Hitler) were champing at the bit to break their 1939 pact.

It's Russian chauvinism to suggest that the USSR was a mere innocent victim of inexplicable German evil (though Stalin did take to his bed over Hitler's beating him to the punch).

As to the inevitability (or not) of the World Wars: given the moral and political goals with the most juice in them at that time - such as fascism and communism and other forms of extreme "scientific" collectivism, to which millions of people throughout the West were devoted with messianic energy - it's clear that millions would die in either that generation or the next. It is difficult for us in our politically disillusioned and morally exhausted age to conceive of the level of belief and "commitment" (at least theoretical) to totalitarian frightfulness in the West from, say, 1890-1945.* (The Chinese have more recent memories of this kind of thing.) Monstrous ideas were afoot, of which we have but remnants now. And monstrous anger, too, for these people emerged from a troubled recent past. (In America, from civil war, for example.) Hopefully we will keep our scars and retain our memories, or else the West's relative peacefulness post-1945 will be only a blip, like the four or five decades after the Congress of Vienna.

Svigor said...

1 The Germans could've decapitated Russia and won WWII, if they'd pressed on to Moscow when they had the chance.

2 Hitler thought the commies would invade. Whether he was right or not, he does seem to have been right about the timing; every day Germany's relative advantage over Russia was fading.

So it's not like the way things played out is inexplicable.

Svigor said...

My speculative question: what would change about Soviet strategy post-WWII in a world without nuclear weapons technology? How would the cold war have played out without nukes?

Dahinda said...

No WWII would mean no Israel, political correctness, and Europe still controlling much of the Earth. There probably would still have been a cold war between the Soviets and the western world but they probably would have eventually fizzled out like they did anyway. But atom bombs would have been developed too.

Anonymous said...

"...or else the West's relative peacefulness post-1945 will be only a blip, like the four or five decades after the Congress of Vienna."

The post-1815 and post-1945 periods are the longest periods of peace in the West since at least the early Roman Empire (Pax Romana). I wouldn't call them blips. Blips compared to what? Long peaceful periods like that are anomalies. Frequent warfare is more representative of the general sweep of history.

Fred said...

"As SFG said, there is actually evidence that the Nazi's Operation Barbarossa kicked off but two weeks before the Soviets were about to launch an invasion Westward of their own."

If the Soviets were two weeks from launching a massive invasion of Germany when the Nazis invaded, they would have been in position to counterattack almost immediately. Instead, they were overrun across the frontier.

"The Germans could've decapitated Russia and won WWII, if they'd pressed on to Moscow when they had the chance."

1) That the Germans didn't take Moscow wasn't for lack of trying. They were decisively defeated in the Battle of Moscow.

2) Even if they had taken Moscow, that wouldn't have decapitated Russia. Stalin had evacuated most of the government from Moscow in October of 1941, and most of the country's armaments industry had been relocated to the Urals.

Anonymous said...

No WWII would mean no Israel, political correctness, and Europe still controlling much of the Earth. There probably would still have been a cold war between the Soviets and the western world but they probably would have eventually fizzled out like they did anyway. But atom bombs would have been developed too.

You're thinking along the right path, but I think you need to go back and modify your statement. It's not WW2 that killed Western Civ, it was WW1. Yes WW2 was terrible and can be seen as another nail in the coffin, but WW1 was the start of the madness of the 20th century. WW1 lead to the bolshevik takeover, the British mandate of Palestine, and set the stage for WW2.

Anonymous said...

For those of you making comments about World War 1, here is a nice article by William Lind where he singles out that war as being a disaster for Western Civilization.

Here are some good excerpts:

To most non-historians, World War I is a vague and distant memory, faded photographs of guys in tin hats standing around in mud-filled trenches. In fact, it was one of two cataclysmic disasters of Western civilization in the Modern period (the other was the French Revolution). In 1914, the West put a gun to its collective head and blew its brains out.

....

Even more importantly, the Christian conservatism — more accurately, perhaps, traditionalism — represented by the Central Powers would have been greatly strengthened by their victory. Instead, the fall of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian monarchies let the poisons of the French Revolution loose unchecked upon the West, and upon the world. The Marxist historian Arno Mayer is correct in arguing that in 1914, the United States represented (as a republic, with France) the international left, while by 1919 it was organizing the international right. America had not changed; the spectrum had shifted around it.

Thus, when Americans and Europeans wonder today how and why the West lost its historic culture, morals and religion, the ultimate answer is the Allied victory in 1918. Again, the fact that World War I occurred is the greatest disaster. But once that had happened, the last chance the West had of retaining its traditional culture was a victory by the Central Powers.

Ian said...

Fred said, "If the Soviets were two weeks from launching a massive invasion of Germany when the Nazis invaded, they would have been in position to counterattack almost immediately. Instead, they were overrun across the frontier."

There is a big difference for a modern army between "almost ready to attack" and "ready to attack". Fuel, ammunition, clear orders from above - a Stalinist army could/would not make a move without all enough of three.

Agreed that "Even if [the Germans] had taken Moscow, that wouldn't have decapitated Russia." Disagree "That the Germans didn't take Moscow wasn't for lack of trying. They were decisively defeated in the Battle of Moscow."

Had the Nazis stuck with their original invasion date of May 15th (rather than moving it back six weeks), or had Hitler not ordered Army Group Central's thrust toward Moscow to be diverted southward to help the Amy Group South to capture the Ukraine - either way, the Germans would have captured Moscow easily.

asdfasdfasdf said...

"Hitler invaded Russia because he had credible intelligence that the USSR was massing for an invasion of Germany. Probably both dictators (Stalin and Hitler) were champing at the bit to break their 1939 pact."

Pure rubbish and a disgusting apology for Hitler's craziness. Stalin had no plans to invade Germany, and Hitler knew it. Hitler invaded Russia because it was part of his great plan to expand the German empire. He saw the opportunity to attack when Stalin least suspected it. In other words, Hitler knew that Stalin knew that Germans would not be crazy enough to fight a two-front war. After all, that was the BIG LESSON Germany learned in WWI. Since Germany was already at war with UK, Stalin rest assured that Hitler would not dare attack Russia. It's not that Stalin trusted Hitler--he certainly did not--but that he trusted his own assessment of Hitler. Hitler almost telepathically picked up on this. He knew that invading Russia in 1941 was a smart thing to do precisely because it was such a spectacularly dumb thing to do. It was so dumb and reckless that no one would expect it, the greatest suckerpunch in world history.

There were intelligence reports that a German attack was imminent, but Stalin had the messengers shot as spies(for UK to provoke a war between Germany and USSR) and stuck to his estimation of what Hitler's plans were. Because Hitler read Stalin's mind correctly, the Germans almost won. Had it not been for the muddy Russian autumn and freezing winter, Germans might have taken Moscow, and that might have sealed the fate of USSR. On the other hand, maybe not, as the USSR had located much of its heavy industry east of Moscow in case of a war with the West. Taking Moscow would have been no guarantee of permanent victory; after all, Napoleon took Moscow but eventually lost the war.

Hitler took a huge gamble in invading Russia. In one way, it was the dumbest and most reckless thing he ever did--and Germans paid for it dearly. On the other hand, it was the boldest, most inspired, and most brilliant thing he ever did in terms of political psychology and timing. He knew that the ONLY chance of attacking and defeating Russia was when Germany was at war with UK. If there was no war between Germany and UK, Stalin would have feared a German attack since Germany could throw all its military might on Russia. Russians thus would have been far better prepared to defend itself. It was precisely because Germany was fighting UK that Stalin was 100% sure that Hitler would not invade Russia. Hitler was thinking, "Stalin, you magnificent bastard, I read your mind."

Markku said...

If the Soviets were two weeks from launching a massive invasion of Germany when the Nazis invaded, they would have been in position to counterattack almost immediately. Instead, they were overrun across the frontier.

Which is exactly why they were overrun so easily according to the theory of imminent Soviet invasion. Defensive and offensive deployments are drastically different. When you're preparing to invade, you'll position your troops, supply dumps, aircraft etc. as close as possible to your objective and you don't waste any time building fortifications.
When you're preparing for strategic defence, you'll do the opposite.

Markku said...

The only significant impacts that the Pearl Harbor attack made on WW2 were (1) the sad loss of 2,400 lives, and (2) it brought America into the war. [...]

Yes, I know the loss of battleships was not so signifigant. But the ships sunk could've been aircraft carriers instead. It was pure luck they weren't.

Despite the Japanese plans being known to the Americans thanks to cryptanalysts cracking the Japanese codes, it was ultimately luck that the Japanese lost all their four large aircraft carriers for only one American at Midway.

Because Japan had to take the Philippines to secure their oil supply lines after capturing Ductch East India, war on the USA was inevitable. Therefore, Pearl Harbor made perfect sense. The Japanese plan was to buy time to consolidate their initial gains by delivering a massive blow to the Allies.

Anonymous said...

"If the Soviets were two weeks from launching a massive invasion of Germany when the Nazis invaded, they would have been in position to counterattack almost immediately. Instead, they were overrun across the frontier. "

Comprehension failure, on your part, Fred. Fail. Massive Fail. You have it completely backwards.

By being forward deployed, the Red Army was much more vulnerable to a surprise attack in 1941 precisely because all of its best mobile units were forward deployed at the border and were thus surrounded and cut off by the German Army within days of the initial attack. There was nothing for the Red Army to counterattack with, except for inferior secondary rearward deployed formations which weren't mobile enough to do the job and which were thus cut to pieces and in turn surrounded themselves.

Had the Red Army been deployed defensively in 1941, with inferior units forward deployed thinly at the frontier, and its best, most mobile units deployed in the rear, ie a defense in depth, the Red Army would have been able to use time and distance to slow the Germany Army down and allow its rearward deployed mobile units to counterattack at any vulnerable points in the German line as these points appeared.

This defense in depth is what allowed the Soviets to win the Battle of Kursk, for instance; by defending in depth and having mobile reserves available for counterattack, the German blitzkrieg tactics were neutralized, which would have been impossible if all of the best mobile forces of the Red Army were forward deployed as was in case in 1941.

But since those mobile units were forward deployed at the frontier where they couldn't maneuver, they never had space or time to maneuver and were captured quickly, thus completely wasting their potential. That only left the inferior units in the rear the impossible task of slowing down the German Army juggernaut, which they could not do.

Had Stalin really been of a peaceable frame of mind in 1941, he would have had his western forces deployed in depth, and the German Army would not have had so many surprising early victories in 1941. By deploying forward at the border, Stalin had the Red Army set up for an invasion of the West, which would have been successful had he struck first, since he would have captured Germany's best mobile forces quickly since they were also forward deployed at the border for attack, and not set up in depth for defense. And unlike the USSR, Germany did not have thousands of miles of territory to retreat into. The Red Army would have been able to overrun many of Germany's vital raw materials and industrial areas within weeks, months at most, and Germany did not have the vast reserves of manpower to resist once its best units were caught unprepared at the border.

The situation in 1941 very much favored whichever side attacked first, as long as both sides were deployed for attack, which they were.

Ian said...

asdfasdfasdf: if I came to iSteve for a recapitulation of the conventional wisdom of my high school history text books, that last comment would make you my main man.

Also: as Mencious Moldbug pointed out, naivete, trust, and live-and-let-live are not usually attitudes one thinks of attributes to Uncle Joe.

dav said...

I need to make some clarifications. No WW2 doesn't nullify the possibility of nuclear weapons but would probably make for a lot less nukes in the world. Paradoxally more countries would have nukes but only in the form of a few hundred warheads as a strategic reserve (like India) not world-ending Cold War arsenals. Also the development of nuclear power doesn't imply automatically the development of nuclear weapons. The thorium fuel cycle would be more efficient and cleaner (no plutonium) than uranium but uranium was developed because of the cold war military-industrial complex. If nuclear power is begins not with a bang but with a power plant we might see a thorium system implemented that would be much more difficult to translate to weapons.

Also WWI was bad for Western civilization and left it bruised and bleeding but it was still salvageable. WWII was the straw that broke the camels back. It became the before and after of history. In my opinion, without Hitler we would have been on Mars by now. The world suffered immensely in the cost of WWII , rebuilding a shattered Europe and Asia,the communist domination of much of the globe and the enormous human and resource cost of the Cold War. Not to mention the loss of economic value associated with the equality cult in the US and Europe. Add to this the economic devastation engendered by decolonization. Now in all honesty some countries would have been ready to be let go in a few dozen years (mostly Asian colonies) but other should have been kept up to today. The fact that that a continent as rich Africa was given away on a silver plater to some incompetent cleptocrats to strip of all civilization is one of the tragedies of the 20th century (and the 21th's as well). A colonial Africa would have been better of everyone involved.

Steve Sailer said...

Soviet foreign minister Molotov once said the Soviets had plans to invade Germany but that Rudolf Hess's flight to Britain on May 10, 1941 (six week's before Hitler's attack) scared the Soviets off. The Politburo figured Hitler sent Hess to do a deal with the Brits against the Soviets, so that instead of fighting just Germany they'd have to fight a Germany-British Empire alliance if they attacked Germany.

The problem with coming to much of a conclusion about whether the Soviet Union was going to invade Germany is that everybody has "plans" to some degree or another to do everything. The U.S. was updating its plan for invading Canada well into the interwar years.

The Soviets would have done it if Stalin had decided to do it, but Stalin was a worrywart.(Except about being attacked by Hitler. He didn't worry about that.)

I presume Stalin's plan in August 1939 was to divide up Poland, then sit out WWII while Germany gets bogged down in France again. Then, eventually, a few years later, attack a weakened Germany from behind. But the Fall of France wrecked that (fairly sensible) plan, and then Stalin's pride and stubbornness got out of control as the countless warnings of Hitler's intentions poured in in 1941.

Anonymous said...

Soviet foreign minister Molotov once said the Soviets had plans to invade Germany but that Rudolf Hess's flight to Britain on May 10, 1941 (six week's before Hitler's attack) scared the Soviets off.

Good, some actual evidence rather than mere interesting speculation. What's the source? Have any smoking guns emerged from the Soviet archives?

Cennbeorc

Paul Mendez said...

The Red Army of 1940 was an offensive army. It had more tanks and trucks than the rest of the world's armies combined, including the BT-series of fast tanks that could operate cross-country on tracks AND run at high speeds on wheels over paved roads. Russia didn't have a lot of paved roads in 1941, but Europe did.

Also, Russia had a large paratroop force in 1941. Paratroopers are strictly offensive.

So, whether an invasion of Europe was 2 weeks or 2 years away, it was definitely something the Red Army was planning.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it there is the Multiverse or parallel universes explanation for the conundrums of quantum mechanics and there is the simple one universe explanation. Either the world you hypothesize simply did not happen or that it did, and an infinite variety of other possibilities too.

If the Multiverse explanation is true the universe you conjure up actually does exist - but we can never experience it - sort of like the Christian afterlife.

So I take it you are just playing mind games to make a point. Newt Gingrich has three novels based on the notion that Lee listened to Longstreet at Gettysburg. My reaction to that scenario was to better appreciate Lee's judgement.

So what is your point? What idea are you trying to plant in my head?

Picking Hitler and Stalin to die is just one possibility. Most of the world leaders for the Second World War had roles in the First World War. After WWI the flu pandemic hit. Millions caught it and millions died. Both Hitler and Churchill caught it but recovered. There should be some good alternate history tales there.

Robert Harris and Lee Deighton have written probably the best "The Nazis Win" novels. The best "Hitler Dies" movie is certainly Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. But as far as I know there is no major work of fiction based on your - "No A-bomb, No War" speculation.

One reason may be that there is a huge unspoken assumption in your notion. You assume that the state of peace is the "normal" state and that war is a periodic aberration. It's easy to show that war is at least as "normal" as peace. Rome closed the doors on The Temple of Bellona when their was peace. For the last two hundred years of The Republic the doors stayed open. The Pax Romana is famous in history because it was so unusual.

If war is the natural state of affairs, your peace in 1935 would be unusual and ephemeral. New belligerents would arise. New scientists would be set to finding new weapons. It's easy to imagine a world without some civilain invention. But a world without weapons technology seems pretty far fetched.

Albertosaurus

adasdasdfa said...

"I presume Stalin's plan in August 1939 was to divide up Poland, then sit out WWII while Germany gets bogged down in France again. Then, eventually, a few years later, attack a weakened Germany from behind."

No, Stalin wouldn't have attacked even a weakened Germany. He would not have even invaded weak Poland if Hitler didn't an offer to go 50/50. Stalin was for socialism in one country: national communism. All of Central Europe would have remained non-communist if not for WWII. Stalin wouldn't even have dared to invade Bulgaria.

Also, if Russia attacked a weakened Germany, UK and US might have decided to aid Germany to fight the Soviets than vice versa.
Also, many German- and Anglo-Americans(majority of Americans back then)would have put aside their 'America First' position and DEMANDED that Americans join the fight to save European Germans from the Asiatic Russian Commie Horde. (Indeed, one of the reasons why America First called for neutrality was because they were sure Germans would dominate and rule all of Europe. Similarly, Jews call for intervention or isolation depending on how it serves Jewish interests.)


Brits already thought in terms of 'balance of powers' on the continent. They feared the dominance of Nazi Germany but the possibly of Russians taking Germany--the main bulwark against communism for rest of Europe--would have been too much.

Anonymous said...

"Hitler invaded Russia because he had credible intelligence that the USSR was massing for an invasion of Germany. Probably both dictators (Stalin and Hitler) were champing at the bit to break their 1939 pact."

As they say in boxing, 'style makes the fight'. That just wasn't Stalin's style.

adfafasdfa said...

"By being forward deployed, the Red Army was much more vulnerable to a surprise attack in 1941 precisely because all of its best mobile units were forward deployed at the border and were thus surrounded and cut off by the German Army within days of the initial attack. There was nothing for the Red Army to counterattack with, except for inferior secondary rearward deployed formations which weren't mobile enough to do the job and which were thus cut to pieces and in turn surrounded themselves."

This is all nonsense. Stalin went out of his way NOT TO DEPLOY MASSIVE TROOPS--offensive or defensive--along its western frontier because he didn't want to give Hitler any reason to attack the USSR.

And I don't buy the argument that a military force deployed offensively is helpless against an offense by the other side.
In the Battle of Kursk--biggest battle of WWII--both armies were positioned for offense. Well, Russians won, didn't they?

And Israel prepared for offense in the 1967 war. Does this mean that Israel would have been defenseless against an Arab attack had the Arabs attacked first? Ridiculous.

As a matter of fact, in many battles, BOTH ARMIES are geared for offense. Does that mean they are utterly incapable of defense?
Take football, when there's an interception, the offense switches into defense. Guys playing offense then tackle the interceptor on the defense team.

The problem wasn't whether USSR was offensive or defensive mode. It was just unprepared and suckerpunched senseless.

adfasdfasdfa said...

"Thus, when Americans and Europeans wonder today how and why the West lost its historic culture, morals and religion, the ultimate answer is the Allied victory in 1918."

This is so dumb. Yeah, blame it all on Americans and the French.
Did it ever occur to Lind that no one forced Germans and Russians to start that dumb war? If Germany and Russia had been ruled by 'leftist' democrats than imperialist royalty obsessed with 'honor' and 'warrior culture', the whole mess might have been avoided.

asdfasdfsa said...

Not sure I agree with this but it's interesting.

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/18/magazine/best-mistake-by-accident.html

Severn said...

"Thus, when Americans and Europeans wonder today how and why the West lost its historic culture, morals and religion, the ultimate answer is the Allied victory in 1918."

This is so dumb. Yeah, blame it all on Americans and the French.


If you read "Americans and Europeans" as "Americans and the French", maybe it's you who are so dumb.


Did it ever occur to Lind that no one forced Germans and Russians to start that dumb war?

I'm not even sure which dumb war you are referring to, but neither WWI nor WWII was started by "Germans and Russians".

Eric said...

There is simply no way you get a world almost identical to ours without nuclear weapons. They've just influenced far too much for our world today not to be greatly different.

This was the problem with Turtledove's sequel series to his 'aliens invade during WWII' series. He wanted to have a lot of familiar historical figures in his cast but the events of the previous series were too far reaching for there to be much familiar in his alternate 1960s.

The idea of atomic superweapons was not new by the mid-1930s. H Wells had them as a plot device in 1914. 'Armageddon 2419 A.D.' the original Buck rogers novel in 1928, is an amazing read from a modern perspective in that it gets a surprising amount right about where technology could go.

So many things change it becomes hard to track more than a decade or so past the branching point. In a world where nobody fears nuclear war, how much does the widespread use of nuclear power change things? OPEC is a minor commodity cartel whose product is used more for industrial chemical applications than power and transport. That makes for massive changes to our history.

The list is endless.

adadsfasf said...

"I'm not even sure which dumb war you are referring to, but neither WWI nor WWII was started by 'Germans and Russians'".

Germans and Russians expanded a llimited Austrian-Serbian conflict for their own purposes: pan-German imperialism vs pan-Slavic imperialism. As Germany and Russia were the two major powers, they deserve the most blame.
Or are you gonna tell me that Rothchilds and Freemasons planned the whole thing?

Anonymous said...

"...Japan gives up the crazy idea of fighting a war with America..."

In fact Japan did not want a war with America at all and went to great lengths to avoid it. But from 1931 onwards America pursued a very confrontational, in your face, policy towards her. FDR PERSONALLY went out of his way to antagonize Japan.

Fred said...

"The Red Army of 1940 was an offensive army."

The Red Army of 1940 still had some of its best generals rotting in the gulags. How could it have conquered Germany then when it could barely subdue the Finns, despite massively outnumbering them? Russia's most capable troops were still in the Far East in 1940.

Severn said...

Germans and Russians expanded a llimited Austrian-Serbian conflict for their own purposes

So what was the British and French excuse for jumping in and turning matters from an eastern European conflict into a world war? Oh, right, their own purposes.

As Germany and Russia were the two major powers ...

The two major powers in WWI? Please.

Paul Mendez said...

The Red Army of 1940 still had some of its best generals rotting in the gulags. How could it have conquered Germany then when it could barely subdue the Finns, despite massively outnumbering them? Russia's most capable troops were still in the Far East in 1940.

I didn't say the Red Army of 1940 was a GOOD army. I'm just saying that it was equipped & organized for offensive operations against Europe.

At the start of the war, the Red Army was the most mechanized army in the world. That proved its undoing in Finland. Soviet soldiers expected to ride into battle down narrow roads amid thick forests instead of dismounting and humping through the snow.

sdfasdadsf said...

"So what was the British and French excuse for jumping in and turning matters from an eastern European conflict into a world war?"

France was beaten by Germany in the late 19th century and so naturally forged an alliance with Russia. So it was oligated under a treaty to fight together with Russia against Germany.
British entry into the war was less justified but it was in the time-honored Englis tradition of maintaining 'balance of powers' on the continent. During the Napoleonic era, the Brits sided with reactionaries against the French revolutionaries--even though Brits culturally and politically had more in common with French 'leftists' than with Russian monarchists. Also, given the rapid rise of Germany and the aggressive pronouncements of Wilhelm II, British saw the main challenge to its hegemony from the Germans.
(And don't forget it was with the help of European reactionaries that the American colonialists were able to defeat the British. Though American Right say 'republic, not an empire', America was not only founded as an empire but won independence with the help of imperial powers--Spanish, French, and Prussian--against the British Empire.)

Even so, in retrospect, I would say British should have stayed out of WWI, and things would have been better overall--though far from perfect--if the Germans had won the war. Had it not been for British intervention, France might have been defeated in less than 2 yrs and then Germany could have committed all its resources to fighting Russia, which would have folded in a yr.

Anyway, if your point is the British and French should not have meddled in a local conflict in Central/Eastern Europe, my point is similar. Germany and Russia should not have meddled in the affairs between Austrians and Serbians. But once Germany and Russia got into the war, it brought France into the war. And then Germany had the Ottoman Empire on its side. In Asia, Japan entered the war on the side of Allies to pick off spoils from Germany.

The real problem was the nature of alliances which were honor-based than reason-based. We have an alliance with Taiwan but it's reason-than-honor-based. We've told Taiwanese that US will or may come to its defense IF it doesn't do something outlandish--like suddenly declaring independence from China.
But the alliances prior to WWI were honor-based, steeped in warrior code and pride and all that stuff. This hadn't been as damaging in earlier wars--limited in scope and mainly between armies. But WWI gave us the TOTAL WAR, and so, wars were far more dangerous and destructive to every man, woman, and child.

The problem of WWI was the nature of alliances. Germany made assurances to Austrians. Russians made assurances to Serbs and other Slavs. So, a local incident between Austria and Serbia was bound to have international repercussions. Austrians wanted to punish the Serbs, but Russians were honor-bound to come to the defense of Serbs. That meant Russia vs Austria. Then, Germany was honor-bound to come to the rescue of Austria. Then France was honor-bound to come to the rescue of Russia. It should have stopped there, but British thought in terms of 'balance of powers'. In the early 19th century, Brits aided Russians, Prussians, and Spanish against France and Napoleon. During WWI, it aided France to fight back the rising might of the 'Huns'.

This is why we must be careful about alliances, and all alliances must be based on national self-interest and reason than on honor.
Russia grumbled but wisely didn't come to Serbian rescue in the Kosovo War.
US has close ties to Colombia but isn't bound to fight with Colombia against its enemies.
The only truly IRRATIONAL and honor-bound US alliance is with Israel, but then Jews own us.

Svigor said...

1) That the Germans didn't take Moscow wasn't for lack of trying. They were decisively defeated in the Battle of Moscow.

Because they took a side trip and wasted a month.

2) Even if they had taken Moscow, that wouldn't have decapitated Russia. Stalin had evacuated most of the government from Moscow in October of 1941, and most of the country's armaments industry had been relocated to the Urals.

And all of the rail lines and roads led in and out of Moscow. Hell, they still do. Russia would've been finished as far as WWII was concerned.

Svigor said...

Pure rubbish and a disgusting apology for Hitler's craziness. Stalin had no plans to invade Germany, and Hitler knew it. Hitler invaded Russia because it was part of his great plan to expand the German empire. He saw the opportunity to attack when Stalin least suspected it. In other words, Hitler knew that Stalin knew that Germans would not be crazy enough to fight a two-front war. After all, that was the BIG LESSON Germany learned in WWI.

You don't see (easily) enough contradiction in this post to caution you against strong characterizations like "pure rubbish"? I do.

Svigor said...

Also: as Mencious Moldbug pointed out, naivete, trust, and live-and-let-live are not usually attitudes one thinks of attributes to Uncle Joe.

But the Americans will generally do anything to justify WWII, including warm, fuzzy characterizations of the world's worst mass murderer, and whitewashing the world's worst totalitarian regime, and our jumping into bed with both.

Mil-Tech Bard said...

Steve,

The Samurai Death Cult running the Japanese state was not going to be put off any more than Hitler was, and they were a elite class, and not a singular figure.

However, given you starting point of n"o WW2," there are a lot more technologies other than nukes that would be retarded/diverted without the war.

The mechanical ballistic computers on the USS Iowa were so good that when the old girl was brought back into service in the 1980's that she and her sisters kept them. The Navy could not get the IC chip electronics to properly operate in the high shock heavy gunship environment without spending a lot of cash the US Navy wanted to spend on fighters.

Those same ballistic computers, reduced in size and capability, but built in huge compared to WW2 ship building numbers, were used on American light, medium and heavy tanks in the early 1950's through early 1970's. This only happened because of the thousands of Destroyer and larger ships the USA built in WW2 pushed that technology to where it could be applied to tanks.

Note as well that in 1945 the US Military had just put into production shell-shock hardened, miniaturized, vacuum tube proximity fuses for 81mm mortar shells at a rate of 100,000 a month in July-August 1945 and was set to increase production rates by 4 to 5 times over that during the next six months for the Invasion of Japan.

What made transistors really useful in aerospace was their lower power requirements for the same capability.

With mechanical and vacuum tube technology having much more in the way of development potential w/o WW2, and much delayed nuclear weapons, neither transistors nor large rockets get built until decades later.

The same is true of jet engines versus radial and in-line propeller aircraft.

The B-29 or British Lancaster was needed to deliver a U-235 bomb, and W/O WW2 you won't see such planes until the 1950s.

Svigor said...

Also: as Mencious Moldbug pointed out, naivete, trust, and live-and-let-live are not usually attitudes one thinks of attributes to Uncle Joe.

Heh. A bit on Stalin, the early years:

He became one of the Bolsheviks' chief operatives in the Caucasus, organizing paramilitaries, inciting strikes, spreading propaganda and raising money through bank robberies, ransom kidnappings and extortion.

A gangster and terrorist.

Stalin temporarily resigned from the party over its ban on bank robberies and his link to the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery, a large raid on a bank shipment in the crowded Yeveran Square that result in the deaths of 40 people and the injuring of 50 people.

A proud, committed gangster and terrorist.

In Baku, Stalin organized Muslim Azeris and Persians in partisan activities, including the murders of many "Black Hundreds" right-wing supporters of the Tsar, and conducted protection rackets, ransom kidnappings, counterfeiting operations and robberies.

Cute, real cute.

Stalin challenged many of the decisions of Trotsky, ordered the killings of many former Tsarist officers in the Red Army and counter-revolutionaries, and burned villages in order to intimidate the peasantry into submission and discourage bandit raids on food shipments. In May 1919, in order to stem mass desertions on the Western front, Stalin had deserters and renegades publicly executed as traitors.

Obviously Stalin went on to bigger, badder things, but his origins are pretty telling. This is the guy western history compares favorably with Hitler. They like to call Hitler a "failed painter" and "the corporal." What does that make Stalin, who was rejected for military service and rose to power as a gangster and terrorist? A "successful mobster and terrorist," and "the reject"? No, instead, "during the war, Time Magazine named Stalin Time Person of the Year twice and he was also one of the nominees for Time Person of the Century title."

asdfdasfasf said...

"Pure rubbish and a disgusting apology for Hitler's craziness. Stalin had no plans to invade Germany, and Hitler knew it. Hitler invaded Russia because it was part of his great plan to expand the German empire. He saw the opportunity to attack when Stalin least suspected it. In other words, Hitler knew that Stalin knew that Germans would not be crazy enough to fight a two-front war. After all, that was the BIG LESSON Germany learned in WWI."

"You don't see (easily) enough contradiction in this post to caution you against strong characterizations like 'pure rubbish'? I do."

You don't know how 'crazy' people think. I do. It takes one to know.

Markku said...

asdfasdf:

In the Battle of Kursk--biggest battle of WWII--both armies were positioned for offense.

No, they weren't. In the Kursk salient, the Soviets had built extensive defensive fortifications, which is precisely why von Manstein wanted to attack as soon as possible. Hitler's interference prevented him from doing so. I remember reading somewhere that Hitler realized delaying the attack was a bad idea but he thought had reasons to do so.

Markku said...

This is all nonsense. Stalin went out of his way NOT TO DEPLOY MASSIVE TROOPS--offensive or defensive--along its western frontier because he didn't want to give Hitler any reason to attack the USSR.

Pray tell, why did Stalin then go and invade Northern Bukovina although it wasn't agreed upon in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? After the invasion of that territory, the USSR was withing striking distance of Germany's oil supply at Ploesti.

Fred said...

"Obviously Stalin went on to bigger, badder things, but his origins are pretty telling. This is the guy western history compares favorably with Hitler. They like to call Hitler a "failed painter" and "the corporal." What does that make Stalin, who was rejected for military service and rose to power as a gangster and terrorist? A "successful mobster and terrorist," and "the reject"? No, instead, "during the war, Time Magazine named Stalin Time Person of the Year twice and he was also one of the nominees for Time Person of the Century title."

Time named Hitler a Man of the Year too (in 1938). Stalin's origins as a gangster and Checkist aren't secrets. What's cute though is how you are so committed to defending Hitler against any invidious comparisons to Stalin.

asdasdfasdf said...

"Even if they had taken Moscow, that wouldn't have decapitated Russia. Stalin had evacuated most of the government from Moscow in October of 1941, and most of the country's armaments industry had been relocated to the Urals."

"And all of the rail lines and roads led in and out of Moscow. Hell, they still do. Russia would've been finished as far as WWII was concerned."

Japan took Peking and Nanking but still couldn't conquer China. British took Washington DC during War of 1812 but didn't win the war(though they did get the better of the war).

Anonymous said...

The main reason the Nazis lost was their decision to not fully commit to a war economy. Just look at the stats on their production of tanks/planes/etc.. in the first two years of war with the USSR their production was only a fraction of what it was in the last two years. (after they had lost most of their territory) At the last stage of the war, Nazi Germany had just as large a labor force, and just as much industrial production as the USSR.

adsfasdfdsaf said...

"In the Battle of Kursk--biggest battle of WWII--both armies were positioned for offense."

"No, they weren't. In the Kursk salient, the Soviets had built extensive defensive fortifications, which is precisely why von Manstein wanted to attack as soon as possible. Hitler's interference prevented him from doing so. I remember reading somewhere that Hitler realized delaying the attack was a bad idea but he thought had reasons to do so."

The point is one can be positioned for both. It's not an either/or zero sum game.
Soviets were readying for offensive and defensive, and either side should have launched the first attack.
Besides, the main advantage for the Soviets was not its military formations but good intelligence. Soviets were prepared this time, knew what the Germans were planning, and were ready to go.
Why? Because Nazi Gemany and its allies weren't as totalitarian as Soviet Union; there were more pro-commie spies active in Axis countries than there were pro-Nazi spies in the Soviet Union. Also, communism had a wider appeal than Nazism in high circles dominated by educated people, and there were plenty of people in Germany and neutral nations who passed secrets to the Soviets. That really made the difference.

Take the Yom Kippur War which Israelis lost in the early stages. Why? Because of lack of defensive formations? NO! Because Israelis under Moshe Dayan, like Stalin in 1941, were convinced that Arabs would not attack.

asdfasfasdf said...

"This is all nonsense. Stalin went out of his way NOT TO DEPLOY MASSIVE TROOPS--offensive or defensive--along its western frontier because he didn't want to give Hitler any reason to attack the USSR."

"Pray tell, why did Stalin then go and invade Northern Bukovina although it wasn't agreed upon in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? After the invasion of that territory, the USSR was withing striking distance of Germany's oil supply at Ploesti."

What are you, a knucklehead? That was a case of nibbling, not gobbling. Why? Because Stalin was a nibbler, not a gobbler. Stalin wasn't keen on risking everything for more land since one thing USSR didn't lack for was land and natural resources.
It's true that Stalin did nibble here and there, but so did the Germans. So, did every Eastern European nation in that period. They all acted like vultures and hyenas, nibbling here and there to pick off a piece for themselves. That hardly amounts to a major plan to invade Germany!!

Suppose two guys agree to split something 50/50 but one guy tries to nibble a piece more to make it 51/49 to his advantage. It doesn't mean he wants to take it all. Stalin may have wanted to nibble a few more pieces, but it was Hitler who wanted to gobble it all up. Hitler was planning on taking all 100 of the pieces.

There was bound to be much tension between Germany and Russia even during this period of alliance. Though they came to an agreement by invading Poland and Baltics together, they were suddenly face to face, which hadn't been the case when Poland and the Baltics had served as a buffer between teh two.
Even so, I don't care how many Nazi apologists come out of the woodwork. Stalin had no plans to invade Germany.
Stalin nibbled here and there, but Soviet troops were not amassed for anything like major operations against Germany.

Severn said...

France was beaten by Germany in the late 19th century and so naturally forged an alliance with Russia. So it was oligated under a treaty to fight together with Russia against Germany.


Just as Germany was obligated under treaty to fight together with Austro-Hungary against Russia. But for some reason you don't blame the Austro-Hungarians or the French for the war.


if your point is the British and French should not have meddled in a local conflict in Central/Eastern Europe ...

No, my point is simply that it makes no sense to hold the Russians and Germans responsible for WWI. Every country that got involved did so for what it believed were its best interests.

Severn said...

But once Germany and Russia got into the war, it brought France into the war.


You act as though it was as inevitable as death or taxes. The French had free will, they were not "brought" into the war any more than any other major country involved.

Svigor said...

Time named Hitler a Man of the Year too (in 1938). Stalin's origins as a gangster and Checkist aren't secrets. What's cute though is how you are so committed to defending Hitler against any invidious comparisons to Stalin.

I know, I know. When I call the whole gang of rogues, well, rogues, when I call Stalin a bigger monster than Hitler, I'm "defending" Hitler, not attacking the rogues, or Stalin.

Least that's not an obsessively pro-status-quo attitude you have there.

Markku said...

What are you, a knucklehead? That was a case of nibbling, not gobbling. Why? Because Stalin was a nibbler, not a gobbler. Stalin wasn't keen on risking everything for more land since one thing USSR didn't lack for was land and natural resources.

Stalin wanted to have the option of denying Hitler the oil production of Ploesti. He did not want that oil for himself. From Hitler's point of view, the nibbing of Northern Bukovina by Stalin presented extreme danger. Germany's biggest fear was being cut off from vital oil supplies from Romania. Sure, Stalin might have wanted to avoid antagonizing Hitler at the time, but his own actions alerted Hitler. Stalin also expressed a desire to station troops in Bulgaria. He was telling Hitler not to worry all the while moving into a better position to strangle him. Each side was engaged in a game of deception at the time.

adsfasdfasdf said...

"No, my point is simply that it makes no sense to hold the Russians and Germans responsible for WWI. Every country that got involved did so for what it believed were its best interests."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArSLNJNUEIM

Anonymous said...

Hey, releavant to everything on
your blog: Steve are you avoiding avoiding avoiding explaning wikileaks? Why?

David said...

>Stalin was a nibbler, not a gobbler.<

What happened to the claim that The Man of Steel wanted communism restricted to one country?

The countries of Eastern Europe were but nibbles too, then.

Svigor said

>When I call the whole gang of rogues, well, rogues, when I call Stalin a bigger monster than Hitler, I'm [accused of] "defending" Hitler, not [of] attacking the rogues<

Don't forget being called "crazy," a "knucklehead," and a Nazi who spouts "rubbish." Ah, the delightfully amusing judiciousness of surviving defenders of Uncle Joe, the butcher of at least 20 million Soviet civilians. (As Prof. Rummel states elsewhere: it's as if a nuclear war already occurred.)

Please recall that text in color represents a hyperlink to more detailed information.

Agnello said...

If the nuclear bomb had not had apparent,and desperately needed, military value,the more esoteric characteristics of the lighter fissionables would still not be widely known, or believed. The material had no other useful applications,many primitive chemical tests were unable to distinguish between isotopes, and external conditions play a heavy factor in whether or not previously observed states can be replicated in future experiment.In such cases,inevitably, the researchers who do observe what others are unable or unwilling to observe are universally condemned as charlatans or lunatics, their reported results described pejoratively as 'magic' or 'alleged', their theories buried, never to have serious influence on future thinkers - until generations later.when, in an astonishing display of coincidence, many of these impossible claims are replicated by respectable challengers of the unknown, the similarity of whose results to those of the charlatans of yesteryear are never held to be as significant as the supposed differences.