Before the end of WWII, the lines were already being drawn between the Warsaw Pact and the NATO countries. Democracy and Communism, at the most basic level.
Why didn’t the US/UK et.al. force the issue after the defeat of Germany and Japan? The US had the nuclear advantage, and even if they couldn’t (or didn’t want to) conquer the Soviet Union, surely they could have pushed the Russians back into their own territory east of Poland. I understand the political reasons were strong, but wasn’t the writing on the wall? Perhaps they couldn’t have pushed the Russians back to the pre-WWII boarders, but I would think that the threat of a nuclear strike would have helped the cause. Was the US completely against the use of another nuclear strike after Japan?
Or was it much more basic? The world was just tired of war? Korea was only 4-5 years after the end of WWII, so the world didn’t get much of a break.
The world was just tired of the war at that point IMHO. In the US it would have been damned hard to get the political capital to keep the war going by attacking the Russians (who at the time were protrayed as our heroic allies in the struggle against evil, etc etc). Also, FDR was dead and Truman was not in any position to really do much more than finish off the war…no way did he have the means to keep the war going (or I guess start up a new war)…certainly not in '45-'46. MAYBE had FDR lived (and had he any intention of taking the Russians out)…MAYBE we could have kept things going.
Gods know if we’d have won though…the Russian army in '45 was tough as nails and there was a hell of a lot of them. Even with the bomb (of which we didn’t have a whole hell of a lot at that time) it would have been no cake walk. The things we had going for us were probably air superiority (though this would have been hard fought as well) and industrial capacity (well, in the US at least). On the Russians side were superior tanks and logistics (Western Europe is much closer to Russia than the US obviously). It would have been a toss of the dice and may have ended up with Russia in control of large swaths of Western Europe, with the British and US hanging on to the coast line (perhaps).
I think, all things considered, that it worked out better as it actually transpired…after all, we never did have that war, which is IMHO a GOOD thing.
Push them back with what? The Soviets had a much larger army at that point. Patton wanted to rearm the Germans and send them East, but that wouldn’t have worked either. If Stalin had gotten the slighest inkling that the US was going to bomb his sorry butt, he would have hidden somewhere out of range of the longest US bombers, and just kept the Red Army rolling past Berlin. Not exactly something the Allies would withstand. Plus, at that time the handwriting wasn’t on the wall for the majority of the American populace. You had a substantial number of Soviet apologists up through the 90s. Back then, most just thought Stalin could be manipulated.
While I agree the Soviets were more numerous AND had better equipment, the US was no push over either at that point. Also, they were rather beat up in the taking of Berlin and central Germany. Their losses were staggering, and their logistics were stretched. We on the other hand were relatively unscathed (since we ‘let’ the Russians take Berlin and go into the teeth of the defenses). Don’t forget that the Russians losses throughout the war were staggering and that they didn’t have infinite industrial or even agricultural capacity.
We would have had at least localized air superiority over Western Europe. The Russians would have had the same problem the Germans did without air superiority…they would have had their lines of resupply and their formations constantly under attack by tactical air strikes…not to mention the strategic bombing we would have used. No way the Red Air Force could compete with the allies…not after a few months. On the ground it would have been a bit more dicey of course, but it was no push over either way. The Russians attacking into Western Europe would have been VERY tough…and the US/Allies attacking into Russia would have been a nightmare at that time.
BTW, where in Russia would have been safe from strategic bombing by the US…assuming we held both Japan and central Germany? Granted, he could have hid somewhere…but not somewhere out of range, at least not as far as I can see.
Its moot anyway…the US would never have escallated the war at that time. And its good that we didn’t IMHO.
The United States had just spent four years fighting Germany and Japan. Defeating the Soviet Union probably would have taken another four years.
And what would have been the cause for such a war? The Soviet Union occupying Poland and Eastern Germany? We had agreed to that. The Soviet Union was not perceived as a threat to the United States in 1945.
And America’s nuclear arsenal was mostly theoretical in the immediate post-war period. In 1946, we had something like four atomic bombs, all of them small by modern standards.
There wasn’t really any clear justification to “turn heel” on our Russian tag team partners at that time. The American public really likes to wear the white hats and get the “babyface” pops when possible…or at least we used to feel that way. Russia stood with us against the ultimate “Monster Heel”, and while we may not necessarily have liked them all that much, we aren’t backstabbers…or at least, did not want to be seen that way.