The United States devoted 90% of its war effort against Germany in WW2?

Feel free to disagree if I’m wrong. In the excellent BBC documentary “the world at war” from the 1970s, it was said that a month or two after Pearl Harbor (maybe Feb 1942?) FDR had a meeting with the top military planners in the US (army, navy, civilian). At that meeting it was decided that the United States should direct 90% of its military war effort against Germany, Japan was thought of a laughable enemy, incapable of launching any long term offensive.

Japan is resource poor, it is a mountainous country with very little oil. Also they must import food, so they could very easily be cut off from their supplies.

Germany on the other hand was viewed as an unstoppable enemy, having conquered so much of Europe in so little time. They had great military geniuses (Guderian, Rommel, Manstein, von Rundest and many others)

Even though the Russians were doing the heavy lifting on the eastern front, it was still felt that the US must devote 90% of its war effort against Germany, Japan was an afterthought)

None of that sounds right. No one thought Japan was laughable in Feb 1942. Also the US put forth a massive amount of effort in building up their Pacific Fleet.

Now that doesn’t mean that somehow 90% wasn’t directed at Germany, but again the tone sounds wrong.

Ninety percent of what? What are we measuring?

Counting all deaths (battle and non-battler) We can say about 182,000 died in the various “Atlantic” theatres and about 171,000 died in “Pacific” theatres.

I agree with you that the tone seems pretty dismissive, but I could also see how the planners would believe that beating Germany would take far more men and materiel than beating Japan.

Do you have a direct cite for that?

The US put an amazing amount of materiel into all theaters of the war; less than 6 months after Pearl Harbor, there were US bombers over Tokyo and a massive naval battle at Midway and US soldiers were reporting to Great Britain in large numbers. Early in the war, it seems like the American fighting was primarily in the Pacific, with the American contribution in the European theatre being mostly supplying food and war materiel (later on, this would change of course).

I honestly don’t have a direct cite, but I can clearly remember on of the war planners in the “the world at war” saying it. I’ve watched every episode of the world at war. It has great information about the war taken directly from the people involved. I think it might be available on YouTube of Netflix, so I’ll check.

Look at how the Russians went through the Japanese in Manchuria in 1945. Like a hot knife through butter. (Zhukov also defeated the Japanese at Kholkin Gal in 1939)

I recall somewhere that using the A bomb against Japan was not seen as controversial since they were non white and non Christian. Of course it’s a moot point since the bomb was not ready until after Germany surrendered. But Hitler was seen as so evil I doubt they would have hesitated to nuke him.

Not seen as controversial by whom?
Many of the scientists working on the bomb were loathe to use it - some wanted to just arrange for a “demo” explosion, to scare Japan into surrendering.

In total dollars? Seems very high. I suspect the amount spent in Europe was much higher due to the nature of the conflict. Massive numbers of tanks and trucks were needed that would be mostly useless in the Pacific. But many more ships were needed there.

I doubt it. The Manhattan Project, B-29, vast naval buildup was aimed at Japan. Those were very expensive programs.

This sounds like a misreading of the Europe First strategy, which called for an offensive war against Germany and a defensive one against Japan until Germany’s defeat. The strategy was real at least as a theoretical objective. The resources actually devoted to the Pacific were greater than you would guess from learning that Europe First was official policy. Ninety percent of resources going to defeat Germany is a gross overestimate.

The story of the Manhattan Project became well known after the war and the high cost was obvious. But that was not a strictly Pacific war issue. In the end of course it was but it started as a race because of the fear of the Germans developing a weapon.

On the other hand the B-29 was specifically needed for the Pacific theater. There was no urgent need for a more long range bomber in Europe. The B-17 could reach Germany. The B-29 project cost in total around $3 billion. $1 billion more than the entire Manhattan Project.

I think the OP has the basic facts right, but the reasoning completely wrong.

It wasn’t that they dismissed Japan as a laughable enemy. It was more that we didn’t have the resources to fight a two-front war. If we went after one first and then the other, we could fight more effectively. If we went equally after both, we were much more likely to lose both.

So then the question became which one do we go after first? Europe was actually a fairly obvious choice. If we went after Japan first, we risked losing the UK and all of Europe to the Germans. Even if Germany lost to the Russians, it was possible that Germany would retain control over much, if not all, of Europe.

The threat to our allies in the Pacific wasn’t as great. We weren’t in quite such an immediate danger of losing New Zealand or Australia to the Japanese.

The “Germany First” strategy therefore made a lot of sense, and it did not dismiss Japan as an enemy. On the contrary. It was thought at the time that the invasion of Japan would be a huge and costly venture, resulting in somewhere between half a million to a million American deaths. That’s not a laughable enemy. That’s a pretty serious enemy.

So, yes, the U.S. devoted about 90 percent or so of its resources to Germany first (I don’t know the exact numbers, but that seems about right). The remaining resources were designed to hold Japan and prevent them from gaining too much ground in the Pacific.

The Manhattan Project was actually originally developed with Germany in mind as its first target. As the war raged on though, it became clear that by the time the bomb would be ready, Germany would have already been effectively defeated. At that point, the first target for the bomb changed to Japan.

Nonsense. It was just another weapon. Yes, 70 years of anti-nuke propaganda has brought us to believe that nukes are especially evil and (quite rightly in this case) that a nuclear war could wipe us all out.

A few scientists at the Project did think there was a small chance of it setting off a chain reaction that would destroy the earth, and of course many were anti-war.

According to wikipedia, 3.6 million Americans fought in the pacific theater.

I can’t find a cite for Europe. But since about 16 million Americans serve, I would assume the vast majority of the rest were in Europe. That’d mean as far as manpower goes, it was a 3:1 ratio of Europe vs Japan.

This again? No, they didn’t. The considered the possibility, and they did what scientists do when considering a possibility: They did the calculations. And found, as a result of those calculations, that it wouldn’t happen. In other words, they knew that there wasn’t a chance of it.

If that 90% number does have some basis in fact, it might be because it is skewed by the lend-lease numbers. There wasn’t a huge opportunity in the far East to give massive amounts of material to allies fighting the Japanese, in the same way they did in Europe.

So, what you are saying is that they did think that, but after calculations, they changed their minds.

I’m sure many who served did so in the USA, not abroad.