David E. Fishman’s otherwise fine article in the June 7 issue (“Our Debt To The Red Army: Now It Can Be Told”) was marred by an egregious factual error.
Fishman wrote that “most of America’s armed forces were dedicated to the war against Japan in the Pacific.” Nonsense. The exact opposite was true.
Even after Pearl Harbor, the American military leadership and the Roosevelt administration concluded that Hitler’s Germany posed a far greater threat to the United States than did Japan. The highest priority was first keeping Britain in the war and then (after June 1941) supplying the Soviet military to enable it to ward off the Germans.
As a result, the overwhelming bulk of U.S. military might — in manpower and materiel — was directed to Europe, not the Pacific.
Hitler made this politically possible for Roosevelt by declaring war against the United States four days after Pearl Harbor.
Hitler had no treaty obligation to do that since Japan had not been attacked by the United States. Absent that declaration of war, Roosevelt’s “Europe First” policy would have been politically difficult, if not impossible, to carry out.
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