American Entry into World War II
T he fiftieth anniversary of American entry into World War II began a period of rethinking how and why it happened, using the fresh eyes of a new generation born since the war and growing up with its results. In Russia, for example, young scholars are asking what kind of a victory it was when the Soviet Union had 20 million killed and most of its European area devastated, only to end up with a tighter-than-ever Stalinist dictatorship. To that question older Russian scholars reply, ask the people of Poland, the Balkans, the Ukraine, or European Russia what life under a Nazi occupation was like. To which answer the young scholars respond, we were born during the Khrushchev regime and grew up during the Brezhnev regime and that hardly seems an improvement over a Hitler regime.
In Japan, for another example, some young scholars are asking why the United States opposed the Japanese conquest of China. Had Japan been given a free hand, they say, China today would not be a Communist dictatorship. To the American answer, that the Japanese acted as the occupiers of China in a manner brutal beyond description, the Japanese reply, "Worse than Tiananmen Square?"
In the United States, a question frequently asked by today's college students is "Was there not a way we could have defeated Hitler without supporting Stalin?" Considering that nine out of every ten Wehrmacht soldiers killed in the war