• U.S.

War II, Phase II

3 minute read

The second six months of war last week began for the U.S. at the point where the first six months should have started. The loss of the Philippines, of Guam and Wake, had not been undone. But Midway was what Pearl Harbor should have been. The two canceled out. In three days of concentrated destruction off Midway, the U.S. had restored the balance of Pacific naval power. Thus for the U.S. began Phase II of the war.

The signs of Phase II were everywhere apparent. In one day came news that a fourth U.S. expeditionary force—”the greatest American convoy that ever crossed the Atlantic”—had landed in northern Ireland; that a fleet of four-motored U.S. bombers, flown by U.S. crews, had gone a-bombing over the Black Sea. The U.S. had reached out to the enemy. The problem now: to strike effectively, to carry the war to the enemy.

Offense requires power and weapons in quantities which the nation, for all its strength, has not yet got. There will have to be many more incidents such as that which took place in the Battle of Midway, when squadrons of the new Grumman Avengers—swift, long-ranged, deadly—the first batch to come from the factories, went out, fresh from the assembly lines, to finish off the enemy. For in this second phase the U.S. must take the initiative, must drive the invaders back over their bloody roads of conquest.

On one front the U.S. must show its capacity to drive the invaders not only from the Attu and Kiska Harbor in the Aleutians, from Wake, from Guam, from the Philippines, but to conquer them in their own islands. To do so, U.S. armadas, in the air and on the sea, must move west, reversing the present tactical advantages. The U.S. must take the risks which Japan has so far taken, must successfully drive across the Pacific 2,575 miles from Midway to Tokyo.

On the other front, the task of carrying the war to Germany is even greater. If Germany is to be ruined from the air, the task of creating the necessarily vast U.S. air fleet in Britain will be terrific—yet small compared to the task and the risk of establishing a second front on the Continent.

When Russia’s Premier Molotov flew home from Washington he took an “understanding . . . with regard to the urgent tasks of creating a second front in Europe in 1942.” If this urgent task—to land on the Continent to keep the Nazis from crushing Russia and turning their full strength against the U.S. and Britain—becomes a necessity this summer, the second front may be launched before the U.S. and Britain feel able to do so successfully. Such a “sacrificial second front” would have the attendant risks of heavy losses and of heavy drain on the United Nations’ growing military might.

Having fought its way out of the first phase of the war, the U.S. could rejoice at having got from the frying pan into the firing line.

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