variables had been turned around, the balance betweenngains from American entry into the war versus costs andnlosses could have been altered radically. We still might havenbeen able to look back on victory with pride. But conceivablynwe would be doing so from a more deeply woundednAmerica in a less triumphant Western civilization than wenknow on this 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.nA far more terrifying scenario for America might havenpresented itself, however, if Hitler had not loosed hisnGerman military forces east on the morning of June 22,n1941, beginning the Russo-German War. After the eruptionnof the Russo-German War, General Robert E. Wood,nnational chairman of America First, put the committee’snposition cleady and simply: “With the ruthless forces ofndictatorship and aggression now clearly aligned on both sidesn[of the European war] the proper course for the UnitednStates becomes even clearer. We must continue to build ournown defenses and take no part in this incongruous Europeannconflict.”nAt a cost of millions of casualties, Soviet armed forcesnstopped the German advances at the gates of Moscow, heldnLeningrad against extended siege, checked the Germans innthe Battle of Stalingrad, and threw the German armies backnwith terrible losses. The British and Americans conquerednAxis forces in the skies and on the seas, but it was Stalin’snSoviet armies that broke the back of Hitler’s armies on thenEuropean continent — at a terrible cost in lives and material.nNearly twenty-five million people in the Soviet Unionn(civilians and military) died in their “Great Patriotic War”nagainst Nazi Germany. If there had been no Russo-GermannWar, Hitler’s Nazi forces concentrated in the West wouldnhave been vastly more formidable than those the British andnAmericans actually had to contend with.nBefore the Russo-German War began, Gharles A. Lind-n22/CHRONICLESnOn a Line From the New YorkernMarch 11, 1991nby William M. Galbraithn”Rapunzel in winter is a lonely rhino —“nSpring, alas, is no different,nand what can a rhino do but be angry,nglare balefully and kick dirt?nAnd such a sad dry dirt it is;nno honest feel of sod,nno turf of ancient grasses,nno sponge of rainsnor of spored dust rising,nno smell on the autumn airnexcept a vague anxiety of absencenwhen continence is a floodnsearing the pea of brain.nAnd what else is there?nWhatever else but food?nHorizons are only fences,ndistorted trees and linesnof little somethings gawking by.nnnbergh predicted that American military involvement in thenwar against the European dictators could cost the UnitednStates a million lives or more. America’s actual losses werenless than one-third that number. If any substantial proportionnof the losses suffered by the Soviet Union had beenntransferred to Britain and the United States in the West,nhowever, Lindbergh’s prediction would not have beennexcessive. The costs and losses for Britain and the UnitednStates would have been vastly greater, and the possibility ofnfailure at Normandy could have been very real. The UnitednStates and Britain may have triumphed ultimately evennwithout the Russo-German War. But if they had, Lindbergh’snprediction would not have been unrealistic. ThenUnited States could have survived such losses — just as thenSoviet Union, Germany, Japan, and China did. But thendestructive effects on American and British lives, democracy,neconomy, and civilization would have been far worsenthan they were.nThe next scenario is more difficult to estimate. If thenUnited States had not entered Wodd War II in Europe,ncould (and would) Britain and its allies have mounted ansuccessful cross-channel invasion of Hitler’s Europe in thenWest (even with the Russo-German War)? Not likely. Whatnwould the consequences of the war between the SovietnUnion and Germany have been without Anglo-Americannfighting on land in Western Europe? Hitler’s armies mightnhave crushed the Soviet Union, but that seems unlikely. Or,nStalin’s massive forces might have driven west across all ofnEurope to the English Ghannel — hardly an appealingnpossibility. Given the probable Soviet exhaustion by thatntime, however, that might have been preferable to havingnHitler in that position. A third possibility might have (Inbelieve, would have) been a bloody stalemate with both thenSoviet Union and Nazi Germany and their people blednwhite and exhausted. But that scenario need not havenendangered American national security or survival.nFrom the vantage point of a half-century one can evennspeculate that the main beneficiaries of American involvementnin World War II may have been today’s prosperousnand democratic states of Germany and Japan that were set innnew directions as consequences of American involvementnand victory. And could it be that noninvolvement by thenUnited States might have left Stalin’s Soviet Union morenexhausted and less dangerous than it proved to be after thenvictory that the United States helped to accomplish? And innthat situation would the United States in the WesternnHemisphere have felt it necessary to spend any more moneyn(and lives and resources) on its military forces than it actuallynhas spent worldwide from 1942 to 1991?nThat still leaves the question of whether wars between thenUnited States and the Axis powers in Europe and Asia wereninevitable, regardless of what policies and actions the UnitednStates might have pursued. And it also leaves the question ofnwhether America’s involvement in the war was inevitable,ngiven FDR’s leadership, the triumph of industrial-capitalistnAmerica, the urbanization of American society, and thenerosion of rural and small-town America. Those are separatenquestions. I would answer the first question negatively, andnthe second with a probable affirmative. And that gets back tonthe conclusion reached in the first part of this article. ThenAmerica First cause was hopeless. <^n