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Professor Hamby referred in his April 26 post to what he views as "the most serious weakness of the 'back door to war' argument." FDR, in his view, had no way of knowing what Hitler would do if war broke out between the United States and Japan. What if the German leader had "simply kept his mouth shut" or had even opted for "neutrality in the US-Japan conflict"? This is an important argument and deserves to be taken seriously. I had in fact dealt with it at some length on pp. 124-128 (and esp. on pp. 126-128) of the chapter in my methods book in which I discussed this whole question of America's road to war in 1941 (http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s4_8200.pdf). The first point there was that Roosevelt had good reason to believe that Germany would come in if war broke out between America and Japan--partly because the U.S. government, thanks to the MAGIC intercepts and similar sources, knew what the Germans were telling the Japanese as the crisis developed. The second and more important point was that even if Hitler reneged on his promises and did not declare war on the United States in the event Japan went to war with America, Roosevelt knew by that point that the U.S. government could take the initiative and declare war on Germany anyway. One key piece of evidence for me here was Harry Hopkins's notes of a meeting Roosevelt had with his top advisors on December 7, 1941, right after news of the Pearl Harbor attack had been received in Washington. That meeting, Hopkins wrote that night, "met in not too tense an atmosphere because I think that all of us believed that in the last analysis the enemy was Hitler and that he could never be defeated without force of arms; that sooner or later we were bound to be in the war and that Japan had given us an opportunity." If Professor Hamby were right, you would expect those top American leaders to have been deeply worried about what Hitler would do--worried, that is, about how the coming of the war with Japan might ruin Roosevelt's attempt to bring the country into the European war. But you get the sense that U.S. leaders were quite confident, after Pearl Harbor but before the German declaration of war, that war with Nazi Germany was imminent. The prevailing sense was one of relief: it was clear to FDR and his top advisors that the Japanese attack would pave the way for America's entry into the European war. A German declaration of war would be politically convenient, and it made sense to wait a few days to allow Hitler to make that move, but it was by no means a necessity. U.S. leaders could be fairly relaxed because they knew, after the Japanese attack, that the public would support a U.S. declaration of war on Germany, if in fact a German declaration of war was not forthcoming. And the public would support it because it had come to believe Japan and Germany were part of the same criminal conspiracy--that their alliance was a lot tighter than it in fact was. That final point, incidentally, relates also to the issue of deception, the basic question that Schuessler was concerned with: Roosevelt knew that the Axis alliance was not nearly as tight as many people thought, but he certainly had no interest in correcting popular misconceptions in this area. Marc Trachtenberg firstname.lastname@example.org  Robert Sherwood, _Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History_ (New York: Harper, 1948), p. 431.