The story of this war will be told through first-hand accounts of front-line combatants, correspondents and rear area key command / staff officers. Where available, relevant documents will be provided to supplement these first-hand accounts. Because of the sensitivity of the sources used, summaries of these witness accounts will not be presented impulse by impulse, or even turn by turn, but will be published at critical points. That is, the day to day, or battle to battle, minutia will be skipped.
There are three factions at play, which are: (1) Fascist (Germany, Italy & Japan), (2) Democracies (Great Britain, France, USA and Nationalist Chinese) and (3) Communist (USSR and Communist Chinese). The Fascist and Communist are either controlled by dictators (Germany, Italy, USSR, and Communist Chinese) or run by the military (Imperial Japan). The will of these dictators is the national will of their respective countries and in that regard all they need to concern themselves with is not messing up so badly that they’re ousted by coup. Now ousted in this context is a euphuism for assassination. In contrast, for the leaders of the Democracies, national will places significant constraints on how they conduct the war. If national will turns against these leaders then that usually spells doom for their political or military careers. However, unlike the Fascist and Communist this doom is only to their careers and not to the actual persons who would be “retired” off to obscure civilian life.
USA – is just coming out of the depression and the majority of Americans want no part of another war fought in Europe. With respect to the Japan and the Pacific, again a majority of Americans could care less what’s going on in Asia and, furthermore, would have trouble even finding on a map key Pacific islands and Asian cities. The average US citizen just wants to be left alone and take advantage of the opportunity to pursue the “American Dream”. However, President Roosevelt and senior military leaders such as Admiral Ernest King and General George Marshall recognize the Nazi and Imperial Japanese threat to US interests and freedoms. The US navy is woefully unprepared and needs to be both modernized and increased in size in order to fight a two ocean war (Pacific and Atlantic). Also, though technically neutral, the US is pro Great Britain, France and Nationalist Chinese. Well, the majority of the US civilian and military leaders are, most importantly, FDR, King and Marshall are. Though it would be fair to say that the majority of American are also pro these countries if they take time to think about it. Thus, the US will provide what support it can to these countries constrained by the (current) isolationist attitude of most Americans.
France and Great Britain – lost or damaged an entire generation of men in their victory over Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Great War. The leaders of these two nations view it as obscene what that war did to that generation and, will at almost any cost, avoid another war in Europe. Their guarantee to Poland is halfhearted at best and their hope, if such a guarantee must be honored, is to avoid a ground war with Germany fought (again) over the Great War battlefields in Western Europe. Their desire is fight Germany on the high seas, in the air or in proxy in places far away from Western Europe and with the objective of ending any such war before it really begins even if that means sacrificing Poland.
USSR – Joseph Stalin’s will is USSR’s national will. His will is to reclaim territory lost during the Great War, build a buffer between Mother Russia and Germany and maximize military production and output. Though the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (i.e., Nazi-Soviet Pact) was just signed and Hitler has tacitly given Stalin permission to take Eastern Poland, the Baltic States and Bessarabia, Stalin will proceed cautiously in the acquisitions of these territories. Even though the ink of the Nazi-Soviet pact is still wet, Stalin still holds a great mistrust of Germany’s intentions. In the Middle East, specifically Persia, Stalin plans to take advantage of a newly signed ceasefire agreement with Japan (Molotov-Tojo agreement) after their victory over Japanese forces in the battles of Khalking Gol on the Mongolian-Manchurian border.
Japan – The will of Japan’s military leaders is the will of Japan. And their will is an Asia controlled and led by Japan. With their expansion into Soviet Asia checked at the battles of Khalking Gol and with the signing of a neutrality pact with Stalin, their immediate objectives are to subdue China, acquire necessary resources to maximize production, strengthen and build up their navy, army and air forces and position their self for the “acquisition” of the resource rich areas of the Dutch East Indies, Burma and India. The only thorn in their side is their dependency of oil and raw materials from the US and the growing hostility from the US to their noble and justified expansions in Asia.
Italy – To a certain extent Mussolini’s will is Italy’s will and his will is to reestablish the Great Roman empire but on the cheap. This means campaigns that avoid direct conflict with Great Britain, France and the USSR. Though, he is more than willing to snatch up the scraps from any of these countries “left over” from any encounters they may have had with Germany. Mussolini is about grabbing what he can and when he can for as little cost as possible.
Germany – Hitler’s will is Germany’s will. The fuhrer is convinced that Great Britain and France will once again back down when he invades and splits Poland with Stalin. Even if they don’t he knows these two countries don’t have the will to fight a prolong war. Hitler’s will is one of expansion, domination and payback for Germany’s humiliating loss and stab in the back at the conclusion of the Great War. “We may be destroyed but, if we are, we shall drag a world with us – A World in Flames”.