- May 2018
The conventional wisdom seems to be that a second front wasn't really feasible before 1944. Given American/allied performance, and the massive difficulties even with Air Supremacy and near absolute Sea Control, I am not inclined to disbelieve the conventional wisdom.Yes, but was a second front actually feasible before 1944? I mean, it would have been much, much better if the Allies would have been able to permanently hold onto a part of France in 1940 and to then use it as a base of operations to liberate the rest of France.
IIRC, the defeat of France in six? weeks was a surprise to everyone. They beat France faster than in the 1870 war and faster than Austria in the 1866 war. I think the Allies (and even Stalin) were planning on France being in the war a lot longer, to the point of being able to land troops in France without opposition and hit Germany.
The more I think about it, the less useful Allied troops would be to Stalin on his own soil: did he really want a bunch of capitalist troops guarding Moscow? How would FDR respond to Stalin if he offered a Soviet Army Corps to "protect Washington, D.C. (or more likely, some important landholding in the Pacific) from attack"? The last thing he needed was another Russian Civil War, instigated by the "Allies" (intentionally or not!): how would Russian whites (closeted or no) react to a bunch of "White-Friendly" (do not take that in the wrong way!) troops on Soviet soil?
Far better for the Western Allies to send their troops into the grinder on a second front. For Stalin to consider allowing a "strategically significant amount of Western troops" to protect Soviet interests from the Nazis, things would have to be even more dire than they were, probably to the point of Stalin being ousted from power and a Western friendly government requesting assistance.
Edit: And for the Western Allies, it was probably better that the Soviet Union lose huge amounts of manpower fighting Germany than...for Western powers to lose that same manpower fighting Germany. Unless FDR or Churchill truly wanted to attempt some sort of military takeover of the Soviet Union, having Western troops in the USSR would be a huge liability: Who would command them? Who would supply them? Did Stalin have direct command, or would his orders have to pass through Winston Churchill or FDR first? I can't imagine Churchill or FDR allowing their nations soldiers to be under the command of Soviet officers, given how bloody-minded their tactics were (even if they showed greater finesse at higher strategic levels).