The United States has not been involved in a shooting war like the current one since 1945. That was the last time we fought an enemy who, unchecked, wanted to destroy us. It also was the last time we fought what amounted to an unlimited war. When the Germans and the Japanese faced us, they knew that if they lost their governments would be destroyed. Since 1945 there has been endless speculation that the war might have ended earlier had the Allies not demanded unconditional surrender—sometime in 1944, when it became clear that the Axis was losing. The counterargument has been that without unconditional surrender, the stage would merely have been set for World War III, with the surviving cores of the enemy governments preserving just enough determination and firepower to try once more.
World Naval Developments: Fighting Far from the Sea
By Norman Friedman