Attack on Pearl Harbor
In a history similar to the German attack on the Soviet Union, the Japanese wanted an empire of their own to secure the future prosperity of a country which they thought did not have enough natural resources to sustain the population. The Germans called it “Lebensraum,” the Japanese called it the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” It amounted to the same thing.
Having occupied vast portions of China and some countries in East Asia the next step was to expand its empire east into the Pacific ocean. Their eye was on the prosperous and natural resources that were under the control of the British and Dutch empires and the American-governed Philippines. However attacking these would cause the United States to join the war on the side of the allies.
America, on the other hand, had kept an eye on Japanese conquests and brutality and, short of war, did what they could to restrict them. In July 1941 they embargoed the export of oil to Japan which then calculated that, without acquiring the oil in the Dutch East Indies, they only had enough fuel for two years. They reasoned that now there would be no other option than going to war.
Realizing that they could not defeat the USA in direct battle, they chose to deliver a crushing blow to the American fleet based at Pearl Harbor. This would give them time to complete their desired conquests and present the Americans with a “fait accompli.” They reasoned the Americans would not be willing to enter a protracted war with Japan, and they would be able to make peace, keeping their vital conquests and handing back the less desirable places.
Fate, or bad Japanese intelligence, intervened on the Allied side on December 7th, 1941 and the vital American Aircraft carriers were not in port when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. This meant the Americans were able to fight back causing the Japanese Admiral in charge of the attack to say (supposedly) “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”.
No alliance between the Nazis, Spain, and Turkey
One look at the map of Europe will show the strategic importance of both Spain and Turkey. However, these two were two of the few countries on the European mainland that remained neutral during the second world war.
Even though Spain remained neutral during the First World War, it was expected they would come in on the side of the Axis after all the help Hitler had given General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. However, despite pleading and perhaps even begging, Franco remained adamant. He would not join the Axis and would not even allow the Germans to pass through his country (as the Swedes did).
Not being able to pass through Spain meant that Great Britain was secure in using its military base in Gibraltar. Not only did this effectively seal off the entrance to the Mediterranean from Atlantic ocean for the German Navy, but it also gave the British a location from which it could support Malta and Egypt. Possession of Malta meant the British could interdict shipping from Italy to North Africa. Possession of Egypt meant it could stop the Axis from linking up with their forces fighting in the Caucasus (Soviet Union) and taking the much-needed oil fields in the middle east.
Turkey fought on the side of the Axis in the First World War yet declined to join them in the Second. This, again, meant the Germans could not link up with their forces in the Caucasus making the capture of Egypt paramount. In February 1945, Turkey joined the Allies and declared war on a virtually defeated Nazi Germany.