Us in WWII

America Re-enters the Arena: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was determined to protect the national security of
the United States. At first, Roosevelt felt that it was in the best interest of
the United States to avoid involvement in the war. However, he knew sooner or
later, the threat to the European balance of power would have forced the United
States to intervene in order to stop Germanys drive for world domination (Kissinger
369-370). But this was not Roosevelts main problem; Roosevelt had to prove to
the American people that unlike World War I, US involvement was necessary. He
had to transform the nations concept of national interest and lead a
staunchly isolationist people into yet another global war (handout).


Initially, Franklin Delano Roosevelts main goal was to protect US National
Security by not intervening in the war. Roosevelt and the rest of United States
government did not want to make the same mistakes of WWI. Thus, all of the
situations that caused the United States to enter WWI were taken into
consideration when the Neutrality Acts were passed. Prior to the outbreak of the
war Franklin Roosevelt signed the Neutrality Acts, which prohibited loans and
any other financial assistance to belligerents (whatever the cause of war) and
imposed an arms embargo on all parties (regardless of who the victim was).

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Purchases of nonmilitary goods for cash were allowed only if they were
transported in non-American ships (Kissinger 378). In fact, Roosevelt felt
that he should instead focus his time and energy at the depression.


On the other hand, Franklin Roosevelt was always pro-democracy and had a
history of rejecting these aggressive countries (mostly the dictatorships). As
the war developed and the desperation of the Allies increased, Roosevelt
realized the need to support the allies (the non-aggressive democracies that he
was ideally tied to) or face a group of unreceptive countries in the postwar
world. However, his American people had set up a barrier of isolationism between
the US and any foreign involvement. Roosevelt understood their view but he said,
it would take time to make people realize that war will be a greater danger
to us if we close all doors and windows then if we go out in the street and use
our influence to curb the riot (Kissinger 381).


As a result, Roosevelt decided to persuade his people slowly until they
realized the evil strength of Hitler and his power. The first sign of this came
during his Quarantine Speech; it was the first warning to America of the
approaching peril and Roosevelts first public statement that America might
have to assume some responsibility with respect to it (Kissinger 379).


>From this time onward Roosevelt tried to justify outer involvement
(helping the allies which was not direct involvement) in the war. Consequently,
in April of 1939, when Hitler took Prague, Roosevelt declared, the continued
political, economic and social independence of every small nation in the world
does have an effect on out nation safety and prosperity. Each once that
disappears weakens our national safety and prosperity (Kissinger 383). Also
during this month, Roosevelt sent a message directly to Hitler and Mussolini
that asked them not to attack some thirty-one specific European and Asian
nations for a period of ten years (Kissinger 384). Hitler obviously inquired
with all of these nations and they obviously denied any type of concern.

However, Roosevelt achieved his political objective. By asking only Hitler
and Mussolini for assurance, he had stigmatized them as the aggressors before
the only audience that, for the moment, matter to Roosevelt the American
people (Kissinger 384).


However, this shift from neutrality to a gradual helping of the allies did
not stop there. On November 4, 1939 Roosevelt added the Fourth Neutrality Act,
which permitted belligerents to purchase arms and ammunition from the United
States, provided they paid in cash and transported their purchases in their own
or neutral ships (Kissinger 385). However, as France fell into the hands of
Hitler, Roosevelt knew that the British could not defeat Hitler alone. As a
result, Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to rid the Fourth Neutrality Act of the
cash requirement and instead suggested that the American people accept the
Lend-Lease Act, which allowed the President discretionary authority to lend,
lease, sell, or barter under any terms he deemed proper any defense article to
the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the
defense of the Untied States (Kissinger 388). This clear favoritism led to
the isolation of the aggressors and the view that the US would eventually be
drawn into the war.


By this time Roosevelt had already taken strategic steps to be involved in
the war even though the United States were not directly involved in the war.

By this time he had set up a project that allowed the British and French to
assemble planes (of which the components would be supplied by the United States)
in Canada. The Neutrality Acts technically allowed this project since the
component parts were civilian built. Roosevelt also made an agreement with Great
Britain. The agreement was that the British navy would protect the Atlantic
while the United States protected Great Britains Asian interests in the
Pacific. In a addition to all this, in April of 1941,
Roosevelt took another step war by authorizing an agreement with the
Danish representative in Washingtonto allow American forces to occupy
GreenlandAt the same time, Roosevelt privately informed Churchill that,
henceforth, American ships would patrol the North Atlantic west of Iceland
covering about two-thirds of the entire ocean and publish the position of
possible aggressor ships or planes when located in American patrol area (Kissinger
390)
All the way up until Pearl Harbor Roosevelt tried his hardest to support the
allies without being drawn directly into the war (the US people didn’t want to
be dragged into a war and so supported FDR’s policy). Even though Roosevelt did
not want to get directly involved in the war, he knew it would happen sooner or
later. Roosevelt also knew that the hardest group to convince was his own
American people. Kissinger best describes this idea in the following excerpt
from America Re-enters the Arena: Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
In less than three years, Roosevelt has taken his staunchly isolationist
people into a global war. As lat as May 1940, 64 percent of Americans has
considered the preservation of peace more important then the defeat of the
Nazis. Eighteen months later, in December 1941, just before the attack on Pearl
Harbor, the proportions had been reversed only 32 percent favored peace over
preventing triumph (Kissinger 392).


Therefore, when Pearl Harbor was bombed war was justified due to the
aggressors. The United States then declared war on Japan and Germany declared
war on the United States. Roosevelts job was done; by initiating
hostilities, the Axis powers had solved Roosevelts lingering dilemma about
how to move the American people into the war (Kissinger 393).


Category: History