America Essay, Research Paper
America?s involvement in World War Two
When war broke out , there was no way the world could possibly know the severity of this guerre.
Fortunately one country saw and understood that Germany and its allies would have to be stopped.
America?s Involvement in World War two not only contributed in the eventual downfall of the insane
Adolph Hitler and his Third Reich, but also came at the precise time and moment. Had the united states
entered the war any earlier the consequences might have been worse.
Over the years it has been an often heated and debated issue on whether the united states could
have entered the war sooner and thus have saved many lives. To try to understand this we must look both
at the people?s and government?s point of view.
Just after war broke out in Europe, President Roosevelt hurriedly called his cabinet and military
advisors together. There it was agreed that the United states stay neutral in these affairs. One of the
reasons given was that unless America was directly threatened they had no reason to be involved. This
reason was a valid one because it was the American policy to stay neutral in any affairs not having to with
them unless American soil was threatened directly. Thus the provisional neutrality act passed the senate
by seventy-nine votes to two in 1935. On August 31, Roosevelt signed it into law. In 1936 the law was
renewed, and in 1937 a ?comprehensive and permanent? neutrality act was passed (Overy 259).
The desire to avoid ?foreign entanglements? of all kinds had been an American foreign policy for
more than a century. A very real ?geographical Isolation? permitted the United States to ?fill up the empty
lands of North America free from the threat of foreign conflict?(Churchill 563).
Even if Roosevelt had wanted to do more in this European crisis (which he did not), there was a
factor too often ignored by critics of American policy-American military weakness. When asked to
evaluate how many troops were available if and when the United States would get involved, the army
could only gather a mere one hundred thousand, when the French, Russian and Japanese armies
numbered in millions. Its weapons dated from the first World War and were no match compared to the
new artillery that Germany and its allies had. ?American soldiers were more at home with the horse than
with the tank? (Overy 273). The air force was just as bad if not worse. In September 1939 the Air Corps
had only 800 combat aircrafts again compared with Germany?s 3600 and Russia?s 10,000 . American
military Aviation (AMA) in 1938 was able to produce only 1,800, 300 less than Germany, and 1,400 less
than Japan. Major Eisenhower, who was later Supreme commander of the Allied forces in the second
World War, complained that America was left with ?only a shell of military establishment? (Chapman
234 ). As was evident to Roosevelt the United states military was in no way prepared to enter this
Another aspect that we have to consider is the people?s views and thought?s regarding the
United States going to war. After all let us not forget that the American government is there ?for the
people and by the people? and therefore the people?s view did play a major role in this declaration of
Neutrality. In one of Roosevelt?s fireside chats he said ?We shun political commitments which might
entangle us In foreign wars…If we face the choice of profits or peace-this nation must answer, the nation
will answer ?we choose peace? ?,in which they did. A poll taken in 1939 revealed that ninety-four per
cent of the citizens did not want the united states to enter the war. The shock of World War one had still
not left ,and entering a new war, they felt, would be foolish. In the early stages of the war American
Ambassador to London was quoted saying ?It?s the end of the world, the end of everything? ( Overy 261).
As Richard Overy notes in The Road To War, this growing ?estrangement? from Europe was not mere
selfishness. They were the values expressed by secretary of state, Cordel Hull: ?a primary interest in peace
with justice, in economic well-being with stability, and conditions of order under the law?. These were
principles here on which most Americans (ninety-four percent as of 1939) agreed on. To promote these
principles the United States would have to avoid all ?foreign entanglements?, or as Overy puts it ?any
kind of alliance or association outside the western hemisphere?. Instead the United States should act as an
arbitre in world affairs, ?encouraging peaceful change where necessary? and most and for all discouraging
aggression (Overy 263).
Why risk going to war, when it is contrary to American policy which most if not all Americans
were in agreement with and not mentioning the fact that the American military was in shambles. Yet
another factor that led to this decision of Neutrality by President Roosevelt was the American Economy.
The health of the American economy could not be jeopardized, whatever was happening
elsewhere. It was Roosevelt?s view that the United states would fare well (economically speaking) whether
Europe went to war or not. ?Gold was flowing in from Europe?s capitals; orders were mounting daily for
equipment and supplies of all kinds; America was building a battleship for Stalin, aero-engines for
France? (Overy 277). For most of the 1930?s the United states traded as openly with Germany and Japan,
as it did with any other country. Japan relied on fuel oil and scrap iron until 1941. Germany was one of
the United States? ?most important markets? during the 1930?s. American investments in Germany
increased by forty per cent between 1936 and 1940 ( Wilson 291). America was steadily regaining the
prosperity that had diminished during World War 1. The real concern of American business was not ?the
rights or wrongs of trading with fascism? but the fear that commercial rivals such as Japan and Germany
would exclude American goods from Europe and Asia altogether (273).
It is very easy to point and accuse the united states of being selfish, but one has to understand that
any negative actions made would have resulted in the United States being almost if not completely out of
the economic race. Would the United states have been as prosperous as it is today had they intervened any
earlier? They probably would have not because at that time in history America needed a boost to return to
its earlier status of being economically stable which Germany and its allies so adequately provided.
Therefore President Roosevelt was not about to go to war with all axis powers thereby jeopardizing not
only the safety of the American people but also the American economy which was so essential to a large
and complex country that the United States was at the time. Unless American interests were directly
threatened, Roosevelt hesitated to ?push the button? ( Churchill 542).
On December 6, 1941 the Japanese Airforce led a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, completely
eradicating the port. Finally President Roosevelt could wait no longer. America was now involved and not
going to war would only endanger the United states more than it already was. On the following day
Roosevelt argued that the attack ?had given us an opportunity?. Congress approved the declaration of war
with only one dissenting voice. Eleanor Roosevelt noted that the effect of the Japanese attack was ?to
release my husband from months and pent-up tension and anxiety?. Andrew Wheatcroft says in his book
The Road To War, ? It is tempting to see Pearl Harbor as the crisis that Roosevelt was waiting for and did
nothing to prevent?. America?s most vital interest, defense of American soil, had been challenged. At last
America had to go to war and eventually bring an end to the rule of nazi Germany.
The Americans upon declaring its Neutrality, gave additional encouragement to Japan and
Germany to in a way ?take over the world?, and to Nazify it. Hitler had convinced himself that America
had declined in the 1930?s because of social crisis. This misconception also led Japan to confront the
United States in 1941. Had the United States entered the war any earlier or later the consequences could
have been much worse (If possible). Towards the end of the war Walter Lippmann reporter for the Herald
Tribune recalled his experience:
When I attempt to compare the America in which I was reared with the America of today, I am
struck by how unconcerned I was as a young man with the hard questions which are the subject matter of
history. I did not think about the security of the republic and how to defend it
Franklin Delano Roosevelt did think about the security of the republic and defended it magnificently.
Leading the United States every step of the way President Roosevelt did a superior job in bringing
America into war when he did. Evidently America entered World war 2 at the precise time and moment
to once and for all take down Adolph Hitler and the third Reich.
Is War Justifiable?
What were the causes and effects of World War I? The answer to this seemingly simple question is not elementary. There was more to the onset of the war then the event of an Austrian prince being murdered in Serbia, as is what most people consider to be the cause of World War I. Furthermore, the effects of the war were not just concentrated to a post-war era lasting for a generation of Westerners. No, the effects of the war were widespread throughout the world and can be traced to generations after the war..
It is not a rare occasion that when a person is asked what the causes of World
War I were, that they answer with the simple comment of an Austrian Prince being shot in Serbia. However the assignation of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo was not the main cause of the Great War. Rather, it was the breaking point for Austria in its dealings with Serbia. The truth of the matter is that several factors played a role in the outbreak of the catastrophic war the engulfed the nations of Europe for over four years. World War I truly was the result of building aggressions among the countries of Europe, which was backed by the rise of nationalism. To add to the disastrous pot, there was also imperial competition along with the fear of war prompting military alliances and an arms race. All of these increased the escalating tensions that lead to the outbreak of a world war.
Two opposing alliances developed by the Bismarckian diplomacy after the Franco- Prussian War was one of the major causes of the war. In order to diplomatically isolate France, Bismarck formed the Three Emperor?s League in 1872, which was an alliance between Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. Then in 1882, Bismarck took advantage of Italian resentment toward France and formed the Triple Alliance between Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungry. In 1890 Bismarck was dismissed from his office and France took the opportunity to gain an ally, therefore, in 1891 the Franco- Russian Entente was formed. Then in 1904 Britain and France put aside their conflicts and formed the Entente Cordiale. As a result, the Triple Entente, a coalition between Great Britain, France, and Russia, countered the Triple Alliance. Now Europe was divided up into two-armed camps.
Nationalism also played a major role in developing tensions in Europe; for it had been causing dissatisfaction since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In that settlement the preservment of peace was chosen over nationalism, therefore, Germany and Italy were left as divided states, though they did unify in the future. The Franco- Prussian War in 1871 resulted in the France?s loss of the province of Alasce- Lorraine to Germany, and the French looked forward to regaining their lands. Then there was Austria- Hungary, which controlled many lands that their neighbor?s felt belonged to them. Serbia wanted Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy wanted the Trentino and Trieste regions, and the Czechs and Slovaks wanted independence from Austria- Hungry. There was also Russia which had problems within it?s own boundaries; for Russia contained many different nationalities and many were also seeking independence in the name of nationalism.
Another major conflict that caused the outbreak of the Great War was what is known as the arms race. With the hostile divisions of the nations of Europe there came the expansion of armies and navies. Furthermore, the great powers came to copy Germany?s military organization and efficiency, which called for universal registration for military duty, large reserves and detailed planning. Efforts were made for universal disarmament, but the international rivalry caused the arms race to continue to feed on itself.
Imperial competition also played a major rule in the act of increasing the ever growing tensions among the divided countries of Europe. In Africa there were two crises in Morocco. The first time, in 1905, Germany full heartedly supported Morocco?s call for independence from France, and with the British defending the French war was only avoided because of an international conference, which made Morocco a French protectorate. The second crisis occurred in 1911, and it was in protest to French supremacy in Morocco. The Germans finally gave the French a free hand in Morocco, but with a price. They demanded in exchange a portion if of the French Congo. Around this same era there was also a Bosnian crisis, which began with Austria- Hungary?s takeover of the province of Bosnia in 1908. For this Serbia threatened war on Austria- Hungary with the pledged backing of Russia. As they began to mobilize, Austria- Hungary, with the alliance of Germany, threaten war on Russia. When Russia backed down, the soon to be war was postponed, but left was a greatly strained relationship between Serbia and Austria Hungary.
On June 28, 1914 the battle lines were drawn with the assassinations in Sarajevo. It was believed that the crime was committed by a Serbian nationalist, and immediately following it Germany, with its full support pledged, pressed Austria- Hungary into declaring war on Serbia. At this same time, France was strengthening its backing of Russia. War might have been avoided if Serbia had accepted Austria- Hungary?s harsh ultimatum, however they faithfully refused. Almost at once the war fell into place. Austria declared war on July 28, 1914. The next day Russia mobilized against Austria- Hungary, on August 1st Germany declared war on Russia, and two days later on France. When Germany disregarded Belgium?s neutrality, Britain declared war on Germany. Finally war had begun, and unlike the predictions that had been made the resulting war was long, indecisive, and reeked havoc on the nations of Europe.
The Great War officially ended in January of 1919 with a peace conference in Paris, which represented twenty- seven triumphant nations. However almost immediately the great powers, United States, Great Britain, and France, were at odds with each other. President Wilson, the representative of the United States, was insisting on first and foremost dealing with the creation of the League of Nations; while France and Britain on punishing Germany. In the long run France gave up on having a buffer zone between itself and Germany for a defensive alliance with the United States and Britain, and Wilson got the formation of the League of Nations. These developments were not the key items at the conference, rather it was the Treaty of Versailles. This treaty was made between the Allies and Germany, and it began to re-establish order. In the treaty, all of Germany?s colonies
were divided among the nations, thought it sustained minor losses of territory within Europe. Its standing army was reduced to 100,00 men, and they could not have forts in the Rhineland. The clause that angered most people was the one that made Germany claim responsibility for the war, and imposed reparations. Thought Germany?s new republican government found the treaty to be harsh, they signed it and their discontent set the stage for the Second World War.
Germany was not the only country to suffer because of the war; the world had been wiped clean of millions of people, and there was also extensive damage throughout Europe. However, these were not the only sufferings for the generation of the post- war era. The era followed with a great many economic difficulties throughout the world. The many industries that had been based on the war effort were no longer needed, thereby unemployment was on the rise, and the government had secured many debts to succeed in the war. With these aspects, and poor economic policies in many nations present it seemed that an economic crisis would occur sooner or later; which it did. In 1929 the American stock market came to a crashing halt, leaving many investors wiped out and the wealthy and confident without money. In the aftermath, banks began to fall because many loans feel through. With the financial crisis also came a decrease of production, and naturally this lead to widespread unemployment. This in turn lead to the fall of peoples spirits, and homes and ways of life were disrupted in millions of personal tragedies.
The era of the Great Depression was also the era of the rise of political dictatorship throughout Europe. These dictatorships involved a new form of tyranny and were most evident in Stalin Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. With hardships rising, people became more willing to put up with leaders like Stalin and Hitler. It is believed by many that Hitler would never have came to power if it had not been for the German peoples? feelings of nationalism, and their discontent with the economy and the restrictions from the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler played on the people?s emotions, and he officially won the game when he legally took over as the dictator of Germany.
The rise of Hitler is a very important effect of World War I because it lead to the Second World War. The leaders first tried to please Hitler by giving him what he asked in order to avoid war, however Hitler did not stop he kept on pushing for more. When Germany invaded Poland, war became inevitable. Britain and France declared war on Germany. The United States joined in on the war effort against Germany, Italy, and Japan after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. World War II was the last major effect of the First World War.
The war solved no problem. Its effects, both immediate and indirect, were either negative or disastrous. Morally subversive, economically destructive, socially degrading. Confused in its causes, devious in its course, futile in its result, it is the outstanding example of European history of meaningless conflict. World War I had many complex causes, rather than one simple, which is what is believed by many people. Furthermore, the effects were widespread throughout generations all over the world..