World War II (1939-1945)

Background

WWI

  • results had left Europe wrecked and destitute
  • over 8 million young men were dead, a large part of a generation
  • Europe had acquired huge national debts
  • the US, in contrast, had little debt (possibly profited), few losses, and had had no war on their homeland
  • the US didn't sign the Treaty of Versailles, nor join the League of Nations, nor join the World Court, although after WWII the United Nations will be enthusiastically joined
  • the US began to think about itself first, becoming isolationist and restricting immigration
  • the US did send "shadow representation" to the League, and participated in conferences, etc.
  • Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and former Secretary of State Kellogg also served on the World Court, as individuals
  • the US became the centre of a war reparations and debt issue
    • the "war guilt" clause of the Treaty of Versailles required Germany to pay $33 billion in reparations
    • the Allies used German repayments to pay the US debt
    • but Germany was unable to pay, so they printed paper currency that caused huge inflation and became worthless
    • then the Depression hit, and all of Europe except Finland defaulted on their debts
    • during the "roaring twenties", US wealth caused European nations to question as to why "Uncle Shylock" (a reference to stingy Merchant of Venice character couldn't just forgive the debts

Treaties

  • the US attempted to negotiate treaties to protect its Pacific empire without an expensive navy
  • likewise, Britain wanted to keep its sea power at minimal cost, and Japan wanted to be able to divert funds from the navy to land forces in preparation for an invasion of the mainland
  • at a conference in Washington in November 1921, Secretary of State Hughes advocated sweeping proposals for disarmament
    • called for a 10-year moratorium on the largest warships
    • the US was prepared to scrap 40 vessels
    • his announcement was met with applause, and his proposals were eventually placed in various treaties
  • Four Power Pact/Treaty 1921
    • US, Britain, France, and Japan
    • prohibited new fortification in the Pacific
    • the US' furthest fortified Pacific position was now Hawaii
  • Five Power Pact/Treaty 1922
    • US, Britain, France, Japan, and Italy
    • limited number of battleships, based on tonnage
    • allowed the US and Britain to maintain their current forces
    • allowed Japan to become a prominent Pacific power
  • London Naval Conference 1930 extended these agreements for 5 years; this would be the last successful agreement
  • meeting at Geneva in 1932 and London in 1933 failed due to growing distrust, fear, and insecurity
  • during the 1920s, isolationists and pacifists goaled to prevent future wars; they wanted to end the use of military force in the resolution of international disputes
  • James T. Shotwell was a professor of international relations at Columbia University who wrote an essay that called upon all nations to outlaw war
  • in early 1927, the French Foreign Minister Briand hoped to make use of this anti-war sentiment, and invited Secretary of State Kellogg to join a mutual defence treaty
    • Kellogg at first refused, but public pressure eventually caused him to accept
    • they negotiated the Kellogg-Briand Pact
    • 62 nations (including Germany, Italy, Japan, US, France, Russia, and others) signed it, denouncing war as an instrument of foreign policy
    • supported pacifist mean to settle disputes - discussion, etc.
    • no enforcement procedures were enacted
    • the US Senate ratified it overwhelming, on the condition that the US could not be forced to act to defend the treaty
    • they knew it was worthless and cost nothing, so they were able to ratify it as a good gesture

Latin America

  • Roosevelt's first term had focussed more on the economy than on foreign policy
  • he did hope to enhance relations with Latin America
  • this idea had begun in the 1920s
    • for example, the US paid "canalimony" of $20 million to Colombia in return for their actions in obtaining the Panama canal
    • the US also withdrew for the Dominican Republic
  • Pan-American Conference in Havana
    • Clark Memorandum / Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine
    • Secretary of State Kellogg represented the US
    • this statement was rather ambiguously written, but seemed to promise that American military intervention was coming to an end
  • "Good Neighbour" policy was Roosevelt's thought on the area, and involved him pulling the last American troops out of Latin America (Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Haiti)
  • 1933 - Second Pan-American Conference (Uruguay)
    • Secretary of State Hull agreed that no state had the right to militarily intervene in other countries
    • rescinded the Platt Amendment (which had given the US the ability to intervene in Cuba at their discretion)
  • 1936 - Pan-American Conference in Buenos Aires
    • Roosevelt personally attended
    • he promised to consult for their mutual safety

Soviet Russia

  • in 1933, Roosevelt extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviets
  • the US hadn't recognised the Bolshevik Revolution government, in the hope of achieving changes
  • the Soviets had a history of human rights abuses, as well as repudiating their debt and confiscating American-owned property
  • in return for their recognition, the Soviets promised to halt all subversive propaganda and give civil and religious liberties to Americans in the country
  • they also promised to resolve the debt, but at a later date
  • William Bullitt was the first US ambassador to Soviet Moscow; he returned to the US disgusted at the lack of progress, as none of the Soviet promises were being fulfilled

Rise of Dictatorships

  • during the 1920s and 30s, as the Communists were consolidating control, right-wing military dictatorships emerged in Europe and Japan
  • Benito Mussolini
    • 1922 - began to take power in Italy
    • emphasised aggressive nationalism
    • created a socialistic partnership between government and business
    • he decided it was time for him and for Italy to rebuild the Roman Empire
    • he sent troops into Ethiopia in the fall of 1935
    • the League of Nations objected and imposed economic sanctions, but Mussolini ignored them - the US, among others, still traded with Italy, and the sanctions failed
  • Japan
    • taft-katsura memorandum: taft (secretary of state) and made an agreement with Japan that delayed Filipino independence and respected all interests of the two nations in the Pacific. (EX: Japan and Korea. US and Philippines. )
    • "Showa": Japan modernized after World War I, patriotic commoners came to power and used the Showa (Emperor) as a figurehead, China was the target, China had been in civil war (Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong), Japan started a military campaign in Manchuria, the League of nations objected, Japan only strengthened the attack, United States makes Stimson Doctrine which stats that the US will refuse to acknowledge any territorial gains that the Japanese make by conquest, this Doctrine was an excuse for the Hoover administration to take no action, The league of Nations formed the Lytton Commission which was headed by Lytton and its main goal was to urge Japan to stop the war and then create a government in Manchuria that would make everyone happy, Japan then left the League of Nations and occupied China
  • Germany
    • The National Socialist Party was formed in Germany, Also known as the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler was the party leader, He played on the publics sense of betrayal and in January of 1933 was elected to be chancellor of Germany, He put his plans into action, through a series of shady actions and other legal actions he eliminated the legislature and declared himself F├╝hrer of Germany (dictator), he blamed the Jews for the wrongs done to Germans and began their persecution, he withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and denounced the treaty of Versailles, He wanted lebensraum or German living room and planned to acquire neighboring lands for that goal, In 1935 The Third Reich (Hitler's name for Germany) re-armed with 500,000 troops which was 5x the amount allowed by the Treaty of Versailles, Britain and France objected without any action other than mere grumbling, The United States was dealing with the Depression and was becoming more isolationistic so the US ignored it and told Europe to deal with it

American Isolationism

*No one wanted another World War, Supported by many prominent figures, isolationists argued that the United States entered World War I because of greedy people who wanted to protect investments and earn a quick buck, the Nye Committee investigated the cause of the War and concluded that economic factors palyed a major part in the United States joining the war.

  • Neutrality Acts
    • made to keep the United States isolated from European issues
    • Act of 1935; passed by Congress very fast, banned arms trade with waring nations, forbid Americans from traveling on the foreign vessels of warring nations
    • Act of 1936; adds to Act of 1935, prohibits loans to belligerent nations
    • Both Acts expired on May 1st, 1937, Congress voted to extend them that day as well, the Spanish Civil War was going on at the time and was similar to the Bleeding Kansas problem
    • Act of 1937; keeps previous acts an adds that the president can apply them to civil unrest, civil war for example, also allows the sale of weapons to belligerent nations on a cash and carry basis, pay upfront and transport themselves
    • In the Spring of 1939 Europe was on the brink of war, FDR administration wanted the Neutrality Acts repealed, Congress departed without considering it, after Germany invades Poland and officially starts World War II FDR calls a special session of Congress and requests a repeal of the arms embargo and to extend the cash and carry program to include all arms and munitions, after along debate Congress creates the 4th Neutrality Act that allows arms and munitions to be sold on cash and carry basis
  • The Spanish Civil War, General Ismo Franscisco Franco fighting on one side, Germany held Berlin Conference in October of 1936, decided to help the General, Germany and Japan join an anti-communist pact, Italy joined a year later, stage is set for Axis formation, France and Britain did not intervene in Spain but grumbled about it; In Asia, Japan strengthens their offensive, 1937 Battle of Marco Polo Bridge, US ambassador confirmed that the Japanese were the aggressors but that embargoes and military action would only strengthen Japan; 1937 Japanese pilots sank the USS Panay in Chinese waters, 2 were killed and 30 were wounded, several US related and US tankers were attacked after the incident, The Japanese Foreign Minister extended a personal apology, Japanese government payed $12 million in reparations; Congress passed the Ludlow Amendment, introduces an amendment that prohibits war except in cases of invasion of American land without the approval of voters in a national poll, took everything FDR could do to barely defeat the proposal.
  • Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Several thousand Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War, Their passports were revoked by the state department for their actions.
  • The Japan Military offensive; China incident, FDR would not invoke the Neutrality Act for arms for China
  • Conditions in Europe were det
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