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The United States and the World

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  1. The United States and the World 1921-1941

  2. U.S. Foreign Policy, 1921-1933 • Europe • America fought WWI as an idealistic crusade to “make the world safe for democracy” • However, the war left many Americans bitterly disillusioned • Although the U.S. emerged from WWI as the world’s richest and most powerful nation, it rejected collective security and never joined the LoN • Economically, however, the U.S. was not isolated at all • Under the Dawes Plan loans from U.S. banks helped Germany recover from a disastrous 1923 inflation • At the same time, the U.S. became a major trading partner with countries around the world

  3. 1923-issue 50 million mark banknote. Worth approximately US$1 when printed, this sum would have been worth approximately US$12 million, nine years earlier. The note was practically worthless a few weeks later, because of continued inflation.

  4. U.S. Foreign Policy, 1921-1933 • Latin America • Both TR’s Big Stick Diplomacy and Taft’s Dollar Diplomacy promoted America’s twin goals of achieving political dominance and economic advantage in LA • During the 1920s, however, the 3 Rep admin. began the process of withdrawing marines from the Caribbean and Central America • In 1933, FDR opened a new chapter in America’s relationship with LA by proclaiming the beginning of a Good Neighbor Policy • Renounced U.S. armed intervention in LA • It is important to note that the U.S. continued to pursue commercial opportunities in LA • Helped promoted a common hemispheric front against fascism

  5. U.S. Foreign Policy, 1921-1933 • Japan and China • Although the U.S. refused to join the LoN it was not isolated from global affairs • The U.S. could not ignore JPs growing threat to American interests in China • In 1921, the Harding administration invited JP, GB, and other European nations to send representatives to D.C. to discuss a range of Asian problems • The expensive and growing naval arms race among the U.S., GB, and JP posed the most pressing problem • Powers agreed to limit battleship and aircraft carrier production in a ratio of 5:3:3 for the U.S., BR, and JP • JP also signed a treaty agreeing to respect China’s independence and the Open Door policy

  6. U.S. Foreign Policy, 1921-1933 • Japan and China • The Washington Conference appeared to reduce the tension between the U.S. and JP • But the pause proved to be temporary • The global depression delivered a devastating blow to the JP econ • A group of militarists soon dominated JP’s gov’t • In 1931, JP broke its treaty promises by invading CH’s northern province, Manchuria • Secretary of State Henry Stimson responded by declaring a policy of nonrecognition called the Stimson Doctrine • The JP ignored the toothless Doctrine and incorporated Manchuria’s rich iron and coal resources into their rapidly expanding empire

  7. Isolationism, 1934-1937 • The resurgence of militarism in Italy, Germany, and Japan • Mussolini, Hitler, and a group of ironfisted JP militarists all emerged from the chaos and econ depression following WWI • Each seized power promising to restore national pride • Mussolini dreamed of resurrecting the glories of ancient Rome by building an Italian colonial empire in Africa • In October 1935, Mussolini ordered a massive invasion of Ethiopia • Represented a crucial test of the LoN’s system of collective security • Although the LoN condemned the attack, its membership did nothing to stop Mussolini

  8. Isolationism, 1934-1937 • The resurgence of militarism in Italy, Germany, and Japan • The LoN’sfailure with Mussolini encouraged Hitler to defy the ToV • In 1936 Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland – demilitarized by the ToV • Although Hitler expected FR to resist, its leaders were unwilling to risk a new war • Hitler later admitted that, “The 48 hrs after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-wracking in my life. If the FR had then marched into the Rhineland, we would have had to withdraw.” • Emboldened by FR inaction, Hitler now planned for additional aggressive actions • JP also took advantage of the LoN’s failure to stop aggression • By 1936 JP renounced the Washington Conference treaties and left the LoN • In 1937, JP invaded northern CH touching off a full-scale war that marked the beginning of WWII in Asia • Few seemed to notice that the JP invasion violated the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact

  9. Isolationism, 1934-1937 • The Nye Committee • The horrible costs of WWI created a deep desire for peace • Isolationists argued that the U.S. avoid political commitments to other nations • They urged their fellow countrymen to remember Washington’s Farewell Address to avoid being involved in European affairs • In 1934, Senator Gerald P. Nye, a ND Rep, chaired a special Senate committee that investigated American munitions dealers • After 2 years, the Nye Committee concluded that America had been duped into entering WWI by greedy “merchants of death” who earned enormous profits during the war

  10. Isolationism, 1934-1937 • The Neutrality Acts • The revelations led isolationists to demand that Congress pass laws to prevent a repeat of the mistakes that pushed the U.S. into WWI • Between 1935 and 1937 Congress passed a series of 3 Neutrality Acts • Banned loans and the sale of arms to nations at war • Warned Americans not to sail on ships of countries at war • Isolationists were convinced that these laws would keep the U.S. out of a new foreign war

  11. The Road to War, 1938-1941 • The war in Europe, 1939-1940 • While America tried to remain at peace, Hitler plunged Europe into war • On September 1, 1939 Ger. launched a sudden and massive blitzkrieg or “lightening war” against PO • FR and B responded by immediately declaring war on Ger. •

  12. The Road to War, 1938-1941 • The war in Europe, 1939-1940 • After 6-mos full of fighting, devastating Ger. blitzkriegs led to the fall of DK, NO, BE, and FR • Only GB, now led by Winston Churchill, held out against Hitler • Churchill defiantly vowed that Britain would “defend our Island, whatever the cost may be…we shall never surrender” • The frightening events in Europe persuaded many Americans to support rebuilding the nation’s military strength • In 1940 Congress increased the defense budget from $2 billion to $10 billion • Later that year, Congress also approved a Selective Service Act providing for the country’s 1st military draft during peacetime

  13. The Road to War, 1938-1941 • The Lend-Lease Act • FDR was aware of the continuing strong isolationist sentiment in the U.S. • Moved cautiously to help BR resist the Nazis • In 1939, FDR persuaded Congress to allow the sale of weapons and other goods to fighting nations by a cash-and-carry policy • Countries at war could buy needed goods as long as they paid for them immediately and took them away on their own ships • In September 1940, during the Battle of BR, FDR went a step further by giving Churchill 50 overage destroyers in return for BR air and naval bases in the Western Hemisphere • Despite the aid, BR faced a dire need for food and war materials • FDR recognized U.S. interests demanded it help BR in its fight against Hitler • In a fireside chat on Dec 29, 1940, FDR explained that America must become an “arsenal of democracy” by providing war supplies to GB • He then asked Congress to approve a Lend-Lease Act allowing him to send war materials to any country whose defense he considered vital to the U.S.

  14. The Road to War, 1938-1941 • The Lend-Lease Act • Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941 • Marked an important turning point • America’s mighty industries now roared to life producing weapons to fight Hitler and Mussolini • By the fall of 1941, the U.S. was arming merchant ships and using its navy to protect BR ships in the North Atlantic • Although a state of undeclared war existed between the U.S. and Ger., polls showed that 80% of the American people still wanted to stay out of WWII

  15. The Road to War, 1938-1941 • Pearl Harbor • The Battle of BR and the debate over the Lend-Lease Act overshadowed ominous events taking place in Asia • The long-standing rivalry between the U.S. and JP for Pacific supremacy further escalated when JP forces overran FR Indochina in July 1941 • FDR retaliated by ordering a total embargo on all trade with JP • At that time, JP imported about 80% of its oil and scrap iron from the U.S. • The embargo forced JP to make a fateful decision • They could either give into the U.S. demand that they withdraw from CH and Indochina or they could attack the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor and then seize the rich oil fields in the Dutch East Indies • When negotiations with the U.S. reached an impasse, the JP decided to launch a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor

  16. The Road to War, 1938-1941 • Pearl Harbor • In late Nov 1941, a JP fleet secretly headed into the vast and empty waters of the North Pacific • The fleet included 6 aircraft carriers equipped with more than 400 warplanes • At 7:55 AM on Dec 7, 1941 the first of 3 waves of planes attacked Pearl Harbor • Within less than 2 hours the JP sank or damaged 18 ships and killed 2,403 men • The next day FDR asked Congress for a declaration of war on Japan • 4 days later, Ger. and IT declared war against the U.S. • An angry and now united America entered WWII determined to crush the Axis powers


  18. Prompt #7 • To what extent did U.S. foreign policy in the 1920s and 1930s lead America to war?