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America Re-Enters the Arena: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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"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 Germany's drive for world domination" (Kissinger 369-370). But this was not Roosevelt's main problem; Roosevelt had to prove to the American people that unlike World War I, US involvement was necessary. He had to "[transform] the nation's concept of national interest and [lead] 'a staunchly isolationist people' into yet another global war" (handout).

Initially, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 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). 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 [Roosevelt's] 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



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