This essay has a total of 1543 words and 6 pages.



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 did critics of American policy-American military weakness too
often ignore a factor. 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 aircraft’s 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 European crisis. 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.
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