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AMERICAS INVOLVEMENT IN WORLD WAR TWO 1
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 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
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