World War 2 Essay

This essay has a total of 1534 words and 6 pages.

World War 2

WORLD WAR II 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 was a factor too often
ignored by critics of American policy-American military weakness. 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” The air force was just as bad if not
worse. In September 1939 the Air Corps had only 800 combat aircraft 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. 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 arbiter 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. Japan relied on fuel oil and scrap
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