Sunday, March 18, 2007

WW2: FDR Circumvents the U.S.'s Policy of Neutrality

Prior to World War 2 in the year of 1939, President Roosevelt faced a great amount of opposition from his own people. A conflict between Britain and Germany had arose. As citizens strived to maintain an isolationist policy within the U.S., Roosevelt searched for ways to circumvent the established policy that restricted the U.S.'s interaction with other countries. Although Great Britain was a major world power, it was in dire need of help in the war. Despite President Roosevelt's desire to create a policy in which allowed him to aid Britain in the war, several factors were obstacles that limited certain actions he was permitted to take when it came to foreign affairs. The Neutrality Acts prohibited the U.S. from intervening in any foreign conflicts that did not involve them. The America First Committee sought to maintain a policy in which America was isolated, or separated, from other nations and opposed Roosevelt's decision to be an aid to Great Britain. However, over time, President Roosevelt discovered methods that allowed him to assist Britain in the war.

The Neutrality Acts were bills passed in order to refrain America from becoming involved with disputes between nations that didn't require their presence. Therefore, U.S. Congress passed neutrality acts in 1935, 1936, 1937 that kept its country out of foreign conflicts. These laws included the requirement of the president to deny the ships of belligerent countries in American ports to the prevention of exports to nations that were at war. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson passed a bill, known as the Johnson Act. This act forbade further loans from the U.S. to foreign nations that didn't pay off prior debts. Because certain actions of the president were prohibited by these laws, Roosevelt possessed a dilemma. He could either abide by his country's rules or follow his own desires of helping Great Britain and violating his country's policy of neutrality.

In addition to individual opposition to Roosevelt's desire to assist Britain in WW2, movements were created that also were against his actions. The America First Committee was an isolationist movement that believed isolationism was best for the U.S. However, America's neutrality and isolationist policy has been questioned by many over time. The objective of this organization was to keep America separated from other foreign nations so that it could maintain its neutral position. Because so many people felt as though Roosevelt would be violating this established policy by helping a country that was at war, he faced a great amount of opposition.

Although several citizens of America were against Roosevelt's proposed actions, he still was determined to discover ways to circumvent the established policy and assist Britain in their conflict with the Axis Powers. "Cash and Carry" stated that belligerents were allowed to buy weapons from the U.S. if they used their known vessels to transport them and paid in cash. Roosevelt felt this policy was not in violation of the Neutrality Acts because it gave any nation at war access to U.S. products. Still, Britain would be the country that benefited. After eliminating cash and carry, Roosevelt gave the British credit so they could purchase more military supplies. The Lend-Lease Act became a law in 1941 despite isolationist and neutrality advocates opposition. Britain permitted the U.S. to construct military bases on their Caribbean islands in return for 50 U.S. Navy destroyers. These policies were all a part of President Roosevelt's creative method to discretely go around America's isolationist and neutrality policy.

To conclude, FDR found a creative way to make a policy that didn't seem to violate the U.S.'s impartial policy. In spite of the many acts and organizations established that expressed their opposition to his actions, Roosevelt still made his country an aid to a nation involved in a war that did not include them. However, America was not aware that it would soon become an addition to this conflict.


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