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World War II

The role that the President of the United States of America played in the entry of America into the II World War is a question that has been debated by historians again and again over the years. The widespread belief is that President Roosevelt, upon becoming aware, by 1937, of the threat being caused to America by Japanese and German expansion, saw no other option but to try to arouse an isolationist nation. The famous speech by the President in October 1937 delivered in Chicago is referred to as the Quarantine Speech. This speech was made about two months after the Japanese invasion of China in order to create awareness of the dangerous situation brought about by the Axis Powers. FDR was also demonstrating, in a landmark decision on America's foreign policy, his stand against the Axis Powers. Due to the widespread opposition to this resolve of the president, it is generally believed that he had to compromise on his decision to deal with the totalitarian states with a firm hand. 1

The general situation at that time was that of unrest because of Japan's expansion plans and the alliances of European powers with Japan, thereby giving Japan the much needed economic and political boost to be able to oppose America. It was at this time too that isolationist sentiment was at it's strongest in America. The President has been criticized by some historians of usurping congressional powers to put across his interventionist foreign policy that was of no great benefit to anybody. However, he has also been hailed for the same foreign policy in that, it was due to opposition that he was restricted from pursuing a more flexible policy that could have even succeeded in actually preventing the II World War from breaking out; America would have had the co-operation of England and France in stopping such a devastating war from happening. 2

The general opinion, however, is that FDR was not completely truthful in his treatment of his Foreign Policy. Historians believe that he was playing a subtle game of subterfuge whereby he secretly helped England and France and China while declaring his love for peace and hatred of war. He was also, without the knowledge of the general public, secretly helping opposers of the Axis powers and thereby protecting his own nation. 3 Charles Beard, in his book, 'President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War 1941', declared that though the President had made a vow to keep the nation away from fighting any war, he made no serious attempts to keep up this promise. In fact, he was trying his best to get involved in the war in Europe by totally disregarding his promises that the 'boys' would be kept safe from war except in the case of any direct attacks on them. 4

In 1941, the President sent his naval troops across the Atlantic to defend the English ships from attacks from Germany while at the same time refusing to allow American destroyers to protect British battleships. The President declared that his neutrality pledge was still standing and that there was no progress in the Atlantic Conference that had been held to discuss the state of affairs at that time. The Americans were greatly disappointed at this juncture since they were all eagerly awaiting the chance to get into the fight against Hitler and his atrocities. 5 This is where most historians state that the President Roosevelt acted deliberately in order to expose Pearl Harbor to Japanese attack, thereby grabbing the chance to make a rightful entry into the II World War. 6

There are quite a few controversial reports on whether the President was aware of the upcoming attack on Pearl Harbor or not. But, whatever happened will always be a mystery and the fact remains that the Japanese attacked America in the sneakiest manner possible and forced America into joining the Second World War. Even at this stage, the President, who had been insisting that America would not join the War, was still saying the same thing. But, in secret, he had been holding meetings with Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister to whom he had declared that America and the British would inevitably go to war together and win this war. Therefore, from this viewpoint, America's entry into the II World War seems to be inevitable. 7

America, in the early days before the World War II, had been engaged in a campaign against both Japan and Germany. She had, in fact, frozen all assets of Germany that were in the United States of America. She also sent out a fleet of 50 destroyers to Britain. These acts, however, brought no response from Germany because they were aware that the United States of America was definitely more powerful than them and they did not want to repeat what had happened during World War I again. The President of the United States of America also concentrated on Japan. Germany and Italy that were at war with Britain and Japan that was at war with China had, in fact, signed the Tripartite Treaty in September 1940. This treaty came to be later known as the Berlin-Rome- Tokyo Axis Alliance or, just the Axis. This was a mutual defense treaty whereby these countries had pledged to defend each other when the inevitable happened. FDR knew that, in the case of the United States of America declaring war on Japan, both Italy and Germany would also be forced to do so. 8

The President of America had begun a campaign against Japan that involved freezing Japan's assets in America, closing the Panama Canal against Japan's use for her shipping, ceasing all export of essentials to Japan like oil, etc., and finally, insisting that Japan remove all her troops from China and Indochina in order to receive America's vital exports and trade once more. Evidence shows that America was coercing Japan into violating her Tripartite Treaty with Germany and Italy and thereby forcing her to make the first move against America so as to appear to be the bad party. The bait that America dangled for Japan was the posting of America's Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. This was a vulnerable position for the troops and they were liable to be attacked from all sides. In spite of numerous protests against this posting by Admiral J.O. Richardson, the general impression was that the President was, in fact, determined to enter the War if Great Britain also cooperated with him in his re-election. 9

When J.O. Richardson was quickly replaced with Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, he was assured that he would be kept informed of any impending attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor. This did not happen and he was completely in the dark when Japan attacked his troops in Pearl Harbor, despite the fact that America was proficient in deciphering diplomatic as well as naval messages from Tokyo to its various embassies in Japan and in Hawaii. There was, in fact, information that had been sent by the Japanese Admiral, Yamamoto, declaring that Pearl Harbor had indeed been targeted. Dusko Popov, a Yugoslav working for both Germany and Great Britain, had discovered the impending attack on Pearl Harbor, and had also reported it to the FBI in New York. However, no action was taken and the attack was carried out as planned. Thus, the conspiracy that enabled Japan to plan out her campaign against America succeeded into America throwing the ball into Japan's court and forcing her to make the first move.10

Four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the United States of America. Why did Hitler do this? Some researchers are of the opinion that it was an inevitable fact that Germany would declare war given the American provocations on Japan and her entry into the European War when there was hardly reason enough for her to do so. Hitler had actually been following a non-interference policy since the division of powers between America and Germany was not on an equal level and he could have let matters lie and let the Japanese fight the United States alone when they attacked Pearl Harbor. But he did declare war on America soon after the attack. Historians believe that though the Allied powers thought that Hitler had large plans for conquest and, in order to fulfill these plans, he literally pushed Japan into war with America. 11

However, there is no kind of evidence to support these claims. The fact is that Germany had to keep America at a neutral level. Japan was nothing but a pawn in these plans. 12 The Americans found themselves helpless in the onslaught of Japanese attacks on American garrisons in the Pacific. By 1942, the U.S. Army was divided into the Air and Ground and Service Forces. This unit decided that the total number of fighters needed would approximate 9 million men divided into 215 combat divisions. America had to not only support her…[continue]

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