America’s Role in WWI and it’s Role in WWII
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For most of the United State’s life, it has attempted to go by the words in President Washington’s farewell address. These words were interpreted to mean, “Do not form permanent alliances” (“Washington’s Farewell Address”). America’s role in World War I and World War II tested these words of former President Washington.
Continuing with this policy, when World War I began in 1914, the US tried to remain neutral, and see to it that its rights as a neutral power were not violated. Their shipping rights as a neutral company, however, were violated. The violation of American shipping rights by the change in German naval policy in 1917 in addition to America’s economic interests and allied propaganda brought the US into war in 1917 against Germany (Buchanan 10).
Public opinion was crucial to getting the support that either side needed. The British had many advantages over the Germans in propaganda. Nothing sparks American public sympathy more than other American lives being lost (Young 138). When the Germans tried to launch a counter propaganda attack, it ended up blowing up in their faces. Not only did German sound militaristic when translated, but Fests like the “Oktober Fest” made some Americans believe that Germany was trying to bring about an uprising in German-American communities. These factors helped way the public opinion on the side of the British (Buchanan 82).
The U.S. also had economic interests in the Allies winning the war. The U.S. had loaned the Allies billions of dollars in credit and weapons. Shipping to Britain was much easier than attempting to run the British blockade of Germany. It is hard for American shipping companies to get money when their ships are constantly being captured and taken to port, but it is even harder to maintain shipping when a company’s ships are being sunk by German submarines (Anderson 143).
Germany’s change in naval policy toward the end of the war was a major factor in the U.S.’s joining on the side of the British. Many other aspects of public opinion and shipping were influenced by Germany’s change in naval policy. The German’s sinking of merchant vessels, Allied propaganda, and America’s economic interests brought the US into the war against Germany (Anderson 150).
America’s Involvement in World War II 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 (Buchanan 144).
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. 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 (Buchanan 160).
Even if Roosevelt had wanted to do more in this European crisis, 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 (Buchanan 174).
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Air force led a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, completely destroying the port. Finally, President Roosevelt could wait no longer. America was now involved and not going to war would only endanger the United States more than it already was. On the following day, Roosevelt argued that the attack had given us an opportunity. Congress approved the declaration of war with only one dissenting voice. America’s most vital interest, defense of American soil, had been challenged. At last, America had to go to war and eventually bring an end to the rule of Nazi Germany (“America Enters WWII”).
The Americans upon declaring its Neutrality gave additional encouragement to Japan and Germany to in a way take over the world, and to Nazify it. Hitler had convinced himself that America had declined in the 1930’s because of social crisis. This misconception also led Japan to confront the United States in 1941. Had the United States entered the war any earlier or later the consequences could have been much worse (Anderson 158).
In conclusion, President Roosevelt did a superior job in leading and bringing America into the war when he did. Evidently America entered World War 2 at the precise time and moment to once and for all take down Adolph Hitler and the third Reich.