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Franklin D. Roosevelt's Foreign Policy

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An encyclopedia on Franklin D. Roosevelt's Foreign Policy.

Democratic Politician, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), started his presidential career as the 32nd President of the United States on Nov 8, 1932. He would go on to serve four terms as President and would introduce key Government programs such as The New Deal and Social Security. Prior to his presidency, he was the governor of New York from 1929 to 1932, an Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and Member of the New York State Senate from 1911 to 1913.

Before the election of Roosevelt, the United States of America's isolationist foreign policy -under the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 -forbade war as a tool to resolve conflicts; it also forbade the distribution of "arms and munitions and implements or other articles for use in war to any country which the President declared was a violator of the Kellogg Pact" -this pact was signed by Germany, France, the U.S. and many more.[1]

In contrast to Roosevelt's victories was his unfortunate choice for the U.S. ambassadorship to Germany (William E. Dodd) on August 30, 1933[2]. Dodd, who did not possess the finesse it took to be a diplomat and knew little about American international policy or European problems, did not speak German well, and spoke too harshly and impulsively of the Nazi movement in the pre-war years; he was also described as a "babe-in-the-woods in the dark forests of Berlin,"[3] -his appointment is considered as one of Roosevelt's biggest political mistakes.

After the League of Nation's reticence to handle the second Italo-Ethiopian war, Roosevelt, on August the 1st of 1935, urged Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy, to accept arbitration on the conflict and maintain peace -this declaration was meet with appreciation by Ethiopia's Emperor, Haile Selassie, however, the U.S. was very careful not to intervene in the matter.[4] Moreover, In January of 1936, Roosevelt, in response to the injustices of the Treaty of Versailles not being resolved by the League of Nations, said "wicked dictators" -referring to Germany, Italy and France -have "impatiently reverted to the old belief in the law of the sword, or to the fantastic conception that they, and they alone, are chosen to fulfill a missionI recognize that these words which I have chosen with deliberation will not prove popular in any nation that chooses to fit this shoe to its foot."[5] This speech strained the already sensitive relationship between the U.S. and Japan.[6] Upon hearing this, Japanese diplomat and future Japanese Prime Minister, Kōki Hirota, said that Americans spoke like they possessed a mandate from God.[7] This sentiment by Hirota was also strengthened because the Roosevelt Administration did not possess the same fear about communism that the Japanese had about a communist Soviet Union.[8]

Still clinging to neutrality in European matters, on January the 3rd, 1936, he chided the aggressive spirit of Italy directly and stated earlier that they lacked the "finer instincts of world justice."[9] This statement by Roosevelt was met with fury by numerous Italian editors who stated that Mussolini had delayed action in vain for many years and wanted a just allocation of colonial territory.[10]

After the German invasion of Poland on September the 1st, 1939, Roosevelt was more inclined to an isolationist strategy that would keep the U.S. out of the European conflicts -the U.S. declared its neutrality on December 5th, 1939.[11] Just four days before the U.S. declared its neutrality, Roosevelt appealed to Finland and the Soviet Union to stop cruelly bombing civilians in defenseless cities/locations during their conflicts.[12] Following the invasion of Poland, Roosevelt's foreign policy placed an emphasis on withholding the U.S. from European war while trying to ensure the downfall of Hitler's administration; this approach proved to be popular among Americans who preferred to show solidarity to their European allies, but remain removed from the battles.[13] This conflict would later become known as "World War II".

With the war raging, Roosevelt still upheld his foreign policy of neutrality, but he also reproached the Italian government. In his popularized "Stab in the Back" Speech on June 10, 1940, he stated, "The people and the Government of the United States have seen with the utmost regret and with grave disquiet the decision of the Italian Government to engage in the hostilities now raging in Europe."[14] During this neutrality, Roosevelt campaigned under the banner of noninvolvement for his third term as President, and he won with 54.7% of the popular vote.[15] The United States' neutrality would soon come to an end after the Japanese bombed the United States' naval base in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and due to this attack, "On the evening of December 7, 1941, following the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, FDR dictated the war message that he read to Congress the next day".[16] Roosevelt also signed Executive order 9066 which imprisoned numerous Japanese-Americans living in the U.S.[17] A year after the Pearl Harbor attack, Roosevelt's approval rating was at 75% -this was around a 20-point increase from his rating in 1938 (57%), additionally, Roosevelt's policies did not noticeably help the Democratic Party's identification figures because identification figures stood around 50% in the late 30s and were back up to 50% in 1945.[18] During the battles of WWII, key events such as the Normandy Landings (D-Day) -in which almost 3 million Allied soldiers landed on the northern coasts of France on June 6th, 1944 -helped turn World War II into a victory for the U.S. and the Allied Powers.[19]

On November the 7th, 1944, Roosevelt won the presidential election for the fourth time with 53.4% of the popular vote,[20] and on February the 11th, 1945, Roosevelt met with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill to discuss the future of post-war Europe.[21] On April the 12th, 1945, Roosevelt died from a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, and his Vice President, Harry S. Truman, then became president.[22]

Word Count: 1061 words

References

Bell, M. (2008). Reappraising FDR's Approach to World War II in Europe. 1st ed. Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, pp.138-145.

Berinsky, A., Powell, E., Schickler, E. and Yohai, I. (2011). Revisiting Public Opinion in the 1930s and 1940s. PS: Political Science & Politics, 44(03), pp.515-520.

Erdelja, K. (2005). The Second World War. 1st ed. Thessaloniki: CDRSEE.

Peters, G. and Wolley, J. (2017). Franklin D. Roosevelt: Appeal to Russia and Finland to Stop Bombing Civilians. [online] Presidency.ucsb.edu. Available at: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15845. [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].

Tansill, C. (1952). Back door to war. 1st ed. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

University of Virginia, (2017). "Stab in the Back" Speech (June 10, 1940)-Miller Center. [online] Millercenter.org. Available at: http://millercenter.org/president/fdroosevelt/speeches/speech-3317 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].

 

Bibliography

Erbelding, R. (2016). FDR4Freedoms: The Life, Times, and Vision of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Journal of American History, [online] 103(3), pp.1-9. Available at: http://fdr4freedoms.org/wp-content/themes/fdf4fdr/DownloadablePDFs/II_HopeRecoveryReform/12_FranklinDRooseveltNewYorker.pdf [Accessed 5 Feb. 2017].


[1] Tansill, C. (1952). Back door to war. 1st ed. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 218.

[2] Ibid, 46.

[3] Ibid, 46.

[4] Ibid, 148.

[5] Ibid, 152.

[6] Tansill, Back door to war, 152.

[7] Ibid, 152.

[8] Ibid, 130.

[9] Ibid, 244-245.

[10] Ibid, 245.

[11] Bell, M. (2008). Reappraising FDR's Approach to World War II in Europe. 1st ed. Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, pp.138.

[12] Peters, G. and Wolley, J. (2017). Franklin D. Roosevelt: Appeal to Russia and Finland to Stop Bombing Civilians. [online] Presidency.ucsb.edu. Available at: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15845. [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].

[13] Bell, Reappraising FDR's Approach to World War II in Europe, 138.

[14] University of Virginia, (2017). "Stab in the Back" Speech (June 10, 1940)-Miller Center. [online] Millercenter.org. Available at: http://millercenter.org/president/fdroosevelt/speeches/speech-3317 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].

[15] Bell, Reappraising FDR's Approach to World War II in Europe, pp. 139.

[16] Ibid, 143.

[17] Bell, Reappraising FDR's Approach to World War II in Europe, 144.

[18] Berinsky, A., Powell, E., Schickler, E. and Yohai, I. (2011). Revisiting Public Opinion in the 1930s and 1940s. PS: Political Science & Politics, 44(03), pp.518.

[19] Erdelja, K. (2005). The Second World War. 1st ed. Thessaloniki: CDRSEE, 25.

[20] Ibid, 27.

[21] Ibid,27.

[22] Ibid, 28.


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