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Swampyville's - Prelude to World War Two (FDR)


Ask the Politically Correct!

Question? What was FDR's prelude to World War II?

Politically Correct Resolution:

In that FDR's First (Top Down) and Second (Bottom Up) New Deals were merely a stop gap measure until this nation became involved in the Second World War. With millions of Americans in uniform and the armament factories employing millions of other Americans was the main reason that the depression ended. The Second World War solved two problems, the depression and finally took this nation from one of isolation into Internationalism (which had been the main aim of the financial/corporate interests all along - the First World War didn't cause it to be, but the Second World War did)!

The United States officially entered World War II in December 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In reality, however, the United States had been fighting a war against the Axis powers for years. It was a war of words and a war of action, a war of secret meetings and public duplicity. The prosecutor of this war was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States.

Roosevelt understood early on that territorial concessions would not satisfy Adolf Hitler and his fascist counterparts, Benito Mussolini of Italy and Emperor Hirohito of Japan. In 1931, Japan took Manchuria. In 1935, Mussolini took Ethiopia. In 1936, Nazi troops swept into the Rhineland. In 1938, Hitler annexed Austria, and at the Munich conference, Britain and France surrendered Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland to the Germans.

The American public was decidedly isolationist and anti-war. Memories of the expense of World War One in lives and money were still fresh. In 1934, Congress passed the Johnson Act, which prohibited loans to nations behind on World War I debt repayment. The Neutrality Act of 1935 forbade the export of arms, ammunition or implements of war to belligerent nations; a 1937 amendment to the act forbade American citizens and ships from entering war zones or traveling on belligerent's ships.

In early 1939, Roosevelt asked Congress to repeal the Neutrality Act, (so the U.S. could sell arms to the free European forces). Congress refused. In September, World War II began as Germany invaded Poland. Roosevelt spoke before Congress again, and on November 4, it approved the Pittman Bill, which allowed America to sell arms to nations who could pay for their weapons in cash.

FDR realized Hitler must be stopped yet knew the value of consensus rule. Publicly, Roosevelt promised that America would not fight unless attacked. He condemned the fascists and suggested that the way to keep the peace was to create a strong national defense. Secretly, he prepared America for war.

Roosevelt dramatically increased the defense budget from 1939 on and began to convert America to a military economy. Using powerful Financial/Industrial interests who could skillfully cut through governmental red tape, Roosevelt began to build the "Arsenal of Democracy."

Also in 1939, the Social Security Act went into effect. It was touted as being for old age benefits; but, it became another tax on the American people to be used for the coming World War Two. After World WAR II, every government since has used it as a "Private Slush Fund"!

In early 1940, Roosevelt stacked his cabinet with interventionists like Henry Stimson and Frank Knox, who took over the Navy and War departments. He named Harry Hopkins, an supposedly anti-Nazi, Secretary to the War Cabinet.

When France fell to the Nazis in May 1940, Britain stood alone. Roosevelt began a remarkable and voluminous secret correspondence with Britain's prime minister, Winston Churchill. Although Churchill desperately needed American troops, he asked only for arms and ammunition. Roosevelt responded, using his presidential powers to circumvent the Neutrality Act. The U.S. swapped 50 aging U.S. destroyers in return for British bases in the Caribbean and Newfoundland (these ships were sold to U.S. Steel as scrap for pennies, who then sold them to the British for a large profit). The British saw the trade as unfair. But Churchill needed all the help he could get.

On September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, in which they promised to defend each other against U.S. attacks. The pact formally established the Axis alliance. Designed to enforce American neutrality, the pact had quite an opposite effect, increasing interventionist sentiment in America. FDR skillfully capitalized on this change.

In a December "fireside chat" on national radio, Roosevelt openly condemned Axis aggression, insisting that its objective was no less than world domination (they may get there before we do). He asked for military aid for Britain, which was rapidly running out of money to buy arms. Behind the scenes, FDR moved even closer to war. He secretly sent Harry Hopkins to London to plan an Anglo-American war against Germany.

In March of 1941, Roosevelt persuaded Congress to pass the Lend-Lease Act. The act allowed the U.S. to lend the Allies war materials in return for repayment after the war. FDR, understanding Britain's desperation, began Atlantic trans-shipment of materials days before signing the bill.

Using all of his political ingenuity, Roosevelt struggled against the constraints of neutrality. In April, he gave the Navy permission to attack German submarines west of 25 degrees longitude. That same month, the U.S. and Denmark agreed to place Greenland under American protection. In July, the U.S. occupied Iceland. On August 14th, the Selective Service Act, which allowed a peacetime draft, passed Congress by a single vote. (I've promised that I (FDR) will not send your boys to any foreign war, but when I do, I want them prepared!)

That same August day, the Atlantic Charter was made public. Signed during a secret five-day conference at sea between Roosevelt and Churchill, the charter called for national self-determination and stated that aggressor nations should be disarmed. If this was not a declaration of war, it was close. Roosevelt hoped it would entice the Germans to declare war on America.

On September 4, 1941, the first clash came. The Greer, a U.S. destroyer, spotted a German submarine and called in a British plane to bomb it. The sub and the destroyer exchanged fire, with little result. But Roosevelt used the incident to further his intention to get America into the war. On October 17, German subs attacked the U.S. destroyer Kearney as it escorted a British convoy. Several crewmen were injured. On October 31, Nazi subs sank the U.S. destroyer Reuben James, killing 115 men.

A little over a month later, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would overshadow America's first Atlantic battles. The U.S. would declare war. But in no small way would the Allie's eventual victory in the declared war be attributable to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's prosecution of the unofficial one, with years of public speaking, secret maneuvering, political lobbying and presidential action.

FDR's Third Term election in 1940. (Wikipedia)

The two-term tradition had been an unwritten rule (until the 22nd Amendment after his presidency) since George Washington declined to run for a third term in 1796, and both Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt were attacked for trying to obtain a third non-consecutive term. FDR systematically undercut prominent Democrats who were angling for the nomination, including two cabinet members, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and James Farley, Roosevelt's campaign manager in 1932 and 1936, Postmaster General and Democratic Party chairman. Roosevelt moved the convention to Chicago where he had strong support from the city machine (which controlled the auditorium sound system). At the convention the opposition was poorly organized but Farley had packed the galleries. Roosevelt sent a message saying that he would not run, unless he was drafted, and that the delegates were free to vote for anyone. The delegates were stunned; then the loudspeaker screamed "We want Roosevelt, the world wants Roosevelt!" The delegates went wild and he was nominated by 946 to 147 on the first ballot. The tactic employed by Roosevelt was not entirely successful, he had hoped to be drafted unanimously by acclamation, so that there would be no objections to a Third Term. The new vice presidential nominee was Henry A. Wallace, a liberal intellectual who was Secretary of Agriculture.

In his campaign against Republican Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt stressed both his proven leadership experience and his intention to do everything possible to keep the United States out of war. In one of his speeches he declared to potential recruits that "you boys are not going to be sent into any *foreign war." Shades of what Woodrow Wilson promised the American people before World War One. He won the 1940 election with 55% of the popular vote and 38 of the 48 states. A shift to the left within the Administration was shown by the naming of Henry A. Wallace as Vice President in place of the conservative Texan John Nance Garner, who had become a bitter enemy of Roosevelt after 1937.

*To FDR the European War was not a foreign war when there were German U-Boats off this nations coast. To him, that justified his promise not to send any Americans to a foreign war?

"DECIPIO NE CREDITE" (Do not trust the deceiver)


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