There emerged sharp divisions between the US president Franklin D. Roosevelt and his isolationist opponents concerning the entry of the nation into the Second World War. In his message to the Congress in 1941, Roosevelt urges the nation to support the efforts of America’s overseas allies who were fighting the incursion waged by Germany’s Adolf Hitler and allies. The US Department of the State notes that isolationists included conservatives, progressives, paces activists, and business people who triumphed prior to 1941 due to the absence of opposition from internationalists. The isolationists in Congress during the 1930’s effectively opposed the plans of Roosevelt to confront the NAZIs of Germany and Japanese Fascists by not only opposing the nation’s involvement in foreign affairs but also by opposing military expenditure which would mean military preparedness to intervene (HBC). President Roosevelt was acting in the interest of the United States when he called for rejection of isolationism, and he did this well within the confines of the presidential authority.
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According to the US Department of the State, isolationists supported non-involvement of the US in international politics and non-entanglement in conflicts that were happening in Europe and Asia. To understand the conflict between the isolationists and the president Roosevelt in 1941, it is essential to evaluate isolationism in the light of America’s goal of peace within its borders which was increasingly dependent on the peace overseas. America had enjoyed peace under isolationism since it was founded till the First World War. At such times, there was a little if no threat from outside given the expanse of waters separating it from the formidable enemies overseas (the US Department of the State). Isolationists’ stance was bolstered by the bad outcome of the initial breaking away from the isolationist policy during the First World War when the nation suffered huge loses and many casualties.
The isolationists argued that isolationism would lead to concerted efforts on development of the nation internally without suffering from the burden of other nations. This strategy in foreign policy had worked for the nation before and it seemed yet useful even with the rise of ruthless NAZIs under Hitler in Europe. Throughout the 1930s, Roosevelt tried to get the US involved in international affairs but was defeated by supporters of neutrality in the Congress. However, by 1941, with the evidence of how adamant the aggressors of the Second World War were, it became certain that to protect the nation from external invasion the president had to act against isolationism. The aggressor had the willpower to conquer the world if left alone. According to the HBC, Britain, which was a powerful nation by all means, was weak under the intense fire from German invaders by the end of 1940. The war atrocities facing Britain were appalling and even threatening to the US hence there was a need that the President intervenes as a sworn protector of the nation.
The United States’ president swears to protect the interest of the nation and, since aggression from without threatened Americas freedom, Roosevelt was justified to get America involved in the War. In this speech, Roosevelt holds that the fall of the British Navy would leave America open to assaults from the dictators who led the assaults during the World War II. This is in the part of the speech where he states that, “… our immunity from immediate and direct invasion from across the seas, obviously, as long as the British Navy retains its power, no such danger exists” (Message to Congress 7). The British navy was, however, losing ground to the Germans hence the buffer of defense which the US defended on was thinning. In what is assertive of the intention to join forces with allies who are threatened by the aggressor nations, Roosevelt asks Congress to authorize the use of sufficient funds for the manufacturing of weapons and other supplies of war that would be shipped to other nations who were at the time in actual combat with the enemy (Message to Congress 13). The recommended spending would be funded by tax payers’ money. This meant an increased taxation on the American citizens. The president proposed that the US would be paid in kind for supplying the weapons to friendly foreign nations once the hostilities end in terms of goods or other appropriate materials in demand.
Roosevelt was driven by his dedication for maintenance of freedom and democracy in America and the world to plead with Congress to authorize the supply of war equipment to allies abroad. In the Message to Congress and in a collective voice addressed to the foreign allies, he states that, “We Americans are very concerned about the defense of freedom you are engaged in. We are using our energies, resources and powers to enhance your strength to maintain a free world. This is the reason we send you ships, planes, tanks, guns, in ever increasing numbers.” According to the HBC, Roosevelt was out to make the US an arsenal of democracy when he supported the allies in defiance to isolationists. Further, Roosevelt points out that America is in danger of being sabotaged by agents of the enemies who were already in the country as well as in Latin America. The president states that the government’s hands could not be tied when the country was facing imminent danger from rogue dictators. Under his mandate as a president, Roosevelt makes a call for sacrificial dedication of the country’s resources for the interest of international peace which would guarantee assurance of the same in America.
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