America in World War II
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For Americans, World War II began on a quiet Sunday morning, as Japanese zeros bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor. To the rest of the world, the war began on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Between these two events, it was only a matter of time before the United States entered the conflict.
The US was active in the following specific ways:
- Pacific Offensive
- Battle of Guadalcanal
- D-Day Invasion
- V-J Day
Franklin Roosevelt and World War II
Examining Franklin Roosevelt’s policy towards the European war from 1939 to 1941, it was clear that FDR favored intervening against the Axis Powers. As early as 1937, FDR demonstrated awareness that Hitler posed a threat to world security. While Chamberlain appeased, FDR outlined a policy that sought to contain aggressor nations. However, FDR was also extremely conscious of American public opinion, which largely favored staying out of any war.
When war did break out, Roosevelt differed between staying out of the war and favoring the Allies. His famous analogy compared such actions as Lend-Lease to loaning a hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire. Roosevelt authorized the United States to occupy Greenland and Iceland, and build a naval base in Ireland, all of which were actions designed to aid the Allies and prepare the United States militarily for the coming conflict.
France and World War II
The one single action that spurred Roosevelt to undertake these measures and made involvement in the war inevitable was the fall of France in the summer of 1940. Until that moment, the war was largely one of England and France versus Nazi Germany. When Hitler stood triumphant in Western Europe, the idea that the United States would face Nazi Germany alone was a very real one. Taking France allowed Hitler to invade Russia, and for a time in 1941 it appeared that he could very well be successful in defeating Stalin. If Hitler controlled all of Europe, would the United States be able to defeat such a foe?