Presentation on theme: "Prelude to World War II American public opinion, though wary of Germany and Japan, did not want to go so far as to fight them. Much like England had been."— Presentation transcript:
Prelude to World War II American public opinion, though wary of Germany and Japan, did not want to go so far as to fight them. Much like England had been before 1938—hoped there would be a way out, that they would be satisfied without going too far and drawing the US into war, even after war broke out in Europe and Asia. Had been neutral during the Spanish Civil War, though many Americans volunteered on the Republican side through the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Roosevelt reinforced those views while simultaneously beginning to rearm
Entry into War 1. Not until Japan attacked first—not going to go to war over Asia for sake of Asia. 2. Originally not at war with Germany—Germany who declared war first. Uncertain whether, if Germany had held off, that US would have immediately become involved militarily in Europe—a hard sell to Congress, who was angry at Japan and wanted to concentrate efforts on defeating her.
Problem of Soviet Union 1. Dictatorship and Communism difficult to explain. If war against dictators, why ally with one? And if working against totalitarian ideology, why help one? Resolved propagandistically by playing up Stalin and Russia in very traditional terms, as Stalin himself was doing at this time internally. 2. Helped mainly through provision of loans (1 billion) plus war equipment.
War Strategy 1. UN declaration, 1942— a) Germany first, then Japan b) Unconditional surrender, no separate peace (particularly important to Stalin, who thought allies might cut separate deal with Germany and leave him out to dry) c) Would wage total war, engaging all one’s own resources, and engaging all resources of the enemy. d) But Stalin refused to sign pledge to respect national self-determination of liberated territories, or to restore previous government to those ejected by Nazis
Quebec Conference, 1944 US and GB agreed tentatively to the Morganthau plan for postwar Germany—to destroy its industrial capacity and make it into an agrarian country. Dropped because infeasible, a public relations disaster, and the growing perception that there would need to be a counterweight to the Soviets in Europe.
Dumbarton Oaks Conference (1944) First plans for a postwar international order. To be a permanent United Nations (modeled after wartime alliance) to be structured by a General Assembly with everyone represented (Soviets with 3 seats), and a Security Council of four great powers with veto, plus other rotating membership without veto power.
Differences between UN and League of Nations Only permanent members of Security Council could veto actions No need for ordinary members to approve actions Participation of the US
Yalta Conference (1944) Churchill and Stalin discussed dividing Europe into spheres of influence—in part because Stalin unyielding in coming to agreement as to what would happen to territories occupied by Soviet armies. Roosevelt did not agree to such a concept—was concerned by division of Europe. More interested in guarantees of free postwar governments than influence, and in getting Stalin to agree to come into Pacific War against Japan once Germany defeated. Also hoped that could come to an agreement whereby US occupation in Europe would be very short.
Post War US Policy Unlike the situation following World War I, the US continued to be heavily engaged. Rather than merely engaging to avoid violent conflict, was committed to a particular vision of the world-- free markets, liberal democracies, friendliness toward the US and its allies.
Characteristics of Post War Policy Engagement in military alliances: NATO, SEATO Stationing of troops overseas-- first in Japan (permanent occupation of parts), later in Europe. Use of UN as a weapon Use of military and economic aid Aggressive resistance to perceived Russian aggression.
Economic Institutions Bretton Woods: Postwar economic conference that attempted to create ways to control the economic factors believed to have contributed to the rise of Hitler and the onset of WWII. These factors included:
Factors Hyper-inflation in Germany, caused by postwar reparation payments, German economic policies, laissez-faire international economic situation. The widespread application of tariffs on goods that was meant to protect domestic industries but only served to contract trade, and make the Depression worse. Lack of coordinated monetary policies across national borders, which led to wild currency fluctuations, and destabilization of international trade.
Consensus at Bretton Woods Thus the consensus at Bretton Woods was that economics and political concerns, both international and domestic, were closely intertwined. This led to the creation of international bodies whose functions were to guarantee currency stability, protect free trade, and help promote economic recovery from the war. Three institutions in particular were important:
International Monetary Fund Intergovernmental agency funded by contributory nations. Serves as an international reserve of credits and hard currency used to stabilize problematic currencies and economies. Buys up weak currencies, lends reserves of hard currency, extends short term loans to increase liquidity.
Rationale W eak currencies lead to hyperinflation, deindustrialization, unemployment, and eventual political instability. They may also lead to a weakening of international demand for goods, or the flooding of the international market with cheap goods financed with debased currencies and cheap labor.
World Bank Funded by international contributors. Helps promote economic development by providing loans for infrastructure and industrial capital. Helps stabilize economies by refinancing loans and providing loans to help liquidity.
Rationale Weak economies lead to political instability. Strong economies provide economic partners and potentially lucrative international markets.
International Trade Organization Works through the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). Promotes free trade policies, facilitates treaties, and helps enforce trade treaties.
Rationale High tariffs are very attractive individually, but ultimately destructive to the international market. In the absence of agreements, nation’s experience the prisoner’s dilemma: If a country does not erect trade barriers, they will be at the mercy of nations that do. But high trade barriers are ultimately counterproductive, and the end result of erecting them is that countries are in a worse position than if no one erected them.
NATO NATO: created April 1949 European countries and the US still feared external Soviet armed threat to Western Europe. US had demobilized Europeans were not strong enough to deter Soviets individually or collectively UN recognized as unable to deter or keep the peace
NATO Therefore, what was needed, it was believed, was an alliance that would: Have US involvement as a key, with the US providing a military guarantee of European security Would be effective and specific Help promote free European institutions Help promote political stability Help eliminate economic conflict
NATO There were also domestic American reasons for entering into such an arrangement: Give US influence in Europe Would head off revival of neutralism and appeasement philosophies