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Essay: American Entry into World War II: Events Leading to the Infamous Day of December 7th

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  • Published: 1 April 2019*
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  • Words: 1,263 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 6 (approx)
  • Tags: World War II

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The United States declared war on Japan after their attack on Hawaiian naval base, Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941. The events leading up to president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to enter the war ultimately pushed him to the breaking point of the United States neutrality policy. Between the aggressive behaviors of Japan, and the rise of Hitler’s Nazi empire and their threat to American safety, the United States formed a place in World War II that has been recognized as one of the most significant events in U.S. history. The time at which America entered the war has created a debate as to whether the extent of the war could have been minimized or not. This paper reviews the major events leading up to the American involvement in the war and discusses the results of their actions.

On January 1st, 1931, Japan initiated an entirely unprovoked surprise attack on Mancuria, a Chinese province. Mancuria was an extremely valuable territory due to their high resource content, and Japan wanted to benefit from it. However, this attack did not go over well with the League of Nations. It wasn’t long after that Japan withdrew their presence in the League of Nations. Along with their separation form the league, they really upset the United States with their overthrow of the Chinese province.

A couple years later (April 7, 1933) Hitler began his proclamation that non-Aryan citizens were of lesser worth than Aryans. Hitler’s reign sparked arguable the most awful piece of world history, the Holocaust. Concentration camps took over Germany, and the Nazi’s systematically killed over 11 million people due to their non-Aryan race. It was a horrific time for not only the helpless victims taken, and the United States was extremely upset given their diverse population and acceptance of different heritage. While Germany was in ruins from Hitler’s dictatorship, the United States was in their own conflicts with Spain.

On New Year’s Day, 1936 a large group of volunteers in the United States formed the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. There was a civil war going on in Spain, and the United States wanted to provide assistance in fighting against Fascism. Over 3,000 Americans joined forces and went to Spain to take down military general Francisco Franco. This was an important attack for the United States; it was the first American military force consisting of a mixed-race brigade serving on equal grounds. Meanwhile, the Japanese were planning to continue their attacks on China, as well as other areas in Indochina.

In the beginning of June, 1937, Japan started to take over more of China and Indochina. They attacked Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos along with other parts of China. After their previously condemned behaviors, the United States grew a strong disrespect for Japan and their military. Their attacks on China lead to the severance of trade with America. The protest restrained trade of oil between the two countries, and Japan was significantly hindered by their cut supply; it was essential to their war tactics.

Back in Germany a few years later, the expansion of Hitler’s army continued.  At the start of September, 1939 Germany started an official world war by invading Poland soil. They bombed Poland’s cities and military bases as they sent soldiers into the area to fight. When Germany initiated this attack on Poland, both Britain and France declared war on them; the start of World War II. As the United States was very close with Britain and France, the declaration of war had U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt shift to a mindset of possible war. Entering the war  once Germany began it’s horrible invasion of European countries could have minimized the aftermath of the war. Even though Germany had taken over the entirety of Poland within just a couple weeks of the invasion, the war was in full swing and the path to European destruction was just beginning. Back in the United States, the support of Britain and France began when Congress passed the “Cash-and-Carry” provision. This gave the U.S. the ability to sell weaponry in European countries. The buyers just had to pay in cash and used their own boats to move the weapons.

In April of 1940, about a year and a half after the attack on Poland, Germany initiated a surprise attack on Denmark and Norway. Hitler’s plan was to invade the two countries and set up a defense across the coastlines of Denmark and Norway. This military defense link would help Germany attack Britain when the time was right. As the United States was very close with Britain, Germany’s attack on Denmark and Norway came as a threat to them, as well. The U.S. was not happy with the moves made by Germany and made Franklin D. Roosevelt question what America should do about the volatile Nazi Party. It was not a full three months later before Germany continued to push their awful success.

On June 22, 1940 Germany joined Italy in their invasion of France. They overthrew the country along with the government, completely controlling North France and building a Nazi government in Southern France. France was a major ally of the United States, and FDR was not a fan of Hitler destroying the democratic government over in Europe. Roosevelt had reached a point where he needed to make a significant effort to save the United States from danger. A year after the invasion on France, the U.S. passed the Lend-Lease Act, which allowed Franklin D. Roosevelt to “lend/lease” military weaponry and supplies to any countries that were crucial to protecting our country. So even though the United States was not yet directly involved with WWII, they were assisting the countries they considered friendly in order to help take down Hitler’s control in Germany.

In September of 1941, Germany urged war against the United States with a series of submarine attacks on U.S. ships. They were not happy by president Roosevelt’s aid to Germany enemies and sunk a U.S. destroyer to send a message. Germany then sunk an American merchant ship along with another U.S. destroyer. These attacks on American ships made the United States senate revoke the previous ban that prevented merchant ships from being armed; they felt some form of defense was needed. Although it was not Germany that sparked direct war with the United States, it was not long after their series of submarine attacks that America entered the war.

On December 7, 1941 Japan targeted the biggest naval quarters in the Pacific ocean by attacking Pearl Harbor, a territory of Hawaii. This attack put FDR in a position that made him disobey the United States’ neutrality policy and declare war on Japan. From then, the United States of America lead by president Franklin D. Roosevelt was entered in the second World War. Although the overall result of the war had Nazi leaders punished and Germany to pay reparations to the allies, the overwhelming destruction of the war will never be forgotten.

The United States could have entered the war when Germany first attacked Poland, minimizing the results of the war. However, the neutrality policy in America held president Roosevelt in a defensive position, and the war played out a little while longer. Overall, the United States made the decisions they thought were in their best interest at the time, and could not have predicted the volatile expansion of Nazi forces. World War II was a huge part of world history and president Roosevelt did the best he could to keep the United States in the best position possible.

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