Anti-interventionism in the United States (1938-1941)
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The anti-interventionism stance is defined as the attitude of the United States, which forbids them from intervening in international affairs ("no entanglement") and forming alliances. The origins of this theory date back to the farewell address of George Washington (September 19, 1796), in which he emphasized the divergence of interests and destiny in Europe and the United States and advised citizens not to enter into alliances with European powers. The Monroe Doctrine, the rejection of the Versailles Treaty by the U.S. Senate (1920), or the laws of neutrality (1935-1937) were the most frequently cited manifestations of this isolationism.
In 1938, anti-interventionism was the watchword of American diplomacy. In the context of increasingly violent tensions in Europe, the United States continued to assert its desire to remain neutral, without any conflict, refusing to take responsibility for maintaining peace on the European continent. This policy, which was deliberately isolationist, is explained by several factors. Firstly, the American public, marked by the aftermath of World War I and hit hard by the economic crisis, maintained logic of national decline and disinterest in the outside world.
Isolationism was also very rooted in Congress which was exerting pressure to prevent the nation from going against the neutralist position. Added to this are various lobbies, such as America First Committee, which acted to preserve peace, values and American interests. Thus, Roosevelt was forced to take into account the strength of isolationism and its context within his country, and was very hesitant about what steps to take vis-à-vis the outside world.
Nevertheless, the spectacular defeat of France in June 1940 represented a real turning point, since it weakened the "myth" of isolationism. Indeed, feeling increasingly threatened, the American public, influenced by many groups in favor of entering the war, realized that action was imminent and inevitable to counter Nazism.
Consequently, American policy was evolving, since the U.S. officially lent a hand to Great Britain. They reviewed the law of neutrality, and were rearming and conducting a "sort of war", i.e., a policy of active material support without direct involvement in the war, which lasted until December 7, 1941, the date on which the U.S. abandoned anti-interventionism to engage fully, in spite of themselves, in the Second World War.
The public had little interest in foreign policy issues. Newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, champion of isolationism, or the media group Hearst corresponded to the major trends of public opinion. What worried Americans was the internal situation of the country, the crises related to unemployment, poverty, fear of tomorrow. The issues raised by the attitude of Germany and Japan seemed far away. It appeared neither necessary nor desirable to worry about.
The strength of isolationist sentiment coincided with a marked disinterest in foreign policy issues. The desire to see the government tackle the economic problems primarily led many Americans to ignore the dangers of the world and reduce contact with the outside world.
Tags: Great Depression, America's isolationist policy, Second World War