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Aggressively Neutral Essay

While the war in Europe and the Japanese battle raged on, the United States faced a difficult decision. Should they engage in war or maintain their level of neutrality? Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew that America’s involvement in the war stood as an inevitability, however; despite the president’s mentality, most Americans felt neutrality stood as the only way to handle the growing conflict afar.

On October 5, 1937, President Roosevelt delivered his Quarantine the Aggressors Speech in which he described the military provokers as the “reign of terror” promoting “international lawlessness.” He outed their unjust habits of breaking treaties by invading territories and noted that these countries executed this with no formal declarations of war. They fought like bullies on the proverbial playground. Also, these nations used their force and dominating willpower to mindlessly slaughter millions of civilians—all to increase their power and strength. They attacked every foreign ship they encountered whether provoked or not and worst of all, denied the very thing they claimed to fight for.

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Many nations claimed to combat for freedom—to better their land—but, while they themselves achieved this (if one calls a military state better) they denied these simple liberties to the people they oppressed. Roosevelt neglected to list the aggressive nation’s names because of this. He delivered his speech years before the war officially broke out in Europe—let alone the U.S.—and did not desire a larger conflict yet. He did not want, at that point, to get involved, and naming names while laying blame would have engaged the U.S. America lacked the proper readiness for war.

Roosevelt worked to prepare America though. By stating that 90% of the world desired and strived for peace, he appealed to man’s sense of ethics and morality. He explained that the 90% of peace-loving people could not allow the 10% of anarchists to win, and, thus offered the path to peace. Roosevelt’s solution entailed taking a stand against international instability. A plan of neutrality could not suffice. America would work together for a triumph of morals and international peace. Reestablishment of the sanctity of treaties and national morality needed to occur.

Also, to defeat the international anarchy, laws, that all obeyed, needed establishment in order to maintain stability and peace. This would aid in ending aggression and respecting other’s rights (like nations that became annexed). Finally, most imperatively, peace-loving people needed to look to the future and realize that the lawlessness of the world would not fail to eventually reach the shores of the U.S., and thus to ensure peace for the future, action prevailed as the only viable option.

The effects of war reaching the United States stood as an inevitability and Roosevelt knew that. Perhaps the war would not stretch to the U.S. physically, (though, obviously it did, as war spreads) but consequences certainly travelled here. The war on the other side of the world caused Americans to suffer financially, morally, mentally, and spiritually. Roosevelt needed to stress these facts to Congress and the American people because war raged and evil triumphed in America’s backyard and it stood as a mere matter of time until horror reached her front yard, as well. Roosevelt wanted to go to war; he needed America (and her peace-loving ways) to support him.

Most Americans failed to support Roosevelt with his pro-war plan though; they believed in a policy of neutrality. One such man, Burton K. Wheeler, not only believed neutrality stood as the best way for America to handle the growing war but despised the new lend-lease policy. He declared that it stripped the U.S. of its defences by giving them to Britain, thus creating a military monopoly and dictatorship there. He claimed that the lend-lease policy caused Americans to sacrifice too much of their time and money as Americans built all the machinery and supplies sent to Britain. Wheeler also questioned the practicality of war by wondering if people thought World War One possessed positive effects. Did people desire to undergo the same horrors of that war? Most shouted “no.”

In addition to Wheeler, a leading member of the America First Committee, Charles A. Lindbergh, expressed his disinterest in an aggressive foreign policy. First of all, he noted that even if aggressive action sufficed in that situation, America, as stated before, lacked preparation. The U.S. possessed no weaponry or supplies because it gave most of these things to Britain. Also, he stressed how most people did not want to join in the fighting, and how can a country win a war if it splits on such a grand decision? He argued that fighting countered democracy since most people desired not to join. How hypocritical of the U.S. to join a war for democracy conservation when the U.S. desired not to.

Lindbergh believed, due to the lack of preparation, that America could never win the war, thus U.S. involvement would cause death to the last democracy. He claimed that neutrality maintained America’s independence. Finally, he thought no one would attack America itself—as it stood isolated by hundreds of miles of oceans. Neutrality seemed the key to maintaining independence and liberties in America.

It seemed, at that point in America’s history, that a policy of neutrality would indeed work better. The U.S. lacked preparation and, yes it seemed quite unlikely that anyone would attack such an isolated fortress as the U.S. However, Roosevelt’s point of looking ahead (coupled with examining history) proved necessary. Dwell on the Munich Pact—foreign powers failed to keep a treaty to maintain peace by not invading more nations. If that country failed to contribute to peace then, why should it try later? America needed to look forward to realizing that acquiescence contributed nothing to peace—it offered more time and power to the Axis. America needed aggression to end the horror.

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