Lecture # 8 The US in an Age of Global Crisis: Peace in Peril: 1933

Lecture # 8
The US in an Age of Global Crisis: Peace in Peril: 1933-1950
1. What caused the US to change its foreign policy from isolationism and neutrality to a growing
commitment to global involvement?
2. Why did the world go to war from 1939 until 1945? How and when did the US become
involved in the conflict? How did the Allies strategize to end the war? How did WWII affect the
lives of Americans on the home front?
In the 1930s, great changes were happening in Europe and Asia. Totalitarian regimes rose to
power in Germany, Italy, and Japan, threatening the freedom of nations on their borders. In
1939, the German invasion of Poland launched WWII, which quickly engulfed Europe and much
of Asia. The US, still embracing isolationism, tried to maintain neutrality, but the 1941 Japanese
bombing of Pearl Harbor drew the nation into the conflict. Four more years of bloody fighting in
Europe and Asia left millions of soldiers and civilians dead and hundreds of cities damaged or
destroyed. The US suffered relatively light losses in comparison to other nations, and it emerged
as a world leader with a growing commitment to international involvement.
Politics: How did POTUS FDR and Truman influence the events and outcomes of WWII?
Politics: How did world events change American foreign policy from one of isolationism to a
growing commitment to global involvement?
Diversity: How did WWII change the lives of women, AAs, and Japanese Americans?
Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, FDR, Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin, Robert
Oppenheimer, Harry S. Truman
Korematsu v US (1944) *upheld E.O. 9066 detaining JA
A. ISOLATION AND NEUTRALITY (another overview)
1. Causes of disillusion and pacifism
2. Neutrality Acts of 1935-37
3. Spanish Civil War: Testing War Technology and Ideology
a. Nationalist: Generalissimo Franco (and German/Italian Fascists) revolt/vs.
Republicans: loyalists, Communists, socialists, everyone else (w/ Soviet Support)
b. Atrocities on both sides
c. Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
4. FDR’s “Quarantine” Speech of 1937
5. Did isolationists want to avoid repeating conditions that drew the US into WWI? YES
1. Aggressions of Japan, Germany, Italy: 1932-1940
2. Appeasement: The Munich Conference of 1938
3. German (and SU) attack on Poland; start of WWII in Europe
4. Gradual US involvement
a. Neutrality Act of 1939 (“cash and carry”)
b. Lend-Lease Act and 50 overage destroyers deal
c. The moral dimensions: The Atlantic Charter of August 1941
1) It had incorporated FDR’s Four Freedoms Speech Ideals
5. How was the US ‘involved’ in the war before 12.7.1941?
1. Pearl Harbor: Why not listen to Joseph Lockard?!
2. The human dimensions of the war
a. FDR’s “Arsenal of Democracy” speech (note: feats of productivity)
b. Role of women: WACs; WAVES; Rosie the Riveter; return of the retired
c. Mobilization: the draft; minority issues; home front issues (like WWI?)
d. Financing the war: taxes, war bond drives; Hollywood & Disney ‘goes to war’
e. Rationing
f. Experiences of men (combat) and women (support) in military service
g. How did the need to wage a ‘total war’ alter the nature of American society?
3. Allied strategy and leadership
a. US assistance to the SU, GB, Free French, and China (nationalists only)
b. Allied “Europe First” Strategy
c. Allied “Two Front” War
1) ETO (fortress Europe & Atlantic Wall)/Atlantic (convoy past wolf packs)
2) PTO (island hopping)/CBI (over the hump)
4. The atomic bomb
a. The Manhattan Project (role of refugees)
b. Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan
1) No hesitation or remorse.
2) Hiroshima (B-29 Enola Gay) and Nagasaki (B-29 Bockscar)
3) Flyboys (James Bradley, son of a raiser of the flag on Mt. Suribachi)
4) Atomic Diplomacy (Gar Alperovitz, revisionists –nontraditional
agreement on why Truman dropped them—not a military necessity; really
a political power play over the Soviets.
c. US occupation of Japan; the “MacArthur Constitution”
d. Japanese war crimes trials
5. The war’s impact on minorities
a. Incarceration of West Cost Japanese-Americans; Executive Order 9066;
Korematus v. US (1944)
b. Extent of racially integrated units in the military (after WWII, Truman
integrated military via an Executive Order)
1) 1,000,000 AAs served
2) 0 AAs in the US Marine Corps
c. The Nazi Holocaust: US and world reactions
d. The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
1) Establishes concept of “crimes against humanity”
e. Later trials of other Nazi criminals
1) Adolf Eichmann
2) Klaus Barbie “Butcher of Lyon”
6. Demobilization
a. Inflation and strikes
b. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (G.I. Bill)
1) Origin (Advocacy of WWI Doughboys)
2) Impact on education, housing, and the economy
c. Truman’s Fair Deal
d. Partisan problems with Congress
e. Minorities continued to find it difficult to obtain fair practices in:
1) housing
2) employment
3) education (primary, secondary, post-secondary)
f. Upset election of 1948: “Dewey Defeats Truman”= WRONG
g. Truman and Civil Rights
1) Executive means, not legislative.
2) Executive Order 9981 (1948)