The Evolution of U.S. Foreign Policy - 1920-1941

US Diplomatic Decisions – 1919 to 1941
Analyze the potential consequences of these decisions in light of
international events during this period in history:
Nov 1919: US Senate rejected Versailles Treaty
“Return to Normalcy”: 1920-1932 – US ISOLATIONISM
“RED SCARE” – 1919 and 1920 – Fear of communists in America
Immigration Restrictions (1921 and 1924)
 Quotas on immigrants from certain nations
Washington Naval Conferences (1920-1922)
 4, 5 and 9 Power Pacts
The Dawes Plan (1924) – US “bailout” for Germany
Kellogg-Briand Pact – 1928 –
 international agreement not to use war as in instrument of foreign policy; this would
“guarantee” world peace
Hawley-Smoot Tariff – 1930:
 high tariff hurt international trade; made depression worse
1931: Japan invaded Manchuria1931
 Stimson Doctrine:
► US would not recognize a nation’s acquisition of land by use of force
1932: Lausanne Conference:
 Because of global depression, this suspended loan repayments and reparations
US Foreign Policy Responses After Hitler’s Rise to Power
1933: Good Neighbor Policy (Herbert Hoover’s idea…)
 To improve relations damaged by “big stick policy” in Latin
► 1933: Diplomatic recognition of the USSR
 Diplomatic relations between the US and USSR begin for the first
time. A reaction to rising Fascist nations in Europe.
► 1934: Tydings-McDuffie Act
 Philippines promised their independence by 1946.
► 1934: Reciprocal Trade Act
 Reduced the US tariff if its international trading partners did the
► 1934-5: The Nye Commission
 Government committee that concluded US involvement in WW
1 was caused by “war profiteers” (“Merchants of Death”) who
traded with belligerents between 1914 and 1917.
►US would not make the same mistake twice…
US Diplomatic Responses to Global Aggression: 1935-1939
1935: Italian invasion of Ethiopia:
 Nye Report is issued, 1st NEUTRALITY ACT (arms embargo on belligerents)
1936: Germany retakes the Rhineland , and Spanish Civil War begins:
 2nd NEUTRALITY ACT (added: no loans to belligerents)
1937: Japanese invasion of China and “Panay Incident”:
 3rd NEUTRALITY ACT (added: no trade without “cash and carry”)
 QUARANTINE speech : FDR told of a “disease” that had to be quarantined;
the disease was “FASCISM”.
1938: Austrian “Anschluss”, Rome-Berlin Axis, Anti-Comintern Pact, the
Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia: NO DIPLOMATIC MOVES BY US
1939: September 1: Germany invaded Poland and the USSR occupied Latvia,
Lithuania, Estonia and Finland AND it’s “part” of Eastern Poland:
 “America First Committee”: strong isolationist “pressure” group
 4th NEUTRALITY ACT (lifted arms embargo on cash and carry basis)
June 1940 to June 1941:
The War and US ‘Neutrality’ Continue...
►Selective Service Act (September)
peace-time military draft; preparing to raise an army “just in case”
►Destroyers for Bases (September)
GB got US naval destroyers, US got use of British naval bases around the world
►Lend-Lease Act (December)
US supplied nations fighting fascism (included USSR)-US became the “arsenal of
►The Four Freedoms Speech (January ‘41)
 Freedom of speech/expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from
►ABC-1 Talks (January-March ‘41)
Secret meetings between FDR and British PM Winston Churchill. Defeating Germany
was the priority if the war became “two theater” war. (“Europe first” or “Get Hitler First”
No territorial gains were to be sought by USA or Britain.
Pledge to liberate AXIS-occupied lands;
“Territorial adjustments must be in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned”;
Trade barriers were to be lowered;
Promote global economic cooperation and advancement of social welfare;
Freedom from want and fear;
Freedom of the seas;
Disarmament of aggressor nations; postwar common disarmament.