Write 17 page essay on the topic Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy.
Download file to see previous pages…
During the twenties the American people showed in elections that they were unwilling to join the League, and Roosevelt himself came to distrust it as a distortion of Wilson’s project. Advocates of collective security held the United States partly responsible for this distortion because its absence encouraged use of the League for narrowly nationalist purposes by the other victorious Allies. In any case, isolationist sentiment in the Democratic Party became so strong that, in 1932, it was politically expedient for Roosevelt as a presidential candidate to reject United States entry into the League, and this he did before he was nominated.
The most important step of the United States government towards collective security before 1933 was the Stimson Doctrine. By it the United States led the world in its first action against an aggression by a first-class power, Japan. It carried into practice the revolution in international law which had occurred since pre First World War days, when the rule had been general consent by the other powers to conquests by one nation and demands for shares in the spoils as compensation. Even the United States had on occasion played that game. When it took the Philippine Islands for itself, it threw a few other Spanish Pacific islands to Germany to quiet its complaints. Japan was always ready to “compensate” the powers, and particularly the United States, for its own gains in Manchuria and China, but the Stimson Doctrine marked a new era in which an aggressor became a criminal who could not bribe the jury. Its ultimate importance may be gauged by the fact that Beard points to Roosevelt’s pre-Inauguration agreement to maintain it as “a fateful step leading in the direction of Pearl Harbour.” 1 A supporter of the policy would call it the first of the series of actions which led the United States into the United Nations.
That a Republican administration should abandon imperialism in Latin America and move towards collective security in Asia has puzzled observers and historians. The development of public opinion was basic. The personal pacifism of President Hoover was doubtless influential. The Hoover administration was divided between internationalists led by Stimson, who advocated the new policies as steps towards full cooperation with the League of Nations, and imperialists who wished to checkmate Japan as a trade rival and to sacrifice the small gains of direct intervention in the Caribbean republics for the sake of large gains in Latin American good will and trade.
Roosevelt and Hull, like Stimson, regarded the new policies as minimum steps. But these renovations of foreign policy passed almost unnoticed by the public at large as the depression caused painful absorption in domestic affairs. The Hoover administration, with its gift for boring the public, had failed to dramatize the issues. Roosevelt, after he was elected President and before he was inaugurated, found in the Stimson Doctrine the only area in which he could cooperate with the outgoing administration. He promised Stimson to maintain his policy and confirmed the promise in a public statement.