Masaryk University Faculty of Arts Department of English and American Studies

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Franklin D. Roosevelt was a charismatic leader, who went down in history as one of the most resourceful politicians of the 20th century. Four times elected to the office of the U.S. president, he led the nation through the Great Depression and particularly between 1933 and 1941 he faced the challenges of the beginning of World War II.

The aim of the thesis was to explore the foreign policy of the United States between 1933 and 1941 and investigate FDR’s attitudes to the most significant historical events of the period in order to search for the answer whether Franklin D. Roosevelt intentionally led the United States into World War II or not.

As were my assumptions and as I showed in the preceding pages, the supreme effort of FDR’s foreign policy was to find a solution which would keep the United States out of war.

Roosevelt’s conduct of foreign policies in the years 1933-1937 clearly depicted that FDR supported collective cooperation and intended to preserve peace. As he fostered foreign trade and diplomatic relations, he also strove to boost the U.S. economy: the Good Neighbor policy strengthened inter-American unity and collective security, the Open Door Policy opened the way for foreign countries’ investments in China and the recognition of the USSR helped to establish the U.S.-USSR business relations.

However, between 1937 and 1941, the aggressiveness of totalitarian regimes peaked: Italy invaded Ethiopia, Japan attacked China, the Spanish Civil War broke out and Nazi Germany began the conquest of Europe. Roosevelt was deeply concerned about the events which endangered global peace as well as the future vision of the world based upon the principles of democracy. He wanted to signal the aggressors that the United States was not indifferent to their plans and thus prevent their conquests, but there was a strong isolationist opposition in the United States, which rejected any risk of involvement in the conflict, which was not basicaly “American” and which tied FDR’s hands by the Neutrality Acts. Thus, FDR was made a powerless observer in the forthcoming events. He denounced the attacks of aggressors in his condemnatory speeches and appealed on the nations by worldwide calling for collective cooperation in order to end the conflicts, but his “moral embargo” did not prevent the conquests effectively.

When France fell in 1940 and Britain was unprepared for war, the U.S. aid seemed to be vital. FDR guided by his instinct began to implement a new rearmament program in order to provide aid to Britain by measures short of war. As the public isolationist sentiment turned anti-Axis, FDR asked Congress to revise the Neutrality Act of 1939 and approve the programs, which should made the Anglo-American cooperation more effective—

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