Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Chapter 20: Roosevelt the Interventionist

Chapter 20: Roosevelt the Interventionist

The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy:

How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest


McDougall Book Jacket

The original draft of this book contained 172 pages of endnotes, which had to be shed in the name of economy. Thanks to the Internet, readers can access them here. Unfortunately, of course, the author had to substitute page and paragraph numbers for the original superscripts in the text, but in most cases it should be clear which sentences in a given paragraph match up with which sources.

Paragraphs appearing in their entirety on a single page are identified by the page number (e.g., p. 122). Paragraphs divided between two pages are identified by those pages (e.g., pp. 92-93). Paragraphs that share a page with another complete paragraph are identified by the page number and paragraph number (e.g., p. 103, ¶ 1).





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Chapter 20: Roosevelt the Interventionist:

201: Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address:

201-2: David Kaiser, No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War (New York: Basic Books, 2014), pp. 36-56; David Reynolds, From Munich to Pearl Harbor: Roosevelt’s America and the Origins of the Second World War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001), pp. 41-68; Robert A. Divine, The Illusion of Neutrality (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1962), p. 309; Justus D. Doenecke, Storm on the Horizon: The Challenge to American Intervention, 1939-1941 (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), pp. 9-15. “The Neutrality Acts had lasted only as long as there had been nothing to be neutral about” quipped Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 385.

202: Thomas R. Maddux, “Red Fascism, Brown Bolshevism: The American Image of Totalitarianism in the 1930s,” Historian 40, no. 1 (1977): 85-103; Doenecke, Storm on the Horizon, pp. 19-20; Vital Speeches of the Day, vol. 6: 294-97, quoted in David S. Foglesong, The American Mission and the ‘Evil Empire’: The crusade for a “Free Russia” since 1881 (New York: Cambridge University, 2007), p 81.

202-3: Douglas M. Charles, “Informing FDR: FBI Political Surveillance and the Isolationist-Interventionist Foreign Policy Debate, 1939-1945,” Diplomatic History 24, no. 2 (Spring 2000): 211-32. Wayne S. Cole, Roosevelt and the Isolationists, 1932-45 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1983), understates the case with regard to this regrettable precedent: “Marquis of Queensbury rules did not always prevail” (457). The CDAAA was one of four internationalist movements that arose during the years 1937-41, including the American Committee for Non-Participation in Japanese Aggression, the Committee for Concerted Peace Efforts, and Fight for Freedom. See Andrew Johnstone, Against Immediate Evil: American Internationalists and the Four Freedoms on the Eve of World War II (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University, 2014), pp. 1-35.

203: Justus D. Doenecke, In Danger Undaunted: The Anti-Interventionist Movement of 1940-1941 (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution, 1990); Wayne S. Cole, America First: The Battle Against Intervention, 1940-1941 (New York: Octagon, 1971); Bill Kauffman, America First!: Its History, Culture, and Politics (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1995); Lynne Olson, Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight over World War II, 1939-1941 (New York: Random House, 2013).

203-4: David Reynolds, From Munich to Pearl Harbor: Roosevelt’s America and the Origins of the Second World War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001), 69-101. On the election see Susan Dunn, 1940: FDR, Willkie, Hitler – The Election amid the Storm (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, 2013). Speech in Boston:

On October 26, 1940, FDR made a radio address claiming that “no person” in government on any level has ever suggested sending the boys of American mothers to fight on the battlefields of Europe.  “That is why I label that argument a shameless and dishonest fake” (Kaiser, No End Save Victory, p. 54).)

204: Gary B. Bullert, “Reinhold Niebuhr and the Christian Century: World War II and the Eclipse of the Social Gospel,” Journal of Church and State 44 (2002): 271-290; Elesha J. Coffman, The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline (New York: Oxford University, 2013). Niebuhr made his first big splash with Moral Man and Immoral Society (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1932). Andrew Preston, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (New York: Knopf, 2012), pp. 303-14.

204-5: Roosevelt State of the Union Address:

Johnstone, Against Immediate Evil, pp. 173-81, credits the democratic internationalist movements for incubating Roosevelt’s ideas to the effect that freedoms are indivisible.

205-6: Henry Luce, “The American Century,” LIFE (Feb. 17, 1941), who borrowed the phrase first coined by H. G. Wells. For the context see Alan Brinkley, The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century (New York: Knopf, 2010), pp. 240-81.

206: Coffman, The Christian Century, pp. 139-144 (quote, p, 140). For Niebuhr’s conflicted views before and during the war see Heather A. Warren, Theologians of a New World Order: Reinhold Niebuhr and the Christian Realists, 1920-1948 (New York: Oxford University, 1997). Vandenberg’s full quote read: “We have tossed Washington’s Farewell Address into the discard.  We have thrown ourselves squarely into the power politics and the power wars of Europe, Asia and Africa.  We have taken the first step upon a course from which we can never hereafter retreat.”  Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 389: “Vandenberg’s analysis was correct, but it was the world that had imposed the necessity; and it was Roosevelt’s merit to have recognized it.”  See also Reynolds, From Munich to Pearl Harbor, 102-32.  Churchill called Lend-Lease “the most unsordid act” any nation had performed, but that, too, was pretense.  The State Department gave the British a grim hint of what would become the wartime U.S. agenda when it tried to pry open their imperial markets in return for Lend-Lease.  See Warren F. Kimball, The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1991), pp 49-57.

206-7: Arthur Herman, Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II (New York: Random House, 2012), quote p. 120; Maury Klein, A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War II (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013).

207: Roosevelt Radio Address:

Hadley Cantril, ed., Public Opinion, 1935-1946 (Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1978), pp. 973-77.

207-8: Doenecke, Storm on the Horizon, p. 224; Manfred Jonas, Isolationism in America 1935-1941 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University, 1966), pp. 232-34.

208: Preston, Sword of the Spirit, pp. 350-63. Congressman Hamilton Fish mockingly suggested the president invite Stalin to the White House “so that he might be baptized in the swimming pool” (p. 360).

208-9: Kaiser, No End Save Victory, pp. 273-74.

209, ¶ 1: Thomas Boghardt, The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy, and America’s Entry into World War I (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2012), p. 243; Thomas E. Mahl, Dangerous Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-1944 (Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 1998), p. 55. Roosevelt’s Navy Day Speech:

209, ¶ 2: Cantril, ed., Public Opinion, pp. 973-77.

210: Kaiser, No End Save Victory, pp. 256-306 (quote, p. 304); Marc Trachtenberg, The Cold War and After: History, Theory, and the Logic of International Politics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 2012), pp. 270-77; Reynolds, From Munich to Pearl Harbor, pp. 133-70. Waldo Heinrichs, Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the American Entry into World War II (New York: Oxford University, 1988) was the first to interpret Roosevelt’s Pacific diplomacy as designed to relieve the Soviet Union in Europe.

210-11: Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers’ War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the War within World War II (New York: Basic Books, 2001), pp. 1-48 (quotes, pp. 29, 35).


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