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What do you consider "the beginning of the war?"

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by DAngelo.Barksdale, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. lost knight

    lost knight Member

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    Why is this a myth?
    Roosevelt was no isolationist and by late 1940 neither was the nation. But it involved a hard transformation.

    East Asia- From the late 1800's the US followed the 'Open Door" policy in China. Though this was an economic policy, for an assortment of reasons America generally 'felt' a general sympathy for China (The Good Earth, missionaries, exotic adventure, etc.). So how did the US react to the first Japanese aggression there? The US response was verbal, it would never recogonize Manchukuo. Every response from then on was verbal (ineffective, but annoying). In 1937 several nations took action against Japan with a boycott and proposed an embargo. The US refused to take part. In 1938 the US government on iron, planes, and munitions. But it was a "moral" action. It was expanded to gasoline in 1939, still a "moral" embargo without any force of law or penalty. In effect this was nothing. And China was viewed pateralistically.

    Roosevelt's first term started the "Good Neighbor Policy", Where he stated the US would not interfer in the affairs of Latin American nations. During this term the only foreign involvement were in some disarmament talks. But in 1935 Ethopia was attacked, and the US responded with ... a Neutrality Act from Congress telling the President to not offend either side. In 1936 Spain fell apart and again...another Neutrality Act. The US would not allow any US sales of arms to any belligerent. In 1937 a third act was passed that was more encompassing. No American was allowed to sail on any ship of a belligerent, nor could they sell non-military goods (cash & carry was alright) to any nation at war. Roosevelt tried to resist this but the nation was stubborn. In October, 1937 he made a speech calling for a "quarantine" of those that spread a cancer in the family of man. Reaction from political enemies; he's a warmonger, he's distracting the nation from his failures. General public reaction; no interest. The reaction to the events of 1939? The America First movement began. FDR was a very popular president, but Father Coughlin had a huge following, Lindbergh was a hero, Hoover and Nye were only 2 of his popular critics. FDR never tried to infringe on those Neutrality Acts. In the 1940 election FDR stayed away from foreign policy like it had the plague. I believe his speech was that American boys "would not be sent to any foreign war." The America First Committee kept the Neutrality Acts in place (FDR tried to get Congress to drop them) until the 1940 blitz made the danger clear to everyone but the most stubborn. FDR realized the danger early on but it took alot to alter the mood of the nation.

    Seems pretty much isolationist to me. Don't forget that FDR drew considerable political support from very rural and conservative regions of the nation. The 'solid democratic south' for instance, and being a shrewd politician he knew he had to deal with them. Also after the 1940 election he went out of his way to appoint some Republicans to key spots (Stimson & Knox) to build support.

    Aside... I don't know if this is true but I heard that the United Nations HQ was put in New York, rather than Switzerland, to keep it in the eye of the US public and prevent a return to the isolationist ideas of the pre-war years. I wonder if anyone has regrets about this today?(if true).
     
  2. Belshon

    Belshon Member

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    I consider the beginning of the war to be the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. But the beginning of the World War to be the first conflict between Great Britain and Japan.
     
  3. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Ok, I found this last night but it's just confused me more-
    "This isn't the first time America has used currency as a secret weapon to destabilise China. In the early 1930s, China was still on the silver standard and the United States was not. Accordingly, the Chinese yuan-US dollar exchange rate was determined by the US dollar price of silver.
    During his first term, President Franklin D Roosevelt delivered on his Chinese currency stabilisation “plan.” It was wrapped in the guise of doing something to help US silver producers and, of course, the Chinese.
    Using the authority granted by the Thomas Amendment of 1933 and the Silver Purchase Act of 1934, the Roosevelt Administration bought silver. This, in addition to bullish rumours about US silver policies, helped push the price of silver up by 128 per cent (calculated as an annual average) in the 1932-35 period.
    Bizarre arguments contributed mightily to the agitation for high silver prices. One centred on the fact that China was on the silver standard. Silver interests asserted that higher silver prices – which would bring with them an appreciation of the yuan against the US dollar – would benefit the Chinese by increasing their purchasing power.
    As a special committee of the US Senate reported in 1932: “Silver is the measure of their wealth and purchasing power; it serves as a reserve, their bank account. This is wealth that enables such peoples to purchase our exports.”
    Things didn't work as Washington advertised. It worked as “planned,” however. As the dollar price of silver shot up, the yuan appreciated against the dollar. In consequence, China was thrown into the jaws of the Great Depression. In the 1932-34 period, China's gross domestic product fell by 26 per cent and wholesale prices in the capital city, Nanjing, fell by 20 per cent.
    In an attempt to secure relief from the economic hardships imposed by US silver policies, China sought modifications in the US Treasury's silverpurchase programme. But its pleas fell on deaf ears. After many evasive replies, the Roosevelt Administration finally indicated on October 12, 1934 that it was merely carrying out a policy mandated by the US Congress.
    Realising that all hope was lost, China was forced to effectively abandon the silver standard on October 14, 1934, though an official statement was postponed until November 3, 1935. This spelt the beginning of the end for Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government. America's “plan” worked like a charm – Chinese monetary chaos ensued. This gave the communists an opening that they exploited – one that contributed mightily to their overthrow of the Nationalists."
    America's 'plan' to destabilise China - Columns - JamaicaObserver.com

    America was working to destabilize the Chinese economy, and in doing so laid the way for a Japanese invasion? Or am I reading too much into it?!
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    What sane person wants to get into a war? The September 1941 poll results show that we had a realistic picture of how events were going, with over 80% saying we should arm our merchantmen even if it meant war with Germany.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Not at all what I've read. The US was a strong supporter of China, the Open Door Policy, the Nine Power Treaty, etc.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Read the Gallup Polls. Look at the Congressional Record. Read the newspapers and magazines of the day. Don't take the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th hand opinions you get in today's histories, go back to the day and read what the people were actually saying. That's what I did.
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Those who wish a good summary of the isolationist/non-interventionist groups and their activities prior to Pearl Harbor may want to find a copy of Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, 1931-1941. The essay by Warren I. Cohen, "The Role of Private Groups in the United States" (pp. 421-458) is especially informative as it highlights the sorry state of these groups and their disarray in regard to a coherent and effective policy. The most impact they seem to have had was in demanding the embargo of war materials to Japan, something Cordell Hull had warned FDR would be a very bad idea. It wasn't until the US began to seriously expand its military that the embargo idea got the support of the administration.

    ETA: There are several essays in this book and I recommend it highly for those wishing a capsule survey of the various groups involved. IJA, IJN, USN, Congress, State, Diet, et al.
     
  8. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Fair enough. I hadn't heard of that policy before.
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    On the Japanese side was the attitude that everyone else should deal with China through Japan, regardless of prior agreement with China, and without China's permission for Japan to act as intermediary. In short, Japan wanted the rest of the world to concede China to them, as a vassal state.
     
  10. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Ok. Still don't see that as the start of WW2 though.:)
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I call 1937 the start of WWII because that's when the first two major combatants started fighting. About two years later three more came into the fight, and the two more two years after that.
     
  12. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Why not 1931 when Japan invaded Manchuria? Aggression continued for years before 1937.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    You can chose that date if you wish, but the fighting died down quite a bit.

    Oh, and I was wrong. Four of the major combatants entered the fighting in 1939. I forgot Russia.
     
  14. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    It still doesn't convince me though. I'll stick to September 1939.
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Good for you then.
     
  16. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    That's exactly my view too! Which date you consider more appropriate: 9/3 or 9/1?
     
  17. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    I would say September 3rd.
     
  18. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Exactly! At 1100 BST.
     
  19. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Funny, the beginning was exactly at this date in my history books! LOL
     
  20. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    This indicates just that your history books were rather accurate! ROFLMAO
     

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