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Each country strives to obtain peace, and America is an excellent model throughout history. There is a constant need for one of the most dominant nations worldwide to be in the lead if there is any chance of such ideas' achievement. America carried it upon itself to be at the focus stage in sustaining peace by organizing conventions, signing arrangements, and establishing into the law concepts like the Neutrality Act. Follow the United States of America as it transfers from separation and neutrality policy in the 1930s to the full engagement in the Second World War. In the agreement of Versailles following a peace conference, the sole blame for World War one was placed on Germany, which they obliged by accepting to lose its territory and be left out of the league of Nations (Blower, 356). The United States of America was at the fore front in initiating the Versailles peace treaty. President Wilson, who championed for the formation of the League of Nations following the international peace conference would later enable the signers of Treaty of Versailles to join this was made possible in 1919 (Mead, 346). The League of Nations formation would be the first step in pioneering of the formation of the United Nations in 1945. In 1921, in Washington, D.C with the aim of stabilizing the size of the United States’ Navy in relation to being at par with the other powers, Charles Evans Hughes the then Secretary of state initiated the disarmament of the Navy. This was aimed at resolving the Pacific conflicts that kept on erupting. This saw Japan, China, France, Great Britain as well as Netherlands sending in their representatives in the conference. This initiation resulted in the setting up of the disarmament conference, leading to the signing of three agreements aimed at relieving tensions in the Pacific namely, five, four and nine power treaty (Blower, 371).
The five power treaty would see the countries with the biggest navies in the Pacific have limits in their ration with regard to their ships of battle with the United States and Britain having the biggest ratios the two fore mentioned nations also agreed not to fortify possessions. Japan, France and Italy had the least ratios. In the treaty it was agreed that this would relieve tension. The four power treaty stated that Japan, Britain, France and America would not enter each other’s territory (Blower, 374). At the nine power treaty, all countries attending the disarmament conference in Washington agreed to guarantee the territory integrity of China, thereby respecting the open door policy. In 1928 the Kellogg-Briand pact was signed by almost all nations with the aim of renouncing the use of aggressive force aiming at achieving national ends (Mead, 387). The Neutrality Act of 1935 of United States prohibited any American citizen from doing any business involving arms with belligerents in any international war. The Neutrality Act was a clear indication of the Americans reservations in their participation in World War one and thus did not want to be part of another war, this was a clear indication of the United States’ following an isolationist policy of not leaning on any side of the war.
The Neutrality Act from 1936 was being amended to seal off any loopholes that would have promoted any relation of America with the belligerents. In the Panay Incident, Japanese aviators bombed and sank a United States’ gunboat on Yangtze River in China, Japan apologized and America forgave them. This was a clear indication of how much the United States was for the ideas of neutrality and isolationism.
In 1939 the Neutrality Act was amended to include “cash and carry” thus lifting the arms embargo thus allowing for Americans to sell arms to belligerents with the restrictions of, “if they only used their weapons and only carried cash”. The hemispheric defense led to the United States assisting Britain by escorting their ship through the western Atlantic and radioing any information to Britain. Nazis did not take it well and thus launched a campaign against the United States in 1941 leading to “shoot on sight” resulting in undeclared naval war. When the Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 the United States did not take it lightly when the news about an American ship being attacked reached land there was an outrage. Following the “shoot on sight and undeclared war” the United States no longer saw fit the ideas of neutrality and isolationist as they were attacked. The America’s neutrality was virtually over.
This is a clear indication that the United States of America was determined to keep at bay from any wars that broke out. From the years before 1930 we could see President Woodrow trying to ensure the American ideology spreads to the rest of the world. From trying to be the best mediator and prevent the outbreak of World War two, the United States stood in the way and along the way it got hit several times. This resulted in the United States opting out of their isolationism and neutrality policy leading to their being part of the World War two.
Blower, Brooke L. From isolationism to neutrality: A new framework for understanding American political culture, 1919-1941. Diplomatic history 38.2 (2013): 345-376
Mead, Walter Russell. Special providence: American foreign policy and how it changed the world. Routledge, 2013 345-398
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