US Foreign Policy 1919-1939

US Foreign Policy:
From WWI to WWII
Key Question:
To what extent was the US
“isolationist” between the
two world wars?
World War I: 1914-1918
- US policy of non-intervention in the first 3
years of the Great War
- BUT, financial and material aid to European
nations, especially US’ European allies
- Merchant ships sunk + Zimmerman
Telegram 
Official US entry, April 6, 1917
End of WWI and TofV
- US President Wilson
played a central role
in developing the
principles of postwar peace in the
Treaty of Versailles:
- moral concerns
- economic concerns
- political concerns
Wilson’s “Moral Diplomacy”
The U. S. should
be the conscience
of the world.
Spread democracy.
Promote peace.
Condemn colonialism.
US foreign policies that:
Pursue the spread of democracy
Spread capitalism
Promote internationalism
US economic priorities
• Maintain “Open
Door” policy
• In the 14 points:
- Absolute freedom of
navigation upon the seas (II)
- The removal, so far as
possible, of all economic
barriers and the
establishment of equality of
trade conditions among all
the nations consenting to the
peace and associating
themselves for its
maintenance (III)
Political plan for peace
League of Nations:
- internationalism
- collective security
- “to promote
cooperation and to
achieve international
peace and security.”
US Senate rejection of
Treaty of Versailles, 1919
Art. 10 “Members of the
League undertake to
respect and preserve as
against external
aggression the
territorial integrity and
existing political
independence of all
Members…. In the case
of any such aggression…
the Council shall advise
upon the means by which
this obligation shall be
- League of Nations
too interventionist
- Problematic Article
- Party politics
Military intervention in Russian
Civil War, 1918-1920
- Polar Bear Expedition
- 5,000 US troops
- Am. Expeditionary
Force Siberia
- 8,000 US troops
Washington Disarmament Conference,
Long-standing Anglo-Japanese alliance (1902) obligated Britain
to aid Japan in the event of a Japanese war with the United
Goals  naval disarmament and the political situation in the
Far East.
Washington Naval Treaty, 1922
-US initiative for disarmament
- Result was 5:5:3 ratio for
US: Great Britain: Japan
- Five-Power Treaty
Five-Power Treaty, 1922
- A battleship ratio was achieved through this ratio:
- Japan got a guarantee that the US and Britain would
stop fortifying their Far East territories [including
the Philippines].
- Loophole  no restrictions on small warships
Hyper-Inflation in Germany, 1923
Dawes Plan, 1924
- US banker Charles Dawes drew up a plan:
1. froze German reparations payments for
2 years
2. reduced level of repayments
3. provided loans to German industry
Dawes Plan, 1924
Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928
- 15 nations agreed to renounce the use of force for
national objectives.
- Eventually, over 62 nations signed.
- Problem = no means of actual enforcement and gave
Americans a false sense of security.
Clark Memorandum, 1928
- Clark pledged that the US
would not intervene in
Latin American affairs in
order to protect US
property rights.
Secretary of State
J. Reuben Clark
- This was a complete
rebuke of the Roosevelt
Corollary to the Monroe
Young Plan, 1929
- By 1929 Germany not keeping up with
Dawes Plan  2nd US initiative
- Terms:
1. more US loans to Germany
2. reduced payments over 50 years
- Negative response from Germany
Young Plan, 1929
- For three generations, you’ll have to slave away!
- $26,350,000,000 to be paid over a period of 58½
- By 1931, Hoover declared a debt moratorium.
European Debts to the US
US-French relations
Tense post-WWI due
- US pressure to
repay war debts
- 5 years between
end of war and Dawes
Plan (1924)
- rejection of
France’s proposals for
military and economic
Wall Street Crash, Oct. 1929
Late October 1929
Record 28.8 million
shares changed
hands at low prices
Domestic economic
Worldwide economic
crisis followed
The Great Depression
By 1932 25% of US workforce unemployed
US increasingly preoccupied by domestic
Hoovervilles to The New Deal
By 1932 25% of US workforce unemployed
US increasingly preoccupied by domestic
Hoovervilles to The New Deal
Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act
International situation worsening
1930s Internationally
Japan invaded China
- Manchuria, 1931
- mainland China, 1937
Fascism on the rise in Europe
- Nazi Germany’s expansion, 1936
- Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, 1936
Italy and Germany openly interested in
influence in South America
US responses
Monroe Doctrine remained US policy
Stimson Doctrine, 1932
- Open-Door Policy
Good Neighbor Policy, 1933
FDR’s “Good Neighbor Policy”
1933 policy toward
Latin America
Non-intervention &
non-interference in
domestic affairs
Maintain & increase
econ. opportunities
Cultural evidence of:
Disney goes Latin!
Shoring up support
for WWII
Premiered in Rio de
Janeiro August 1942
During WWII
US responses, cont’d
Neutrality Acts
Ludlow Amendment
FDR’s national addresses
- The Fireside Chat
US responses, cont’d
Neutrality Acts
Ludlow Amendment
FDR’s national addresses
- The Fireside Chat
Pan-American Conference, 1938

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