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A Comparison of World War 2

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The United States was in a state of horrid depression when war erupted in Europe in 1939. The Germans had invaded Poland and two days later, France and England declared war on Germany. The United States attempted to remain neutral and focus on fixing its domestic problems. Roosevelt issued a proclamation of neutrality. Despite this, America was selling arm to Europe under a Neutrality Act that stated warring countries were allowed to purchase war materials, provided that they paid cash and carried the goods away in their own ships. American citizens were completely against joining the war and wanted to maintain a isolationist policy. During the election of 1940, Roosevelt promised that America would not join the war, saying "Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." This won him his third term in office, during which he started the lend-lease program. Britain could no longer afford to buy war materials, so under the Lend-Lease program, the president could sell, lend, lease or exchange war supplies to any country whose defense was necessary for United States national security. Soon after, the United States Navy began to send the location of German submarines to British destroyers. Then came the attack on Pearl Harbor. On Sunday December 7th 1941, Japanese planes bombed the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, killing over 2,000 Americans and virtually destroying the fleet. The very next day, Roosevelt went before Congress and stated "Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date that will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." Congress almost unanimously declared war on Japan and thus the United States was entered into World War II. The war completely transformed America. American's now expected the United States to be the policemen of the world, saving those in need instead of remaining isolated and neutral. World War II had differed from World War I in that it was fought not only country against country, but ideology versus ideology. America had also changed greatly during the war, from the changing role of women to the morals and social consciousness felt by Americans.

After World War II, America had become a superpower in the world, mostly because every other country had been bankrupted by fighting in the war. This meant that America was now at the forefront of worldly affairs and had the job of keeping the world safe. After World War II, Communism had rapidly spread throughout Europe, frightening the democracies of the world. Since the U.S. was so powerful after World War II, the citizens felt that it was the job of the government to combat communism. Out of this came policies such as the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine, which stated the United States would help out countries threatened by communism. The Vietnam War was started because the United States feared if Vietnam became communist then so would all Southeast Asian countries, this belief being called the Domino Effect. American citizens now expected the United States to be involved in any conflict that could potentially effect the U.S.. This was an extreme that was the complete opposite of what America's foreign policy had previously been. This change was also due, in part, to Roosevelt's speech on the Four Freedoms. The Four Freedoms were the essential human freedoms that every person deserved to have and which the U.S. was fighting for. They were freedom of speech and expression, for all to worship God in his own way, that every nation has a healthy peacetime life for its citizens and finally freedom from fear, meaning that no country would have the power to commit an action of physical aggression against it's neighbor. American citizens now felt it was the duty of their government to make sure that these freedoms were given to everyone in the nation and around the world. The U.S. became a superpower after World War II and thus became very involved in foreign affairs.

World War II was different from other wars in that it was truly a total war. It involved 70 different countries and was fought on the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia as well as the seas surrounding Australia. Entire societies participated in the war, whether it was as soldiers, a part of the work force, prisoners of war or victims. World War II was different from World War I in that it was a battle of ideologies as well as a battle between countries. Fascism and communism were spreading around Europe and Asian rapidly. Many countries were falling under the leadership of dictators. The three major Axis powers were Germany, Italy and Japan. Germany and Italy were fascists and Japan was dangerously close to becoming a communist nation. One of the reason that the U.S. was fighting in the war was to protect the democratic institutions they had instilled in people across the globe. Europe was in danger from the fascists and it was necessary to make sure no other countries fell to the dictators and their regimes. World War II also differed in its technologies from those of World War I. World War I technologies



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