|The Showa Emperor|
In my book, FDR was one of the worst presidents in American history, partly because of the actions listed here. As for World War II being the “good war” I have no sweeping statement on the subject. Some people think no wars are ever “good” but I am not one of them. However, even World War II was not as clear-cut as some people think. The fight against Hitler meant an alliance with Joseph Stalin (who actually killed more people than Hitler did) and ended with half of Europe being consigned to slavery behind the Soviet “Iron Curtain”. Likewise, in the Far East, it meant the expansion of communism and gave rise to many brutal dictators and many bloody civil wars as well as ending with a nuclear attack that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Roosevelt could have made an argument for U.S. intervention in the war in Europe against Hitler. There were circumstances of course, but Hitler had conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia and Greece so a case could be made that he was a menace to world peace and needed to be stopped. However, Japan was a completely different story.
|President Roosevelt -his own cabinet didn't trust him|
Roosevelt, however, did first involve himself in World War II in Europe but only around the spring and summer of 1941. The summer of 41 was of course when Hitler launched his invasion of the Soviet Union. President Roosevelt had been the first U.S. President to recognize the Soviet Union as a legitimate government by the way. FDR took such measures against Germany that he told the American Ambassador to France that conflict with Germany was “certain” and only waited for Hitler to cause some incident that FDR could point to in order to gain public support for the war. However, Hitler refused to bite and there was not much the President could do to “get at” Hitler directly. However, unlike Germany, Japan was an island nation that depended on resources and raw materials imported from abroad to survive. He could wage an economic war against Japan that would back them into a corner and force them to strike the first blow, allowing FDR to be “forced” to take the U.S. into the war against Germany as well as Japan.
|What it was all about|
There really should be nothing “new” or “controversial” about any of this. Admirers of FDR even praise him for doing this. There is really no room for debate on the point any more that the embargo FDR put on Japan, and he persuaded the British government and the Dutch government-in-exile to do the same, were intended to force Japan to either surrender their national sovereignty and control over their own affairs or to launch an attack on the United States or one of the Allied powers. All of this was undertaken against a country that had made no aggressive move against any foreign power aside from China who they were already fighting and had been for some time. FDR’s soon-to-be ally Joseph Stalin had invaded more foreign countries than Japan had, having occupied Mongolia, attacked Finland, conquered Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and who had joined Hitler in the partition of Poland. None of these facts are in dispute. FDR and members of his cabinet had long advocated the use of sanctions against Japan to thwart their progress and, it must be said, their economic competition with the United States for control of the vast markets of China.
Unfortunately, very few people choose to point these facts out. Today it is largely the libertarians who are isolationist and against any intervention under any circumstances, that will even talk about these facts. Some also make the mistake of attributing it to FDR being an Anglophile. If only that were true! On the contrary, FDR made it perfectly clear that he considered the dismantling of the British Empire a top priority, second only to the defeat of the Axis. It seems to me that if FDR admired anyone that was fighting against Hitler at that time it was Joseph Stalin. FDR was always suspicious of British motives but never of Stalin, famously saying that Stalin was at least “not an imperialist”. By the time the war ended the British Empire was on the road to collapse while the Soviet Union was bigger and more powerful than ever, having been handed all of Eastern Europe and Northeast Asia. It should also be remembered that the entire foreign policy of Japan on the Asian mainland was motivated by anti-communism and their desire to protect themselves from communist expansion. I cannot say that I know for certain what the motivations of Roosevelt were in his intentionally provoking Japan into war. What is certain is that he did it. He wanted war, Japan did not. He could have made a compelling case for intervention in Europe against Germany but he could not have made such a case against Japan. Roosevelt is not an admirable figure, he was certainly not honest with the Japanese, nor was he honest with the British and he was not honest with the American people either.