America's Isolationist Polices in the 1920s and 1930s

Essay by scotch95High School, 11th grade March 2004

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After being dragged into the nightmare of World War I America adopted several isolationist policies in order to remove itself from any possible foreign conflict. Recovering from monetary loss in World War I, then to face the Depression in 1930's and fear of involvement in World War II is reason why this isolationist attitude flourished. Mending America, keeping it out of war, was the goal at this time. Largely, what fueled the adoption of isolationist polices of the 1920s and 1930s, was fear of United States involvement in another war or world conflict.

America was involved in international polices in the 1920s and 1930s, but the fact America did not enforce these polices further complements the isolationist attitude of the era. The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, signed by fifteen nations (including the US), stated that war should be rejected when settling international conflicts. Similarly, the purpose the Washington Naval Conference treaties of 1922 were also to limit the arms race and, perhaps, prevent future wars.

Japan had signed the pact and the treaties of the naval conference, but violated every one when it threatened China's "territorial integrity" in 1931 (Leuchtenburg 213). Thereafter, the League asked President Hoover for assistance in the matter, but he refused to get involved in any of action, replying that America was not the world-police. Additionally, he stated the treaties were "solely moral instruments" (Garraty 725). In 1935, Japan with drew from the London Naval Conference refusing "naval parity." President Roosevelt, realizing war with Japan was a real possibility, engaged in the construction of naval ships, but never threatened Japan with them. He wanted to be prepared, be able to defend America (Freidel 181). The involvement in these foreign polices is indication of American internationalism, however lack of enforcement in order to avoid international conflict, is...