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that the war in Europe constituted "a potential menace to the wellbeing, to the security, and to the peace of the New World". He said that however much the American republics might desire to insulate themselves from the war's effects, such insulation could be only relative; that there was an overwhelming will on the part of peoples everywhere for peace based on renunciation of force, on justice, and on equality; and that the expression of that will might well be facilitated by the action of the American republics. ( )
The Panamá meeting demonstrated in a moment of grave emergency the strong understanding and solidarity among the American republics. Steps taken at the meeting included the establishment of an Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee to study and recommend measures to cushion the shock of war on the inter-American economy; a declaration setting forth uniform standards of neutral conduct; and the Declaration of Panamá, in which the waters adjacent to the American Continent were declared "of inherent right" to be free from the commission of hostile acts by non-American belligerent nations.
X EUROPEAN WAR 1940
President Roosevelt's Address to Congress January 3
In his address to Congress on January 3, 1940, President Roosevelt recalled his repeated warnings that the daily lives of citizens of the United States would, of necessity, feel the shock of events on other continents. He said that the overwhelming majority of our people continued in their hope and expectation that this country would not become involved in military participation in the war. There was a vast difference, however, between keeping out of war and "pretending that this war is none of our business". The President said that the future world would be "a shabby and dangerous place to live in" if it were ruled by force in the hands of a few. He declared that we must look ahead and see the possibilities for our children if the rest of the world should come to be dominated by concentrated force alone; if a large part of the world were forbidden to worship God and were "deprived of the truth which makes men free"; if world trade were controlled by any nation or group of nations which set up that control through military force.
President Roosevelt declared further that while other peoples had the right to choose their own form of government the people of the United States believed that such choice "should be predicated on certain freedoms which we think are essential everywhere"; that we knew that we ourselves would never be wholly safe at home unless other governments recognized these freedoms. ()
Visit of Under Secretary Welles to Europe
After the German armies had crushed military resistance in Poland in September 1939, the European war entered into a period of comparative inactivity as the opposing forces maintained positions behind their respective fixed fortifications. This inactivity continued during the winter of 1939-40.
The United States Government took advantage of this period to endeavor to ascertain whether there was any possibility whatever at that time for the establishment of a just and lasting peace in Europe. On February 9, 1940 the White House announced that Under Secretary of State Welles would proceed to Europe for the purpose of reporting to the President and the Secretary of State on conditions
there; that he would visit Italy, France, Germany, and Great Britain but would not be authorized to make any proposals or commitments in the name of the Government. Mr. Welles arrived in Europe at the end of February and during the following three weeks conferred with the heads of governments as well as with other prominent statesmen in the four countries.
On March 29, following the return of Mr. Welles to the United States, President Roosevelt said that "even though there may be scant immediate prospect for the establishment of any just, stable and lasting peace in Europe", the information obtained by Mr. Welles would be of great value to this Government in the general conduct of its foreign relations as well as in a future peace settlement. ( )
German Invasion of Denmark and Norway
The military inactivity of the winter of 1939-40 came to an abrupt end when on April 9, 1940 German troops invaded Denmark, without opposition, and Norway, where their invasion was contested. On April 13 President Roosevelt denounced this latest instance of German aggression. He emphasized this Government's disapprobation of such "unlawful exercise of force". If civilization was to survive, he said, the rights of smaller nations to independence, to their territorial integrity, and to their unimpeded opportunity for selfgovernment must be respected by their more powerful neighbors. ()
The British and French Governments immediately sent military forces to Norway to assist the Norwegians against the German invasion. Despite this, the better-prepared German armies pushed the allies back, and in a few weeks Germany was in military control of Norway.
Efforts To Keep Italy out of the War
At the beginning of the war in Europe, Italy, although a military ally of Germany, had announced that it would not take part in the war. During the following spring, however, there were indications that Italy might soon become a participant. President Roosevelt therefore decided to appeal to Mussolini to prevent the war from spreading further. On April 29, 1940 he sent a message to Mussolini stating that a further extension of the area of hostilities would necessarily have far-reaching and unforeseeable consequences not only in Europe, but also in the Near East and the Far East, in Africa, and in the three Americas. The President said that no one could predict with assurance, should such a further extension take place, what the ultimate result might be, or foretell what nations might eventually
find it imperative to enter the war in their own defense. The President said further that because of the geographic position of the United States we had a panoramic view of the existing hostilities in Europe; that he saw no reason to anticipate that any one nation, or any one combination of nations, could successfully undertake to dominate either the continent of Europe or much less a greater part of the world. The President concluded his appeal with an expression of the hope that the powerful influence of Italy and of the United States might yet be exercised, when the appropriate opportunity was presented, "in behalf of the negotiation of a just and stable peace which will permit of the reconstruction of a gravely stricken world". ( )
The United States Ambassador to Italy, William Phillips, read the President's message to Mussolini during a conversation on May 1. Mussolini replied orally to the following effect: Peace in Europe could not be considered without a recognition of the conditions which had come about as a consequence of the war; Germany could not be beaten; Poland had been defeated by Germany and the latter would permit the creation of a new independent Polish state; Germany was also willing that a new Czechoslovak state be reestablished; he hoped that the necessity of a "new geography" would be foreseen by the President; a new map of Europe must come into being. Mussolini went on to say that the political problem which then made a peaceful Europe impossible must be liquidated; that this must be done before the economic problems could be disposed of. He also referred generally to Italy's aspirations in a reconstituted Europe and said that Italy's position as a "prisoner within the Mediterranean" was intolerable. ( )
A direct reply from Mussolini to the President was delivered to the latter by the Italian Ambassador on the following day. The reply was to the effect that the non-belligerency of Italy had effectively assured peace for 200,000,000 people; that Germany and Italy were opposed to a further extension of the conflict; that no peace was possible unless the fundamental problems of Italian liberty were solved; that as for repercussions which extension of the war would have on the three Americas, Italy had never concerned herself with the relations of the other American republics among themselves or with the United States and expected "reciprocity" so far as European affairs were concerned; and that when conditions permitted, and always based upon recognition of accomplished facts, Italy was ready to contribute toward a better world order. ()
President Roosevelt sent another message to Mussolini, shortly after Belgium and the Netherlands were invaded by Germany, mentioning reports that Mussolini contemplated early entrance into the war. In
this message of May 14, 1940 the President appealed to Mussolini to "stay wholly apart from any war". He said that the forces of slaughter, forces which denied God, forces which sought to dominate mankind by fear rather than by reason seemed to be extending their conquest against 100,000,000 human beings who had no desire but peace. He reminded Mussolini that the latter had it in his hands to stay the spread of the war to another group of 200,000,000 people. The President said that if this war should extend throughout the world it would pass beyond the control of the heads of states and would encompass the "destruction of millions of lives and the best of what we call the liberty and culture of civilization". ( )
Mussolini replied on May 18 that "Italy is and intends to remain allied with Germany", and that "Italy cannot remain absent at a moment in which the fate of Europe is at stake". ( )
On May 26 President Roosevelt in a third message to Mussolini referred to the Italian desire to obtain readjustments with regard to Italy's position and said that if Mussolini were willing to inform the President of the specific desires of Italy in this regard, he would communicate them to Great Britain and France. This would be done with the understanding that if an agreement were arrived at it would involve an assurance to the President by the French and British Governments that the agreement would be faithfully executed at the end of the war and that those Governments would welcome Italian participation at any eventual peace conference with a status equal to that of the belligerents; Mussolini would in a similar fashion assure the President that the claims of Italy would be satisfied by the execution of this agreement and that the agreement so reached would avoid the possibility of Italy's entering the war.
Ambassador Phillips was not permitted to deliver this message to Mussolini in person. The Ambassador discussed it with the Italian Foreign Minister who, with the approval of Mussolini, said that Italy could not accept the President's proposal; that Mussolini was resolved to fulfil his obligations under the alliance with Germany; that Mussolini desired to keep his freedom of action and was not disposed to engage in any negotiations which "would not be in accordance with the spirit of Fascism"; and that "any attempt to prevent Italy from fulfilling her engagements is not well regarded". The Foreign Minister informed Ambassador Phillips that Italy would enter the war "soon". ( )
On May 30 President Roosevelt sent still another appeal to Mussolini. He warned the Italian dictator that if the war in Europe should be extended through the entrance of Italy, direct interests of the United States would be immediately and prejudicially affected. He reminded Mussolini of the historic and traditional interests of the United States in the Mediterranean. He said that this Gov