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ernment had never asserted any political interests in Europe, but had asserted its clearly defined economic interests; that through the extension of the war to the Mediterranean region the legitimate interests of the people of the United States would be gravely curtailed; and that such a possibility "cannot be viewed with equanimity". The President declared that the further extension of the war as the result of Italian participation would at once result in an increase in the rearmament program of the United States and in a redoubling of the efforts of the Government of the United States to facilitate in every practical way the securing within the United States by the allied powers of all the supplies which they might require. In conclusion, he spoke of his desire to promote profitable commercial relations between the United States and Italy, as well as a friendly understanding of their respective policies and interests. ( )
Mussolini replied to the President on June 1 through his Foreign Minister. Mussolini confirmed the Foreign Minister's statement that the decision to enter the war had already been taken. He said it was "of no concern to him" that the entry of Italy into the war would mean the redoubling of American efforts to help the allies. Finally, he said he preferred not to receive any "further pressure" from the President; this would only "stiffen his attitude". ( )
German Invasion of the Low Countries
Meanwhile on May 10, 1940, despite repeated statements by Hitler that he would not violate the neutrality of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, those three countries were treacherously attacked. On the same day President Roosevelt said, in an address at Washington to the Pan American Scientific Congress, that "we are shocked and angered" by this tragic news. He declared that we had come to the reluctant conclusion that a continuance of these processes of armed force presented a definite challenge to the type of civilization to which all in the three Americas had been accustomed. He said it was a mistaken idea that the American republics were wholly safe-physically, economically, and socially-from the impact of the attacks on civilization in other parts of the world. ()
The British and French immediately sent troops to the assistance of Belgium and the Netherlands. Nevertheless, with overwhelming superiority in aviation and tanks, the Germans quickly overpowered the Belgian and Netherlands armies. The British and French troops who had gone to their assistance had no alternatives but retreat or surrender, and in the last week of May began the heroic withdrawal from Dunkirk which left Hitler in complete mastery of the Low Countries.
The German armies then turned to drive against Paris. With superiority in weapons the Nazis relentlessly pushed their attacks until on June 10 they were almost at the gates of Paris. On that day Italy declared war against France and Great Britain.
United States Aid to Opponents of Force
President Roosevelt in an address of June 10, 1940 at Charlottesville, Virginia, declared that we as a nation-and likewise all the other American nations-were convinced that "military and naval victory for the gods of force and hate would endanger the institutions of democracy in the western world" and that all of our sympathies were with those nations that were giving their lifeblood in combat against these forces. He stated that two obvious and simultaneous courses would be followed: "We will extend to the opponents of force the material resources of this nation and, at the same time, we will harness and speed up the use of those resources in order that we ourselves in the Americas may have equipment and training equal to the task of any emergency and every defense."
The President stated in this address that Italy had now chosen to fulfil its promises to Germany; that in so doing it had manifested disregard for the rights and security of other nations and had evidenced its unwillingness to find peaceful means for satisfaction of what it believed to be its legitimate aspirations; that "the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor". ( )
In line with the policy of extending aid to the opponents of force, the Government of the United States took immediate steps to send to the British and French large quantities of aircraft, rifles, field artillery, machine-guns, and ammunition.
French Appeal to the United States
On June 10, 1940 the French Premier, Paul Reynaud, made a direct appeal to the President for increased aid, at the same time expressing gratitude for the decision of the United States to send assistance in aviation and arms. The Premier said that the French would fight in front of Paris; would fight behind Paris; would close themselves in one of their provinces to fight and if driven out of it would establish themselves in North Africa to continue the fight, and if necessary, in French possessions in America. He urgently requested the President to declare publicly that the United States would give the allies aid and material support by all means "short of an expeditionary force". ( )
President Roosevelt replied on June 13 that the Government of the United States was doing everything in its power to make available
to the allied governments the material they urgently required and that our efforts to do still more were being redoubled; we were doing this because of our faith in and our support of the ideals for which the allies were fighting. The President said he was particularly impressed by the Premier's declaration that France would continue to fight on behalf of democracy, although it meant slow withdrawal, even to North Africa and across the Atlantic. He said it was important to remember that the French and British Fleets continued to have mastery of the Atlantic and other oceans and that vital materials from the outside world were necessary to maintain all armies. ( )
The French Premier sent another message to the President on June 14, 1940, the day on which German troops entered Paris. The Premier said that "at the most tragic hour" of its history France must choose whether to continue resistance or ask for an armistice. He warned that the defeat of Great Britain appeared possible if not probable. The Premier said that the only chance of saving France, and through her to save Great Britain, was to throw into the balance "this very day the weight of American power". Finally, the Premier said that if the President could not give to France in the hours to come the certainty that the United States would enter the war within a very short time, "the fate of the world will change". "Then," he said, "you will see France go under like a drowning man and disappear after having cast a last look towards the land of liberty from which she awaited salvation." ( )
President Roosevelt replied on the following day. He repeated emphatically that the Government of the United States had made it possible for the allied armies to obtain, during the weeks that had just passed, airplanes, artillery, and munitions of many kinds, and that so long as the allied governments continued to resist, this Government would redouble its efforts in that direction. He believed it was possible to say that every passing week would see additional war supplies on the way to the allied nations. The President said that in accordance with our policy not to recognize the results of conquests of territory acquired through military aggression, the United States would not consider as valid any attempts to infringe by force the independence and territorial integrity of France.
President Roosevelt assured the Premier that so long as the French people continued a defense of their liberty, so long would they rest assured that war supplies would be sent to them from the United States in ever-increasing quantities and kinds. He said, however, that these statements did not carry any implication of military commitments, that only Congress could make such commitments. ()
Fall of France
On June 17 the French Cabinet, headed by the new Premier, Marshal Pétain, asked for the terms of an armistice with Germany.
On that day President Roosevelt sent a message to the French Government regarding the disposition of the French Fleet. He said that should the French Government, before concluding an armistice with the Germans, fail to see that the Fleet was kept out of the hands of France's opponents, the French Government would be pursuing a policy which would fatally impair the preservation of the French Empire and the eventual restoration of French independence. Furthermore, the President said, should the French Government fail to take steps to prevent the French Fleet from being surrendered to Germany, "the French Government will permanently lose the friendship and good-will of the Government of the United States". ()
On the following day, June 18, the United States Government received from the French Government a categorical assurance that the French Fleet would "never be surrendered to the enemy". ( )
Immediately following the French request for the terms of an armistice with Germany, the Governments of Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, and the Netherlands were informed by this Government that in accordance with the traditional policy of the United States relating to the Western Hemisphere the United States would not recognize any transfer, and would not acquiesce in any attempt to transfer, any geographic region of the Western Hemisphere from one non-American power to another non-American power. ( )
In connection with this subject, Secretary Hull stated on July 5, 1940 that the "Monroe Doctrine is solely a policy of self-defense, which is intended to preserve the independence and integrity of the Americas". The Secretary said that its purpose was to prevent aggression in this hemisphere by any non-American power, and likewise to make impossible any further extension to this hemisphere of any non-American system of government imposed from without; that it contained within it "not the slightest vestige of any implication, much less assumption, of hegemony on the part of the United States". The Secretary said further that the Monroe Doctrine did not resemble policies which appeared to be arising in other parts of the world, which policies were alleged to be similar to the Monroe Doctrine, but which in reality seemed to be only "the pretext for the carrying out of conquest by the sword, of military occupation, and of complete economic and political domination by certain powers of other free and independent peoples". ( )
XI DEFENSE MEASURES OF THE UNITED STATES
President Roosevelt's Request for 50,000 Planes
In January 1940, when the European war was still in a period of lull, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a national defense appropriation of $1,800,000,000. By the middle of the following May, the rapid development of military events in Europe impelled him to request further appropriations for national defense. In an address to Congress on May 16, 1940, he said that the brutal force of modern offensive war had been loosed in all its horror; that new and swift and deadly powers of destruction had been developed which were wielded by men who were ruthless and daring; that no old defense was so strong that it required no further strengthening and no attack was so unlikely or impossible that it might be ignored. The President said that we had had before us over and over again the lesson that nations not ready and unable to get ready found themselves overrun by the enemy; that so-called impregnable fortifications no longer existed; that an effective defense required the equipment to attack an aggressor on his route "before he can establish strong bases within the territory of American vital interests". The President said to Congress that he should like to see the United States "geared up to the ability to turn out at least 50,000 planes a year"; furthermore, he believed "that this Nation should plan at this time a program that would provide us with 50,000 military and naval planes". He made a request for $1,000,000,000 to procure the essential equipment for a larger and thoroughly rounded-out Army, to replace or modernize Army or Navy equipment, to increase production facilities for everything needed for the Army or Navy, and to speed up to a 24-hour basis all Army and Navy contracts. In making this request the President reminded Congress that our ideal and our objective still was peace. Nevertheless, we stood ready "not only to spend millions for defense but to give our service and even our lives for the maintenance of our American liberties". ()
In a message to Congress on May 31 President Roosevelt made an additional request for appropriations of over a billion dollars for national defense and asked for authority to call the National Guard and the necessary Reserve personnel into active military service. He declared that "the almost incredible events of the past two weeks in