The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

By Harry A. Gailey | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Isolationism and Complacency

THE AGGRESSIVE DIPLOMATIC stance taken by the United States after the defeat of France in 1940 belied its weak military position. The chief reason for this unpreparedness was the decade-long depression that had so intensely focused government and public opinion on the country's many domestic problems. Requests for increased military appropriations were postponed as the deeply troubled nation sought to repair its economic system. Supporting these fiscal attitudes was the assurance by many of the nation's leaders that, protected as they were by two wide oceans, Americans need not fear invasion.

As late as the eve of World War II, the prevalent attitude was that all would be well if the government would simply refrain from unwarranted interference in European and Asian affairs. Important blocs in both the Senate and the House of Representatives opposed most of the government's feeble attempts to upgrade the armed forces during the 1930s. Charles A. Lindbergh, later ostracized for his views, echoed the prevailing public opinion when he opposed U.S. involvement in the world's troubled areas.

The army bore the brunt of the neoisolationism in the two decades following America's rejection of the Versailles Treaty. Its authorized strength in 1940 was only 150,000 men, placing the

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