THE FATEFUL DECADE
THE FATEFUL decade 1931-1941, began and ended with acts of violence by Japan. It was marked by the ruthless development of a determined policy of world domination on the part of Japan, Germany, and Italy.
In 1931 Japan seized Manchuria. Two years later Germany withdrew from the Disarmament Conference and began rearming. In 1934 Japan gave notice of termination of the Washington Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armament.
In 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia. In 1936 Hitler tore up the Treaty of Locarno and fortified the demilitarized Rhineland Zone. In 1937 Japan again attacked China. In 1938 Hitler occupied Austria and dismembered Czechoslovakia. During the first half of 1939 Hitler completed the destruction of Czechoslovakia and seized Memel, while Italy invaded Albania.
In September 1939 Hitler struck at Poland, and during the two years that followed almost all of the countries of Europe were plunged or dragged into war. In 1940 Japan with threats of force entered French Indochina. Finally, on December 7, 1941, Japan launched an armed attack on the United States, followed immediately by declarations of war against the United States on the part of Japan, of Germany, of Italy, and of their satellites.
In the face of these multiplying instances of treaty-breaking, of violence, and of open warfare, the United States followed a policy the successive stages of which are summed up here.
During the years preceding the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, the Government of the United States directed much of its energies toward an improvement of international relations and thus toward prevention of a break-down of world peace. In his inaugural address of March 4, 1933 President Roosevelt dedicated the United States to the Policy of the Good Neighbor—"the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others— the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors". The Government of the United States advocated and applied the Good Neighbor Policy in the Western Hemisphere and everywhere in the world.
After the strain and confusion of the depression years, that policy bore its first fruit at the Seventh International Conference of American States, held in December 1933 at Montevideo, which ushered in a new era of inter-American friendship and solidarity, and through