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Back Door to War: The Roosevelt Foreign Policy, 1933-1941

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Extremely detailed background to the events following World War I ultimately culminated in a second world war.
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Charles Callan Tansill, one of the foremost American diplomatic historians of the twentieth century, argues that FDR wished to involve the United States in the European War that began in September 1939. When he proved unable to do so directly, he determined to provoke Japan into an attack on American territory. Doing so would involve Japan’s Axis allies in war also, and we would thus enter the war through the “back door”. The strategy succeeded, and Tansill maintains that Roosevelt in accord with it welcomed Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The book is based on exhaustive research in the State Department archives.


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Table of Contents

Historical Introduction

a. The Rise of Anglo-American Friendship

b. Japan Is Given a Green Light to Expand in Manchuria

c. Sir Edward Grey Scores a Diplomatic Success

d. The Department of State Strikes a False Note

e. The Allies Violate the Pre-Armistice Contract

f. Reparations and Rascality

g. The Colonial Question

h. The Problem of Poland: Danzig—The Polish Corridor—Upper Silesia

(1) Danzig

(2) The Polish Corridor

(3) Upper Silesia

i. The Occupation of the Rhineland

j. The Starvation Blockade

k. German Reaction to the Treaty of Versailles

I: American Relations with the WeimarRepublic

a. America Rejects Trials of War Criminals

b. The Allies Balk at the Payment of American Army of Occupation

c. France Moves into the Ruhr

d. President Hoover Suggests a Moratorium on Reparations

e. Chancellor Brüning Is Compelled to Resign

f. The Disarmament Problem Remains a Challenge

g. American Press Opinion of Hitler in 1933

h. American Diplomats Regard Germany with Misgivings

i. President Roosevelt “Torpedoes” the World Economic Conference

j. The Four Power Pact Proves a Failure

k. William E. Dodd Goes to Germany as U.S. Ambassador

l. The President Tells a Spurious Story

II: The Far East in Ferment

a. A Triple Offensive Is Launched against Japan

b. Sun Yat-sen Gives the Chinese Revolution a Red Tinge

c. Senator Borah Attacks Foreign Imperialism in China

d. Causes of the Antiforeign Movement in China

e. The Kuomintang Demands Tariff Autonomy

f. American Missionaries Help to Mold United States Policy

g. Evolution of U.S. Policy towards Nationalist China

h. The Kuomintang Armies Employ Red Advisers

i. Peking and Canton Demand Revision of Existing Treaties

j. Britain Challenges American Leadership in China

k. Congress Supports a Policy of Treaty Revision

l. The Nanking Incident and Its Repercussions

m. Secretary Kellogg Is Indifferent to Red Menace in China

III: Continued Friction with Japan Points towards Inevitable War

a. Congress Enacts an Exclusion Law Which Angers Japan

b. Japan Invites United States Capital to Invest in Manchuria

c. Chinese Soldiers Provoke the Tsinan Incident

d. Russia Teaches the War Lord of Manchuria a Lesson

e. Background of the Manchurian Incident

(1) Japan is Worried Over the Spread of Communism in China

(2) Difficulties Concerning the Railways in Manchuria

(3) Frictrion With Reference to the Nishihara Loans

(4) Anti-Japanese Educational Programs in China

(5) The Legality of the Treaties of May 25, 1915

(6) The Murder of Captain Nakamura

f. Secretary Stimson Prepares a Path to War

IV: Secretary Stimson Produces a Pattern of War

a. American Press Opinion of the Stimson Doctrine

b. Stimson Helps to Push Japan out of the League

c. Matsuoka Marches Out of the League

d. President Roosevelt Regards with a Friendly Eye the Principle of Collective Security

V: Secretary Hull Spurns a Japanese Olive Branch

a. America Makes a Friendly Bow to League of Nations

b. Japan Earmarks Jehol as a Part of Manchukuo

c. Secretary Hull Rejects Idea of Japanese Good-will Mission

d. Friction in Far East Points to Eventual Russo-Japanese War

e. Japanese Gestures of Friendship are Rebuffed by the U.S.

f. Japan Proclaims a Monroe Doctrine for the Far East

g. The State Department Frowns upon an Understanding with Japan

h. Closing the Open Door in Manchuria?

VI: Moscow Molds the Political Pattern in the Far East

a. Secretary Hull Overlooks a Diplomatic Opportunity

b. Japan Denounces the Washington Naval Treaty

c. Japan Promotes Autonomy Movement in North China

d. America and Britain Protest against Japanese Policy

e. American Purchases of Silver Adversely Affect China

f. Japan Again Asks for Naval Parity

g. President Roosevelt Delivers a Lecture to Wicked Dictators

h. Chinese Nationalism Makes a Common Cause with Communism

i. Japan Draws Closer to Germany

j. Japan Seeks an Accommodation with China

k. Chiang Kai-shek Welcomes Communist Help against Japan

l. Japan Tries to Conciliate China

m. Soviet Russia Promotes a War between China and Japan

VII: Mussolini Looks upon Ethiopia with Acquisitive Eyes

a. Britain Recognizes Italian Aspirations in Northeast Africa

b. Italy Deserts the Triple Alliance

c. Britain Moves to Conciliate Mussolini

d. Italy’s Alleged Need for Colonial Outlets

e. The Walwal Incident Points in the Direction of War

f. Secretary Stimson Enjoys Friendly Relations with Mussolini

g. General Johnson Creates Tension in Italian-American Relations

h. Beginnings of the Rome-Berlin Axis

i. Anthony Eden Whispers a Few Confidences to Hugh Wilson

j. The Walwal Arbitration Encounters a Delay

k. Mussolini Rejects a Proposal of Anthony Eden

l. The Emperor of Ethiopia Seeks American Intervention

m. Italy Is Anxious to Assume the White Man’s Burden in Africa

n. President Roosevelt Urges Mussolini to Accept Arbitration

o. The White House Denounces Dollar Diplomacy

VIII: Britain and France Fear to Provoke War over the Issue of Ethiopia

a. France Vainly Seeks Promises of Aid from Britain

b. The Walwal Arbitral Commission Dodges the Issue

c. Laval Wishes to Conciliate Mussolini

d. Secretary Hull Rejects the Role of Mediator

e. Britain and France Seek to Solve the Ethiopian Problem

f. Ambassador Long Favors Giving Mussolini a Slice of Ethiopia

g. Laval Makes a Bow towards Britain

h. Britain Wishes the U.S. to Accept Important Responsibilities

i. Anthony Eden Expresses Suspicions of Russia

j. Ambassador Long Advises against Sanctions

k. Secretary Hull Defines the Position of the United States

l. The Committee of Five Makes a Futile Suggestion

m. The Department of State Ponders the Problem of Sanctions

n. Italy Rejects the Proposal of the Committee of Five

o. Mussolini Offers a Formula of Peace

p. Britain Bids for American Support

q. Mussolini Moves in the Direction of War

r. Secretary Hull Offers “Moral Support” to Ethiopia

s. Britain Engages in a Bit of Diplomatic Double Talk

IX: America Anticipates the League in Exerting Economic Pressure upon Italy

a. Senator Nye Flusters Foreign Diplomats

b. The Offensive against American Neutrality

c. The President Accepts a Congressional Program of Neutrality

d. American Reaction to the Italo-Ethiopian War

e. The League Names Italy as an Aggressor Nation

f. Secretary Hull Insists upon an Independent Policy

g. Britain Limits Italian Freedom of Speech

h. America Refuses to Follow a Parallel Policy with Britain

i. Italy Hopes to Preserve American Friendship

j. The Department of State Exerts Pressure upon Italy

X: Mussolini Makes a Mockery out of Collective Security

a. Secretary Hull Defends American Policy

b. The Hoare-Laval Agreement

c. President Roosevelt Chides Italy

d. Josef Beck Loses Confidence in the League

e. Implications of the Maffey Report

f. Britain Wishes Oil to Be on List of Sanctions

g. Mussolini Makes a Peaceful Gesture

h. Britain Becomes More Friendly with Hitler

i. The League Attempts to End the Italo-Ethiopian War

j. Britain Continues to Court Hitler

k. America Refuses to Adopt a Realistic Policy

l. Eden Recommends that Sanctions Be Lifted

m. The Principle of Nonrecognition Is Invoked by the United States

XI: Ambassador Dodd Finds Berlin an Unpleasant Spot for a Wilsonian Democrat

a. Nazi Germany Makes a Friendly Gesture towards America

b. Dodd Declines to Attend the Nürnberg Party Congress

c. American Citizens Are Roughly Handled by Storm Troopers

d. Professor Coar Tries to Improve German-American Relations

e. George Sylvester Viereck Offers to Assist the President

f. Mr. Kaltenborn Receives a Lesson in Incivility

g. Germany Withdraws from the League of Nations

h. The Debt Problem Embarrasses German-American Relations

i. New York City Stages a Mock Trial of Hitler

j. The Nazi Regime Is Placed upon an Uneasy Defensive

XII: America Views the Hitler Regime with Increasing Dislike

a. Similarities between Nazi and American fiscal Policies

b. General Johnson Denounces the Nazi Party Purge

c. The Assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss

d. The Death of President Hindenburg

e. American Opinion of the Saar Plebiscite

f. The Anglo-French Declaration Looks towards Collective Security

g. Hitler Breaks Another Link in the Chain of Versailles

h. Apparent Agreement at Stresa

i. France Makes an Important Agreement with Russia

j. Britain and Germany Negotiate a Naval Treaty

k. Secretary Hull Is Fearful of the Role of Moral Leadership

l. The Bremen Incident

m. American Hostility towards the Hitler Regime

XIII: Europe Fails to Find a Substitute for Locarno

a. Hitler Liquidates the Locarno Pact

b. American Press Opinion Relative to the Rhineland

c. Europe Views the Hitler Coup with Alarm

d. Hitler Offers a New Formula for Peace

e. Eden Turns with Each New Diplomatic Breeze

f. Hitler and Mussolini Reach an Important Accord

g. Versailles Undergoes Another Attack

h. Germany and Italy Recognize Franco

i. The German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact, November 25, 1936

j. Europe Tries to Replace Locarno

k. Hitler’s Soft Answers Stir New Hope in Europe

l. France Is Hopeful of American Support

XIV: The Shadow of Dictatorship Begins to Darken the American Landscape

a. European Statesmen Fumble for a Peace Formula

b. Belgium Breaks Her Bonds with Britain and France

c. Mayor La Guardia Hurls a Verbal Bomb at Hitler

d. Secretary Hull Regrets the Action of La Guardia

e. Cardinal Mundelein Creates Tension between the Vatican and Germany

f. The American Press Is Critical of the Bombardment of Almeria

g. Points of Friction along the Economic Front

h. The Department of State Authorizes Attendance at Nazi Parteitag

i. Secretary Hull Is Critical of Ambassador Dodd

j. The President Advocates a Quarantine of Aggressors

k. American Opinion of the Quarantine Speech

l. The Nazi Regime Is Placed upon an Uneasy Defensive

m. Mussolini Pays a Momentous Visit to Berlin

XV: Britain Blocks an Effort of Roosevelt to Find a Path to Peace

a. Secretary Ickes Widens the Breach between the United States and Germany

b. Hitler Repudiates the German-American Bund

c. Austrian Independence Hangs in the Balance

d. Ambassador Bullitt Has Some Important Conversations

e. Hitler Plays Host to Lord Halifax

f. Britain Blocks a Presidential Program for Peace

XVI: Hitler Takes over Austria as a Long-Delayed Step towards Anschluss

a. The Viennese Waltz Takes on Macabre Overtones

b. Schuschnigg Pays a Visit to Berchtesgaden

c. Lord Halifax Learns the Price of Appeasement

d. British Appeasement of Italy Is Too Little and Too Late

e. Hitler Marches into Vienna

f. American Reaction to Anschluss

XVII: President Beneš Postpones Too Long a Policy of Appeasement

a. Czechoslovakia Precipitates the May Crisis

b. The Sudeten Germans Formulate Demands Which They Know Cannot Be Fulfilled

c. Chamberlain Says Britain Will Not Fight for Czechoslovakia

d. Tension in Czechoslovakia

e. Germany Prepares a List of Political Imperatives

f. Konrad Henlein Asks for Provocative Concessions

g. Lord Runciman Calls Czechoslovakia an “Accursed Land”

h. Sir Nevile Henderson Loses Patience with Beneš

i. Kennedy Predicts U.S. Intervention in World War II

j. Chamberlain Decides to Visit Berchtesgaden

k. British Appeasement Saves Hitler

XVIII: Munich: Prelude to Prague

a. President Roosevelt Extends Monroe Doctrine

b. Chamberlain Pays a Visit to Berchtesgaden

c. Beneš Accepts the Anglo-French Proposals

d. Hitler Formulates New Demands

e. Chamberlain Makes a New Appeal to Hitler

f. Roosevelt Supports Chamberlain’s Plea for Peace

g. Britain Makes Further Efforts to Preserve Peace

h. Roosevelt Exerts Further Pressure upon the Dictators

i. Chamberlain Prepares the Basis for the Munich Accord

j. Capitulation at Munich

k. American Opinion of Munich

l. Diplomatic Straws in the Wind

XIX: Hitler Takes Czechoslovakia under Protective Custody

a. International Aspects of Anti-Semitism in Germany

b. Ambassador Kennedy Toys with the Idea of Acting as an Interlocutor between Hitler and Roosevelt

c. Ambassador Wilson Is Recalled from Germany

d. Dr. Schacht Offers Solution of Refugee Problem

e. Secretary Ickes Increases Tension in German-American Relations

f. The Economic Offensive against Germany Is Accelerated

g. Germany Is Anxious for an Accord with the United States

h. Chamberlain Pays Ardent Court to Mussolini

i. France Favors a Free Hand to Hitler in Eastern Europe

j. The British Foreign Office Has a Case of Jitters

k. Germany Fears the U.S. Will Intervene in World War II

l. Hitler Takes the Czechs under Protective Custody

m. Reaction in the U.S. to German Absorption of Czechoslovakia

XX: Russia Instigates War in the Far East; Roosevelt Blames Japan

a. Communist Instigation of War in the Far East

b. Secretary Hull Makes a Statement on U.S. Policy

c. The Situation in North China Becomes Ominous

d. The Department of State Insists upon an Independent Policy

e. The Scene Shifts to Shanghai

f. China Appeals to the League

g. President Roosevelt Proposes a Quarantine

XXI: Japan Proposes a Joint Search for World Peace but Hull Declines

a. Germany Views with Evident Dissatisfaction the Outbreak of War between China and Japan

b. The Abortive Brussels Conference, November 3-24, 1937

c. The Panay Incident

d. The Mission of Admiral Ingersoll to London

e. Japan Establishes a Series of Puppet Governments in China

f. The Far East after Munich

g. Chiang Kai-shek Suggests Another Washington Conference

h. The Economic Ties That Failed to Bind Japan Closely to the United States

i. Secretary Hull Rejects a British Suggestion for Exerting Economic Pressure upon Japan

j. China Anticipates War in Europe and Asks Britain and France to Consult with Her with Regard to a Common Front against Japan

k. Japan Asks Secretary Hull for a Joint Japanese-American Effort to Find Some Formula of Peace for Europe

XXII: Europe Moves towards War

a. Chamberlain Makes a Momentous Pledge to Poland

b. Lord Halifax Tries to “Work Something Out” with the Duce

c. Mussolini Moves into Albania

d. American Reaction to the Seizure of Albania

e. The Dictators’ Reply to the President’s Criticism

f. The Role of Russia Becomes Increasingly Important

g. Pope Pius XII Makes a Plea for Peace

XXIII: Stalin Lights the Fuse to World War II

a. Britain Is Reluctant to Regard Russia as an Ally

b. Chamberlain Begins to Pursue the Russian Phantom

c. Germany Seeks an Accord with Russia

d. Britain and France Make New Overtures to Russia

e. Germany Signs an Important Treaty with Russia

f. The Duce Tries to Sit on a Slippery Diplomatic Fence

g. Chamberlain Expands His Pledges to Poland

h. Hitler Sends a Warning to France

i. The Führer Turns Once More to Britain

j. Zero Hour in Europe

k. Roosevelt Makes an Appeal for Civilian Populations

l. Last-Minute Attempts at Mediation

XXIV: Roosevelt Adopts a More Positive Policy towards the War in Europe

a. The President Promises Peace for the U.S.

b. The Mission of William Rhodes Davis to Berlin

c. The Barriers Preserving Neutrality Are Broken Down

d. A Safety Belt for the Western Hemisphere

e. Secretary Hull Engages in a Battle of the Books

f. Hitler Adopts a Conciliatory Policy towards the U.S.

g. Finland Goes Down Fighting Soviet Aggression

h. The Mission of Sumner Welles

i. Britain and Germany Flout the Neutrality of Norway

j. Greenland Is Placed under the Monroe Doctrine

XXV: Roosevelt Seeks a Pretext for War with Germany

a. Hitler Launches a Blitzkrieg along the Western Front

b. Roosevelt Regards Neutrality as an Outmoded Concept

c. The President Makes a Third Plea to Mussolini to Stay Out of the War

d. Reynaud Makes a Last Appeal to Roosevelt for Immediate Military Assistance

e. The Destroyer Deal

f. Propaganda Pushes America towards Intervention

g. Lend-Lease—Back Door to Intervention in World War II

h. Hitler Is Anxious to Avoid Conflict with the United States

XXVI: Japan Is Maneuvered into Firing the First Shot at Pearl Harbor

a. Japanese Bombings of Chungking

b. The Tientsin Affair

c. Chiang Kai-shek Asks that Roosevelt Mediate in Sino-Japanese War

d. The President’s Attitude towards Japan Becomes Increasingly Belligerent

e. Japan Establishes a New Central Government in China

f. Japan Compels Both Britain and France to Adopt a Policy of Appeasement

g. The President Orders a Cautious Economic Offensive against Japan

h. Japan Concludes an Alliance with the Rome-Berlin Axis

i. America Draws Closer to Britain

j. Matsuoka and Prince Konoye Are Willing to Sacrifice Japan’s Position in China for the Cause of Peace

k. An Informal Negotiation Looking towards an Improvement in Japanese-American Relations

l. Blueprint for Anglo-American Co-operation

m. Japan Seeks Peace, Not War, with the United States

n. Admiral Nomura Strives to Improve Japanese-American Relations

o. Matsuoka Advises a Policy of Delay

p. Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura Search in Vain for a Formula of Peace

q. Matsuoka Is Dropped but Roosevelt Grows More Belligerent

r. The Atlantic Conference Pushes America Closer to a Break with Japan

s. Roosevelt Refuses to Meet Prince Konoye

t. General Marshall and Admiral Stark Oppose an Ultimatum to Japan

u. Japan Is Maneuvered into Firing the First Shot at Pearl Harbor


I. Manuscript Sources Papers

Official Papers

Private Papers

II. Printed Sources Official Documents

Unofficial Collections of Documents, Letters, Speeches

III. Newspapers and Periodicals



IV. Diaries, Memoirs, Miscellaneous

V. Biographies, Histories, Special Studies, Articles


eISBN 9781610165648
Publication Date 1952
Page Length 1861
Notes Epub released 08/28/2012

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