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WORLD WAR II AND “AMERICA FIRST”: Should the U.S. Intervene in World War II or Remain Neutral?
In 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland and World War II began, the U.S. was faced with the question of what role it should play in the war. Some Americans did not want the U.S. to intervene in any way, including the America First Committee, a network of activists who argued that the number-one priority of the U.S. government was to protect its own citizens—not the citizens of other countries. Aiding Hitler’s enemies, they maintained, would drain the economic and military resources of the U.S. and risk provoking a military confrontation with Germany. Meanwhile, supporters of U.S. intervention, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, insisted that Americans could not afford to sit by while Hitler conquered country after country. Eventually, they warned, he would come after the U.S., and when that time came, all the resources and industrial capability of the world’s most powerful countries would be under Hitler’s control—making Germany too powerful for the U.S. to defeat.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Should the U.S. intervene in World War II, whether by contributing troops or by providing weapons and supplies to the nations battling Nazi Germany? Or should the U.S. continue to adhere to its official policy of neutrality? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of World War II and “America First” this month.
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