Roosevelts early foreign policies, such
as wrecking the London economic conference and establishing the Good Neighbor
policy in Latin America, were governed by concern for domestic recovery and
reflected Americas desire for a less active role in the world. America
virtually withdrew from all European affairs, and promised independence to
the Philippines as an attempt to avoid Asian commitments.
Depression-spawned chaos in Europe and Asia
strengthened the isolationist impulse, as Congress passed a series of Neutrality
Acts designed to prevent America from being drawn into foreign wars. The United
States adhered to the policy for a time, despite the aggression of Italy,
Germany, and Japan. But after the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Roosevelt
began to provide some aid to the Allies.
After the fall of France, Roosevelt gave greater
assistance to desperate Britain in the destroyers-for-bases deal and in lend-lease.
Still-powerful isolationists protested these measures, but Wendall Willkie
refrained from attacking Roosevelts foreign policy in the 1940 campaign.
Roosevelt and Winston Churchill issued the Atlantic
Charter, and by the summer of 1941, the United States was fighting an undeclared
naval war with Germany in the North Atlantic. After negotiations with Japan
failed, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into
World War II.