Read this article to learn about the entry of US in second world war!
When the Second World War broke out, the US announced her neutrality. Since the beginning of the aggressions by fascist powers, the US had followed a policy similar to that of Britain and France.
During the Munich talks on Sudetenland, the US President had supported Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement.
The US had protested against the Japanese aggression in China but did nothing to prevent it. Most Americans were sympathetic to Britain in the war but were opposed to direct US entry into the war.
Britain was allowed to buy arms on what is known as the cash-and-carry basis from the US. Gradually, the US support to Britain grew. By early 1941, the British were in no position to pay for the arms and other goods for which they were heavily dependent on the US.
In March 1941, the US Congress passed a law under which the US President was given the right to lend or lease armaments to any country whose defence was “vital to the defence of the United States”. This was known as the “lend-lease” system, and Britain began to receive massive supplies from the US. Subsequently, US also undertook the protection of her shipments to Britain against German attacks. Simultaneously, US industries began producing enormous quantities of armaments, aircraft and ships. In November 1941, the US “lend-lease” system was extended to the Soviet Union.
The Atlantic Charter:
Another important development was a declaration which the British Prime Minister, Churchill, and the US President, Roosevelt, (he had been elected President for the third time in 1940) issued after a meeting in August 1941. This is known as the Atlantic Charter.
This was an important document even though it did not imply any direct military commitment on the part of the US to fake part in the war. The Charter set out certain common principles for constructing “a better future for the world”.
The two countries committed themselves to these principles, and they became, in a sense, a statement of war aims. Both Britain and USA declared that they do not seek “aggrandizement, territorial or other” or any territorial changes “which do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned”.
The Charter also stated that the two countries “respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they .will live; they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them….” The Charter also called for “the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny”. Later the Soviet Union also became a party to the Atlantic Charter.
Ironically when the leader from India presented their demand for independence from Britain and quoted the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter, Churchill rebuffed them saying that those principles were applicable only to countries which were under German occupation.
Attack on Pearl Harbour:
The US had still not directly entered the war. In July 1941, the Japanese had occupied Vietnam in Indo-China. In October, an even more aggressive government came to power in Japan. It was headed by General Hideki Tojo. The Japanese made preparations for launching another act of aggression, this time in the Pacific. On 7 December 1941, the Japanese bombers attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
The US had expected a Japanese attack on the British and Dutch colonial possessions in the area and was completely taken by surprise. In the bombing, 188 aircraft and many battleships, cruisers and other naval vessels of the US were destroyed and over 2,000 sailors and soldiers killed. The Japanese losses were minor. On 8 December, the US declared war on Japan. On 11 December, Germany and Italy declared war on the US and the US declared war on Germany and Italy.