United States Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period, 1918-1941: The Golden Age of American Diplomatic and Military Complacency

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Overview

This study presents an in-depth survey of the principal policies and personalities of American diplomacy of the era, together with a discussion of recent historiography in the field. For two decades between the two world wars, America pursued a foreign policy course that was, according to Rhodes, shortsighted and self-centered. Believing World War I had been an aberration, Americans naïvely signed disarmament treaties and a pact renouncing war, while eschewing such inconveniences as enforcement machinery or participation in international organizations. Smug moral superiority, a penurious desire to save money, and naíveté ultimately led to the neglect of America's armed forces even as potential rivals were arming themselves to the teeth.

In contrast to the dynamic drive of the New Deal in domestic policy, foreign policy under Franklin D. Roosevelt was often characterized by a lack of clarity and, reflecting Roosevelt's fear of isolationists and pacifists, by presidential explanations that were frequently evasive, incomplete, or deliberately misleading. One of the period's few successes was the bipartisan Good Neighbor policy, which proved far-sighted commercially and strategically. Rhodes praises Cordell Hull as the outstanding secretary of state of the time, whose judgment was often more on target than others in the State Department and the executive branch.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Though he can cite a few modest triumphs during the period, Rhodes (history, U. of Wisconsin-Whitewater) finds them far outweighed by US failures to joint either the League of Nations or the World Court; to maintain amicable relations with the British, the French, or the Soviets; and to find workable solutions to a range of problems including disarmament, war debts, reparations, neutrality, and collective security. US diplomats thought, he explains, that The Great War was a historical aberration that would never recur. Only names are indexed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

BENJAMIN D. RHODES is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Rhodes is the author of The Anglo-American Winter War with Russia, 1918-1919: A Diplomatic and Military Tragicomedy (1988), and James P. Goodrich, Indiana's "Governor Strangelove": A Republican's Infatuation with Soviet Russia (1996). Author of numerous articles, he has also been a Fulbright lecturer in Finland and the People's Republic of China.

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Table of Contents

1 United States Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period: A Historiographical Overview 1
2 Wilson and Democratic Peacemaking: A Tragic Beginning to the Interwar Era 13
3 Harding, Hughes, and Republican Moral Diplomacy 39
4 Foreign Policy Under Coolidge and Kellogg: A Relative Bed of Roses 57
5 Foreign Policy Under Hoover and Stimson: A Bed of Pain 73
6 Early New Deal Foreign Policy: The Limits of Improvisation 91
7 The Good Neighbor Policy: A Bipartisan Accomplishment 113
8 Congressional Neutrality: Roosevelt, the British, and Bankers as Performing Circus Animals 127
9 The Shifting of the Foreign Policy Momentum 147
10 Aid to Britain Short of War 165
11 Japan and the United States Miscalculate 183
Selected Bibliography 217
Index 225
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