Keepers of the sacred fire : Franklin D. Roosevelt and the redefinition of American national security

    Item Description
    Linked Agent
    Creator (cre): Madden, Connor J.
    Advisor (adv): Schmitz, David
    May 5, 2014
    Graduation Year

    This thesis examines how President Franklin D. Roosevelt developed the key concepts that would become the ideological framework of American national security policy in the post-World War II era. Upon taking office in 1933, recognizing that Americans had embraced an isolationist attitude, Roosevelt focused his attention on solving the nation’s domestic issues. But after securing reelection in 1936 the president increasingly turned his attention to world affairs and the growing threat of aggression from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Between 1937 and 1941, he sought to "educate" the American people concerning the need to adopt a new, global national security policy based on the promotion of American ideals. This change in policy was accomplished through a gradual process in which Roosevelt set out for the American public the global interests of the United States and warned of the danger posed to American security by aggressor nations. He asserted that in the interconnected, modern world, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans could no longer guarantee the safety of the United States, making hemispheric defense obsolete. Moreover, the president portrayed fascist aggression as a fundamental challenge to American democracy and declared that the security and liberty of the United States could never be assured as long as aggressors encroached on the freedom of peoples anywhere, thus undermining the logic of neutrality. Consequently, he insisted that it was vital to maintain a high level of military preparedness, cooperate with allies, and actively promote universal American institutions and values abroad through the exercise of American power in order to protect the security of the United States. As Roosevelt convinced the majority of Americans to embrace this expanded definition of national security, he moved to revise the neutrality laws, provide aid to the Allies, and eventually bring the United States into World War II as a full belligerent.

    138 pages
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