FDR’s World pp 35-61

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Fdr and the “World-Wide Arena”

  • Alan K. Henrikson

Abstract

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the Only World War II Leader to fight a truly global war. He had an exceptionally integrated concept, and understanding, of what he termed the “world-wide arena”—and of the central place, and central role, of the United States in it. It was an ideological role as well as a geopolitical role. In an address at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on June 10, 1940, the day Italy declared war on France, with Nazi German forces already approaching Paris and seemingly capable of driving through to the Atlantic, the president said: “Perception of danger, danger to our institutions, may come slowly or it may come with a rush and a shock as it has to the people of the United States in the past few months. This perception of danger, danger in a worldwide area—it has come to us clearly and overwhelmingly—we perceive the peril in a worldwide arena, an arena that may become so narrowed that only the Americas will retain the ancient faiths.” He warned—especially those still inclined to think and vote as “isolationists”—that the United States could “become a lone island, a lone island in a world dominated by the philosophy of force,” with “the contemptuous, unpitying masters of other continents” feeding it through the bars of its hemispheric “prison.” Its “freedom,” of movement and even of intellect and spirit, would be lost.1 This was Roosevelt’s basic geographic-cartographic frame—his “mental map,” so to speak.2 Neither Winston Churchill, despite

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Notes

  1. 2.
    For an elaboration, with examples, of this concept as applied to the scale of international relations, see Alan K. Henrikson, “Mental Maps,” in Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, ed. Michael J. Hogan and Thomas G. Paterson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 177–92. On the logic of actual maps, including their construction and interpretation, see the compendious recent treatment by Alan M. MacEachren, How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization, and Design (New York: The Guilford Press, 2004).Google Scholar
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    Joseph J. Corn, The Winged Gospel: Americas Romance with Aviation, 1900–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 60–61.Google Scholar
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    Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient, with maps by Charles A. Lindbergh (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1935).Google Scholar
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    Richard Edes Harrison, Look at the World: The FORTUNE AtIas for World Strategy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1944), 8–9. See also Harrison’s article, “The War in Maps,” The Saturday Review of Literature 26, 30 (August 7, 1943): 24–27.Google Scholar
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    Henrikson, “The Map as an ‘Idea’”: 24.Google Scholar
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    David Reynolds has pointed out, in a comparative survey of the major powers’ wartime rhetoric, that “world war” or “Weltkrieg” was most characteristic of American and of German thinking, though this was so for historically and situationally quite different reasons. David Reynolds, “The Origins of the Two ‘World Wars’: Historical Discourse and International Politics,” Journal of Contemporary History 38, 1 (2003): 29–44.Google Scholar
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    Neil Smith, American Empire: Roosevelts Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). See also Isaiah Bowman, “Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” The Geographical Review 35, 3 (July 1945): 349–51.Google Scholar
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    William Bullitt to FDR, February 22, 1939, PSF: France: Bullitt, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (FDRL), Hyde Park, New York.Google Scholar
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    The globe was manufactured by the Weber Costello Company of Chicago Heights under the direct supervision of the Office of Strategic Services and the War Department. It was prepared by a specially organized section (headed by Arch C. Gerlach) of the O.S.S.‘s Map Division. Prime Minister Churchill, whose own war maps facility inspired the Map Room in the White House, was also given one of the globes. Copies were placed in the House and Senate Chambers of the Capitol. The publicizing of the President’s globe surely stimulated the design, manufacture, and sale of smaller globes and ingenious globe substitutes, including R. Buckminster Fuller’s geometric, foldable “Dymaxion” globe. See Henrikson, “The Map as an ‘Idea’”: 26–27, 49 (note 28).Google Scholar
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    C.L. Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles: Memoirs and Diaries [1934–1954] (Toronto: The Macmillan Company, 1969), entry for July 27, 1951: “Bill said one of the great difficulties was that Roosevelt was very ignorant of the geography of Eastern Europe. He did not even seem to know where the Balkans were. He did talk vaguely of the Ljubljana Gap, but didn’t know what it was. Churchill always wanted to mount an offensive through the Ljubljana Gap. As a compromise, it was finally agreed this should come after the Italian campaign was over” (664).Google Scholar
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    Vice Admiral Ross T. McIntire, in collaboration with George Creel, White House Physician (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1946), 4. Admiral McIntire also notes of FDR: “His idea of a rest was a change of activity, a switch from one eager interest to another,” 7–8.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Smith, “Roosevelt, the Sea, and International Security,” 35.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    It had been illegal for him under the Selective Service Act, which had been renewed by the bare majority of 203 to 202 in the House of Representatives in August 1941, to deploy American conscripts outside the “Western Hemisphere.” Roosevelt cartographically redefined this to allow him to place U.S. troops in Iceland, in order to replace British troops sent there to preclude a German takeover of the Danish-controlled country after Denmark was overrun by Germany in 1940. On Roosevelt’s creeping hemispherism, see Henrikson, “The Map as an ‘Idea’”: 28–31.Google Scholar
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    Many were using the National Geographic Society’s new “world map,” fortuitously issued by the Society to its 1,165,000 member families with the December 1941 Magazine. The map showed the earth in two hemispheres drawn on azimuthal equal-area projections; thus it did not really show “one gigantic battlefield.” Nonetheless, the Society was pleased with the national service it had rendered. Gilbert Grosvenor, “Maps for Victory: National Geographic Society’s Maps Used in War on Land, Sea, and in the Air,” The National Geographic Society Magazine 81, 5 (May 1942): 660–90.Google Scholar
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    Samuel I. Rosenman, comp., The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vol. 1942 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950), 105–17. Roosevelt’s point about keeping the enemy at a distance was driven home, even while he was speaking, by a Japanese submarine that surfaced off Santa Barbara and fired some shells at a ranch. This taught him and his staff never to have his speeches announced more than two or three days ahead of time, which perhaps limited the effectiveness of some of his future messages. James MacGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1970), 213; Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History, rev. ed. (New York: The Universal Library, 1950), 504.Google Scholar
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    Stuart Murray and James McCabe, Norman Rockwells Four Freedoms: Images That lnspire a Nation (Stockbridge, MA: Berkshire House Publishers, 1993).Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    From page 18 of the “FIFTH DRAFT” of FDR’s message, reproduced on the back cover of the Roosevelt Library publication, Freedom from Fear, and also in Murray and McCabe, Norman Rockwells Four Freedoms, 4.Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    There was some criticism of the fact that there was no counterpart point in the Atlantic Charter for Roosevelt’s second “freedom,” the “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world.” This failure to specify a religious freedom, as the journalists Davis and Lindley note, led conservative isolationist skeptics to suppose that the President “had omitted it ‘out of consideration for the new ally, Joe Stalin.”’ They add, however: “In submitting the charter to Congress, the President disposed of that quibble.” Davis and Lindley, How War Came, 270n.Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    The text of the Atlantic Charter, on which the Declaration by United Nations is based, may be found in Roosevelts Foreign Policy, 1933–1941, 450–51. Regarding the tension between the Soviet government’s formal subscription to the Charter’s principles and actual Soviet territorial interests, see Herbert Feis, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957), 22–28.Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    Wendell L. Willkie, One World (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1943), 203. Inside the front cover of the book is a global map in light blue, “Flight of The Gulliver,” with “Side trips,” showing the vast, globe-circling route that Willkie followed. “I had traveled a total of 31,000 miles, which—looked at as a figure—still impresses and almost bewilders me. For the net impression of my trip was not one of distance from other peoples, but of closeness to them. If I had ever had any doubts that the world has become small and completely interdependent, this trip would have dispelled them altogether” (p. 1).Google Scholar
  34. 35.
    Consider what this might have meant, for example, for the prosecution of the current “War on Terror,” for international cooperation against airplane hijacking, and so on, as well as in the conduct of UN peace operations, and also as an overall confidence-building measure in regions of the world where there are still balance of power uncertainties and security threats.Google Scholar
  35. 36.
    Henry A. Wallace to Franklin D. Roosevelt, February 5, 1943, in The Price of Vision: The Diary of Henry A. Wallace, 1942–1946, ed. John Morton Blum (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973), 182.Google Scholar
  36. 37.
    James A. Farley, Jim Farleys Story: The Roosevelt Years (New York: Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1948), 293–4. See also John C. Culver and John Hyde, American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2000), 209–10, 217–18.Google Scholar
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    Henry Wallace, “Freedom of the Air—a Momentous Issue,” The New York Times, June 27, 1943.Google Scholar
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    A noteworthy revival of the idea—to activate Article 43 of Chapter VII of the Charter—was the advocacy of it by the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations at the time of the 1991 Gulf War, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, speaking personally rather than in an official capacity. For a discussion of the idea, see Alan K. Henrikson, “The United Nations and Regional Organizations: ‘King Links’ of a‘Global Chain,”’ Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law 7, 1 (1996): 35–70, especially 63–70.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Benjamin Welles, Sumner Welles: FDRs Global Srategist (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997), 330.Google Scholar
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    Sumner Welles, Seven Decisions That Shaped History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1951), 172. Prime Minister Churchill, Welles correctly emphasized, preferred starting by “building up purely regional organizations which could collaborate if need arose, but which should remain autonomous for an indefinite time, or at least until it was clear whether a supreme international authority could be successfully set up over them.”Google Scholar
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    Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Freedom of the Air,” in The Impact of Air Power: National Security and World Policy, ed. Eugene M. Emme (Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1959), 81–83. The Russians opted for “closed air.” Foreign planes would be allowed to transport goods to the Soviet Union only indirectly, by carrying them to agreed interchange points outside the U.S.S.R., such as Cairo, where the cargo would be picked up and carried onward by Soviet planes.Google Scholar
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    It is worth noting here that the driving force behind the Open Skies proposal was a former Roosevelt assistant, Nelson A. Rockefeller, who was brought into the Eisenhower White House as a special assistant for psychological warfare. In that capacity and as a member of the Operations Coordinating Board, Rockefeller with a team of experts meeting in Quantico, Virginia, generated the mutual aerial inspection plan—outside the regular bureaucracy, in a manner that FDR might have tolerated and even encouraged! Cary Reich, The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller: Worlds to Conquer, 1908–1958 (New York: Doubleday, 1996), chapter 34, “Open Skies.”Google Scholar
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    Quoted in W.W. Rostow, Concept and Controversy: Sixty Years of Taking Ideas to Market (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003), 139. Rostow, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, was the chairman of Rockefeller’s Quantico panel.Google Scholar
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    We the Peoples’: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century (New York: United Nations, 2000).Google Scholar
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    Secretary-General’s Statement to the General Assembly, April 3, 2000, http://www.un.org/millennium/sg/report/state.htm. Accessed November 10, 2007.
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    Kofi A. Annan, “Secretary-General Salutes International Workshop on Human Security in Mongolia,” Two-Day Session in Ulaanbaatar, May 8–10, 2000, Press Release SG/SM/7382.Google Scholar
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    We the Peoples; 19.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 45.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© David B. Woolner, Warren F. Kimball, and David Reynolds 2008

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  • Alan K. Henrikson

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