Fdr and the “World-Wide Arena”

  • Alan K. Henrikson
Part of the The World of the Roosevelts book series (WOOROO)


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


Pearl Harbor Grand Strategy National Geographic Society World Policy Saturday Review 
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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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