THE WORLDVIEW OF FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: FRANCE, GERMANY, AND UNITED STATES INVOLVEMENT IN WORLD WAR II IN EUROPE

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2004-04-30

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt operated from a remarkably consistent view of the world that grew naturally from his experiences. Before he entered the White House, Roosevelt already possessed a coherent worldview that influenced his thinking and informed his decisions as president. The product of his background and education, his experiences, and his exposure to contemporary ideas, Roosevelt's worldview fully coalesced by the mid 1920s and provided a durable and coherent foundation for Roosevelt's thinking as president and his strategic direction in response to the deteriorating situation in Europe in the late 1930s and toward the Second World War.

Roosevelt's "worldview" was his broad perspective and sweeping understanding of the impact and interplay of states, parties, groups, and individual people on the progressive advance of world civilization. His background and personal experiences, understanding of historical events, and ideology shaped Roosevelt's perspective and enabled him to formulate and deliberately pursue long-range strategic goals as part of his foreign policy. The foundation of Roosevelt's worldview was a progressive, liberal outlook that provided a durable basis for how he interpreted and responded to events at home and abroad. An essential aspect of that outlook was Roosevelt's deep conviction that he had a personal responsibility to advance civilization and safeguard the cause of liberal reform and democracy. He believed that he was an agent of progress.

Examining several of Roosevelt's wartime policies within the context of his overall perspective allows new insights and a deeper appreciation for the depth and complexity of his thinking. As wartime leader, he remained focused on his fundamental strategic goals of defeating Nazi Germany and totalitarianism while crafting and implementing an enduring peace. As part of the enduring peace, he envisioned a postwar world marked by continued cooperation between the great powers, the reestablishment of republican France, and the revitalization of German liberalism.

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