By Michael Fullilove, Executive Director of the Lowy Institute
Reviewed by Francis P. Sempa, Contributing Editor
Discussing his book Rendezvous With Destiny at a Brookings Institution event, Michael Fullilove explained how President Franklin Roosevelt “took” the United States into the Second World War.
Between 1939 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, FDR, according to Fullilove, navigated the domestic political constraints imposed by Congress and public opinion and skillfully moved the country toward greater involvement in the war. During this time period, FDR rearmed and remobilized America and waged an undeclared naval war against Germany in the Atlantic Ocean. Fullilove credits FDR with saving democracy and launching the United States toward global leadership.
FDR’s belligerent policies, Fullilove said, transformed America from an isolationist country into a global leader. The real start of the “American Century,” according to Fullilove, was the two-year period prior to America’s entry into World War II.
Fullilove noted that FDR distrusted the State Department and frequently bypassed it by sending forth special envoys, such as Harry Hopkins, Averill Harriman and Wendell Wilke, to nurture relationships with our wartime allies.
There was no mention in Fullilove’s remarks about FDR’s unwillingness to get ahead of public opinion regarding the danger of appeasement of the dictators; his willingness to bend, if not break, the Constitution in order to aid belligerents in the war; and his later naive policy of attempting to court or appease Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union toward the end of the war.Â Such facts would undermine Fullilove’s claim that FDR was the greatest statesman of the 20th century.