Tag Archives: World War II

Isolationism versus Freedom of the Seas

Debating Freedom of the Seas, Uncle Sam reminds Senator Hiram Johnson of the consequences of entering World War I by displaying a list of casualties and war debt accrued.
Debating Freedom of the Seas, Uncle Sam reminds Senator Hiram Johnson of the consequences of entering World War I by displaying a list of casualties and war debt accrued.

The political cartoon “What Price Freedom of the Seas” by John Knott illustrates the struggle between the general public and politicians in the United States (U.S.) during the years preceding World War II. Opposing interpretations of the ideology: Freedom of the Seas, caused much debate between people who were against the war, but for commerce, and people who were against both. In the U.S.’s best interest to stay out of the war, Neutrality Acts were passed which allowed U.S. ships to be neutral against belligerent nations, and continue trade with both allied and hostile nations alike under the ideology: Freedom of the Seas. Many of the people in the Senate were Isolationists (people who were against any foreign contact/conflict) including Hiram Johnson who also was an advocate for free trade. The accompanying editorial to the cartoon, “Senate Neutrality Bill” brings in the differing viewpoints on the issue of Freedom of the seas. People recognized that the ideology was crucial for trade and geo-political control over the seas for the U.S., but the continuation of embargos was highly disputed especially after WWI where hostile nations attacked neutral American ships aiding Britain. The editorial compared the leadership during 1937 under Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) to a past president’s ideology with foreign nations: “Speak softly and carry a big stick” -Theodore Roosevelt. This ideology and later policy meant negotiating peacefully with foreign nations while simultaneously intimidating them with a big stick (military power).(Big Stick Diplomacy 132)  This comparison is critical of FDR’s decision to continue trade while intimidating opposing forces with a “big-stick” as “a more timorous leader would stop trade at once in order to avoid trouble-making incidents” (Dallas Morning News) The different interpretations of the ideology “Freedom of the Seas” led to contradictory actions, unsuccessful neutrality acts, and an eventual entrance into the war just four years after Knott’s cartoon was published.

Knott’s 1937 cartoon depicts only two characters: Hiram Johnson and Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam holds a piece of paper tallying the number of wounded and killed during World War I and the amount of debt accrued to the United States (U.S.) after the war ended. He has a disappointed expression on his face as he sadly puts his hand on Hiram Johnson’s shoulder who raises his fist and exclaims: “I believe that a nation’s commerce is its lifeblood and that we should insist upon our rights under International Law!” In Johnson’s hand he strongly holds onto a poster with the words “Freedom of the Seas” written on the side.

Hiram Johnson was a Republican U.S. senator in California from the years 1917 to 1945. Although Johnson took progressive positions in domestic affairs, he was an isolationist – strictly against getting involved in foreign affairs. He was against signing the Treaty of Versailles, and joining the League of Nations under Woodrow Wilson, but he helped endorse FDR’s New Deal. He was a big name and had a big voice in the isolationist movement. He was one of the few progressive republicans who was in favor of FDR, so when he chose to be in favor of the Neutrality Acts, he had much influence due to being favored by both Democrats and Republicans. FDR originally opposed the Neutrality legislation, but eventually approved the acts because of both parties agreeing, and his re-election on the horizon. Johnson tried to stay out of foreign conflict until the end of his career: “Although Johnson had been an outstanding Progressive governor, by the time of his death on Aug. 6, 1945, his views on foreign affairs made him part of an outdated isolationist minority in Congress.” (Hiram Warren Johnson 300) As a stylistic choice, Hiram Johnson was drawn heavier in the political cartoon. This portrayed the greediness of his statement in the cartoon to continue free trade while many citizens strongly predicted it would lead to war.

The U.S. firmly believed in having neutral waterways for commerce to continue, this protection in the seas is rooted in the ideology of “Freedom of the Seas.” In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, while many countries were being colonized, some nations also wanted control of the seas surrounding their land. They enforced their power with naval force and bases at canals. (Rappaport 111) However, many of these nations believed the seas to be free like air: “Queen Elizabeth I of England proclaimed: ‘The use of the sea and air is common to all; neither can any title to the ocean belong to any people or private nation fought for free water travel, beginning with Thomas Jefferson, who enacted the Jefferson Embargo Act of 1803 (mentioned in the editorial as a parallel to the need for free water travel and commerce in 1937). The Embargo Act prohibited U.S. ships from going into foreign ports. This was to compel French and English ships from interfering with American merchant ships while they were in the Napoleonic Wars (a war over French expansion). This act eventually backfired and negatively impacted the U.S. economy until it was repealed. (Embargo Act (1807) 379) Freedom of the Seas was declared by London in 1908 as an unofficial agreement with allied and enemy nations, but no belligerent nations ratified it thus not binding them to it during World War I. “Upon the outbreak of war the United States called for a de facto observation of the Declaration of London.” (Young) The ideology was never set in international law except for small treaties between allied nations. As years went on this ideology was disputed in many nations, the U.S. being extremely for it, especially Hiram Johnson who used this ideology to continue to trade while war went on. It’s very contradictory that he was an isolationist that wanted to continue foreign trade at the cost of inevitably entering war.

Uncle Sam holds a sign with the debt owed to the U.S. after World War I and the number of American soldiers killed or wounded during the war. (Schuker 542) The expression on Uncle Sam’s face symbolizes the disappointment much of the public had in the Senate’s interpretation of Freedom of the Seas. Many people in both the general public, and in political chairs wanted to avoid war at all costs, as the war only 20 years prior to this cartoon was World War I, which was detrimental to the U.S. as a whole. Although many politicians knew about how devastating the past war was, they continued to push for free trade, which many people disagreed with as that would most likely lead to war. Due to there being no international law for free trade, and America simply enforcing it with a “big-stick” initiative, it was only a matter of time before hostile nations attacked U.S. ships bringing resources to friendly nations. This violation of the ideology would most likely bring the U.S. into the war. Robert Lansing, (Legal Advisor to the State Department at the beginning of World War I and later the Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson) compared the neutrality of 1937 to the neutrality of 1915 (World War I) due to the U.S. establishing itself as a neutral power, but eventually being brought into both wars because of belligerent nation violation of free waterways. (Lansing)

After World War I, the need to stay out of war in 1937 expanded into the Isolationist viewpoint (originated in 1934 in the Nye Committee). The main idea of Isolationism was avoiding alliances and conflict with all foreign nations completely. In 1934, there was speculation that the entrance into the World War I was for profit instead of good ethics. Created by the U.S. Senate, this committee investigated business leaders who were suspected of manufacturing supplies and trading with belligerent nations. “Committee members found little hard evidence of an active conspiracy among arms makers, yet the panel’s reports did little to weaken the popular prejudice against “greedy munitions interests.” (Schlesinger) This viewpoint was driven by Hiram Johnson in 1937, however his drive for free trade with belligerent and allied nations contradicted part of the Isolationist viewpoint, confounding the original ideology.

The Neutrality Acts, passed between 1935 and 1939, were the main catalysts of the cartoon and editorial because they allowed trade to continue between the U.S. and hostile nations. Congress passed four acts that limited American involvement in the ongoing war on the Seas and in Europe (Delaney 66). “[The Neutrality Act of 1935] banned all arms and ammunition shipments to belligerent nations and placed America’s armaments industry under federal control for six months.” (Delaney 66) As the four acts came out they edited the previous acts, usually strengthening them. The 1937 act had a “cash-and-carry” provision, allowing the U.S. to supply belligerent countries resources if they paid in cash and guaranteed that the U.S. would not become 9 (the same year the U.S. declared war). The Neutrality Acts were passed to keep the U.S. out of the war, but the inclusion of enforcing free trade with these acts ultimately made them unsuccessful as belligerent nations infringed upon the notion of “Freedom of the Seas” and attacked vessels sent to friendly nations.

The editorial “Senate Neutrality Bill” expressed the differing viewpoints groups of people at the time. The two options debated by citizens were: to completely end trade “… a more timorous leader would stop trade at once to avoid trouble-making incidents.” (Senate Neutrality Bill) While the other option was to continue the embargos under the Neutrality Acts because commerce and geo-political control in the seas was the lifeblood of the nation. Citizens, knew that free trade was vital, but they predicted it would lead to conflict “Yet embargoes create an international antagonism that may form the prelude to conflict.” Isolationists wanted nothing to do with any foreign nation. Hiram Johnson wanted free trade under the pretext of Freedom of the Seas, but he did not want to enter a war. The ultimate decisions made by FDR and the Senate couldn’t satisfy all of these viewpoints and this angered many people. Articles were written by regular citizens calling out the acts for not giving the citizens a choice and calling the neutrality a “compound of ignorance, timidity, and ignorant isolationism.” (Peace act). Although many of these people interpreted Freedom of the Seas differently, the ideal outcome as stated in the editorial, would be peace.

“What Price Freedom of the Seas” by John Knott illustrates how Hiram Johnson believed that through the Ideology of Freedom of the Seas and the upkeep of its principles through force or a “big stick” America should’ve been allowed to continue free trade with any nation. This greed made him blind to the possibility of conflict happening due to this continued trade, as it had happened before in 1807. Many citizens and politicians recognized the problem of continuing trade especially after the tragedies of World War I “We have grown older: we have burnt our fingers in war: we would like to keep the peace.” (Senate Neutrality Bill) The actual decisions made in the Senate eventually led to the U.S. entrance into World War II. The idea of Freedom of the Seas has been debated since ships were able to travel across the oceans. Many regions around the globe have had treaties signed to ensure power over their portion of the ocean while other nations pushed for complete neutrality of the seas (U.S. being one of these nations). Today, 57 years after the cartoon was published, Freedom of the Seas is set in international law: Freedom of Navigation, but the differing interpretations still exist, which may lead to miscommunication and conflict.

 

 

Works Cited

“Big Stick Diplomacy.” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2015, pp. 132-133. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3611000096&it=r&asid=e50dd9ad437cd28effb3d2d4e51265db. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

Delaney, David G. “Neutrality Acts.” Major Acts of Congress, edited by Brian K. Landsberg, vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 66-69. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3407400231&it=r&asid=5857bae0871ce8e2105ea29c237e5a36. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

“Embargo Act (1807).” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2015, pp. 379-381. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3611000275&it=r&asid=04f56b30da03c843f1df9631a1d454b4. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

“Hiram Warren Johnson.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 8, Gale, 2004, pp. 300-301. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3404703347&it=r&asid=40aa2a37ec20e231ef4e2ec6ad2c5a76. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

Knott, John. “What Price Freedom of the Seas.” Dallas Morning News. 5 March 1937.

Lansing, Roberrt. (1937, Jan 31). NEUTRALITY: 1915 SHEDS LIGHT ON 1937. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/docview/102014742?accountid=7118

“Peace act,” 1937 model. (1937, Feb 23). The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/docview/150925381?accountid=7118

Rappaport, Armin, and William Earl Weeks. “Freedom of the Seas.” Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, edited by Richard Dean Burns, et al., 2nd ed., vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 111-122. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3402300066&it=r&asid=63c0fb9915224211a6b2b41f192d9311. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr., and Roger Bruns, eds. Merchants of Death Congress Investigates: A Documented History, 1792-1974.  New York:  Chelsea House Publishers, 1975. https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/merchants_of_death.htm

Schuker, Stephen A. “World War I War Debts.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 8, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, pp. 542-543. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3401804606&it=r&asid=393cc8c39279d947d296ff78adc127b8. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

Young, Jr., James Leroy: Freedom of the Seas , in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/freedom_of_the_seas

“Senate Neutrality Bill.” Dallas Morning News. 5 March 1937, page two. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=F54G4FSDMTUxMDgxNzg1OS41MjgyMjA6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10425769CAC69DDF@2428598-1042576A718AA444@17

Militarist Nation, Coming and Going

knott-cartoon

 

Amid shifting political powers and tense foreign relations of the early 1930’s, both France and Japan faced the challenge of balancing their budgets between the economic depression and the necessity of increased military spending. An editorial, written by an unknown author in 1933 in the Dallas Morning Newspaper, “Troublesome Budgets”, explicates the larger political stakes at play. It reveals the French government, urged by Premier Daladier, has increased taxes to offset the budget deficit and that while the Japanese Parliament is not currently in session, they will soon face the same dilemma. Frances is pressured to give out loans to the Japanese territory, Manchukuo, and that Japan is under pressure to forge a diplomatic agreement with the Soviet Union. Due to the debts and future responsibilities of both these countries, they cannot truly afford a full-scale war without assured bankruptcy, so they must remain open to political agreements with Germany and other potentially hostile nations. While admitting the concerning nature of these events, the author is optimistic, as these concessions may lead to the prevention of a massive, global war (Troublesome Budgets).

In the accompanying political cartoon, Militarist Nation, Coming and Going, John Francis Knott, a prominent cartoonist of the era, satirizes the precarious political situation of the French government in 1933, challenged with maintaining military strength in the wake of the devastation of World War I and facing the economic downturn of the Great Depression (Knott). The illustration depicts the front and back of a French soldier representing the two opposing sides of the interwar French government. His front, a crisp and well-maintained uniform with the words “Millions For Armament” on the ammunition pouches, is the paragon of military ideals, the image France wanted to convey to Germany as part of their defensive mentality. The back, however, is in tatters, covered with patches stating “taxes”, “unbalanced budget”, “defaulted debts” and “reduced wages”. The implied pacing motion of the soldier could be interpreted as a metaphor for France being on guard, a sentry keeping an eye out for possible warlike advancements by Germany. The soldier is wearing prototypical uniform of the World War I era, complete with an Adrian helmet, made of steel, and only issued to soldiers in heavy combat (Suciu). The defensive nature of the soldier’s uniform, as well as his worried expression is parallel to the apprehensive, tense nature of France during the interwar period. The patches on the uniform represent temporary sacrifices that are meant to fix the holes in the economy. This exposes what is underneath pretense of the supposedly formidable French Armed Forces: a weakened economy and divided populous.

The events leading up to this period in French history are crucial for understanding and interpreting the mentality of the French government and people. The French and global economies were still recovering from the devastation of the first World War, ending in 1918, with a victory by the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States) and the creation of the League of Nations, aimed at preventing another worldwide military conflict. Germany, due to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, was mandated to make war reparations, however because of their ruined economy, were unable to complete the payments, leaving France to fend for themselves, who in turn had to repay war debts to the United States. France had to spend large sums of money on reconstruction to repair the damage to the infrastructure and the ingrained societal systems (Hautcoeur 9). In 1924, taxes were too low to balance the budget, but instead of raising taxes they lowered the interest rate on bonds, which led to a decrease in the purchase of bonds which worsened the recession. In 1926, Prime Minister Raymond Poincare was given nearly absolute power over the economy and repaired by implementing new sales taxes and trimming the fat off the bureaucracy (Beaudry 16). While this left the economy in relatively good shape, the shock of World War I had created a defensive mentality in France. The resulting turmoil led to support for extremist groups and split France into two diametrically opposed, radical political alliances: The National Bloc, the right, who advocated for business, the army and were hellbent on revenge against Germany, and the Cartel des Guaches, a coalition of leftist parties who lobbied for the lower-middle class and were in favor of a foreign policy of security by negotiation.

The differing economic policies of the alignments came into play in 1931, when the Great Depression began to affect France. The Depression was not as consequential in France as it was in the United States; the French economy was mainly self-sufficient and relied on smaller business and local economies (Beaudry 12). The mentality towards depression was different than that of the United States; it was seen as a necessary evil to purge excess money and to send indebted companies, barely staying afloat, to failure. A success of the government was that they maintained a restrictive and procyclical policy, meaning that in a recession, they reduced government spending and increased taxes, which helped them avoid the full implications of the depression (Hautcoeur 7).

In 1933, the year of the cartoon, radicalistic Prime Minister Edouard Daladier, in an effort to avoid repeating the mistakes of the 1920’s, made the argument to Parliament that the augmentation of taxes is needed to offset the necessary military spending (Troublesome Budgets). This request is granted, demonstrating that they have learned from their past economic mistakes, however, in his cartoon, Knott outlines all their new errors. While Parliament is focusing on armament and defensive foreign policy, they are ignoring the crucial implications for their own economy. The largest militaristic expenditure was the Maginot Line, proposed by André Maginot, the French Minister of War, at the cost of 3 billion francs, a tactical defensive perimeter that spanned eighty-seven miles of the German-French border (Wilde). This dismal financial situation left France struggling to maintain insecure political relations and commit to defensive military tactics, while feigning to have the upper hand. Their financial difficulties made them receptive to Japanese and German demands, for treaties and military movements.

The irony in Knott’s cartoon is apparent in that things are not always what they seem on the surface. The title, Militarist Nation, Coming and Going, while fitting the illustration, seems to also imply the inevitable fall of France as an imperialist empire, in part due to its unrealistic budget priorities. Before the first half the 20th century, French was a prominent and influential player on the global stage. However, the two World Wars left the economy, politics and infrastructure of France devastated, and France was never able to return to its former status as a major power.

 

Works Cited

Beaudry, Paul, and Franck Portier. “The French Depression in the 1930s.” Review of Economic Dynamics 5.1 (2002): 73-99. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
Hautcoeur, Pierre-Cyrille, and Pierre Sicsic. “Threat of a Capital Levy, Expected Devaluation and Interest Rates in France During the Interwar Period.” SSRN Electronic Journal (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
Knott, John. “Militarist Nation, Coming and Going.” Dallas Morning News 19 Oct. 1933, 19th ed., sec. 2: 14. Print.
Kuttner, Robert. “The Economic Maginot Line.” The American Prospect. N.p., 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
Suciu, Peter. “The First Modern Steel Combat Helmet: The French ‘Adrian’ – Military Trader.” Military Trader. N.p., 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
“Troublesome Budgets.” Editorial. Dallas Morning News 19 Oct. 1933, 19th ed., sec. 2: 14. Print.
Wilde, Robert. “The Maginot Line: France’s Defensive Failure.” About.com Education. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

 

Watch Out for Greek Debt!

The cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus by Myron with “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus symbolizing debt at other, cowering European countries.
The cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus by Myron with “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus symbolizing debt at other, cowering European countries.

The political cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus, with the word “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus, which symbolizes debt, at other cowering European countries (Sooke). The statue is posed as if it is about to hurl the discus, and all of the statues around it are ducking to avoid getting hit. This cartoon symbolizes how the other countries are avoiding getting “hit” by the negative consequences of Greek debt and having all of their political-economic progress regress (“Watch out for Greek Debt!”). The cartoon emphasizes the potentially devastating effects of Greek debt for other European countries in the Eurozone.

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political partnership between twenty-eight European countries that was created in the aftermath of World War II. The intent behind the creation of the EU is that countries that trade with each other become economically interdependent and therefore more likely to avoid conflict. The establishment of the EU brought about the creation of the euro, the single currency used across the twenty-eight countries (“The EU in brief”). Greece is one of the many members of the EU, along with Ireland, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Portugal, to name a few (“Countries in the EU and EEA”). Greece in particular, however, is singled out in this cartoon as the most vulnerable as well as the most threatening member of the bunch.

Greece is in the midst of a debt crisis that could potentially crumble the economies of its European neighbors. After Wall Street crashed in 2008, Greece became the center of Europe’s debt crisis. Greece admitted that it had been understating its deficit figures for years and suddenly found itself shut out from borrowing in financial markets, leading the country toward bankruptcy. This sudden decline put Europe on the verge of a new financial crisis. To avoid collapse, the financial troika – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission – issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than $264 billion in today’s exchange rates. “Greece’s relations with Europe are in a fragile state, and several of its leaders are showing impatience” (“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained”).

The other countries depicted in the cartoon are not chosen at random either. Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – collectively called “The PIGS”– are known for having “binged on cheap debt” and “allowed citizens’ benefits to go well beyond the means of their governments.” In 2010, the PIGS were going bankrupt at a fast rate and threatened the continued existence of the euro and the entire European project. However, since then, all of the PIGS except for Greece are returning to economic health (Dawber). Now Greece is putting them at risk of relapsing into economic instability, threatening the euro in the process. This is symbolized in the cartoon as “Greece” throwing a discus of “debt” at its neighboring European countries.

There is coincidental irony in the name of the statue, Discobolus, and the subject matter involved. The suffix “obolus” means “a silver coin or unit of weight equal to one sixth of a drachma, formerly used in ancient Greece” (“obolus”). It is ironic that a discus that symbolizes a Greek drachma has “debt” written on it, as if foreshadowing that Greece being a part of the EU and using the euro as its currency has a formidable future of debt crisis.

The issues illustrated in Watch Out for Greek Debt! have a lot of similarity to the issues depicted in the political cartoon If They Would Exchange Presents by John Knott (Knott 2). Published on Christmas Eve 1931, Knott’s cartoon shows Uncle Sam of the United States offering a Christmas gift of war debt revisions to a queen representing Europe; and in the generous spirit of the season, she is offering the gift of disarmament in exchange.

In the twenty-first century, Greece is in debt to other countries much like Germany was in the aftermath of World War I. In the 1930s, the United States wanted Germany and the rest of Europe to disarm so that the funds going toward armament could instead go toward debt repayment; thus, in If They Would Exchange Presents, Europe’s gift to the U.S. was disarmament. In Knott’s cartoon, Germany, along with the rest of the indebted European nations, was asking for war debt revisions so that their debt load wasn’t so crippling. Germany was blamed for the damages and costs of World War I and was required to pay back the costs to the Allied nations. Repayment obligations were so onerous that they needed a moratorium and debt revisions to ever back on their feet. Similarly, in Watch Out for Greek Debt!, Greece is held responsible for threatening Europe’s economy, and needs bailouts for its crippling debt like Germany was asking for war debt revisions. “The bailout money mainly goes toward paying off Greece’s international loans, rather than making its way into the economy. And the government still has a staggering debt load that it cannot begin to pay down unless a recovery takes hold” (“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained”).

The humor of comparing these two cartoons, and particularly comparing twenty-first century Germany and Greece, is that Germany is now the poster-child for Greece to model itself after. “Germany has fewer outstanding tax debts than any other country in Europe, while Greece has more than any other. That difference not only helps Germany enjoy a far more fiscally sound position than Greece, but it offers a stark contrast between a disciplined government and one that historically has been hardly disciplined” (O’Brien). It is ironic that Germany, which once was economically unstable and deeply indebted to other countries, is now an example of European economic health, the example to which Greece aspires.

Lastly, in Watch Out for Greek Debt!, Greece has the potential of putting contemporary Europe in as much debt and economic instability as in the 1930s because of the region’s shared economic interdependence on the euro. The Knott cartoon shows Europe of that era requesting war debt revisions because it is in an economic rut. Contemporary Europe could potentially descend into similar economic turmoil because if Greece were to collapse, then the euro could collapse with them, causing a domino effect.

Works Cited

“Countries in the EU and EEA.” GOV.UK. Gov.UK, 24 July 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Dawber, Alistair. “While Greece Flails, Are the Rest of the Stricken Pigs Taking Off?” Independent. Independent, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“The EU in Brief.” Europa. European Commission, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained.” The New York Times. New York Times, 31 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Knott, John. “If They Would Exchange Presents.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News [Dallas, Texas] 24 Dec. 1931, sec. 2: 10. Print.

“Obolus.” American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. N.p.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. The Free Dictionary. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

O’Brien, Matt. “7 Key Things to Know about Greece’s Debt Crisis and What Happens Next.” The Washington Post. N.p., 5 July 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Sooke, Alastair. “The Discobolus: Greeks, Nazis and the Body Beautiful.” BBC. BBC, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“Watch out for Greek Debt!” Cartoon. Enikos. N.p., 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

The Dread Contagion

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The political cartoon “The Dread Contagion” depicts the American community attempting to reach out and offer the Good Neighbor Policy to those in the Eastern hemisphere.

This cartoon was created during the time period of the late 1930’s, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was president.  This was the era of the Great Depression, in which the American economy declined drastically after a crash in the stock market in 1929 with statistics such as a rise in unemployment rates from 8 to 15 million as well as a GDP that had decreased from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion (Great Depression). During this decade, FDR was elected president in 1933 and began what he called the New Deal, which was “a series of economic measures designed to alleviate the worst effects of the depression, reinvigorate the economy, and restore the confidence to the American people” (New Deal). Through usage of the media, such as radio and television, FDR was able to bring back the confidence in the depressed democratic community who began fearing that institutions such as fascism and communism could possibly be better than their own. One of the biggest policies that branched from the New Deal, was the Good Neighbor Policy.

The Good Neighbor Policy is essentially what it says, the nation being a good neighbor to its neighboring countries. Roosevelt’s ideal was to “dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others,” in order to better his relationships with the Latin American countries as well as the eastern hemisphere countries (Carlsen). The Good Neighbor policy was not actually thought out during the time that it was declared by FDR, but the importance of the declaration was the underlying desire to promote commercial relations with other nations to save the United States from its ongoing depression (Smith). In order to prove his ideals towards other nations that previously thought the United States to be an oppressive power, FDR began multiple reciprocal trade agreements with the Latin American countries. Alongside this, the Export-import bank began to provide the other countries with credit for importing goods from the United States. In company with the economic acts done in response to the Good Neighbor policy, militaristic actions were also taken in order to fully gain the trust of the foreign countries. With acts such as the Platt Amendment, the United States proved that they would no longer interfere with domestic affairs in other countries. To further prove they would not use their military to engage in domestic affairs, the U.S. government refused to send in troops when the U.S. oil companies were having conflicts with the Mexican oil companies. Instead of attempting to boycott U.S. imports to Mexico completely, the U.S. oil companies were pressed to come to a compromise with the Mexican president to further demonstrate the Good Neighbor policy (Foreign). FDR’s ideal was to lower the overall armaments in the world and slowly end the desire for war between other nations. The policy overall had the greatest impact on the majority of the western hemisphere.

While this policy had a great effect on the western side of the globe, the same could not be said about the eastern side. This cartoon was made only a few years before the beginning of World War II, and plenty of tensions were flaring up between nations. According to the article associated with this cartoon, Pax Americana, almost all countries can easily tell about how they desire peace while their actions prove the exact opposite. Lines such as “Hitler, with one foot on the Rhine, the other foot on squelched minorities is a man of peace and will sign any treaty to prove it” further implicates that actions towards peace speak louder than words towards peace (Knott). From the implementation of the Good Neighbor policy, the United States has proven themselves to be the nation that is truly pushing towards peace unlike all other nations in the eastern hemisphere. The cartoon shows the eastern hemisphere as it is plagued by the contagious “war fever,” showing the current war-torn state the east is in as well as the fact that war is “contagious” because war can breed more war. The people behind the fence in this cartoon handing out the Good Neighbor Policy towards the eastern hemisphere as a “medicine” in order to cure the eastern nations of their war fever. Essentially, if the eastern hemisphere could implement a policy similar, if not equal to, the Good Neighbor policy and prove their desire for peace with their actions, war could as a whole finally come to an end.

Works Cited

“The New Deal.” Rooseveltinstitute. Web. 27 Nov. 2014. <http://rooseveltinstitute.org/policy-and-ideasroosevelt-historyfdr/new-deal>.

“The Great Depression (1929-1939).” Gwu. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.  <http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/great-depression.cfm>.

Barry, Tom, and Laura Carlsen. “The Good Neighbor Policy – A History to Make Us Proud.”Peace. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://www.peace.ca/goodneighborpolicy.htm>.

“Foreign Relations between Latin America and the Caribbean States, 1930–1944.” Gdc.gale. Web. 27 Nov. 2014. <http://gdc.gale.com/archivesunbound/archives-unbound-foreign-relations-between-latin-america-and-the-caribbean-states-19301944/>.

Smith, Joseph. “Good Neighbor Policy.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. Ed. Robert

S. McElvaine. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 401-402. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Knott, John F. “The Dread Contagion.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 2 Apr. 1936: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.             <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/02261/cah-02261.html>.

Knott, John F. “Pax Americana.” Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 2 Apr. 1936, sec. 2: 2. Print.

His Final Refuge

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His Final Refuge

John Francis Knott- February 7, 1932

His Final Refuge by John Knott is a political cartoon that criticizes the events leading up to the Second Sino-Japanese War.  His Final Refuge is told from the American viewpoint and how the United States viewed the countries in East Asia.  As Japan and Russia industrialized and became world players over the course of the 20th Century, the United States viewed each country as a potential threat to its own power.  Due to increasing politico-economic tensions the United States would back certain countries at different times in accordance with its own foreign policy agenda.  In this context we can begin to see how different wars between the East Asian countries affected the United States’ alliances.  Once Japan began to rise to prominent power and began to attack Russia for resources, the United States supported Russia.  Later on in World War I the United States and Japan ended up on the same side while still not on good terms, which further increased tensions.  With the rise of communism the United States stopped supporting Russia and sent in troops to help clear the country of its communist revolution.  The complex political-economic relationships between all of these countries provide the backdrop for His Final Refuge by John Knott.

Nationalism amongst nations in the 19th century grew which in turn cause many countries to become colonial nations to expand their borders.  With many new nations becoming colonial nations, the new colonial nations began to challenge the already powerful Western European countries like Germany and France.  The first Sino-Japanese War in 1894 dealt with China and Japan fighting over Korea.  China ended up losing due to being poorly equipped.  Due to the Japanese victory Japan began to rise to power and split China up into a weak country that consisted of spheres of influence, which are territories that accommodate an outside nation culturally, economically, militarily or politically.  Japan then continued their expansion into the Asian mainland in order to grow their empire.  Japan also fought with Russia over the possession of Manchuria and Korea in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.  Japan won the Russo-Japanese War and Russia gave up Port Arthur and the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan and recognized Korea as a Japanese sphere of influence.  In 1914 World War I had begun and Japan had joined the Allies in order to gain Germany’s pacific territories.  During this time Japan began to politically dominate China and the Pacific.  The United States began to dislike Japan due to competition over territories in the Pacific and tensions further increased when both nations were on the same side in World War I despite competition with each other.  In 1917 during the Russian Revolution once Tsar Nicholas II was removed from power the United States praised the revolution but once the Bolsheviks regained power president Wilson sent troops to stop the revolution even though Russia was technically an ally.  This shows us that the United States is also vying to keep other nations in control and keep its place as the most powerful industrial nation.

In the February 7th, 1932 edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper, It is reported that Japan laid down its heaviest bombardment in Shanghai on January 28th, which shows how much tensions are escalating in East Asia.  Another article in the February 7th, 1932 edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper reports that Russia is expecting another world war and has began to train troops to prepare.  It is also reported in the same edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper that Russia might join with China in order to stop Japan from encroaching on its territory, although the two countries have treaties.  These events reported by the newspaper show us that tensions between these nations were building at a rapid pace.

His Final Refuge by John Knott depicts Russia as a communist nation living in a wooden shack watching China getting hit by a Japanese soldier with a large rifle.  In John Dower’s book, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific, Dower explains that in many other cartoons of in that period Japan is depicted as ape like.  Many Americans believed that the Japanese were inferior and possessed less intelligence than them, which created this common trope among American political cartoons at the after World War I.  The Russian is depicted as looking silently among the horrendous act of the Japanese moving the Chinese into submission.  His Final Refuge refers to China being put in its final resting place through complete political and economic domination.  At the time of 1932 it looked like Japan would dominate China but during The Second Sino Japanese War in 1937, The United States began to aid China and in 1945 the Japanese troops surrendered.

This cartoon provides a grim depiction of what the United States believed was going on with Japan.  Japan was increasingly militarizing and expanding itself as a nation after the first Sino-Japanese war and the United States believed it was going to finally dominate Japan during the period in between the First and Second Sino-Japanese Wars.  This period before World War II in East Asia marks an era of increasing tensions due to colonialism, which in turn creates shifting alliances between China, Japan, Russia and the United States.  These increasing tensions will finally erupt later on proving to be fatal for the world as the Second Sino-Japanese War occurs in 1937 and World War II begins in 1939 with The United States and Russia siding with the Allies and Japan siding with the Axis.

Works Cited:

Andrea, Alfred J., and Carolyn Neel. “Sino-Japanese War, 1894–1895.” World History Encyclopedia. Vol. 16. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011. 837. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Author Not Listed. “Heaviest Bombardment Yet Laid Down by Japanese Guns.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Christensen, Karen, and David Levinson. “China–Japan Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Vol. 2. New York City: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002. 6-12. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Dower, John W. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon, 1986. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Eberspaecher, Cord. “Russo-Japanese War.” Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. Ed. Thomas Benjamin. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 988-990. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

Elias Tobenkin. “World War Expected By Soviet And Men, Women and Children are Being Given Rigid Training.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “His Final Refuge.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.