War Aims

March 15, 1941

Report Outline
Roosevelt and Consideration of War Aims
World War Aims and the Peace Settlement
Axis Aims: New Order in Europe and Asia
British War Objectives; American Aims

Roosevelt and Consideration of War Aims

By stating tersely at his press conference, February 25, that consideration of peace proposals and plans for postwar reconstruction must await fulfillment of the primary objective of winning' the war, President Roosevelt aligned himself with the position taken by Prime Minister Churchill in response to requests for an official statement of British war aims. Demands for such a statement have been voiced in both the British House of Commons and the American Congress. Meanwhile, the question of the purposes which the British government, in the event of military victory, might seek to effectuate, externally in the way of international political reorganization and internally in the way of social and economic reform, has been a subject of considerable public discussion alike in England and in the United States. Such discussion is likely to continue, despite the unwillingness of the government leaders of both countries, at this stage, to translate generally stated principles into specifically outlined objectives.

United States and the Question of War Objectives

Before the lease-lend bill was taken up in the Senate, Senator Austin (R., Vt.) suggested, February 13, that it would be “well for Senators of the United States to express their views upon what are our peace aims and to ask Britain what are her peace aims.” Asserting that “America's interest and views regarding the plan for peace ought to have thorough consideration” at the end of the war, Austin said it seemed to him “entirely proper for us … to ascertain whether, in consideration of the effective aid without which Britain could not survive, in consideration of the indispensable aid which this country is about to give to Britain in the cause of freedom, Britain will not now make some sort of a commitment to us that she will present our views at the peace table.”

Stronger emphasis on American interest in the question of war and peace aims has come from other sources. Henry R. Luce, editor of Life, argued in an article in a recent issue of that magazine that primary responsibility in the matter of defining war aims rested upon the United States. Contending that “America and only America can effectively state the war aims of this war,” he said:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Preparation for World War II
Aug. 22, 1947  Industrial Mobilization
Sep. 23, 1941  War Organization of the Government
Aug. 02, 1941  Daylight Saving
Jul. 24, 1941  Conservation of Strategic Materials
Jun. 27, 1941  Atlantic Islands and American Defense
May 27, 1941  Production of War Materials
May 21, 1941  Rearmament and Work Relief
Mar. 15, 1941  War Aims
Feb. 20, 1941  War Orders and Decentralization
Feb. 05, 1941  Regulation of Priorities
Jun. 03, 1940  Methods of Financing War
Dec. 27, 1938  American Rearmament
Feb. 20, 1937  War Profits and Industrial Mobilization
U.S. at War: World War II