Containment, Rollback, and the Onset of the Pacific War, 1933–1941

Sidney Pash

in The United States and the Second World War

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231201
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240791 | DOI:

Series: World War II: The Global, Human, and Ethical Dimension

Containment, Rollback, and the             Onset of the Pacific War, 1933–1941

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This chapter traces the evolution and eventual failure of the Roosevelt administration's strategy for containing Japanese expansion. Begun in 1933 and accelerated soon after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the United States sought to contain Japan by sustaining Chinese resistance and weakening the Japanese economy. It is shown that American containment sustained Chinese resistance but in the process accelerated Japan's embrace of the Axis Alliance and its advance into French Indochina. Containment was a patient, cautious, and largely successful American program that changed radically only after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Convinced that Tokyo would not strike against Western targets prior to a Soviet collapse and certain that England was safe from invasion until the summer of 1942, the Roosevelt administration abandoned containment in an ill-fated effort to roll back Japanese expansion and break up the Axis. Senior American officials inadvertently, and in a genuine effort to avoid war, fatally undermined Japanese-American efforts to keep peace in the Pacific.

Keywords: Roosevelt; Japanese expansion; Axis Alliance; containment; foreign policy; Chinese resistance

Chapter.  11977 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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