THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE SOVIET-FINNISH WAR OF 1939-1940
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In the USA and particularly among American society, Soviet aggression against Finland (30 November 1939) produced an unexpected lively reaction - sympathy, understanding and support for the small, 4 million-strong nation in the distant north. This truly extraordinary response proved to be unique: the initially considerable involvement of the Roosevelt Administration in support of 'brave little Finland' seemed to forecast a general change in American policy towards the Soviet Union. Already during the early days of the war, American society immediately initiated the organisation of a relief campaign and money collections for medications, dressings, blankets and children's clothes. The funds were gathered at specially organised festivities, concerts, shows, lectures and competitions. Numerous American politicians and Congressmen urged such forms of protest and drastic steps towards the Kremlin as withdrawing the American ambassador from Moscow, or severing diplomatic relations. Some spoke in favour of US diplomatic steps on the international forum aimed at excluding the Soviet Union from the League of Nations. President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Hull appeared to be embarrassed by this outcry, even more so considering that the Administration itself was also rent by heated discussions. The government in Helsinki, grateful for the American support campaign, attempted to obtain credit for arms and munitions. The decisions made by the Congress ultimately proved unsatisfactory for the Finnish side. After numerous weeks of debates and competence disputes between the executive and legislative authorities, the Capitol decided to grant credit considerably smaller than the anticipated sum and, additionally, not to be intended for the purchase of arms. At the time, America ineffectively tried to combine two mutually exclusive ideas : involvement and wide assistance for Finland, together with restrictions vis a vis Russia, on the one hand, and the heretofore isolationism, neutrality and traditional American distance from all wars, on the other hand.
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