Preparing for War, Hoping for Peace
From September 1, 1939 through the fall of 1941, FDR pursued a cautious but deliberate policy of aiding first Great Britain and then the Soviet Union in their war with Germany and Italy. At every step, FDR had to contend with deep-seated American fears of involvement in the war. He also had to manage a growing crisis in the Pacific, where Japan was expanding its empire into China and threatening Southeast Asia. These twin crises put Roosevelt's intellectual and political skills to a stern test. FDR sometimes stretched the limits of executive power to respond to this extraordinary situation. Critics charged he exceeded those limits.