Sunday, December 27, 2015

Churchill, Roosevelt and War$_35.JPG

As did Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt maneuvered Americans into war and was assisted by a very desperate Churchill who blundered by guaranteeing the independence of Poland – a country that ended the war occupied by the communist troops of Hitler’s former ally and far from independent. Churchill’s Pyrrhic victory marked the end of the British Empire and the rise of what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.

Bernhard Thuersam,   The Great American Political Divide

Churchill, Roosevelt and War

“With the fall of France and the entry of Italy into the war, the balance of power had shifted too much. In the summer of 1940, therefore, Churchill’s letters went to Roosevelt, while his thoughts were already turning toward Stalin.

The extensive British coastal traffic . . . required strong escort forces, but many of these escort ships had been lost or damaged . . . and further losses were to come. In the ten days from July 20 to 30 alone, four British destroyers were sunk and seven others severely damaged.

No wonder that Churchill repeated the attempt he had already made in May [1940] to get 50 or 60 old destroyers from the Americans . . . though obsolete, they could still protect the convoys from the menacing U-boats.

Roosevelt, who like Churchill was obsessed with the idea of a crusade against Germany, had not yet succeeded in persuading the nation to abandon its understandable preference for isolationism – which had been approved by Congress – in favor of this policy of doubtful value. American merchant ships were still forbidden to carry goods for belligerents . . .

On 1 November 1939, the American Government had declared a war zone around the British Isles, the whole of the North Sea, and the Baltic, and on 10 April 1940 (the day after the German occupation of Norway), the zone was extended to include the wide sea around Norway. With Italy’s entry into the war the entire Mediterranean was also included.

By thus creating what might be termed a negative prohibited area, in which American ships and citizens were forbidden to sail, the Americans had indirectly admitted the right of all belligerents to declare their own prohibited areas. The only advantage which Roosevelt had secured for the British . . . was the “Cash and Carry” clause, permitting all the belligerents to take out of the United States any war material which they could pay cash for and transport in their own ships. This concession was obviously of little use to the Germans.

For the record it should be mentioned that in February 1941, when England’s foreign assets were exhausted and the war propaganda had had time to take effect, Roosevelt contrived and got Congress to accept the idea of “Lend-Lease” of war material – which, of course, applied only to the enemies of the Axis Powers.

[The] delivery of the destroyers would be “a decidedly un-neutral act,” as even Churchill admitted in his history of the war. However, Churchill applied increasing pressure . . . and offered the Americans in exchange the lease for 99 years – almost a cession – of military bases in the Bahamas, in Jamaica, Antigua, Santa Lucia, Trinidad, and British Guiana. The offer was so advantageous to the Americans that they accepted it, and on 2 September 1940 they signed the “exchange” agreement.

In securing his 50 destroyers, Churchill had initiated the selling out of the British Empire – whether as a last resort or to be sure of bringing the Americans into the war . . . [and he] willingly threw in bases in Argentia (Newfoundland) and in Bermuda. (pp. 126-129)

“On 1 February 1941, the Americans formed their “Atlantic Fleet,” under the command of Admiral Ernest J. King . . . [and] on 25 March Germany extended her war zone to include Iceland, which was being used as a British base. Thereupon, Roosevelt ordered the US destroyer Niblack to proceed to the island to investigate its strategic importance. Shortly before arriving at her destination, the destroyer located a submarine by means of sonar and carried out a depth charge attack. This put an end to any further pretense of American neutrality.

On April 18 Admiral King defined the eastern boundary of the Western Hemisphere [as the Azores] although they lie closer to Europe than to America. This made it possible for Roosevelt, when announcing a “National Emergency” on 27 May, to assert that the war was getting closer to America and that many ships had been sunk in the waters of the Western Hemisphere. He chose to ignore that these sinkings had occurred outside even the far extended American security zone.

[In July American] forces were diverted [from the Azores] to Iceland, where they took over garrison duties from the British. Thus did the country of the Monroe Doctrine use its armed might to secure a foothold in the war zone of another part of the world.

Early in August 1941, a meeting took place between President Roosevelt and British Premier Churchill at Argentia in Newfoundland [which] resulted in the Atlantic Charter . . . From then on, US warships took over convoy escort duties up to Iceland, afforded protection for all ships “that wished to be included.” Officially, these services, which could hardly be reconciled with neutrality, were provided “as between two American bases.”

Incidents were unavoidable. [When the USS Greer located a U-boat and] British aircraft attacked the submarine with depth charges, the U-boat replied by firing a torpedo which missed its mark at Greer.

Roosevelt stigmatized this incident as an act of piracy and on 11 September authorized US warships to attack German and Italian ships “in waters whose safety was essential to US defense interests.

Roosevelt had been right in his estimate that Hitler would be too involved in the difficulties of his Russian campaign to protest at the American intervention. Despite repeated representations by Admiral Raeder and Admiral Doenitz, Hitler upheld his early order that ships identified as American were never to be attacked except in an old danger zone around the British Isles set by President Roosevelt’s proclamation itself . . .”

(Der Seekrieg, The German Navy’s Story, 1939-1945, Vice-Admiral Friedrich Ruge, United States Naval Institute, 1957, pp. 231-233)

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