Franklin Roosevelt and the Origins of the Canadian-American Security Alliance, 1933-1945: Necessary, but Not Necessary Enough

Franklin Roosevelt and the Origins of the Canadian-American Security Alliance, 1933-1945: Necessary, but Not Necessary Enough

Franklin Roosevelt and the Origins of the Canadian-American Security Alliance, 1933-1945: Necessary, but Not Necessary Enough

Franklin Roosevelt and the Origins of the Canadian-American Security Alliance, 1933-1945: Necessary, but Not Necessary Enough

Synopsis

In the turbulent years before World War II, U.S. strategic planners struggled with the question of Canadian security. Franklin Roosevelt took a unique interest in America's northern neighbor and persistently encouraged Canada to do more to ensure its own defense especially through alliance with the U.S. This aspect of foreign policy resulted in a delicate balancing act between U.S. officials who sought to downplay the strategic importance of Canada and Canadian leaders who saw American overtures as a threat to Canadian sovereignty.

Excerpt

The unity-of-command wrangle in 1941-1942 clearly had demonstrated that though Canada remained fully committed to a cooperative approach to continental defense planning in tandem its American ally, such cooperation did not amount to a surrender of Canadian national sovereignty, no matter the size of the power disparity in the bilateral relationship. Unfortunately, as Canadian officials soon discovered to their considerable dismay, size sometimes makes all the difference (at least in diplomacy), and victories like the command unity debate proved far harder to achieve, especially as both the stakes and the number of players increased.

Just six days after President Roosevelt's unprecedented re-election to a third term on 6 November 1940, the USN's Admiral Harold Stark composed one of the war's most influential planning documents. Assuming that if Britain lost its battle with Germany, that the military problems that the United States would have to face "would be very great" and that "while we might not lose everywhere, we might, possibly, not win anywhere," Stark thought that American national strategic objectives, beyond the preservation of the territorial, economic, and ideological integrity of the United States and the Western Hemisphere, included preventing the disruption of the British empire and the diminution of Japan's offensive military power. Believing that the British were "over-optimistic as to their chances for ultimate success," Stark doubted that having the United States provide naval assistance to the Royal Navy 'in the Atlantic would assure Britain's final victory over Germany; that potential triumph could be achieved only by initiating a land offensive in Europe, an option Britain could not adopt given its insufficient manpower reserves. Faced with such daunting challenges, Stark offered four basic strategic alternatives for the United States: Strict hemispheric defense . . .

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