Bargaining for Supremacy: Anglo-American Naval Collaboration, 1937-1941

By James R. Leutze | Go to book overview

13.
Agreement at Last

With Admiral Stark settled on a policy for advancing America's interests while safeguarding Britain's, all appeared ready for Anglo-American strategic cooperation. Even so, some complex problems remained unresolved, and as Stark's paper was circulating between the departments of State, War, and Navy, new interdepartmental bickering surfaced. Considering the enormity of the decisions, some debate and consequently some delay was to be expected, particularly in a country just recovering from elections.

Lack of leadership and a requirement for subterfuge also inhibited progress, for to an extent the president had become the prisoner of the noninterventionist opinion to which he had catered during the political campaign. Having done little to educate the public either about his covert policies or about America's legitimate interests in the conflict, Roosevelt now faced an electorate that expected fulfillment of his promises. The only solution seemed to be continued deception and increased caution. So cautious was he that for years it was difficult to determine what actions he took or what actions he allowed to be taken in his name.

The record is far easier to trace in London where there was little effort to conceal the enthusiasm for staff talks. But even in London there were unresolved interdepartmental differences about priorities and methods. In the face of these differences, Winston Churchill offered bold leadership. Forget the subtleties, he advised, get the Americans involved -- first in talks, then in war. If accomplishing that goal necessitated reinforcing American fears of British

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