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

By James R. Leutze | Go to book overview

16.
Epilogue

When the ABC agreement was signed, nine months remained before the United States actually entered the war and many details needed attention. With the exception of further staff talks about the Pacific, and the Atlantic Conference that was held in August 1941, those details fall outside the scope of a study of strategy formulation. However, since the establishment of staff missions, the building of bases in England, Iceland, and Newfoundland, escorting convoys, and the extension of patrolling had been provided for in the ABC agreement, it seems worthwhile to review them, especially since the arrangements concerning those items followed the terms of the agreement so closely. Adherence to the agreement did not occur entirely by chance, as some British officers were to find to their surprise. The prime minister, for instance, was advised that the Americans regarded and quoted the ABC agreement "as the Bible of our joint collaboration," and for the U.S. Navy the document represented a "definite commitment" that it was "inclined to regard as more sacrosanct than is justified." Because of his experiences during the first few months of operating under the strictures of the ABC terms, Admiral Danckwerts warned others at the Admiralty to be careful since the Americans "with their usual suspicious outlook" were quick to accuse the British of bad faith if they departed in the slightest degree from the letter of the agreement.1

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