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

By Galen Roger Perras | Go to book overview

Introduction

One approaches a study of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Canadian-American security relations with some trepidation because perhaps no other American president has attracted so much scholarly attention. Elected at the very height of the Great Depression, Roosevelt won four presidential terms, created the modern American welfare state that lasted almost six decades, led his nation into World War Two only to die of a stroke as victory came into sight, and acquired a reputation as a "protean figure" ranking with his fellow presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. 1 Dozens of books have sought to illuminate aspects of this enigmatic man's life from his days as a New York assemblyman to his status of liberal New Dealer and wartime commander-in-chief. More than 50 years after Roosevelt's death, many still argue about his foreign policy goals and whether those policies succeeded. Orthodox and some revisionist historians regard Franklin Roosevelt as the ultimate realist who confronted difficult domestic and international conditions, whereas neoconservatives portray him as a naive and idealistic bumbler who misunderstood both the practice of international relations and the Soviet Union. Still others see Roosevelt either as a realist who failed to understand his room to maneuver, a skilled pragmatist operating under a series of misconceptions about the Stalinist regime, or an "idealist-realist" who sacrificed a clear and defensible vision of a reformed international order because of wartime needs and dilemmas.

All such studies suffer from the affliction of getting a handle on Roosevelt's intentions. Characterized by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., as often lazy and superficial in his thought and intuitive rather than logical, 2 Roosevelt was famously described by

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