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

efforts; and he used his influence, sometimes in a most unsubtle manner, to compel Canada to pay more attention to North American defense.

The creation of a Canadian-American military alliance in the dark days of the summer of 1940, however, was not a foregone conclusion. Although King proved willing to explore strategic possibilities prior to 1940, at no time before the outbreak of World War Two did he express a desire to firmly ally his Dominion with the United States. In fact, until 1939 both King and the Canadian military resisted Roosevelt's overtures in favor of a policy of modest rearmament so that the Americans could summon no excuse to intervene if Canada remained neutral during an American war with Japan. And as World War Two progressed, King, worried that closer ties with the United States might mean Canada's political absorption into the American union, sought to reverse much of what he agreed to with Roosevelt. Moreover, the American military remained unconvinced until quite late as to the merits of a security pact with Canada, and had Roosevelt not personally intervened to propose the creation of the PJBD in August 1940, the alliance that so many Canadian and Americans have taken for granted for the last 50 years may have had a far more difficult birth. However, Franklin Roosevelt proved a largely disinterested catalyst. After the North American alliance was set in place, his attentions swung towards the much larger issues of war and peace in Europe and the Pacific, and even before America's official entry into the global conflict in December 1941, Canada found itself both unable to get Roosevelt's attention and growing increasingly suspicious of American intentions. The alliance would survive the war's end and Roosevelt's demise, but that was due largely to the emergence of a new and far more dangerous Soviet foe lurking just over the North American horizon.


NOTES
1.
William E. Leuchtenburg, In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), xi.
2.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., The Age of Roosevelt: The Crisis of the Old Order 1919-1933 ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1957), 407.
3.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959), 14.
4.
Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War. Volume II ( New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948), 495; and Henry L. Stimson Papers, Diary, 18 December 1940, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University [YU], New Haven.
5.
Quoted in John Charmley, Churchill's Grand Alliance: The Anglo-American Special Relationship 1940-57 ( San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995), 11.
6.
Schlesinger, The Coming of the New Deal, 544; and Warren F. Kimball, The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 4.
7.
Sumner Welles, Seven Major Decisions ( London: Hamish Hamilton, 1951), 205.
8.
Quoted in Kimball, The Juggler, 7.
9.
Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).
10.
Kimball, The Juggler, 109-15.

-xii-

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