Americans like to imagine that in days long past politics stopped at the water’s edge and America spoke with one voice to the world. More often than not, however, our foreign policy debates have been rough-and-tumble affairs, more a cacophony of angry voices than a harmony of sweet ones. Nowhere was this more true than in the pitched battle over one of the most important pieces of foreign policy legislation in American history, the Lend–Lease Act, which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law on March 11, 1941.
The seeds for the Lend-Lease Act were planted in the late fall of 1940. FDR had just been elected to an unprecedented third term, a race he won at least in part by pledging to an American public worried about war with Germany: “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” (Upon learning of what FDR said, his opponent, Wendell Wilkie, erupted: “That hypocritical son of a bitch! This is going to beat me!” That’s one political prediction that turned out to be correct.)
In December 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote to FDR with the chilling news that Britain was verging on bankruptcy. The “Battle of Britain” over the previous summer and fall had taken a heavy toll. Churchill confessed that: “The moment approaches when we shall no longer be able to pay cash for shipping and other supplies.” Without supplies from the United States, Britain might not be able to hold out against the German onslaught.
The podcast for The World Next Week is up. Bob McMahon and I talked about the upcoming G8 foreign ministers meeting in Paris, where the Libyan crisis will top the agenda; intensified violence in Cote d’Ivoire; the continued drama over the federal budget as the two-week stopgap spending bill will soon expire; and the new Irish prime minister’s work to solve Ireland’s fiscal woes.
The Water’s Edge examines the political forces shaping American foreign policy, the sustainability of American power, and the ability of the United States to navigate a rapidly changing world.
In The Hacked World Order, CFR Senior Fellow Adam Segal shows how governments use the web to wage war and spy on, coerce, and damage each other. More
Red Team provides an in-depth investigation into the work of red teams, revealing the best practices, most common pitfalls, and most effective applications of these modern-day devil's advocates. More
Through insightful analysis and engaging graphics, How America Stacks Up explores how the United States can keep pace with global economic competition. More
India now matters to U.S. interests in virtually every dimension. This Independent Task Force report assesses the current situation in India and the U.S.-India relationship, and suggests a new model for partnership with a rising India.
Rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries are increasing faster than in wealthier countries. The report outlines a plan for collective action on this growing epidemic.
This report asserts that elevating and prioritizing the U.S.-Canada-Mexico relationship offers the best opportunity for strengthening the United States and its place in the world.
Williams argues that the status quo for peace operations in untenable and that greater U.S. involvement is necessary to enhance the quality and success of peacekeeping missions.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.