Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013
By Antoine Capet
“‘A Long, Slow and Painful Road’: The Anglo-American Alliance and the Issue of Cooperation with the USSR from Teheran to D-Day,” by Martin H. Folly, Diplomacy & Statecraft 23:3, 2012, 471-92.
The Anglo–American alliance during World War II became less cohesive on the political side than the military. By 1944 there were widening divergences between Britain and the U.S. over how to cooperate with the Soviets. Though they shared assumptions about the motivations of Soviet goals, British and American policymakers not only formulated different approaches, they consistently viewed theirs as more successful than those of their ally. There was an opportunity to coordinate policies during the visit to London of American Undersecretary of State Edward Stettinius in April 1944; but the issue was barely discussed, which is symptomatic of the situation. The British Foreign Office, with the backing of Winston Churchill, wished to forge ahead with pragmatic arrangements with the Russians. Self-satisfaction with their own efforts on both sides meant that the British and American bureaucracies made no serious and sustained attempts to unify their outlook on the Soviets, in contrast to the closeness of cooperation in other areas.
“‘Winston Has Gone Mad’: Churchill, the British Admiralty and the Rise of Japanese Naval Power,” by John H. Maurer, Journal of Strategic Studies 35:6, 2012, 775-97.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer during the late 1920s, Churchill was at the center of British strategic decision-making about how to respond to the naval challenge posed by Japan’s rise as a rival sea power. Churchill downplayed the likelihood of war with Japan. The leadership of the Royal Navy disagreed: they saw Japan as a dangerous threat to the security of the British Empire. Examining this dispute between Churchill and the Admiralty highlights the awkward political, economic, and strategic tradeoffs confronting British leaders between the world wars.
Dr. Capet is Professor of British Studies at the University of Rouen, France, and editor of several collections on Britain’s 20th century diplomatic and military policy.