Case 188 - The 1940 Destroyer Deal with Great Britain
Holsti, Ole R.
In the spring of 1940, German military successes threatened to overrun France, leaving Great Britain alone to face a threatened invasion. In his first message to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill asked for American assistance, including “the loan of 40 or 50 of your older destroyers." This case study describes the strategies and tactics FDR used to overcome strong isolationist sentiment and send the requested aid. It may be used to address several important issues relating to U.S. foreign policy and international politics, the quality of presidential leadership, and the obligations of neutral nations under international law.