Friday, March 11, 2005


I've always been struck by the political aspects of the Lend-Lease program. Essentially it was a way to put a palatable (politically) face on the need for the U.S. to support Britain and its allies in what we know today as World War II. At the time, the President (Franklin Roosevelt) and a sufficient number of senators and congressmen understood the need well enough to get Lend-Lease passed — but the majority of Americans were dead-set against taking a position in the "European war". In fact there was considerable support for the Germans and Italians, including (sound familiar?) by a panoply of celebrities — "Lucky" Lindbergh and not a few Hollywood stars amongst them.

Until Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt took a lot of heat for having instigated and signed Lend-Lease. On that December 7, however — just like a certain Septemeber 11 sixty years later — public opinion swiveled about and all the public clamor faded away.

It's worth a good ponder about the behavior of societies. Consider that with hindsight Lend-Lease was, quite literally, a life-saver for the Allies of World War II (and that would include the U.S.). Further consider that if it wasn't for the courage and (dare we say it?) arrogance of a single individual — I mean President Roosevelt — it would never have happened. Think about the consequences if it had not happened...many historians believe the outcome of the war might well have been different. We might be living under the swastika-and-stripes, with a rising sun on the side...

Wikipedia has a good introduction to Lend-Lease, for those of you who are not familiar with it.

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