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View Diary: The Great Depression Pt. III (172 comments)

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  •  Yes. FDR played a dangerous game there. (3+ / 0-)
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    semiot, Ice Blue, fisheye

    FDR clearly violated the Neutrality Act in authorizing U.S. warships to escort convoys across the Atlantic, even if the convoys contained U.S.-registered merchant ships (and they did).  That's why FDR couldn't ask Congress to treat the sinking of the Reuben James as an outright causus belli.  It did, however, lead to the repeal of many provisions of the Neutrality Act, and swung key senators in favor of further engagement on Britain's behalf.

    Even had the Japanese never launched their Winter 1941 offensive - Pearl Harbor and near simultaneous attacks on the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the East Indies - it's likely that our escalation of naval activity in the Atlantic would have triggered a causus belli sometime in 1942.

    Regardless, the brake on U.S. major operations in 1942-1944 was the size of our merchant fleet, and thus we could not have effectively used a larger military any sooner than we had one.  Not beginning our military buildup until late 1940 allowed us to take better advantage of lessons learned in Poland and (especially) France and the Battle of Britain.

    We still had some bad doctrine and "mis-builds" to overcome - tank destroyers are the most obvious, our wholly inadequate personnel replacement system was another - but we had much less of either than any other major combatant.

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