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Absent the war, neither Churchill nor Roosevelt would have led their countries in the 1940s.
Churchill enthusiastically took up the task, writing from the Admiralty, and adroitly signing his messages, “Naval Person.” Roosevelt followed up with a telephone call to Churchill about a rumored threat to an American merchant ship, USS (Intelligence warned that a bomb might have been placed aboard during her stop at Queenstown, Ireland; but no explosion occurred.) The President’s motive was straightforward: thinking that Churchill might become prime minister, FDR wanted to “keep my hand in.” By the time the war’s end approached, in mid-1945, he and Churchill had exchanged nearly 2000 messages and letters.
Whole books have been written of their relationship, which reflected and refracted all stages of the war.
From the outset, they understood that the full defeat of Hitler required the Red Army, a reality that gave Stalin bargaining leverage.
Moreover, they recognized that victory would make the Soviet Union a major player in the postwar world.
Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Churchill consistently sought to bring the United States into the war.
Churchill himself spoke of “courting” the President.
Yet before the war, Churchill, despite his huge public persona, seemed destined to be remembered as just another of minor ministers who populated British governments, though his writings would have raised him above the pack. A personal challenge can be large, but it is essentially private.
World War II provided that public challenge for Churchill, and offered Roosevelt an additional opportunity for historical prominence.
There has been no greater threat to civilization in the 20th century than Nazi Germany.
The immediate danger—military, economic, cultural—was to European civilization, but a Nazi-controlled Europe would have threatened much more than just the West.