Chapter 2 of No End Save Victory by David Kaiser opens with Congress and the American people approving a huge defense buildup in the wake of the German triumph in Europe. On May 16, 1940, Roosevelt asked for an appropriation that was half again as large as the amount that he had requested in January. This proposal showed that Roosevelt anticipated an all-out struggle with hostile powers even then, and that he was determined to take advantage of American industrial might to play a decisive role in that struggle.
Kaiser discusses George Marshall’s testimony calling for an expansion of the Army and profiles Marshall. The general presented a memo in a meeting with FDR that called for avoiding conflict with Japan and concentrating on South America and possible Nazi influence there.
On May 31, 1940, the Joint Planning Committee submitted the Rainbow 4 war plan, based on the worst-case scenario of German and Italian triumph in Europe and Axis naval dominance in the Atlantic. The plan included moves to control areas of the Caribbean and South America that might be vulnerable to German and Japanese influence. Overseas tasks were deferred until more forces were available. FDR later approved the Rainbow 4 plan.
Roosevelt, meanwhile, was attacking another problem, war production. In a May 26, 1940, Fireside Chat he framed the challenge of building up the United States’ productive capacity as “action on behalf of moral values on a world scale.” He then formed a Defense Commission made up of business, labor and government leaders. This commission would report directly to him.
In a June 10 speech, Roosevelt announced that the United States would “extend to the opponents of force the material resources of this nation.” He also compared the current crisis to other critical moments in U.S. history.
During June, Churchill pleaded with FDR to come to the aid of France, and U.S. military leaders planned on moving the U.S. fleet to the Atlantic if the French fleet fell to the Germans. FDR planned on taking over European possessions in the Americas as part of an overall plan for defending the Western Hemisphere. While he still acted to make some arms available to the British, FDR did not plan on any significant action to save Great Britain.
In June and July 1940, when France fell and Great Britain seemed to face invasion, the administration pushed through an immense naval buildup, and the legislation passed both houses of Congress easily.
Kaiser then discusses FDR’s pursuit of a third term. As an opening blow, he brought into his cabinet two prominent Republicans to run the war effort, Frank Knox and Henry L. Stimson. Kaiser profiles both men. The Republicans picked Wendell Willkie for 1940. He favored a defense buildup and aid to nations fighting aggression.
The draft issue arose in June and July 1940, and Marshall called for two million men to defend the Western Hemisphere.
In July FDR took a secret and critical step toward war by sending Rear Admiral Robert Ghormley to London. Ghormley was to hold secret talks with the British on ways that the United States and Britain could work together.
Also in July, the Democrats nominated FDR for a third term. In accepting this call to service, Roosevelt also announced his support for Marshall’s draft bill. After much controversy, a weakened draft bill became law in September.
The chapter closes with the destroyers for bases deal with Great Britain, which took effect in September 1940. With these bases, the United States prepared for war but not for any immediate intervention in Europe.