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Churchill & Roosevelt during the Second World War: The Special Relationship

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  1. Introduction.
  2. A beginning friendship.
    1. An improbable relationship.
    2. The bases of a shared and sincere affection.
  3. A political alliance based on common values.
    1. Shared values.
    2. A common aim.
  4. Two men at the head of rival states.
    1. An unbalanced relationship.
    2. Diverging interests and ambitions.
  5. The change of the special relationship.
    1. Staline, stake and danger.
    2. Redefined roles.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

The 7 December 1941, Japan attacked the American fleet in Pearl Harbor. From then on, the war is no more only European but officially global. The next day, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the United States, declared war on Japan. With the coming into play of the American giant, the conflict acquired a new dimension, and it's Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, who got first the extent of it, declaring ?We are all in the same boat now? . The ?Special Relationship? is birth, and the Churchill-Roosevelt story will influence the History. Yet, at the beginning, the two protagonists really seemed to be poles apart. The relation they'll develop will mix different feelings in a specific context: the one of Second World War.
Associates, partners, friends? The particular link that united the two men seems to be difficult to get and to understand, all the more because it developed and changed between 1941 (date of the end of the American isolationism) and 1945 (a full of events' year: Yalta conference, German capitulation, Roosevelt's death). To what extent did the privileged link which united the two politicians reveal its complexity, at the same time as it decided on the end of the war and the reconstruction of the world? Roosevelt and Churchill developed throughout these years a relation based on confidence and solidarity. But it seemed to hide rifts, which tended to reveal themselves more and more. Whereas their friendship seemed to be both personal and political, differences began to emerge and the relation progressively changed.

[...] A beginning friendship While the Second World War was getting worse and was spreading beyond the European theatre, two men got at the head of their respective countries: Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president of the United States since 1932, and was re-elected for the third time in 1940, and Winston Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain the 10 May 1940. They were both important players in the conflict which was unfolding and the relation they could weave would be really decisive for the future of the world. [...]


[...] Roosevelt knew exactly during his four terms of office how to be in favour with the public opinion, sometimes acting by himself, and sometimes getting closer to his British allies. Moreover, the Congress itself was Anglophobe. On the other side, the British public opinion was also rather unfavourable to the Americans. The British people developed anti-Americanism during the war, because they thought ?they are over paid, over sexed, and over here?. Furthermore, the two men were from different political environment and had various influences. [...]


[...] Progressively, the end of the special relationship seemed to stand out. It's self-interest that leaded Roosevelt's desire of relation with Stalin, but there was a kind of naivety in his behaviour. The Soviets profoundly distrusted the British, especially Churchill, and that's why FDR wanted to meet Stalin by himself to convince him that America was not aligning herself with such imperialist designs. He resisted British pressure for a meeting in advance of Tehran. Churchill realised for the first time ?what a small nation we are?. [...]

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