chapter  7
16 Pages

FDR’s Admiral Diplomats: The Diplomacy of Expediency

Roosevelt's decision to dispatch Wendell Willkie on a fact-finding tour in 1 942 so aggravated Standley that, to demonstrate his pique, he asked to be recalled for instructions. In a blunt statement to the press shortly after his return to Moscow in 1 943 , he vented his frustration over Soviet censorship of the American Lend-Lease contributions to their recent victories. Charging that the Soviets had failed to communicate the significance of American aid to their people, Standley created a diplomatic backlash in Washington that undoubtedly accelerated his own decision to end his assignment. He "ceased to struggle" in April 1 943, on learning that former Ambassador Joseph E. Davies was being sent to Moscow "with a secret message for Stalin." On 3 May 1 943, Admiral Standley accepted the portents for his own future and tendered his resignation. 7

From 1 940 to 1 943 , there were three distinct phases of the war: first, the period of defeat, then the holding action, and, finally, the rollback. During the first two phases the imperative of denying total victory to the Axis remained fixed. The chances of such appeared greater if the Soviet Union had been overrun in 1 94 1 or if the Germans captured Stalingrad in 1 942. That the direct involvement of Vichy France would have guaranteed a Nazi triumph appears less certain, though Roosevelt's administration shared Britain's anxieties over the incorporation of the French navy within the Axis fleets. Least likely, though never dismissed as impossible until November 1942, was the chance the French West Indies might become hostile. To counter such a possibility it was believed necessary to employ any stratagen to ensure final success.