Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I didn't know what ARCADIA referred to until I read a book called One Christmas in Washington by David Bercuson and Holger Herwig. It's about the conference (code-named ARCADIA) between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill that took place from late December 1941 to early January 1942 in Washington, D.C. This was of course just after the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II, and so Churchill thought it was important to get right over to see FDR so that the two leaders could craft a joint strategy and consolidate their views. Bercuson and Herwig craft a portrait of two leaders of comparable levels of personal pride and national ambition, each trying to coax and coerce the other into ceding to their point of view. It appears that at this starting point, although Churchill and Roosevelt had a fair amount of personal rapport, their general staffs and top military advisors had to overcome a lot of animosity to reach the agreements that formed the foundation for the Allied coalition in the war. But overcome it they did-- the British got past their arrogance for the largely untested Americans and the Americans overcame their Anglophobia to eventually agree on a joint command structure and production and shipping strategy that formed the base for Allied success over the next three-four years. One Christmas in Washington was a well-written book about a little-known chapter in World War II history when politics and personal animosity were overcome in favor of a broader worldview that lead to their ultimate victory.