Monday, May 27, 2019

Destroyers for Bases

The Second World War changed everything. The United States was attacked by an increasingly militaristic Japan after Washington imposed economic sanctions on Tokyo that would have brought the country to its knees. The Americans came out swinging. They projected their now vast power around the world, and in order to keep things that way, this time they didn't go home.

As the world's greatest economic and military postwar power, America now needed to control the world's sea-lanes, to keep the peace, and get the goods to market. They were “the last man standing.”

The Europeans had exhausted themselves; their economies, like their towns and cities, were in ruins. Meanwhile, the Japanese were crushed; the Chinese were both devastated and at war with each other; and the Russians weren't even in the capitalist game.

A century earlier, the British had learned they needed forward bases and coaling stations from which to project and protect their naval power. Now, with Britain in decline, the Americans looked lasciviously at the British assets and said, “Nice bases—we'll have them.” The price was right.

In the autumn of 1940, the British desperately needed more warships. The Americans had fifty to spare and so, with what was called the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, the British swapped their ability to be a global power for help in remaining in the war. Almost every British naval base in the Western Hemisphere was handed over.
Source: Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World

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