Churchill and Roosevelt, January 1943–July 1945

Part of the Global Conflict and Security since 1945 book series (GCON)


The origins of Britain’s relationship with French Indo-China lay not in London but across the Atlantic with the US President Franklin Roosevelt. He wanted to remove Indo-China from French colonial control and to create a post-war trusteeship that would advance Indo-Chinese independence. Roosevelt did not intend to restore the European balance of power at the end of the war, but to create a new ‘international order based on harmony, not on equilibrium’.1 The Anglo-US Atlantic Charter of 1941 had been produced to calm American fears that it ‘was underwriting British war aims’, i.e. the return of imperialism. Article three of the charter provided indigenous peoples with the right to determine their own future.2 Trusteeship was Roosevelt’s method of sponsoring indigenous evolution towards independence. However, the Atlantic Charter ‘cast the problem of post-war security entirely in Wilsonian terms and contained no geopolitical component at all’.3 The charter was an attack on the imperial system, fuelled by economic motives.4 Former President Woodrow Wilson, 1912–20, had advocated values of ‘democracy, nationalism and the American way’, these were shared by his Assistant Under-Secretary for the Navy, Roosevelt.5


Prime Minister Colonial Power British Policy French Mission China Theatre 
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© T.O. Smith 2007

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