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FDR and the Soviet Union

The President’s Battles over Foreign Policy

Mary E. Glantz

February 2005
264 pages, 6-1⁄8 x 9-1⁄4
Modern War Studies
Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1365-6, $34.95

Book cover imageThroughout his presidency, Franklin Roosevelt was determined to pursue a peaceful accommodation with an increasingly powerful Soviet Union, an inclination reinforced by the onset of world war. Roosevelt knew that defeating the Axis powers would require major contributions by the Soviets and their Red Army, and so, despite his misgivings about Stalin’s expansionist motives, he pushed for friendlier relations. Yet almost from the moment he was inaugurated, lower-level officials challenged FDR’s ability to carry out this policy.

Mary Glantz analyzes tensions shaping the policy stance of the United States toward the Soviet Union before, during, and immediately after World War II. Focusing on the conflicts between a president who sought close relations between the two nations and the diplomatic and military officers who opposed them, she shows how these career officers were able to resist and shape presidential policy—and how their critical views helped shape the parameters of the subsequent Cold War.

Venturing into the largely uncharted waters of bureaucratic politics, Glantz examines overlooked aspects of wartime relations between Washington and Moscow to highlight the roles played by U.S. personnel in the U.S.S.R. in formulating and implementing policies governing the American-Soviet relationship. She takes readers into the American embassy in Moscow to show how individuals like Ambassadors Joseph Davies, Lawrence Steinhadt, and Averell Harriman and U.S. military attachés like Joseph Michela influenced policy, and reveals how private resistance sometimes turned into public dispute. She also presents new material on the controversial military attaché/lend-lease director Phillip Faymonville, a largely neglected officer who understood the Soviet system and supported Roosevelt’s policy.

Deftly combining military with diplomatic history, Glantz traces these philosophical and policy battles to show how difficult it was for even a highly popular president like Roosevelt to overcome such entrenched and determined opposition. Although he reorganized federal offices and appointed ambassadors who shared his views, in the end he was unable to outlast his bureaucratic opponents or change their minds. With his death, anti-Soviet factions rushed into the policymaking vacuum to become the primary architects of Truman’s Cold War “containment” policy.

A case study in foreign relations, high-level policymaking, and civil-military relations, FDR and the Soviet Union enlarges our understanding of the ideologies and events that set the stage for the Cold War. It adds a new dimension to our understanding of Soviet-American relations as it sheds new light on the surprising power of those in low places.

“FDR fought two battles over his wartime policies toward the Soviet Union: one with that suspicious, recalcitrant ally—the other with his own bureaucrats and diplomats. Glantz’s fine study neatly places both battles within the complex context of Roosevelt’s maneuverings aimed at holding the Grand Alliance together while constructing a lasting postwar peace.”—Warren F. Kimball, author of The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman

“With balance, perception, and objectivity, Glantz provides a new account of the relations between the two powers most responsible for Allied victory.”—Norman Saul, author of War and Revolution: The United States and Russia, 1914–1921

“An important, original, and significant contribution.”—Mark A. Stoler, author of Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II

MARY E. GLANTZ is a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State.


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