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Use of Lend-Lease in World War II

The current Lend-Lease Act updates a 1941 law the United States used to supply allies, especially Britain, during World War II and to position itself for greater control of Europe after the war. The 1941-45 Lend-Lease Act authorized the President to "sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government [whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States] any defense article."

At the time the U.S. provided for repayment not necessarily in terms of money or returned goods, but as the State Department then put it, in "joint action directed towards the creation of a liberalized international economic order in the postwar world." This included support for post-WWII financial institutions dominated by the U.S. like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Both are notorious for strengthening U.S. domination while providing untold profits to the financiers and indebting and wrecking the economies of countries worldwide.

Britain was a main recipient of the estimated $50.1 billion worth of mainly military supplies provided by the U.S. -- equivalent to $690 billion in 2020 dollars. This included ships, planes, tanks, etc. Before the original Lend-Lease Act was passed in 1941, the U.S. arranged for 50 U.S. Navy destroyers to be transferred to the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy in exchange for basing rights in the Caribbean. Then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill also granted the U.S. base rights in Bermuda and Newfoundland for free.

At the end of the war, significant shipments of military supplies were still being sent to Britain. In 1946, a post-war U.S. loan further indebted Britain to the U.S. with an initial Lend-Lease loan valued at more than one billion pounds. Repayment was stretched over 50 annual installments, starting in 1951 and with five years of deferred payments, at two per cent interest. Accumulating interest over decades, Britain did not make the final payment of $83.3 million until December 2006. 

Thus, the latest Lend-Lease Act is also an instrument to further indeb and control Ukraine and countries of Eastern Europe while providing more profits to the financiers and military oligarchs.

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 6 - June 5, 2022

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