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As the conqueror and owner of Europe, Hitler’s Germany would have had the resources to dominate the Mediterranean, to control the Middle East, and threaten the Western Hemisphere.Perhaps that empire would have collapsed from the pressures of over-expansion, but even a relatively brief Nazi rule would have been horrible.
Even Lend-Lease (March 1941) was, initially, as much about U. industrial and military rearming as it was about helping Britain fight the war.
It would be at least a year before Lend-Lease aid showed up in large amounts.
As he put it in his very first message to FDR as prime minister: “I trust you realize that the voice and force of the United States may count for nothing if they are withheld too long.” His words, private and public, and his actions, demonstrated persistent reluctance to become a belligerent, particularly with ground forces in Europe.
For all of 1940 and into 1941, he seems to have thought (defensively and wishfully) that Germany could be contained within Europe, and that American involvement could be limited to naval and air actions—all done without declaring war.
Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Churchill consistently sought to bring the United States into the war.
Churchill himself spoke of “courting” the President.
Hoping to prod Roosevelt into action, the Prime Minister had repeatedly hinted that a future British government—not under him, he hastened to note—might be forced to negotiate with Hitler.
The pattern of prod and veiled threat had recurred time and again for the past eighteen months.
Yet before the war, Churchill, despite his huge public persona, seemed destined to be remembered as just another of minor ministers who populated British governments, though his writings would have raised him above the pack. A personal challenge can be large, but it is essentially private.
World War II provided that public challenge for Churchill, and offered Roosevelt an additional opportunity for historical prominence.