Photograph of ARCADIA conference session

ARCADIA was the first of the great wartime diplomatic conferences between Roosevelt and Churchill from 22 December 1941 to 14 January 1942. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Churchill feared that the United States would throw itself into the war against Japan at the expense of the war against Germany. To prevent the collapse of the "Germany First" policy, he invited himself to Washington to confer directly with Roosevelt. At the same time, the military leaders of the two nations began negotiating the grand strategy of the war and laid the foundation for the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the joint British-American committee that coordinated the grand strategy of the principal Western Allies.

The conference was notable for three chief outcomes. First, the "Germany First" policy was reaffirmed. In spite of strong public opinion in the United States for putting the main effort against Japan, supported by the pleas of Douglas MacArthur and Ernest King, the Army leadership under Marshall agreed with Roosevelt that Germany was by far the more dangerous enemy and must be dealt with first. Second, the United States announced production goals that struck the British as completely unrealistic, particularly in shipbuilding. However, almost all were actually met as the United States mobilized its tremendous productive potential to the war effort. Third, the United States pressed for a landing in northwest Europe at the earliest possible moment, but not later than 1943.

The conference also agreed to establish the ABDA command in southeast Asia. This was the only immediate impact of the conference on the Pacific War, since the crisis there necessitated sending considerable men and equipment to the Pacific in spite of the "Germany First" policy. These commitments were deplored by the U.S. Army but were essential to checking the Japanese advance in the Solomons and New Guinea and creating the preconditions for the decisive Guadalcanal campaign. It was felt that the failure to send adequate forces to the Pacific would invite further disasters which would jeopardize the war against Germany.

A second Washington conference, which received no code name, was held on 20-25 June 1942 and made the decision to open a second front in North Africa and postpone the northwestern European invasion until at least 1943. The next major conference was the Casablanca conference (SYMBOL) of 14-24 January 1943.


Miller (1959)

Smith (1985)

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