Franklin Roosevelt said he was going on a fishing trip. Winston Churchill slipped out of London without anyone noticing. They rendezvoused off the coast of Canada and hammered out the Atlantic Charter, articulating out their aims for the postwar world.
The document strikes some modern readers as an idiosyncratic laundry list. It wasn’t. Rather, it captured the two leaders’ views of what caused global conflict and how to resolve those problems.
Roosevelt viewed Article 7, ensuring “freedom of the seas,” as particularly crucial. The world’s oceans keep America connected to its vital interests around the world. And he knew — months before Pearl Harbor — that the German threat to traffic in the Atlantic sea lanes had made all but inevitable that the U.S. would be dragged into World War II.