Seapower, Geostrategic Relations, and Islandness: The World War II Destroyers for Bases Deal
Island Studies Journal
University of Prince Edward Island * Institute of Island Studies
The Destroyers for Bases deal was signed on March 27, 1941, and transferred fifty aging US destroyers to Great Britain in exchange for 99-year leases of bases on the British controlled islands of Newfoundland, Bermuda, Trinidad, Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, the Bahamas, and one in British Guiana. The deal highlights how US strategic planners came to see the value of the islands because of their relationality. Three forms of relationality are discussed: the land/sea dialectic; spatial connectivity; and the changing geopolitical balance of power. Relationality is a factor in four strategic calculations: other islands; other continents; other oceans; and the conjuncture of long-term historical processes of hegemonic decline and rise. The relationality of the islands is understood through the lens of seapower as both input (the military bases) and output (the projection of force). Media representations of the deal are discussed to illustrate how islandness was implicit in the narration of the islands as being of strategic benefit to the US. The conclusions drawn emphasize the need to see strategic and military actors as agents who are aware of and construct island relationality; and the need for islands to be included as one of the inputs of seapower.
FLINT, C. 2021. “Seapower, Geostrategic Relations, and Islandness: The World War Two Destroyers for Bases Deal.” Island Studies Journal Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 271-291 https://doi.org/10.24043/isj.139.