By the summer of 1940, France had fallen to the Nazis and Britain was fighting virtually alone against Germany on land, at sea and in the air. After new British Prime Minister Winston Churchill Roosevelt personally asked for help, the US president agreed to trade more than 50 obsolete US destroyers for 99-year leases at British bases in the Caribbean and Newfoundland for use as US air and naval bases. Roosevelt, who sought public approval for the controversial plan, told the public and the press that his plan was similar to that of a neighbor lending a garden hose to another to extinguish a fire in his home. « What should I do in such a crisis? » the president asked at a press conference. « I`m not saying. » Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; You have to pay me $15 for that. » I don`t want $15 – I want my garden hose back after the fire starts again.  To which Senator Robert Taft (R-Ohio) replied, « Lending war equipment is a good deal like lending gum – you certainly don`t want to get the same gum back. »  The Chair may. if it considers it in the interest of national defence,. sell, transfer, trade, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of any defense to such a government [whose defense the president considers essential to the defense of the United States]. Terms and Conditions. are those which the President considers satisfactory.
« And so our country will be what our people have proclaimed – the arsenal of democracy. » In mid-December 1940, Roosevelt introduced a new political initiative under which the United States would lend military supplies to Britain for the fight against Germany instead of selling them. Payment for supplies would be deferred and could take any form Roosevelt deemed satisfactory. Nikita Khrushchev, who had served as a military commissar and mediator between Stalin and his generals during the war, directly addressed the importance of lend-lease assistance in his memoirs: In a report to Congress in November 1943, President Roosevelt said about Allied participation in the reverse loan lease: During the lend-lease debate, opponents had tried to exclude the Soviet Union from the program. But American strategists knew that only the Red Army could defeat Hitler on the ground, and Leih-Lease would help do so. U.S. aid was only about 7 percent of what the Soviet Union itself produced during the war, but it allowed the Soviets to concentrate their production in the most efficient way. Leasing loans to Russia was much more than just a wartime aid program for Roosevelt. This could demonstrate the benefits of the American system and promote mutual trust, all key elements of Roosevelt`s post-war plans. So it was presidential policy to give the Russians almost everything they demanded. Misunderstandings and resentment arose when the need to deliver to other theaters made delivery impossible.
The Cold War prevented a formal lend-lease agreement with the Russians until June 1990, when the Soviet system struck a repayment agreement (for non-military goods) on the verge of collapse. In December 1940, President Roosevelt declared the United States to be « the arsenal of democracy » and offered to sell ammunition to Britain and Canada.  Isolationists strongly opposed this, warning that it would lead to American participation in what was considered by most Americans to be an essentially European conflict. .