...with a little help from her friends
The recent brouhaha over Patrick Buchanan's interpretation of World War II differs markedly from what had been the central historical dispute between the adherents of revisionism and orthodoxy on the American entrance into the war. That dispute revolved around the motives of the Roosevelt administration. The American historical establishment never accepted the World War II revisionists' contention that the American people had been tricked into war by a duplicitous Franklin Roosevelt, who falsely claimed that his policies would keep the United States at peace while doing his utmost to involve the country in war.  According to the long-held establishment version of American entry into World War II, a reluctant U.S. government had been dragged into war by the force of circumstances — the belligerent actions of Germany and Japan. 
What Thomas Mahl's taboo-shattering book makes clear, however, is that the revisionist interpretation was not only much closer to the truth, but that it, in fact, did not go nearly far enough — failing as it did to recognize the extent to which British intelligence had orchestrated the interventionist effort.  Moreover, the British played a critical role not only in bringing America into the war but also in inducing this country to emerge as a global superpower. Mahl bases his work on a number of recent government archival releases, which he, in detective-like fashion, melds with other materials — especially private papers — to arrive at his striking thesis.
Mahl, in short, presents "the story of the covert operations mounted by British intelligence to involve the United States in World War II and destroy isolationism. These operations profoundly changed America forever, helping it become the global power we see today — a power whose foreign policy leaders were freed to make, after the war, a multitude of global commitments unhampered by any significant isolationist opposition." (p. 1)
Long before the onset of World War II, Mahl observes, the British discerned the utter necessity of American military support in any future war with Germany. But, as made evident by the neutrality acts of the 1930s, the great bulk of the American people were adamantly opposed to becoming involved in another European war. Consequently, the British government recognized the need to become actively involved in domestic American politics in order to bring the reluctant American people into the war against Germany. Britain's great assets in this endeavor to transform American policy were her secret intelligence and propaganda agencies.
British success depended on the intimate cooperation of two crucial allies in the United States: the eastern Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite and the Roosevelt administration. "This Anglo-Saxon East Coast establishment, which included such financial luminaries as the Rockefellers, not only shared England's political ideals but literally loved England and English culture." (p.6) The Roosevelt administration had been "at war with Hitler long before Chamberlain was forced to declare it." (p.6) Those two American groups were "willing tools" of British intelligence in its war-involvement scheme, with each having its own particular role. The Eastern elite provided the influential individuals who shaped the national media and comprised the interventionist pressure groups. The White House engaged in deceptive diplomacy and allowed British intelligence to operate freely on American soil. "What British intelligence brought to the equation," Mahl writes, "was sharp focus, good organization, technical expertise, and a courageous determination to do whatever was necessary — however illegal or unseemly." (p. 179)
The head of British intelligence in the United States was William S. Stephenson, a Canadian businessman, better known today by his New York cable address, Intrepid.  Arriving in the United States on April 2, 1940, Stephenson was, by January 1941, operating under the name of British Security Coordination (BSC), which administered all the varied secret British intelligence and propaganda organizations in the United States. Those organizations included British Secret Intelligence (SIS or MI-6), which was responsible for intelligence outside of Britain and the Commonwealths; Britain's Internal Security Service, MI-5, which, much like the FBI in this country, dealt with internal British security; and also a number of lesser-known security agencies.
BSC made use of any means, legal or illegal, to fight those it deemed enemies of Britain, a classification that consisted mainly of non-interventionist Americans who wanted to keep the United States out of the war, rather than actual German agents.  In essence, BSC sought to override the democratic will of the American people in the interests of the British government; and, most significantly, in this effort it was aided and abetted by the Roosevelt administration.
Of such great magnitude was BSC's influence in the Roosevelt administration that in 1941 it was able to design an American intelligence counterpart, the United States Coordinator of Information, which became the Office of Strategic Services the next year. The COI/OSS was created in the "image and likeness of British Security Coordination." (p. 21) Although officially headed by William Donovan, Stephenson's assistant, Dick Ellis, did much of the day-to-day running of the security agency, which was staffed by many other British agents. Moreover, "BSC passed on an attitude as much as it passed on specific technical skills. It passed on a way of looking at problems and an openness to possible solutions — no matter their legality or morality." (p. 21)
Another crucial BSC activity was the setting up of pro-interventionist front groups, the most important being the Council for Democracy and the Fight for Freedom, Inc. (FFF). By the last quarter of 1941, FFF, which cooperated closely with the White House, had become a central propaganda agency promoting a nationwide campaign for a U.S. declaration of war. Its propaganda built a demand for more extreme pro-war policies that a politically cautious President Roosevelt could then follow. Mahl illustrates the paramount role of British intelligence behind interventionist groups by discussing the fate of the first major interventionist group, the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), nominally headed by the noted journalist William Allen White. The CDAAA publicly proclaimed that aid to Britain served to keep the United States out of the war. After British support shifted to the more militant Fight For Freedom in the summer of 1941, the CDAAA faded and died.
The principal tactic of British propaganda, Mahl points out, was to excite American fears of a direct German threat to the United States. That involved two basic themes: that Germany was poised to take over Latin America and that American non-interventionists were pro-Nazi fifth columnists. (It should be noted here that there was virtually no mention of German persecution of Jews, which today has become the ultimate justification for the "good war.") The theme that non-interventionists were really Nazi agents had perhaps the greatest long-term impact. That lethal smear destroyed the careers of many non-interventionists, eliminating opposition not only to involvement in World War II but also to postwar American globalism in general. 
British intelligence worked closely with media moguls and big-name writers to spread stories reflecting those propaganda themes. Mahl clearly shows that this was not a case of influential Americans unwittingly repeating British propaganda, but rather was a deliberate and direct collaboration with British agents. Among the many luminaries who consciously cooperated with British intelligence were publisher Henry Luce, noted columnist Walter Lippmann, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, and many of the foremost Hollywood movie producers. Robert Sherwood, Roosevelt's speechwriter, went so far as to clear the president's speeches with Stephenson before they were delivered.