The past tells us how to face our threats today. On September 2, 1940, America transferred fifty old destroyers to Britain during one of the two particularly dangerous periods in the Battle of the North Atlantic. France had fallen two months earlier, and its navy, the fourth largest in the world, was on the sidelines. Italy, with the fifth largest navy, had entered the war against Britain, and until the attack on Taranto in November 1940, the Royal Navy was outgunned in the Mediterranean Sea. Japan, with one of the three great navies, might lurch at any time toward Singapore and Hong Kong and Australia.