« PreviousContinue »
that their aims were limited. The first need for all nations still masters of their own destiny was to create for themselves, as speedily and as completely as possible, "impregnable means of defense". This was the "staggering lesson of mankind's recent experience". As an important means of strengthening our own defense and of preventing attack on any part of the Western Hemisphere, the United States was affording all feasible facilities for the obtaining of supplies by nations which, while defending themselves against barbaric attack, were checking the spread of violence and thus reducing the danger to us. Under our "inalienable right of self-defense", he said, we intended to continue this to the greatest possible extent.
The Secretary admonished that nothing could be more dangerous for our nation "than for us to assume that the avalanche of conquest could under no circumstances reach any vital portion of this hemisphere". He stated that oceans gave the nations of this hemisphere no guaranty against the possibility of economic, political, or military attack from abroad; that oceans are barriers but they are also highways; that barriers of distance are merely barriers of time. Should the would-be conquerors gain control of other continents, the Secretary said, they would next concentrate on perfecting their control of the seas, of the air over the seas, and of the world's economy. They might then be able with ships and with planes to strike at the communication lines, the commerce, and the life of this hemisphere, and "ultimately we might find ourselves compelled to fight on our own soil, under our own skies, in defense of our independence and our very lives". ()
President Roosevelt's "Arsenal of Democracy" Address
In an address of December 29, 1940 President Roosevelt stated that the Nazi masters of Germany had made it clear that they intended not only to dominate all life and thought in their own country but also to enslave the whole of Europe and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world. The United States, he said, had no right or reason to encourage talk of peace until the day should come when there was a clear intention on the part of the aggressor nations to abandon all thought of dominating or conquering the world. Although some of our people liked to believe that wars in Europe and Asia were of no concern to us, the President said, it was a matter of most vital concern to us that European and Asiatic warmakers should not gain control of the oceans which lead to the Western Hemisphere. If Great Britain went down, the Axis powers would control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and the high seas, and would then be in a position to bring enormous
military and naval resources against this hemisphere. It was no exaggeration to say that all of us in the Americas "would be living at the point of a gun-a gun loaded with explosive bullets, economic as well as military".
There was danger ahead, the President warned, danger against which we must prepare. We were planning our own defense with the utmost urgency, and in it we must "integrate the war needs of Britain and the other free nations resisting aggression". He had, he said, set up a more effective organization to direct our efforts to increase our production of munitions. American industrial genius, unmatched throughout the world in the solution of production problems, had been called upon to bring its resources and talents into action. Manufacturers of peacetime articles were now making instruments of war. But, he said, all our present efforts were not enough. We must have more ships, more guns, more planes; we must be the great "arsenal of democracy". (
XII RELATIONS WITH JAPAN 1938-40
Principles of United States Policy
In our relations with Japan the United States Government sought constantly and consistently to protect this country's nationals and rights, and to uphold the principles of peaceful and orderly international conduct which Japan was violating by its attack on China. At the same time, in keeping with overwhelming public sentiment, this Government endeavored to prevent the development of a situation which would be likely to involve the United States in hostilities. It consistently protested against and declined to give assent to actions on the part of and situations brought about by Japanese authorities or agents in China in violation of treaties and international law and through the unwarranted use of force. While resolved not to compromise the principles of United States policy-much less abandon those principles-it sought to avoid closing the door to such chance as there might be, however small, for peaceful negotiation of differences and general pacific settlement.
Throughout this period the United States Government had under active consideration various ways and means which might be used to induce Japan to renounce its policies and programs of conquest and domination through the use of force or threat of force. Among other methods, this Government frequently had under consideration the question of applying economic pressure-advocated in many quarters as a means of checking Japanese aggression. It was the opinion of the responsible officials of the Government, including the highest military and naval authorities, that adoption and application of a policy of imposing embargoes upon strategic exports to Japan would be attended with serious risk of retaliatory action of a character likely to lead to this country's becoming involved in war. Practically all realistic authorities have been agreed that imposition of substantial economic sanctions or embargoes against any strong country, unless that imposition be backed by show of superior force, involves serious risk of war.
The President and the heads of the Army and the Navy and the Department of State were in constant consultation throughout this period in regard to all aspects of the military and diplomatic situation confronting the United States. They knew that Germany and Italy were arming in Europe, as Japan had armed in the Far East,
preparatory to resorting to force to achieve objectives of expansion. They realized that, with the outbreak in 1939 of war in Europe, the fall in June 1940 of France, and the conclusion in September 1940 of the Tripartite Pact, danger of war in the western Pacific was progressively increasing. They realized also that Axis preparations were virtually complete and that this country and similarly minded countries were far behind parity with offsetting preparations. They were in agreement that prevailing public opinion in this country and, with the imminence of and finally the outbreak of war in Europe, the comparative military unpreparedness of this country were such as to render it inadvisable to risk, by resort to drastic economic measures against Japan, involvement in war. Even before the common objectives of Germany, Italy, and Japan were formalized in the Tripartite Pact, this Government had to consider that if the United States became involved in war there might easily arise the problem of defense in both oceans-and to meet that problem this country was not adequately prepared.
The foregoing were the principal considerations which determined this Government's course with regard to proposed use of economic pressures.
Throughout this period there was wide-spread bombing of Chinese civilians by the Japanese. This practice aroused great indignation in the United States. It also adversely affected American nationals in China. The Secretary of State on June 11, 1938 condemned the practice and its "material encouragement". On July 1, 1938 the Department of State notified aircraft manufacturers and exporters that the United States Government was strongly opposed to the sale of airplanes and aeronautical equipment to countries whose armed forces were using airplanes for attack on civilian populations. In 1939 this "moral embargo" was extended to materials essential to airplane manufacture and to plans, plants, and technical information for the production of high-quality aviation gasoline. These measures resulted in the suspension of the export to Japan of aircraft, aeronautical equipment, and other materials within the scope of the moral embargoes. As Japanese purchases in the United States of "arms, ammunition, and implements of war", other than aircraft and aeronautical equipment, were relatively unimportant, these operated ultimately to stop the export of arms to Japan. ( )
This Government also, beginning in 1938, adopted and put into effect a policy of informally discouraging the extension of credit by United States nationals to Japan.
United States Protest December 31, 1938
As the conflict between Japan and China developed, interferences with the rights and interests of the United States and its nationals by Japanese or Japanese-sponsored agents in China became more and more frequent. The Government of the United States on many occasions protested to the Japanese Government against these interferIn a note presented December 31, 1938 the United States declared that these interferences were not only "unjust and unwarranted" but also "counter to the provisions of several binding international agreements, voluntarily entered into" to which the United States and Japan were parties. The note stated that the people and Government of the United States could not assent to the establishment of a regime "which would arbitrarily deprive them of the longestablished rights of equal opportunity and fair treatment". In reply to Japan's claim that it was establishing a "new order based on genuine international justice throughout East Asia" it was stated that the United States did not admit there was warrant for any one power to prescribe the terms and conditions of a "new order" in areas not under its sovereignty. Finally the note declared that the United States could not assent to the abrogation of any of its rights and obligations by the arbitrary action of any other country, but was always ready to discuss proposals based on justice and reason for the resolving of problems by the processes of free negotiation and new commitment on the part of all parties directly concerned. ( )
Notice of Termination of Commercial Treaty With Japan
As evidence accumulated of the endangering of American lives, the destruction of American property, and the violation of American rights and interests by Japanese authorities or Japanese-sponsored agents in China, and after diplomatic representations had failed to effect a substantial alleviation of the situation, further consideration was given to the possibility of commercial retaliation against Japan. It was felt that the 1911 commercial treaty between the United States and Japan was not affording adequate protection to American commerce either in Japan or in Japanese-occupied portions of China, while at the same time the operation of the most-favored-nation clause of the treaty was a bar to the adoption of retaliatory measures against Japanese commerce. Consequently, in July 1939 this Government gave notice of termination of that treaty at the end of the sixmonth period prescribed by the treaty. That termination removed the legal obstacle to an embargo by the United States upon the shipment of materials to Japan. ( )