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Notes on The Memoirs of Cordell Hull
by William P. Meyers

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Page 25
1941: Avoiding War

Beginning of Volume II

Secretary of State Cordell Hull listed Vichy France, a fascist state, as a U.S. ally, to be given "diplomatic and material assistance," like other allies at the beginning of 1941. He said the U.S. had moved from neutrality to self-defense. [p. 919]

President Roosevelt's January 6, 1941 speech stated "the four freedoms upon which the world should be founded: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear." [920]

The Vichy government ignored proposals that it resume the fight against Germany. Nevertheless the U.S. maintained diplomatic relations with Vichy. [948]

Hitler invaded Russia on June 22, 1941. Hull lobbied for immediate aid to the Soviets. [967] "The information that we had that Hitler was planning an invasion of Russia was particluarly useful to me in my conversations with the Japanese. It ruled out any likelihood of an alliance between Russia and Japan, and it enabled us to adopt a firmer attitude toward Japan than wuold otherwise have been the case." [969]

At the Atlantic Conference between Winston Churchill and Roosevelt, August 8-10, 1941, the Atlantic Charter was produced with the goals of "the right of peoples to choose their own form of government" [unless they were subjects of the British Empire], "improved labor standards, economic advancement, and social security," and disarmament, among other goodies. Hull felt Britain reserved the right for its empire to maintain discriminatory tariffs. [974-975]

"In January 1941, our position as a Government had been made clear. We regarded Japan as an ally of Hitler and Mussolini." [982]

U.S. economic pressure on Japan was intense, with an almost complete embargo in place. An exception was "shipments of petroleum lest Japan use such an embargo as an excuse for taking over the oild production of the Netherlands East Indies. She also knew that our aid to China was growing. Beginning in January, the American Volunteer Group of aimen with American-made planes began to give the Chinese aerial support." [983] [WPM: in other words, Japan and the United States were already fighting, but with the theater of war limited to China, where each side backed a puppet government.]

Hull believed Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka hoped the U.S. would agree to Japanese dominance of East Asia so that the war effort could be concentrated in Europe. [983]

On January 27, 1941, U.S. ambassador to Japan Grew informed Cordell Hull "that a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was planned by the Japanese military forces in case of 'trouble' between Japan and the United States." Grew cited multiple sources. [984]

The Roman Catholic Church [WPM: at that time very satisfied with its favorite Catholic Ruler, Adolf Hitler, who was slaughtering millions of Russian atheists, according to plan] set up channels outside of the normal diplomatic channels to keep the U.S. out of war with Japan, and hence with Hitler. Bishope James Edward Walsh, head of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society [Maryknoll] and one Father Drought enlisted Postmaster General Frank C. Walker, "one of the most prominent Catholics in the Administration" to talk to Hull and Roosevelt. They claimed Japan would offer an "open door" to Chinese trade if allowed a similar open door. Hull largely dismissed the Catholic efforts, although they continued up to Pearl Harbor. [984]

Talking with Roosevelt, after telling him war with Japan was "a hundred to one" likely, "We had in the forefront of our minds the advice repeatedly given us by our highest military officers that they needed time to prepare the defenses vital to ourselves." [986]

The new Japanese ambassador, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, first met with Hull on February 12, 1941. Soon afterwards Nomura told Hull that Japan would like to make peace with China and see a unity government there, but Hull simply challenged the idea. [989]

On March 14, President Roosevelt told Ambassador Nomura that "Japan had an undue fear of Communism in China." [990]

Hull told Ambassador Halifax that he believed the government of Thailand "went into collusion with the Japanese to secure Tokyo's aid which enabled it to obtain much territory from Indo-China." [991]

On April 9 Hull received the Catholic plan which called for Chinese independence with "coalescense of the Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei governments." China would become a free trade zone, but with "recognition of Japan's possession of Manchukuo." The U.S. would end its embargo and facilitate Japanese acquisition of natural resources. Before Hull was ready to reply Japan signed a neutrality pact with Russia on April 13. [992-993]

U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R. Steinhardt reported on Matsuoka's report of discussions in Germany. He claimed Germany expected to win the war with Britain and Russia and hoped both the U.S. and Japan would stay out of the war. [993]

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