III Publishing

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

Site Search

Popular pages:

U.S. War Against Asia
Barack Obama
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Natural Liberation
Andrew Jackson

Page 29
War and Diplomacy, 1942: Japan, Portugal, Spain, and War Criminals

The day of the Battle of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt decided, with Cordell Hull and other advisors, not to immediately declare war on Germany or Italy. It was believed that they would declare war on the United States of America first. But Roosevelt decided that while waiting the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic Ocean would act as if a state of war already existed. War was declared on Japan the next day, then on Italy and Germany three days later. [1099-1100]

Congress had passed a Selective Service Act or military draft on August 13, 1941, by a majority of one vote. [1104]

Hull feels he must argue that the U.S. never planned an offensive against Japan: "Nor would the military and naval authorities have been ready for a preventive attack. The fact that they pleaded for some time solely to prepare our defenses in the Pacific was proof in itself that they were not prepared to take the offensive." [1104]

Hull says that making peace with Japan would have allowed the Japanese to become stronger, leading to a clash later. But he never turns the thought around and says that if the Japanese had conceded to American demands, the U.S. would have become stronger and even more able to be an aggressor in Asia and even against Japan later. [1104-1105]

Hull was excluded from War Council meetings after Pearl Harbor, which he felt was a mistake, as military operations had diplomatic implications. [1109-1110]

"I was not told about the atomic bomb. Occasionally someone gave me a veiled hint, but I did not press any questions." [1110]

Roosevelt "loved the military side of events, and liked to hold them in his own hand. Following Pearl Harbor, he preferred to be called Commander-in-Chief rather than President. He relished the title." [1111]

Hull asked the Russians to violate their neutrality treaty with Japan to allow Russian airbases to be used by the U.S. to bomb Japan, and for other war purposes. The Russians refused. [1111]

Soon after Pearl Harbor, Hull began working on what became the Declaration by the United Nations. The goal was specifically a coalition of nations fighting the Axis powers. [1114]

Hull negotiated at length with both Vichy France and Charles De Gaulle's Free French throughout the war [1127-1138, 1154-1164, etc.]

Around June, 1942, President Roosevelt was still pontificating against enemy atrocities against civilians, including bombing cities. On August 21, 1942 he declared he intended to prosecute enemy leaders for war crimes. [1184]

Hull advocated a number of steps to bolster the international standing of China. The most important was giving up U.S. extraterritorial rights in China. Hull claims this could have been done in 1937 if Japan had not invaded China. The British suggested initiating negotiations on April 25, 1942. China was notified of U.S. intent on October 9, 1942. The new treaty was signed with Dr. Wei Tao-ming on January 11, 1943. The U.S. ratified the treaty on May 4, 1943. "Thus we gave up special rights, some of which dated from the American-Chinese treaty of Wanghia of July 3, 1844 and China could not hope to see herself at the war's end in complete possession of full sovereignty." [1257-1258]

Hull argued that the leaders of Germany, Italy and Japan should be executed after brief court- martial proceedings. He was against giving them a "fancy trial." [1291]

The Declaration of German Atrocities, signed by Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, stated: "Let those who have hitherto not imbrued their hands with innocent blood beware lest they join the ranks of the guilty, for most assuredly the three Allied Powers will pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth ... that justice may be done." [1291]

The U.S. allowed oil to be imported to fascist Spain from the Dutch West Indies in 1943, despite American public opposition due to oil shortages in the United States. This was allowed to encourage General Franco to stay neutral. [1327]

Spain supplied Germany with vital supplies of tungsten [Hull calls wolfram]. The U.S. asked Spain in November 1943 to stop the flow of tungsten, perhaps in return for supplies of wheat. After the Laurel incident, the U.S. demanded: embargo tungsten, allow U.S. commercial airlines to operate in Spain, release Italian warships held in Spain [to the new pro-U.S. Italian government], and recall the Blue Division from the Russian front. [1328]

In the Laurel Incident the Spanish foreign office addressed Jose P. Laurel as "President of the Philippines," thus seeming to recognize the end of U.S. colonial rule over the islands. Hull calls Laurel "a Philippine collaborationist whom the Japanese had made President of their puppet Philippine Government." [1328][WPM: Laurel had a Doctor of Law degree from Yale and was a highly-respected Philippines nationalist as well as a member of its Supreme Court under American colonial rule.]

The U.S. and Britain maintained an informal alliance with the fascist government of Portugal under dictator Antonio Salazar during the war. In return for cooperation Portugal wanted the right to re-occupy its colony of Timor in the East Indies, which Roosevelt assented to on November 28, 1944. [1342-1343]

Next Page
Hull notes home

III Blog list of articles