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

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Page 30
Roosevelt's World War II policies towards India, Afghanistan, and Iran

"WHEN JAPAN STRUCK at Pearl harbor, the importance of India in the pattern of war suddenly increased many times. The Japanese soon overran Burma and stood at the borders of the subcontinent. Tensions between the Indians and Britain, and tension among the religions and factions in India, offered Japan an opportunity if she were able to use it." [p. 1482]

Hull claims he and Roosevelt favored independence for India. "And we also felt that our own position among the Asiatic peoples would be adversely affected by a belief on their part that we were helping Great Britain maintain her imperial policy in the Orient." [1482-1483]

In 1941 the U.S. made a push for direct relations with India, but the British Empire requested that, other than setting up an American diplomatic mission, nothing be done until the war was over. [1483]

In a radio propaganda address on July 23, 1942 Hull said "all peoples, without distinciton of race, color, or religion, who are prepared and willing o accept the responsibilities of liberty, are entitled to its enjoyment." [1484]

President Roosevelt felt the Indians were not enthusiastic about fighting Japan. "To Indian Agent General Bajpai, who came to see me on June 15 [1942], I said that Mahatma Gandhi to all intents and purposes was playint into the hands of the Japanese by preaching nonresistance." [1486]

"As part of the United States' operations in support of China, American military units, particularly air and supply forces, had been sent to India. Disturbing indications reached us that Congress Party supporters were tending to believe that American forces were in Inida for the purpose of supporting British rule." On August 12, 1942 the U.S. made a public statement that U.S. armed forces in India were there only to fight Japan and aid China. [1489]

President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Hull rejected Gandhi's direct appeal to them for help on August 5, 1942, but by then Gandhi was in jail, and the letter went undelivered for two years. "India now became a scene of violence and unrest." [1489-1490]

On April 19, 1943 William Phillips, now Roosevelt's personal representative in India, wrote that Indians had "growing distrust and dislike for the British, and disappointment and disillusion with regard to Americans . . . British armies dominated the picture; twenty thousand Congress leaders remained in jail without trial." [1493-1494]

Regarding what came to be known as the Bengal Famine of 1943, Hull claims the U.S. offered to try to provide rice for India to avert the famine, but the British objected, so nothing was done. [1496]

The war made Afghanistan important to the U.S., so there was an exchange of legations in 1942-1943. American teachers and engineers were sent to Afghanistan. Later "We also believed that the prestige we might acquire in Afghanistan would favorably affect our position in other Mostlem areas in the Middle East. And we thought that , if it ever became economically feasible to develop oil and minitral resources in Afghanistan, a friendly attitude there toward the United States would be helpful." [1496-1497]

Hull attributes the invasion of Iran by Russia and the British to Germany's commercial success their in the 1920s. Shah Reza Pahlavi had closed the Iranian Legation to the U.S. in 1936, but it had reopened in 1938. The Iranians had asked the U.S. to pressure Britain not to invade, but Hull had pushed for Iran to support the Allies. "Shah Reza Pahlavi, however, blindly pursuing a narrow policy of neutrality and nationalism," was thereby responsible for the British and Russian invasions. The Shah of Iran cabled President Roosevelt on August 25, 1941, "asking for his intervention "to put an end to these acts of aggression." ... Our resonse, which went out on September 2, followed the line of my conversation with the Iranian Minister, placing the Anglo-Societ-Iranian dispute in its true light as one small element in the vast effort to stop Hitler's ambition." ... "A fortnight later, the stubborn Shah Reza Pahlavi abdicated and was succeeded by the Crown Prince, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was more disposed to cooperate with the Allies." [1501-1502]

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