711.008 North Pacific/298

Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations ( Hornbeck ) to the Counselor of the Department of State ( Moore )

Mr. Moore: In my opinion this proposed instruction to Grew12 represents the action which should be taken.

The Department’s general plan and the substance of the proposed release were assented to by Senator Schwellenbach and Mr. Dimond in the course of the conference, at which I was present, in your office on February 14. It is my understanding that you subsequently explained the matter to Senator Bone and evoked an assent by him.13

It is also my understanding that day before yesterday Mr. McIntyre14 informed the Secretary orally that the President had given an oral approval.

My greatest misgiving in regard to sending this instruction now arises out of the fact of the delay which has taken place and unfortunate publicity which has occurred both in Tokyo and in Washington during the period of delay: the chances of acceptance by the Japanese Government of the proposal which we make have been diminished.

I realize that pursuance of the course which the Department is advocating is attended with certain risks from point of view of criticism within administrative and political circles. I can conceive, however, of no course which might possibly be taken in connection with this very thorny problem which would not be attended with risks. Whatever action is taken will be action on the basis of choosing among courses no one of which is ideal. I know of no way in which the Department could achieve assurance that the action which it takes will not later be subjected to criticism and recrimination from some and perhaps several quarters.

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Mr. Sturgeon and I have done our best in the making of our contribution to the formulating of a line of procedure and drafting an instruction the purport of which is action on that line. It is impossible for us to give guarantees that the proposed course of action will not be made the object of attack later by some individuals or interests. I personally would not feel that I could give any such guarantees under any circumstances, and I would not feel that there was absolute assurance in that connection short of having approval in writing by and from all important persons whose opinions with regard to the matter are involved.

Frankly, it seems to me that the problem of gaining assurances, if assurances must be had, can be handled only by officials between and among whom the assurances would be effective.

In conclusion, I must urge that the situation as between this Government and the Japanese Government in regard to this matter has become such that the factor of time is becoming, in relation to the lack of value of line of action which the Department has advocated, an exceedingly important and perhaps even a determining factor.

S[tanusy] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Infra.
  2. Both Senators represented Washington.
  3. Marvin H. McIntyre, assistant secretary to President Roosevelt.