Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: The several problems which we are considering now in the field of relations with the situation in the Far East and especially our relations with Japan bring us right down to a question, as regards advisable action on our part, which must be answered largely on the basis of opinion. The question whether (a) an attitude and procedure of firmness or (b) an attitude and procedure of maximum avoidance of danger and risk will be the more efficacious is a question in final analysis of opinion. For each person, his opinion derives partly from knowledge (including experience) and partly from temperament. My opinion is that in relations in general with Japan and especially in relations in particular with Japan at this moment, a firm or even bold course on our part is and will be better strategy than would be a course giving any indication or implication of weakness or anxiety: I believe that the twofold objective of exercising a restraining influence upon Japan and avoiding war with Japan will be better served by indications of intention to exercise our reasonable rights than by indications of a disinclination and fear to run risks.

With regard to the matter of the ships, I feel strongly that we should for the moment (a) permit some of the ships to continue on their course and, for various reasons that have been stated orally, (b) slow down the westward passage of some of them while watching developments.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]