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

Mr. Secretary: I do not believe that any nation which has committed itself to the principle of expansion, with and by force, or which is effectively dominated by a powerful group considerable in numbers which believes in and is committed to that principle can overnight or within a period of a few months or a few years become weaned away from or be brought to turn its back upon that principle. The first essential toward renunciation of an objective of conquest by force is the development within the nation which cherishes that objective of a real conviction of the futility of the effort which it is making. This can be brought about only on the basis of evidence of failure or of comparative incapacity to succeed. Development of such a conviction takes time. To provide the time, it is necessary that the operating armed force first be prevented from making further advance and second be held in check either by obstacles in front of them or by inadequacy and deterioration of the support which is behind them. An armed group which effectively controls the man power and the resources of a militant nation, which is on the march, which has opportunity to advance, which has reserves of man power and of matériel, and which is not threatened with revolt or rebellion at home, will continue to cherish and to pursue its policy of conquest.—The militant leaders of Japan’s military element, who are today the masters of Japan and of Japan’s policies, are in no way in imminent peril from any quarter. I do not believe that those leaders—and I therefore do not believe that Japan—will in the near future abandon in any sense whatever their present doctrine of military conquest by force. They have entered into certain treaties for the purpose of strengthening their position and their capacity to proceed with their plans for conquest. They will seek new treaties and will conclude new treaties, if and when, in service of that policy and its objective. As is the case with Germany, Japan’s program of imperialistic expansion (which has long been cherished and which has been projected to extend far into the future) will not suddenly be abandoned by Japan; and Japan’s militant leaders will continue to take advantage of every opportunity which develops for a further advance by Japan—until Japan’s militant leadership has been shown to its own people to be not possessed of the capacity to take and to hold.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]