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

Mr. Secretary: Reference first four lines of this report.55

It is by no means inconceivable that the Japanese expect to take Java, Sumatra, the Philippines and Rangoon by the end of February; [Page 443]and by no means impossible that, regardless of resistance at Singapore, they may accomplish all that.

If it should so happen, Japanese pressure on China to make peace would be intense, and a tendency to accept the “logic” of the situation and cease resistance would be given momentum in some quarters in China.

Conclusion of peace between China and Japan would be a terrible blow to the United Nations cause. If Japan once gets undisputed control of the terrain, the natural resources and possibly the man power of China (in addition to the continental area south of China and the insular areas in the Western Pacific) the British Empire will soon have been smashed, the British Isles will have little chance of standing out for long against the Axis, and the likelihood of this country being left as the sole fighting enemy of the Axis powers would be great.

It behooves us to have these possibilities in mind in connection with the consideration which we give to Chiang Kai-shek’s request for a large loan at an early date from this country. It is believed that by way of political and military insurance, we could well afford to and we should make a favorable response at an early date to Chiang’s representations in that matter. Now is the time for us to tie China into our war (which still is her war) as tight as possible. If we fail to do this, because of misgivings or peculiar solicitudes regarding the amount of money involved, an amount which is small in comparison with our cheerful outlays for military equipment, we stand a substantial chance of losing within a few weeks or months the strongest (in the Pacific) of our three fighting associates in that area.56

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. i. e., paraphrase of a message received in the War Department on January 22 from the Military Attaché in Portugal, and received in the Department of State on January 23, the lines under reference reading: “A recent statement by a Japanese diplomat says that Japan expects to terminate the war in the Pacific in February by taking Java, Sumatra and the Philippines and by closing the Burma Road. Peace between China and Japan would soon follow.”
  2. Attached is further comment by Mr. Hornbeck as follows:

    “Incidentally, and while on the subject, I feel moved to remark: The apparent lack, of which I have new evidence every day, of adequate understanding on the part of high officials of this Government of the miracle of warmaking which the Chinese have performed during the past four and one-half years, not excluding the period since we entered the war, and the apparent inability of many high officials, both civilian and military, in this Government, adequately to evaluate the existing and the potential war spirit and war capacity of the Chinese nation as a member of the fighting group within the United Nations association is amazing, distressing and alarming. As the minister of a foreign power here in Washington recently stated, this war in which we are engaged cannot be won in the Far Eastern theater but it could be lost there. Neither the British Government nor the American Government makes one-half the effort that each and both should make to evaluate accurately the psychological factors involved in the question of China’s functioning as an outstandingly valuable ‘ally’.”