Memorandum by the Secretary of State Regarding a Conversation With the British Ambassador (Halifax), 9 August 1941


[WASHINGTON] August 9, 1941.

The Ambassador made some inquiry about the amount of aid this Government might give in. case Singapore or the Dutch East Indies should be attacked. I replied that I myself have visualized the problem and issue in a broader way and that issue is presented by the plan. of the Japanese to invade by force the whole of the Indian Ocean and the islands and continents adjacent thereto, isolating China, sailing across probably to the mouth of the Suez Canal, to the Persian Gulf oil area, to the Cape of Good Hope area, thereby blocking by a military despotism the trade routes and the supply sources to the British. I
added that this broad military occupation would perhaps be more damaging to British defense in Europe than any other step short of the German crossing of the Channel. I said that this Government visualizes these broad conditions and the problem of resistance which they present; that the activities of this Government in the way of discouraging this Japanese movement and of resistance will be more or less affected by the British defensive situation in Europe and hence by the question of the number of American naval vessels and other American aid that maybe needed by Great Britain at the same time. I said that in the event of further Japanese movements south this Government and the British Government should naturally have a conference at once and this Government would then be able to determine more definitely and in detail its situation pertaining to resistance, in the light of the statement I had just made.


Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943), pp. 709-710

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