Hi Butchpfd, thank you for this. I have a number of stories written regarding FDR and the Japanese diplomatic moves pre Dec 41, I can follow how the Japanese thinking evolved going forward to war, but despite a lot of factual material written on the web, I'm struggling with FDR's viewpoint on all this.

Being British, my knowledge on WW2 centre round the British narratives of Dunkirk and the Blitzkrieg, the Battle of Britain, North Africa, and the many calamities suffered, before success, the U-boat war, invasions of Italy and France onto final victory in Europe. I have a fascination with the fall of Singapore, but my American take on things is poor.

So my question to Butchpfd, and all you other American readers is this
I have a quite bombastic MacArthur view on defence of the Philippines, a very pragmatic Adm Hart, doing the best anyone could, and a USN that has reluctantly been persuaded to base its Pacific fleet at Hawaii. If FDR appreciated war might happen, and that America wasn't ready, why did he take such a forceful approach to dealing with Japan.

This article sets out the dangers of the economic embargo in far better detail, although I don't agree with the thought that FDR wanted to goad Japan into war

Edited to more clearly frame my question
(FYI I am a retired career firefighter whose second job was as a grade 9-12 History and Social Studies teacher)For Starters the article is very much a right wing libertarian presentation; the 2 sources are libertarian sites. IMO Libertarians positions on this period are very much isolationist and anti FDR in their positions . You need to look at the book "Storm Clouds over the Pacific"

Mac Arthur believed his own PR, his Philippine army was due to be ready for service by Summer 1944 when the U.S. had decided to give the P.I. their independence. He had too many men in training for the weapons and instructors he had. Mac Arthur was getting plenty of equipment for his American command, but was short of American Infantry and Field artillery personnel. OTL they were enroute from Hawaii to the P.I. when war broke out but was diverted to Samoa and the DEI. Mac Arthur did not want to offend or push the Japanese and as CIC U.S. forces in the Far East he was , until war broke out, over Hart. He would not allow his B-17s fly within sight of Taiwan nor would he allow Hart to fly his PBY on recconnisance missions within sight of Taiwan.

Hart had his own issues. Because for decades, the 16th Naval District, Asiatic Fleets shore facilities, had been a dumping grounds for inefficient or near retirement officers the authorized improvements were behind schedule. This included Mirivales port and bunker facilities for fuel and ammunition on Bataan. The plan was to move much of the Asiatic Fleets base to there and Olopongo ( Subic Bay) from over crowded Cavite. It wasn't until Adm Hart Summer of 1939 forced changes did improvements begin.
I will put together more on FDR's position in a day or so. Hope this helps as a starter
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
We'll be coming back to FDR and the negotiations with the Japanese, and their journey towards war in future stories, but I need to move this along, so much yet to post before we even start the fighting!
 
MWI 41050307 Interesting Times

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
1941, Saturday 03 May;

HMCS Prince David sailed into Hong Kong for a stopover, she would form part of a newly assembling convoy SK.2 Apart from an odd few other passenger’s, she was carrying the 3rd RCAF Airfield Construction Company, who’s associated earth moving equipment was in the holds of a couple of tramp steamers, both on Canadian Government charters. They had passed through Hong Kong in recent days, sailing independently on towards Singapore, having left Vancouver far earlier than the Prince David. As well as the company’s equipment, they also carried some of the railway steel products requested for the FSMR, a lot of cement, Canadian built light trucks and some other basic war materials.

To the interested keen eye of an observer, the harbour of Hong Kong was beginning to reflect changes. A few months ago, they would have noticed the freshly converted submarine depot ship HMS Whang Pu, almost straight out of the dockyards, sail away in company with the old S class destroyer HMS Thanet, a tug and the visiting AMC. Now the next conversion from the dockyards, HMS Siang Wo, an MTB base depot ship, formerly a Yangtze River steamer, was being made ready for sea. They would have also noticed that the gunboat HMS Moth, was also being readied, and that the troop ship had begun to load provisions for an estimated 1,000 passengers.

Workmen would have told them in a bar in Kowloon of the dismantling of the 3-gun battery at Stonecutters Island, one of the 6-inch coastal guns having already been removed. A separate source would have spoken of a single 9.2-inch gun over on the Stanley battery also being decommissioned, in preparation for removal, and the plans for moving the two 9.2-inch guns from Pottinger battery, Devils Peak to Bokhara battery had been changed to just one, the second gun now also earmarked for removal, deployment unknown.

A small Chinese tramp steamer was anchored in Victoria Harbour, following her return from Singapore, and the smart money was the 3 stonecutter Island guns along with one each from the Stanley and Mount Davis batteries would be going into her holds. The steamer was nearly ready to depart, full of the twelve 6-inch howitzers of the disbanded medium batteries of the Hong Kong and Singapore Regt, plus a considerable amount of munitions. While tied to the quay in the Victoria Naval Dockyard was a small tanker, with one MTB on her deck, and another to be loaded on today.

They would have registered the fact that of the two Rainbow class submarines, one had been replaced by a third from Singapore, clearly part of a rotation policy. And that one of the two subs were always out on patrol, with periods of both subs being absent, clearly changing over patrol duties at sea.

But it wasn’t just the harbour that had interest for observers. The talk among the Indian camp followers, and indeed directly from a VCO, was the 2/14 Punjab was leaving, Malaya bound, two companies now and the others later this year. While others spoke of the transferring of Indian HKSRA personnel into artillery units of the Indian Army in Malaya. And then there was a number of Chinese who directly or indirectly spoke of their pride in joining the quickly expanding Hong Kong Chinese Regiment. Yes, these were interesting times.
 
1941, Saturday 03 May;

HMCS Prince David sailed into Hong Kong for a stopover, she would form part of a newly assembling convoy SK.2 Apart from an odd few other passenger’s, she was carrying the 3rd RCAF Airfield Construction Company, who’s associated earth moving equipment was in the holds of a couple of tramp steamers, both on Canadian Government charters. They had passed through Hong Kong in recent days, sailing independently on towards Singapore, having left Vancouver far earlier than the Prince David. As well as the company’s equipment, they also carried some of the railway steel products requested for the FSMR, a lot of cement, Canadian built light trucks and some other basic war materials.

To the interested keen eye of an observer, the harbour of Hong Kong was beginning to reflect changes. A few months ago, they would have noticed the freshly converted submarine depot ship HMS Whang Pu, almost straight out of the dockyards, sail away in company with the old S class destroyer HMS Thanet, a tug and the visiting AMC. Now the next conversion from the dockyards, HMS Siang Wo, an MTB base depot ship, formerly a Yangtze River steamer, was being made ready for sea. They would have also noticed that the gunboat HMS Moth, was also being readied, and that the troop ship had begun to load provisions for an estimated 1,000 passengers.

Workmen would have told them in a bar in Kowloon of the dismantling of the 3-gun battery at Stonecutters Island, one of the 6-inch coastal guns having already been removed. A separate source would have spoken of a single 9.2-inch gun over on the Stanley battery also being decommissioned, in preparation for removal, and the plans for moving the two 9.2-inch guns from Pottinger battery, Devils Peak to Bokhara battery had been changed to just one, the second gun now also earmarked for removal, deployment unknown.

A small Chinese tramp steamer was anchored in Victoria Harbour, following her return from Singapore, and the smart money was the 3 stonecutter Island guns along with one each from the Stanley and Mount Davis batteries would be going into her holds. The steamer was nearly ready to depart, full of the twelve 6-inch howitzers of the disbanded medium batteries of the Hong Kong and Singapore Regt, plus a considerable amount of munitions. While tied to the quay in the Victoria Naval Dockyard was a small tanker, with one MTB on her deck, and another to be loaded on today.

They would have registered the fact that of the two Rainbow class submarines, one had been replaced by a third from Singapore, clearly part of a rotation policy. And that one of the two subs were always out on patrol, with periods of both subs being absent, clearly changing over patrol duties at sea.

But it wasn’t just the harbour that had interest for observers. The talk among the Indian camp followers, and indeed directly from a VCO, was the 2/14 Punjab was leaving, Malaya bound, two companies now and the others later this year. While others spoke of the transferring of Indian HKSRA personnel into artillery units of the Indian Army in Malaya. And then there was a number of Chinese who directly or indirectly spoke of their pride in joining the quickly expanding Hong Kong Chinese Regiment. Yes, these were interesting times.
You have made me very happy!
 
Hi Merrick, apologies, I wasn't referring to the part in the article regarding Germany, it was more about how japan was being economically throttled, but the US wasn't ready for a war with them. Could he have delayed the embargo, traded oil for time, and in 12 months time say, imposed the restrictions, with a much better US military on call?
No apologies necessary, I assure you. The problem facing Roosevelt was that Japan was in the process of conducting a brutal offensive war in China, and by 1940-41 an outright Chinese collapse was looking increasingly likely. Quite apart from the morality of buying time with Chinese blood, a Japan that had successfully concluded the "China operation" would be a much tougher opponent and much less susceptible to economic pressure. Roosevelt couldn't plausibly threaten war, but the US had substantial economic leverage over Japan and he adopted a policy of steadily ramping up the pressure until Japan was forced to back down. Which, of course, didn't happen.

The problem with any sort of negotiation is that neither side was starting with a blank sheet of paper - Roosevelt wanted the Japanese to withdraw from China, or at least cease offensive operations, but the IJA was never going to agree and the Japanese government lacked the strength to compel them. The Japanese would no doubt be happy with pretty much any deal that allowed the IJA to continue its rampage through China, but for the Americans stopping said rampage was the object of the exercise in the first place. With hindsight, no deal was possible, but given what they knew at the time, I don't think the American planners were unreasonable in assuming that the Japanese wouldn't respond to economic pressure by starting a war they couldn't possibly win.

There's also the question of whether the US military in 1941 knew they were unready for a war with Japan. I suspect many of them were quietly confident. The Japanese would have a brief happy time in the Western Pacific, probably take the Philippines and Guam (this was assumed in all the pre-war plans) and then spent the next few years being hammered back by overwhelming US naval power. The Two-Ocean Navy act had been passed and the USN was both stronger than the IJN and building up at a rate the Japanese couldn't hope to match. And it wasn't as if the Japanese could do anything to shut down the US shipyards, or otherwise threaten the US directly.

"What if they declare war over the oil embargo?"
"Then they're at war with the strongest navy on earth, and they still don't have any oil."


They underestimated the IJN, and they underestimated how aggressive, reckless and successful the Japanese would be. Having them blitz their way through the Malay Barrier and the East Indies oilfields in a matter of months was probably not part of the US plan. Pearl Harbor knocked the US sideways, psychologically, because the Eastern Pacific was supposed to be the untouchable US bastion, where if necessary they could fall back to the Alaska-Hawaii-Panama line and laugh at anything the Japanese tried while they built up the Invincible Navy of Doom. And it's worth noting that it was barely six months from Pearl Harbor to Midway, and after those six months the Japanese could manage only occasional local and tactical victories against a US that was fighting them with one hand,
 
Historians have personal opinions. They usually influence what we are interested. We attempt strongly to not allow them to influence our analysis of the past, or the people in the pastopinions. We tell people to our best honest analytical capacity what opinions the people in the past had and how they did not reflect actual reality. That’s history.

I am interested for example in the Soviet Union because I don’t want to die working. I know that the Soviet Union matched Marx’s description of capitalism. Many people in the Soviet Union knew that. Some hoped that would change. Some believed it was lower socialism or building lower socialism. These people were wrong for various reasons. Many of the people who knew it was capitalism directly benefitted from it being capitalism. I am interested in it because of my views. I am so interested in it that I don’t let my views colour it.

We do it because that’s history and because personal opinions are for offtopic chat.
 
Thoughts may be embraced, shared, lauded, neglected, rejected or renounced. Once thoughts publicly appear, it seems more correct in viewing them as reappearances
of previous thought.

I like what appeared in Slate magazine. It's hardly an anti-FDR libertarian source: https://slate.com/culture/2019/11/history-is-written-by-the-victors-quote-origin.html

My point is that situational ethics needs consideration when viewing and addressing history. It is likely that something has previously occurred in the past which is arising again.

There can be no question that Gen. Smedley Butler was an isolationist or opposed to the policies which FDR embraced. He was a Quaker who became the most decorated Marine in history. He would have received another, his third, Medal of Honor. However, Marine officers weren't eligible at the time as they were simply expected to perform at that level. He was in service to Empire and yet wrote, War is a Racket, after retirement. He was court-martialed for insulting the Fascist Mussolini by calling him a murderer. He was seen as a spokesman for Isolationism, but personally smashed a coup against FDR. He is in short, a paradox.

General Butler was seen by some as hero and by others a villain. He was both. That is the paradox. On December 6th you had a choice. The following day you do not.
It's like the term "Peace loving American" We are not. Neither were the British, the Dutch, the Italians, the Germans and a whole host of others. It is unfortunate that he died in 1940.

So unless the American effort in World War II is composed mainly of alumnus of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, we will need the Libertarians and Isolationists. And remember, the AL Brigade and fellow travellers are ineligible to participate on your side, until Stalin reassigns them to the West some time after June 22, 1941. They've previously renounced us, but now want you make up and embrace them.
The libertarians of the 1930s an dearly 40s stood only slightly to the left of the German American Bund, so they are no way like the Libertarians of today. It appears you want to put a 21st century spin ( situational ethics) on 20th century facts and behaviors. so I will leave it to you to be the arbiter of America of the 1930s and 40s
 
From a brief read-through, that article can be politely described as neo-isolationist tosh. The author doesn't quite come out and say that the US was wrong to oppose the Nazis, but the whole thread is "conspiracy by the evil Roosevelt administration to drag the peace-loving American people into an unjustified foreign war" - up to and including the long-debunked myth that Roosevelt knew about the Pearl Harbor attack in advance and chose to let thousands of Americans die because evil conspiracy. I have to admit, though that the "Roosevelt conspired to force Japan to attack the US so he'd have an excuse to declare war on Germany" is a new one on me.

I'd take any claims made by the author with about a Pacific Ocean's worth of salt.
Agreed. If Roosevelt really wanted to get the US into war with Germany, then getting the US population obsessed over a blood feud with Japan due to a surprise attack guaranteed to royally piss us off into a white hot rage (and thus consider the Germans an afterthought), not to mention splitting the US's strategic and military focus would be foolish. Roosevelt had to actually remind everyone Germany had to come first (as we were PISSED at Japan), was relieved Hitler was stupid enough to actually declare was on the US all convenient like right after (as he wasn't going to get that from Congress yet), and the Navy considered any diversion from the Pacific a, well, diversion. Not conductive to winning a war against Germany if that's your goal. Plus the Navy made sure the best and most experienced (as they'd been deployed in combat operations in Latin America and the Caribbean throughout the 20s and 30s) assault infantry, the Marines, stayed in the Pacific from day one.
I don't see them panicking in Kasserine Pass...
Not to mention the US was already in a undeclared naval war with Germany in the Atlantic, and going to the next level was only a matter of time as per WWI. So why bother in such a wasteful conspiracy?
So yeah...this whole article is unmitigated conspiracy BS.
 
Thoughts may be embraced, shared, lauded, neglected, rejected or renounced. Once thoughts publicly appear, it seems more correct in viewing them as reappearances
of previous thought.

I like what appeared in Slate magazine. It's hardly an anti-FDR libertarian source: https://slate.com/culture/2019/11/history-is-written-by-the-victors-quote-origin.html

My point is that situational ethics needs consideration when viewing and addressing history. It is likely that something has previously occurred in the past which is arising again.

There can be no question that Gen. Smedley Butler was an isolationist or opposed to the policies which FDR embraced. He was a Quaker who became the most decorated Marine in history. He would have received another, his third, Medal of Honor. However, Marine officers weren't eligible at the time as they were simply expected to perform at that level. He was in service to Empire and yet wrote, War is a Racket, after retirement. He was court-martialed for insulting the Fascist Mussolini by calling him a murderer. He was seen as a spokesman for Isolationism, but personally smashed a coup against FDR. He is in short, a paradox.

General Butler was seen by some as hero and by others a villain. He was both. That is the paradox. On December 6th you had a choice. The following day you do not.
It's like the term "Peace loving American" We are not. Neither were the British, the Dutch, the Italians, the Germans and a whole host of others. It is unfortunate that he died in 1940.

So unless the American effort in World War II is composed mainly of alumnus of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, we will need the Libertarians and Isolationists. And remember, the AL Brigade and fellow travellers are ineligible to participate on your side, until Stalin reassigns them to the West some time after June 22, 1941. They've previously renounced us, but now want you make up and embrace them.
As a former Marine I often deeply disagree with Butler yet as an American I deeply admire his grit, sincere patriotism, and willingness to stand up for he believed in no matter the cost.
Oh, and as a Libertarian, we are far from a monolithic bloc, and never have been. In fact we're a famously factitious bunch. I, for one, am far from a isolationist! Thus I wholly endorse this above statement.
 
I see FDR as being the last Philosopher-King of the American Republic. He is an anti-Colonialist. His successor, no matter whom, will be the Lead Administrator, the Imperial President of an empire. I believe that is a reason for him seeking a third term. "Apre moi, le deluge".

He has the intellect and historical prospective to see and judge whether disparities in opinion are a significant threat. His opposition leaders may be in a conspiracy; but it's followers are not generally conspirators. They are citizens. Their leadership requires silencing or dismissal. Not the JO's, non-comm's or drafted/enlisted members. I see a similarity to changing the management in a corporation or the administration after an election.

How did it work out for him, when he unleashed Douglas Caius Marcius Coriolanus on the Bonus Army? At least Major Eisenhower had the sense to appear in mufti.
There are some positive benefits with keeping GEN MacArthur in his self-impose PI exile, for now.

Semp Fi. from a former sub-Marine.
Hoover was the one who sent Mac in to take care of the Bonus Army, that was in 32 before the election.
 
MWI 41050609 Tengah Reopens

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
1941, Tuesday 06 May;

The Fairey Battle touched down, did a little bunny hop and then made a firmer touch, before rolling on down the runway, towards a batman signalling where to taxi to. And as Park turned his head back, so a second Battle came into view, approaching the runway, wheels down, the pilot adjusting his wings, trying to find the perfect horizon. With the two crossed, concrete runways at Tengah completed, RAF 226 Sqn was now flying in from Seletar.

They had finished testing the runways with a number of flights, yesterday, concluding all was well and the airfield could re-open. There was still a lot of peripheral work, with more pens, hard stands to build and the hangers, maintenance sheds, and other building which would still need another six weeks to complete, but Park couldn’t wait any longer. Seletar was so crammed with aircraft, that it could barely operate.

The Public Works Dept workers had all left, sent to the incomplete airfield at Sembawang, where they were going to do the same, convert one grass runway into concrete, and build a second lying crossways to the first. While the building works, which were ongoing, were contracted out to a Singapore Chinese building firm, which was trying to expand fast, a lot of on-the-job training being given to its new employees, owing to the large number of lucrative contracts it was bidding for and winning.

Parks grunted in quite satisfaction, as the last of six Battles due today, landed. As soon as Seletar assembled other crated Battles, so they would be flown over to Tengah. And he planned for 226 Sqn to spawn a couple of newly forming Canadian Article XV squadrons, growing them as the crews and aircraft arrived. The assembling work would soon move to Kluang where a new RAF Maintenance Unit was being created. He was visiting that airfield on Friday to see the acceptance of the first of two concrete runways, as being declared complete, and he would announce the formation of an OTU (operational training unit) with a few of the assembled Buffalos. Three RCAF flying instructors, straight from the BCATP schools in Canada, led by a Flight Lt Boulton were due to arrive on HMCS Prince David shortly, would help form that unit, another Canadian to arrive, FO Whalen would join 4 ACCU.

Supporting Kluang, was a satellite airfield under construction at Kahang, which would have a single concrete runway, and accompanying facilities for one fighter sqn. Meanwhile the runway at Kuala Lumpur was close to being finish, another couple of weeks would see the airfield handed back to the RAF, and the contractors leave for the Penang – Province Wellesley area to develop one and build a second new airfield.
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
None of theses airfields are new, but are being completed with hard runways, as opposed to grass ones, earlier. I've also introduced a couple of minor historical figures who will feature in some stories in the future, These are chosen because they were available at this time historically, and help show how things are gradually improving.
 
So.... the "old" airfields near Singapore get nice concrete all-weather runways and the "new" airfields neat the Thai border keep their dirt runways.
You really don't like the Japanese this Tl, do you..
 
If I recall one of the issues for the Defense of Malaya are RAF fields that are too far north. Instead of having your supply depot's to your rear, they were placed forward, beyond your front. As a consequence, the Japanese are only too happy for the rations and POL that Winston left behind. I suspect that Arthur P. noticed that the last time he was stationed in Malaya. They just haven't done a Gordon Bennett thing since he was there with Sir William in '38.
Without those rations, the ammunition, vehicles, and fuel the very logistically threadbare Japanese offensive becomes all that much more threadbare and frayed and thus that much more easily stalled. True, eventually Yamashita will simply get reinforced and resupplied; no matter how behind schedule the Japanese can't let Singapore stay in British hands. But the Allies can sure as hell make the Japanese bleed for every inch and as sappers for to work, the soldiers can WALK onto the troop ships with their heads held high knowing they put up a proper fight, then calmly sail out of port as the facilities blow up behind them. Then get ready for round two knowing the bastards are beatable!
 
Without those rations, the ammunition, vehicles, and fuel the very logistically threadbare Japanese offensive becomes all that much more threadbare and frayed and thus that much more easily stalled. True, eventually Yamashita will simply get reinforced and resupplied; no matter how behind schedule the Japanese can't let Singapore stay in British hands. But the Allies can sure as hell make the Japanese bleed for every inch and as sappers for to work, the soldiers can WALK onto the troop ships with their heads held high knowing they put up a proper fight, then calmly sail out of port as the facilities blow up behind them. Then get ready for round two knowing the bastards are beatable!
And the British won't? There is a very definite limit to what the Japanese can deploy and supply ( 1 railway and two small ports mean 3 divisions in the field max ) , simply put if the Japanese don't win quick they get ground down ( as long as Singapore is active , subs will be wrecking havoc on shipping and reinforcements keep coming) and pushed back.
 
My story will be about whether Britain could have held Malaya/Singapore in 1941-42. There are or have been some storylines that flirt with the question, or paint it with a broad stroke, against a background of a much bigger picture. But I want to write in more detail about how things could have gone

[...]

Hopefully I will post a couple of times a week, I’m not a quick writer. I welcome comment and criticism, provided its constructive, and will readily accept the errors I have no doubted made, being pointed out, so without further to do, I will begin.
Fatboy Coxy,
Just holding Malaya and Burma was a key part in a scenario I did. I would look to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_Prince_of_Wales_and_Repulse for inspiration. Imagine what it would take for that sinking not to happen.

I am glad that you are open to suggestion. It will make things more enjoyable for everyone, especially you.

The Laughing Hyenas
 
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