Nov 22, 2021
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Roosevelt’s fatal miscalculation

Japanese disinformation operation was successful

At the beginning of August 1941, Japan’s preparations for an attack on the USSR in the Far East and Siberia acquired such a large scale that it was impossible to hide it. On August 8, US Secretary of State Cordell Hull told the USSR Ambassador to Washington, Konstantin Umansky, that the latest data available to the American government is “Once again confirm the reality of the threat of the movement of the Japanese in a northern direction”

In early August, the Japanese demanded that the Thai government provide them with military bases and the right to control the production of tin, rubber and rice. Among the reasons that prompted Japan to gain a foothold in Indochina and Thailand, the main importance was the struggle for strategic raw materials, primarily for oil.

On August 9, Churchill offered Roosevelt a draft ultimatum to Japan on behalf of the United States, Great Britain and the USSR, which stated that if the Japanese entered Malaya or Dutch India, the three powers would take whatever measures were required to oust them from there. However, Roosevelt considered such an ultimatum excessive. He declared: “In the opinion of the US Department of War and the Sea, the main goal in the Pacific for now should be to avoid a war with Japan, because the war between the US and Japan will not only bind most, if not the entire US Navy, but will also place a heavy burden on our military organization and production, while they should be oriented towards the Atlantic “

On August 17, Roosevelt summoned the Japanese ambassador to the United States, Kitisaburo Nomuru, and handed him a memorandum for the Japanese government. It contained the following warning: “If Japan, using force or a threat, tries to continue to establish its domination over neighboring countries by military means, the United States will immediately take the necessary measures to ensure security.”

In Roosevelt’s memorandum of August 17, the Soviet Union was not mentioned, but Tokyo realized that the Americans also included the USSR in their “neighboring countries”. Therefore, in the reply transmitted on August 28 to Roosevelt, the Japanese government considered it necessary to assure the United States that it would not take military action against the USSR, “As long as the USSR remains faithful to the Soviet-Japanese pact of neutrality, and will not threaten Japan or Manchukuo, or take actions contrary to the spirit of the pact”… At the same time, the Japanese government expressed the hope that the United States would avoid cooperation with the Soviet Union, which could pose a threat to Japan.

Although the Roosevelt administration made it clear that it would not leave the Soviet Union in trouble even in the event of a Japanese attack on the USSR “Retaliate”, in Moscow could not rely on this promise. If the United States did not declare war on Germany after the outbreak of World War II, dooming its main ally Great Britain to a single combat with a strong enemy, then what could be said about the possibility of Washington declaring war on Japan in the event of its attack on the USSR. In this situation, Stalin could not make a decision to transfer a large number of Soviet divisions from the Far East.

The transfer of part of the Far Eastern and Siberian divisions to the west became possible only after Stalin received accurate information that at the imperial conference on September 6, 1941, it was decided to postpone the implementation of the Japanese plan of attack on the USSR, Kantokuen, planned for August 29, until the spring of 1942. of the year. However, as it became known from Japanese documents after the war, in the event of the fall of Moscow, a Japanese strike on the Soviet Far East could have been inflicted back in 1941, even after the start of Japan’s war with the United States and Great Britain.

On September 29 – October 1, 1941, a trilateral conference was held in Moscow at the initiative of the United States and Great Britain, in which the USSR – People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR Vyacheslav Molotov, from Great Britain – the Minister of Supply Lord William Beaverbrook, from the United States – Ambassador to Moscow Averell Harriman … During Stalin’s September 30 conversation with the heads of the US and British delegations, the Soviet leader no longer raised the issue of US military assistance to the Soviet Union in the event of a Japanese attack. Stalin declared: “I have the impression that Japan is not Italy and does not want to go into slavery to Germany. Therefore, there are reasons for Japan to break away from Germany. “

To which Harriman remarked: “Great Britain and America have dealt with this issue a lot. We now represent a united front to make Japan understand the fallacy of its relationship with the Axis powers. This policy, which we have developed since the meeting of the President with Churchill (August 9-12), is already yielding good results. “

In September, Stalin already confidently declared his ability to repel Japanese aggression. On September 3, 1941, in his message to Churchill, he wrote: “… The Soviet Union, like Britain, does not want a war with Japan. The Soviet Union does not consider it possible to violate treaties, including the treaty with Japan on neutrality. But, if Japan violates this treaty and attacks the Soviet Union, she will meet a proper rebuff from the Soviet troops. “… Stalin’s desire to prevent Japan from actively participating in World War II is yet another confirmation that the Japanese-American war was unprofitable for Moscow. In the protocol of the Moscow conference signed on October 1, the United States and Great Britain pledged to supply the Soviet Union from October 1, 1941 to June 30, 1942, monthly 400 aircraft, 500 tanks, anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, aluminum, tin, lead and other types of weapons and military materials. Stalin could not help but take into account that if the United States entered the war, these supplies could be sharply reduced.

Having made the decision to fight first with the United States and Great Britain in the south, the Japanese did everything possible to create in Washington and London the opposite impression that Japan intends to strike at the USSR in the near future. And Japanese disinformation was successful.

Contained in a message from Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe to President Roosevelt on 28 August “The Japanese government’s hope that the US will avoid cooperation with the Soviet Union” and a proposal from Tokyo to organize a personal meeting between Konoe and Roosevelt fit into the framework of a Japanese disinformation operation designed to convince Washington of Japan’s unwillingness to go into a clash with the United States. An alternative to the Japanese movement to the south was Japan’s action in the north, against the USSR. This once again convinced the US government of the “correctness” of the operational plan of the US Pacific Fleet, which proceeded from the inevitability of a Soviet-Japanese war. “What vital interests of the United States can Japan threaten? – wrote the newspaper “Chicago Tribune” on October 27, 1941. “She can’t attack us. This is impossible from a military point of view. Even our base in Hawaii is out of reach of an effective strike from its fleet. “

The leaders of the United States and Great Britain proceeded from the erroneous conclusion that in connection with the advance of German troops to Moscow, the date for a Japanese strike against the USSR was approaching. “I think, – wrote Roosevelt to Churchill on October 15, 1941, – that they (the Japanese) will head north “… The British prime minister agreed with him.

Expectations of a Japanese strike on the Soviet Far East and Siberia were deliberately fueled from Tokyo. US Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew facilitated the Japanese disinformation operation. On October 20, 1941, he telegraphed to Washington: “I suppose it is too early to consider Tojo as a military leader leading (Japan) to a clash with the United States.”

The command of the US Armed Forces continued to await the Japanese attack on the USSR. An American intelligence report dated November 29, 1941, reported that “The first target of Japan’s attack in the next three months is the Soviet Union”… And they expressed confidence that the Japanese government would show a desire to come to an agreement with the United States.

The American intelligence officers came to this conclusion as a result of the analysis of the Japanese diplomatic cables deciphered in Washington, which came from Tokyo to the Japanese embassy in the United States. Thus, in a cipher telegram from Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo dated November 16 to Ambassador Nomura, it was emphasized that the Japanese, at the first favorable opportunity, could carry out their plan to invade the Soviet Far East.

The direction of a telegram of such content is difficult to explain unambiguously. There are two possible explanations. The first is that she was part of a “disinformation operation.” But in this case, it turns out that the Japanese knew that the Americans were reading their diplomatic dispatches, and slipped disinformation into Washington. More plausible is the explanation taking into account the words contained in the telegram “At the first opportunity”… There is no doubt that this “case” meant the fall of Moscow. And then the simultaneous performance of Japan in the south and in the north was allowed.

The fact that the Anglo-American political leadership believed, and some in Washington and London were interested in the inevitability of a Japanese attack against the USSR, was manifested in the actions of the United States to provide the promised economic assistance to the Soviet Union. Seeing how Hitler was striving for the Soviet capital, and the Japanese made their preparations on the Far Eastern borders of the USSR, the Americans were in no hurry to invest in aid to the “doomed” Moscow. According to American data, by the end of 1941, the United States delivered to the Soviet Union only 204 aircraft instead of the 600 envisaged by the protocol, and 182 tanks instead of 750. The Soviet Union, which bore the brunt of the war, received less than 0.1 percent of all American aid to the belligerent states ( based on the Lend-Lease Law). As Harriman admitted, on December 24, 1941, the United States had fulfilled only one fourth of its obligations under the first protocol of cooperation.

Washington’s strategic miscalculation cost America dearly. Convincing themselves that the Japanese were ready to strike at the USSR, the Americans missed the advance of the Japanese carrier squadron to Pearl Harbor and doomed their Pacific Fleet in Hawaii to death.

Photo: @StrategyBin

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