IT is common knowledge now that informed and experienced officials in Europe had been extremely concerned for several years before the actual outbreak of war there in 1914 over what the general public had not recognized: namely, that the trend of affairs was making war imminent and virtually inevitable.
In that instance, it appeared as though some people were debarred entirely from making a correct estimate of the situation by their aversion to facing the distasteful conclusions to which known facts pointed and by their adherence to prejudices — however idealistic — that did not rest on a comprehensive foundation of realities. While such people seem inevitably doomed to make misjudgments, the open-minded are confronted by a further difficulty in attempting to make a sound estimate of an intricate international situation.
This difficulty comes from the fact that adequate information, essential to any worth-while estimate, is hardly ever available outside of official circles; and that, even when comprehensive information on such matters is available, it is likely to be so complex and technical that sound interpretations from it are to be expected only from extraordinarily able minds, or from those who can draw on a long background of vicarious and personal experience in the responsible interpretation of such data.
It should cause no surprise, therefore, to those who have not been in close touch with comprehensively informed officials of experience in the Far East that these latter were extremely concerned during the summer of 1923 over the imminent portent of certain matters there of which comparatively little was known and even less was understood by the general public.
During the preceding winter and spring there had been a marked development of liberalism in the industrial centres of the Japanese Empire. The theorem that liberalism is antiimperialistic and makes for international peace would have led some to conclude from this that the prospect for continued peace in the Far East had been improved by this growth of Japanese liberalism. But when it was discussed with many of the best informed and most experienced American, British, Dutch, and Chinese officials — whether in Peking, Shanghai, Hongkong, Manila, Singapore, or Java — the virtually unanimous opinion was that it boded extremely ill for the peace of the Orient and, perhaps, of the world.
Such a conclusion was reached by such people, first, because they had detailed information as to certain contemporaneous conditions and daring moves that will be outlined hereunder; and second, because they could interpret this information in the light of a broad understanding of certain long enduring and major conflicts between policy and practice, a realization of which would seem to be essential to seeing the recent drama and present prospect in the Far East in proper perspective.
The American policy with respect to the Far East — with which it has become usual to profess accord — looks to the maintenance of the sovereign independence and territorial integrity of China while providing, in principle, for equality of opportunity for all peoples in their economic activities throughout China.
But those who view this policy with perspective recognize that it is counter to the practice of the ages, which has been that the stronger tribes or nations conquered and sequestrated the lands and resources of the weaker. The overthrowing of the Aztec and Inca civilizations, the conquests of the Indies, of Africa, and of Australasia, and the continental development of what are now the United States and Canada are among the results of such warlike procedure by Europeans since the latter began their extensive adventures overseas little more than four centuries ago.
The results of the opportunities won overseas by the British were consolidated by their monopoly of their interimperial trade through the Navigation Acts, which were repealed only in 1854, after two hundred years of operation under them had given the British such an incomparable ‘going concern’ in intercommunications by sea as to promise them continuance of virtual monopoly. And now that new conditions threaten such control, a plan to strengthen it by a system of interimperial preference tariffs was agreed to at the recent Imperial Conference in London.
One has merely to visit Java and to note how business is conducted there to appreciate how strongly the Dutch adhere to the doctrine of trade monopoly. It is the same throughout the five million and more square miles the French have conquered during the last fifty years. And, at the present time, a dispute is reported between Sweden and Denmark because the latter insists on monopolizing Greenland’s trade.
One of the early breaches in this immemorial system of conquest for monopoly was made by Commodore Kearney, of the United States Navy, when the British were acquiring special concessions from China at the close of the Opium War in 1842, and he secured assurances from the Chinese that Americans would be treated as favorably as any other nationals — after which the British Sovereign said to Parliament: ‘Throughout the whole course of my negotiations with the government of China, I have uniformly disclaimed the wish for any exclusive advantages. It has been my desire that equal favor should be shown to the industry and commercial enterprise of all nations.’
Though the British had sequestrated Chinese territory for their own uses, Caleb Cushing, in negotiating the subsequent Treaty of Wang Hiya, in 1844, disclaimed any such purpose and insisted merely on the United States being granted commercial opportunities equivalent to those conceded to any other Power.
Thus was born the Open Door Doctrine that looks to equality of economic opportunity for all without any sequestration of territory or abatement of sovereign integrity — a doctrine, be it understood, that would leave every nation free to set up whatever import or export tariffs, or other trade regulations, it may choose, provided that these apply to its commerce with all other nations without discrimination.
The United States secured professions of accord with the Open Door Doctrine from the principal European Powers and the Japanese Empire in 1900; and these professions—though frequently forgotten — were strengthened by the still unratified Nine Power Treaty of Washington in 1922. But the recent record of realities in the Far East shows how fundamental and irreconcilable is the conflict there between the policy of equal opportunity for all without sequestration and the persistent practice of sequestration in order to gain exclusive, or at least preferential, opportunity.
The indubitable record is that the Japanese Empire has risen to its present status, in the main, through its three decennial wars of 1894, 1904, and 1914, whereby it first completed its hold on the insular barrier to Northeastern Asia, from Kamchatka to Formosa, and then began its expansion on to the continent by taking the Liaotung Peninsula from Russia, and by absorbing the ancient realm of Korea — whose independence and territorial integrity it had solemnly guaranteed less than six years before absorbing it.
Just before the Japanese Empire attempted to monopolize Fukien, Shantung, Manchuria, and Inner Mongolia, and to turn China virtually into a vassal state by the Twenty-one Demands of 1915, the Japanese Premier, Count Okuma, is reported to have said: ‘Those who are superior will govern those who are inferior. I believe that within two or three centuries the world will have a few great governing countries and others will be governed by them, will pay homage to the mighty. In other words, about four or five great countries . . . will be developed, and the other countries will be attached to these great ones. For instance, England, Russia, Germany, and France may be such countries. We [Japanese] should from now on prepare ourselves to become a governing nation.’
As Count Okuma was guiding the policy of the Japanese Empire at the time he made this statement, it would seem reasonable to consider it as an authoritative index of the outlook and purpose of the Japanese Government less than ten years ago.
It has been said, however, that the recent Japanese withdrawal from Shantung was because of a general rectification of policy — induced by diplomatic pressure at the Washington Conference. But in informed circles in the Far East it is known that the boycott the Chinese maintained in many provinces against the trade of the Japanese, so long as the latter held the sacred province of Shantung, was costing the Japanese far more than they could afford or could expect to make out of Shantung alone.
So they withdrew from it in order to regain their trade elsewhere; and — highly important with Orientals — ‘saved face’ by alleging that their withdrawal was because of a change of heart, induced by what the public has been led to believe was the altruistic atmosphere of the Washington Conference.
Similarly, the withdrawal of the Japanese from their protracted excursion in Siberia has been advanced as another evidence of voluntary abandonment of their practice of extending their sphere of exclusive control over territory belonging to others.
But again the best informed people in the Far East point to the fact that this excursion, though it yielded little, cost the Japanese Government over a billion yen, and that it was seen that a continuance of such a great drain on the Treasury would be a less effective expenditure at the moment than to increase the classes of naval auxiliary vessels unlimited by the Washington Conference.
The case of Northern Saghalien is not cited as showing that the Japanese have embarked upon a policy of restitution of the territories they have seized from others; for they are still firmly entrenched there. But it would not be surprising to have them trade it back to Russia, as it is more than rumored that they have been bitterly disappointed in their expectations of finding there a good supply of fuel oil for their navy.
Nor is the case of Manchuria cited as a reversal of their practice of securing control of the territories of their neighbors; for the Japanese have repelled, with a great show of indignation, the Chinese suggestion of last year that they vacate Manchuria; and, as is well known in the Far East, they are in active process of consolidating their control over it with the aid of its ex-bandit chief, Chang Tso-lin.
In short, the record shows that, since professing accord with the Open Door Doctrine in 1900, the Japanese have not hesitated to sequestrate the territories and to monopolize the resources of their neighbors in accordance with the militant tenets of Prussian imperialism — except when the direct or indirect costs of so doing have proved to be unwarrantably heavy.
In considering this record, however, we should recognize frankly that such practices were in accord with those common throughout most parts of the world from time immemorial until very recently, and that such practices have not yet been banished from regions other than the Far East.
Furthermore, we should recognize that it has been principally by such traditional and common practices that the Japanese Empire has been raised from relative insignificance in the world of only thirty years ago to its present stature. Though the reverse of ideal, such methods have been proven preeminently practical and profitable to the Japanese. So the Japanese should not be expected to abandon them lightly.
Comprehensive appreciation of the Japanese record, of which it has been possible here only to refer to some of the more salient incidents, gave particular point to the very tense situation that was under the sunny surface of the Orient during the summer of 1923 — a situation that, providentially, was relieved, for the moment, by the appalling Japanese earthquake of the first of September.
As has been suggested above, in the winter of 1923 there was such a marked development of liberalism in Japanese industrial centres that it threatened to get beyond the control even of the Japanese police. Being thus seized with what has been aptly described as an acute attack of ‘internal indigestion,’ the Japanese Government naturally sought the corrective of ‘external exercise.’ That is, it sought to create a seemly opportunity for external activity of a promising nature, upon which the attention of the patriotic Japanese public could be focused to the neglect of liberalism — and in order that, in the heat of foreign warlike measures, irreconcilable liberals might be dealt with conclusively by measures more drastic than could be used in times of peace.
In view of the factional strife in China and the disorganization and virtual impotence of the Government at Peking, the simplest procedure would have been to fling some sort of ultimatum, such as the Twenty-one Demands of 1915, before that distraught body, and launch an expeditionary force to carry it out. But memories of how the Chinese boycott over the occupation of Shantung had turned much Japanese trade with China into British and American channels indicated how vast would be the indirect costs of such a procedure. And besides, such crude methods would have belied the rectified rôle the Japanese Empire desires the world to believe it has adopted since having been promoted to the exalted position of one of the four principal Powers in the League of Nations by the ‘Big Four’ at the Paris Peace Conference,
But if, on the other hand, a situation could be developed in which the United States and the principal European Powers would take the initiative in insisting on an international intervention in force in China, then the occasion would be ideal — from the Japanese point of view. To proposals for such an intervention, the Japanese could object at first, thereby establishing the record not only that the original suggestion for intervention did not come from them, but that, in the interest of peace, they were opposed to intervention.
Yet, if the Americans and Europeans should continue to insist on an international intervention, then, against its officially stated inclinations, it would become incumbent upon the Japanese Empire, as a principal Power, claiming paramount local interests, regretfully to contribute a contingent to the international force aimed at intervention in China.
Such a situation would have been substantially similar to the international intervention inaugurated in 1918 in Siberia, to which the Japanese were supposed to send not over 7000 troops but to which they insisted on sending far more than all the other contingents combined, and a commanding officer who outranked all others present and who, consequently, took supreme command.
If such a situation had arisen in China, it would have amounted, de facto, to a Japanese intervention, but one brought about by American and European initiative and against the officially recorded protests of the Japanese authorities. So the responsibility and stigma would have been upon us and not upon the Japanese. Yet such an intervention, in which the Japanese surely would have had preponderant forces and the supreme command, could have been developed to serve as the external exercise required to correct the attack of internal indigestion from which the Japanese realm was suffering as a result of liberalism; and such a move would have been especially effective internally if it could have been made through Shantung — to withdrawal from which many Japanese have never been reconciled.
But the initially essential item of an adequate reason why the United States and the European Powers should intervene in force in China was lacking.
It will be recalled that, early in May, a large body of Chinese brigands derailed and held up the ‘Blue Express’ from Shanghai to Peking near LinCheng, taking from it a score of prominent Americans and Europeans, some of whom were held in captivity about a month. And it may be recalled also that, a few days after this outrage occurred, the American and the British chambers of commerce in Shanghai — with more energy than insight — severally petitioned the American Department of State and the British Foreign Office to intervene in force and to rescue our captive nationals — or their remains.
It was of very great interest to the present writer, on arriving in China early in July, to learn from several authoritative sources — Americans who had made it their particular business to find out — that the LinCheng train banditry had been organized by agents of a certain eminent Chinese, opposed to the Government at Peking; and that he had organized it on behalf of the Japanese with whom he is associated in other matters.
The plan, of which almost all vital details had been uncovered by July, had been double in its purpose. Politically, it aimed to create such a situation that the United States and the European Powers would insist on intervention in force. Thereupon, after objecting pro forma, the Japanese would have joined in preponderant force and the resulting invasion of China — upon our expected initiative — would have given the Japanese the ‘external exercise’ they deemed necessary to correct the ‘internal indigestion’ that liberalism was causing at home; and this without their seeming to have been responsible for having brought it all about.
‘For strategic reasons’ it was planned that the Japanese contingent was to have entered through Shantung, putting that province firmly back in Japanese hands — but on our initiative. There was more, however, to the strategic purpose of the plan than that. For by throwing a Japanese force ‘against the brigands’ north of Kiansu, Anhwei, and Honan provinces, military support essential to the Peking government from those provinces would have been cut off.
And thereupon Chang Tso-lin’s forces in Manchuria would have become preponderant and he could have moved confidently against the Chinese capital with what, beyond doubt, would have been exceedingly serious consequences to China.
It was a cleverly conceived plan that promised to satisfy the particular aims of its several Oriental participants. But it was inadequately inaugurated, for we did not rise to the bait and intervene. Also, it was inadequately guarded, for we uncovered it. And meanwhile the pains the Japanese authorities were suffering, due to liberalism in their body politic, instead of being relieved were growing more acute.
A careful investigation, made during May and June in the Japanese industrial centres, revealed that the Japanese liberals were so elated over the spread of their doctrines that they were planning a great demonstration, to occur about the first of November, which they hoped would develop into an open revolt against some phases of the Imperial Government.
In July we had for consideration, therefore, the following known items: During the previous winter a comparatively moderate outbreak of liberalism had so disturbed the Japanese authorities that they had gone to the length of inciting the Lin-Cheng banditry outrage so as to create, under the guise of an international intervention, an opportunity for external activity that would enable them to correct their internal ills. The plan had failed to develop.
But liberalism had continued to grow — even to the extreme of planning a revolt for the late autumn. It seemed impossible to avoid the conclusion that, before November, and in order to head off the revolt the liberals were known to be planning, the Japanese authorities would make some external démarche more daring, if need be, than the Lin-Cheng episode.
Indeed that was the conclusion usually reached when, during July and August, this situation was discussed all along the coast down to Java, with some of the people most experienced in estimating such matters; and several emphasized particularly their belief that while a Japanese excursion onto the continent before November seemed inevitable, yet such a move would be counter to the policy the Japanese Government seems to wish to follow at present, and would be made only because the Japanese authorities were being driven to it in order to retain control over conditions at home.
Here it should be realized — as it was realized especially in responsible American circles in the Far East — that if the Japanese had made such a warlike move as seemed to be impending last summer, their action would have presented the United States with a very serious problem and with a unique responsibility. The antagonisms of the European Powers among themselves in Europe, and their commitments in the Near East, in Africa, and in the Middle East were such as virtually to immobilize their forces in those regions and to prevent their playing a part of any considerable effect in the Far East. Consequently, on the United States would have fallen virtually the undivided responsibility of deciding whether merely to file a paper protest and practically to acquiesce by inaction to whatever the Japanese might set out to do — or to endeavor to halt them by a threat of force if need be.
But we knew, and presumably the Japanese knew, that such a threat would have been quite empty. For the rigid economy that we — who least of the great Powers need do so — have been practising in our naval expenditures has so impaired the efficiency and capacity of our navy as to make it, for the moment, totally incapable of acting effectively in such a situation in time to stop its materialization. In other words, we have deprived ourselves of the force that would be necessary to maintain peace and equity.
It so happened that the broader bearings and possible developments of this entire situation were discussed at great length on the afternoon of the first of September with a particularly well informed group of men. At that very moment, however, the great earthquake had just occurred and Tokyo and Yokohama were in flames — which, as was said after the appalling news came, ‘solved the situation for the moment, but only for the moment.’
It may be recalled that the Japanese authorities issued a statement, soon after the earthquake, in which it was alleged that the pillaging that naturally ensued was being done by Koreans previously employed as laborers in the devastated region; that these Koreans had started many of the fires that sprang up naturally among most of the demolished houses immediately after the earthquake; and that they, together with radicals, were organizing an attempt on the Imperial Government.
To this appeal Japanese of all classes responded instantly and virtually to a man. For it focused the patriotism of the public against an alien, and recently subjugated, race now alleged to be attempting to take a quite understandable revenge in the hour of Japanese calamity. According to boasts heard from Japanese — before they realized the unwisdom of such boasts — about fifteen hundred unfortunate Koreans, as well as some Japanese radicals, were slaughtered out of hand by the Japanese soldiers, police, and populace.
Thus the appalling earthquake disaster was very cleverly used by the Japanese authorities to create a racially external issue, in order to get their own internal situation in hand by directing public emotion against lowly aliens defenseless in their midst.
One would think that the internal effects of the earthquake, on the one hand, and the fact that the Chinese were among the very first to rush aid to the Japanese, on the other, would have ended Japanese activities in and against China for a while.
Word comes, however, that even since the earthquake, the Japanese, indirectly, have been urging that an international police-control over the Chinese railroads is essential to public safety — because of bandits, forsooth! But they are avoiding any appearance of initiating this suggestion; and it is understood that they would refuse, at first, to join in any international police plan, thus proving their aversion to such a move by the Powers.
Nevertheless, if the Powers actually were to inaugurate such a police control over the Chinese railroads, there can be no doubt but what Japanese interests would call for Japanese participation in it; and Japanese facilities on the spot would result in the international control being dominated by the Japanese. So the net result of this move that the Japanese are trying to bring about by indirect means would be the control of the Chinese railroads by the Japanese authorities.
This move since the earthquake reveals an attempt to obtain by indirect means, through the Powers, some of the ends more openly sought, but not attained, by the Twenty-one Demands of 1915. But more, perhaps, than anything else, it shows that, while the appalling earthquake disaster solved the very tense situation in the Orient for the moment, it solved it only for the moment, because it has not diverted the Japanese from their purposes and practices.
While the matters just outlined were of immediate moment last summer, they also threw light on a broader subject that was discussed in every centre from Peking to Java — a subject of much greater ultimate meaning in international grand strategy.
As is well known, within the Japanese bureaucracy two quite different plans have been contending for preference. What might be called the Japanese Territorialist Plan is sponsored by the Chosu clan that predominates in the army. Naturally this is reminiscent of Prussian thought in its desire to spread direct military, political, and economic control progressively over adjacent parts of the continent of Asia as extensively as possible so that the Japanese of the future may live, in the main, on their economic exploitation of China and of the Chinese.
The development of such a plan, of which we have witnessed the first stages, with its conquests of territories, its overthrowing of governments, and its political and economic enslavement of peoples, is so noisy and obvious as to arouse extensive interest. But its scope ashore is limited by the ability to extend, and the capacity to maintain, police control by means of overland communications; it is likely to be very costly in more ways than can be anticipated — as both the Germans and the Japanese have discovered; and, in itself, it is not as likely to have as world-wide effects of great importance as would a procedure involving extensive maritime operations.
In contrast to this Territorialist Plan is what might be called the Japanese Maritime Plan that is supported by the naval Satzuma clan. This springs from an appreciation of Mahan’s doctrines to the effect that the ability to conduct extensive communications by sea one’s self, and the power to deny adequate communications by sea to one’s opponent has been a most potent and far-reaching factor in the history of peoples — and this because such control over communications by sea gives preferential access to overseas lands, and to their human and material resources, while enabling one to minimize such access to one’s opponent in peace and virtually to deny it to him in war.
Mention was made above of the fact that the Japanese Empire ‘first completed its hold on the insular barrier to Northeastern Asia from Kamchatka to Formosa.’ More specifically, in one way or another, the Japanese have acquired during the last fifty years the Loochoo Islands, the Kurile Islands, the Bonin Islands, Saghalien, Formosa, the Pescadores, the Mariana Islands (except Guam), the Pellew Islands, the Caroline Islands, and the Marshall Islands.
The result is that now, apart from the Aleutian Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, the Philippines, northern Borneo, a few small and scattered American or British islands, and the coastal islands, all the islands of the Pacific north of the equator are in the hands of the Japanese.
One effect of this is that submarines or airplanes, based on islands remote from Japan proper, could seriously impede the advance of an enemy force toward Japanese home waters. Another is that the control of the entire insular barrier to Northeastern Asia makes it possible for the Japanese navy to isolate that region from direct overseas communication and to deny commercial access to it from the sea except by a naval force based near enough effectively to break through the barrier and to hold open the breach made.
So when some talk easily of throwing this or that force into China, say, against brigands, it does not seem that they have given due consideration to the control the Japanese might exercise over such operations because of their naval control over the northern part of the insular barrier that lays across the lines of communication to northern China and Siberia.
It was interesting to find that such effects of the control the Japanese Empire already has over the islands of the North Pacific, and over the northern part of the great insular barrier that extends virtually down to New Zealand and into the Indian Ocean, are realized as a matter of course among those in the Far East who are conversant with the elements of international grand strategy and with its Far Eastern factors.
But it was far more interesting to find that the American, the British, and the Dutch circles there concerned with such matters had each arrived separately at further deductions that arc so similar to each other as to vary only in minute details.
The substance of all of these three sets of deductions is that the purpose of the Japanese Maritime Plan is to extend Japanese control progressively along the insular barrier down to its southern terminal and around to the Indian Ocean. And it was interesting to find how certain recent Japanese activities in the American Philippines, in British Malaya, and in the Netherlands East Indies have confirmed these deductions.
It was as though three people had been given a formula from which each separately had plotted a similar projection of a curve, and that, on top of their projections checking each other, supplemental data had come to hand from three separate sources, which data had confirmed all three projections.
A glance at a map should suffice to show that the retention of the Philippines by the United States is the present outstanding obstacle to the Japanese extending progressively their control along the insular barrier. But if Filipino politicians were free merely to grant to the Japanese a certain naval-base site in the southern Philippines, — as there are reasons for believing some would be glad to do, — then the remainder of the task ahead of the Japanese would be easy in comparison to its present difficulties. And this for the simple yet all important reason that the United States, should we so desire, could focus adequate force to stop the Japanese at the Philippines; whereas the British, for politico-naval reasons that are too complex to be outlined here, could not focus adequate force at Singapore to stop the Japanese there if the latter were based on the Philippines and had a secure line of support to such a base.
The conclusion from this situation is that, in deciding on the future of the Philippines, we are likely to be deciding on the future of the Netherlands East Indies and of Australasia — to say nothing of the future of India, of Malaya, of China, and of all for which our civilization may stand in the Orient.
In short, the American, the British, and the Dutch circles concerned with matters of international grand strategy in the Far East recognize explicitly that the guard the United States mounts at the Philippines is essential to the security of Australasia and to whatever measure of peace may be maintained ‘east of Suez.’
On the other hand, it is recognized in such circles as beyond question that, if the Japanese could secure merely an appropriate naval-base site in an ‘Independent Republic of the Philippines,’ they would be able to isolate Eastern Asia from commercial or political or military relations with or support from either Europe or America.
Consequently, the Japanese could set aside that vast region as their own economic preserve, without the trouble of having to police it, by securing merely control over the sea lines of communication to it, in accordance with only a partial development of the more extensive Maritime Plan that the naval Satzuma clan are known to be urging; and by so doing they would reap the bulk of the benefits while avoiding all the turmoil and costs necessarily incident to the Territorialist Plan of the army Chosu clan for the progressive conquest of Eastern Asia.
From this it should be obvious why, on the one hand, the Japanese are not pushing forward into continental Asia as extensively as they might while, on the other hand, they are doing everything in their power, indirectly, to bring about Philippine independence.
The foregoing outline of some of the more important realities that confront responsible people in the Far East may suggest a possible reason why the foreign policy of the United States, during most of 1923, seemed to avoid with particular care any transatlantic undertaking that might impair our capacity to act as we might think best in any transpacific crisis. Indeed, color is given to such a surmise by our Secretary of State having suggested, in December of 1922, that we participate in an attempt to solve the problem of German Reparations; but that thereafter, so far as is known, the matter was allowed to rest until over a month after the Japanese earthquake — by which time it had become clear in the United States that that horrible cataclysm had relieved the tense situation of last summer in the Far East for the moment.
But the principal purpose of giving here this outline of Far Eastern matters has been to bring out the way in which the persistent practices and apparent purposes of the Japanese Empire are diametrically opposed to the comparatively new world policy for which the United States stands: namely, equality of opportunity for all without sequestration.
Equality of opportunity without sequestration is, and must remain, irreconcilable with sequestration designed to gain preferential or exclusive opportunity. This irreconcilability between the policy of the United States and the practices of the Japanese Empire would be sufficient cause in itself for the known attitude of distrust and antagonism that Japanese authorities maintain toward the United States under a surface of official amenities. But there is more to this situation than a clash between policy and practice.
On our side, we are becoming more and more dependent on selling overseas our surplus products in order to maintain and advance our standard of living. And since 1900 our transpacific trade has increased over a hundredfold: so that now it is nearly a quarter of our total overseas trade, although, as yet, we have little more than sampled the transpacific market.
On the side of the Japanese, we should recognize that their sequestrational and monopolistic practices have been vastly profitable to them, and have been in general accord with the traditional procedure followed from time immemorial by virtually all needy peoples capable of so doing. Their apparent purpose to build a great maritime empire that would enfold Eastern Asia and would command the Pacific holds out to them a brilliant promise of making secure their future as one of the very greatest Powers the world has seen.
It is merely an intelligent application to the geography and other circumstances of Asia and of the Pacific of those procedures whereby capable peoples, throughout the ages, have built empires for themselves — witness the evolution of the British Empire in the last three and a quarter centuries only, or the conquest by the Third French Republic of over five million square miles of new territory since 1875, although, before that date, less than half a million square miles in all were under the French flag.
The Japanese see for themselves, as the reward of astute persistence, a future empire that shall enfold Eastern Asia and command the Pacific — if they can parry interference from the United States and from Russia when that drugged giant shall have returned to potency. But we, on the other hand, see that such a future Japanese Empire would debar us from Asia and could menace our future security.
In this antagonism between interests, between Japanese practice and American policy, there is, however, much more than a material issue. For there is at stake a possible step for us to take toward the effective substitution of equity for force.
It would be interesting to speculate as to how much less war-ridden the past would have been had our comparatively recent Open Door Doctrine of equality of opportunity for all without sequestration been propounded and put into general practice centuries ago by others. It is far more important, however, to recognize the very great extent to which real adherence to this doctrine by all Powers, from now on, would tend to remove one of the great incentives to wars in the future.
Beyond question the greatest obstacle to real adherence by all to the doctrine of equality of opportunity without sequestration is that some Powers — not to say most — believe that their own interests will be better served if they seek to sequestrate and to monopolize such opportunities as may come within their reach. As Thayer pointed out in his Life of John Hay, some have been shamed into professions to the contrary. But precept and example have failed to deter them from such practices.
More specifically, the evident intention of the Japanese Empire to continue practices that have proved so vastly profitable and are so very promising would seem to confront us with the necessity of choosing between the following courses: —
We should be prepared to offer the Japanese, in convincing terms, a prospect even more profitable than their vision of empire if they will abandon their practices and really adhere to our policy instead of merely professing to do so.
Or we should be prepared — also in convincing terms — to make their continuance of their practices unprofitable to them.
Or, regardless of our own ultimate interests, we should abandon our half-hearted attempt by our policy to substitute equality of opportunity, equity, and peace for the immemorial procedure of war, sequestration, and subjugation for gain.
It does not appear possible to offer the Japanese convincing prospects of greater profit than they see for themselves through persisting in their usual practices. But it would be possible to make it imminently unprofitable to them to continue their practices of sequestration and monopoly; and this in terms that would carry conviction to them: namely, a navy capable of supporting our policy and our interests in the Far East — a navy within the Naval Limitation Treaty in every specified respect and fully up to the ‘treaty ratios’ in every essential respect.
In short, realities in the Far East seem to confront us with the necessity of choosing between the maintenance of a force adequate to stop flagrant and dangerous inequity there, or our abandonment of our attempt to substitute equity for force.