(2) the Pacific War


Our war with Japan now resolves itself into a race between an American offensive and Japan’s consolidation of the New Order in East Asia which she has so nearly completed. In December we faced Japan with what were thought to be powerful allies, but now we are up against the master of a compact, rich, and populous empire. Except for isolated pockets of resistance, Japan has added to her subject peoples another hundred million human beings - sixteen million in the Philippines, sixty million in the Netherlands Indies, six million in Malaya, and another sixteen million in Burma. She has taken over most of the world’s supply of rubber, tin, quinine, and hemp; she has oil in abundance, iron ores, and coal sufficient for tremendous industrial expansion, and she has cut us off from China’s tungsten, antimony, and wood oil. Most important of all, she is in a position to organize a large part of the world supply of colonial labor and she knows how to do it. The whole balance of power in the Far East has changed.

The new empire is practically landlocked and can be defended against our sea power by land-based airplanes; it follows a great arc from Tokyo through Manila, Batavia, Singapore, and Rangoon. Only conquest of China is necessary to round out this nucleus of future world power into a great eggshaped monster from which even mightier aggression may be born. Nor is Japan any longer a land whose economy is dominated by silk and textiles, but the most powerful industrialized country in East Asia, now in control of the materials and labor power to build up one of the world’s great industrial empires. All she needs is time. Even now she is so strong that we cannot hope to crush her in the near future however much we bomb Tokyo.

Bombs on Tokyo may boost American morale but China has to pay for them in a renewed Japanese offensive obviously designed in part to eliminate air bases in Chekiang and Fukien provinces which can now receive and could in future send forth the planes to bomb Japan. But this is more the occasion than the cause of the drive against China, for Japan’s determination to conquer China has always been the one thing bound to bring her into conflict with the United States. The AmericanJapanese quarrel is fundamental; it is a quarrel as to which of two ways of organizing East Asia shall prevail. Is Japan to be allowed to consolidate into a vast imperialist monopoly the empire she has already conquered and become one of the great powers of the world? Or is there an American program for Asia strong enough to rally behind it the free and subject peoples of that area against Japan?

China is to America what the Soviet Union is to Great Britain, a great continental ally which has the land mass and the man-power, the experience and the potential resources, to turn the scales against the Axis. The Axis strategy seems clear enough: to crush the continental allies of the maritime countries while holding the latter with submarine and surface warfare on the high seas.

There is every reason for Japan to push on into China. It is essential to the organization of her Co-prosperity Sphere in Asia. Successful conquest would remove the one blot on Japanese arms, it would bring more labor power and resources into Japanese hands, it would remove the greatest political force in Asia against Japanese imperialism, and it would lay the foundations for a powerful Pan-Asian movement. China conquered would remove from the fighting the greatest body of trained and experienced troops which the United Nations command in Asia.

What Japan wants to crush, America must help keep alive. China is our major active land front against Japan; we do not have the shipping to transport a large AEF to Asia even if we had one ready, but China has the man-power on the spot. We can, however, transport materials of war, airplanes, and special technical troops to China. American and British planes are now taking in materials from India, and 100 transport planes can transport as much per month as the Burma Road at the peak of its traffic. So long as northern India is held and the Japanese are prevented from making successful attacks on our air transports, it is possible to keep up the flow of supplies into China. If we have the will we have the means to help keep China fighting.


Meanwhile China’s chances of survival under the full impact of Japanese arms, if that is the Japanese intention, are still very high. Much depends on what we can get into China, much depends on what we are doing in other parts of the Far East and the Pacific. In the last analysis, however, the issue rests with China.

China will not surrender to the Japanese until the last shot has been fired. She will not make peace with Japan, to put it in very realistic terms, because she cannot; there is no social and political group in China, with any prospects of power, which can hope to gain anything by compromise with the invader. When Japan conquers she eliminates the native ruling class, takes over all commerce and industry, banking, and political power; she is out for monopoly of every form of economic and political life; there is little hope of coming to terms with her.

China will fight. But if Japan is willing to pay the price, will she be able to crush China as an organized state machine and break her up into small isolated centers of resistance? Certainly no price is too high for Japan to pay, and she is now in a position to pour a larger army into China.

What has happened to China’s inner capacity to resist? For strictly defensive purposes China has considerable supplies stored up and the capacity, in her small industries, to supply herself for some time to come. It is not generally realized that China’s internal communications represent, in many ways, a much more serious problem than her external; much material is stored where it is produced and cannot be transported to the places where it is needed. Nor has the inflation of the last two years, which according to recent report has reached, in Chungking, an average of over 1722 per cent of the pre-war level, improved the lot of the farmers. The effect of inflation has been to cramp China’s growing money economy and to make saving take the form of hoarding all kinds of goods.

The Chinese are naturally very bitter about the way things have gone since they were joined by great allies. The general policy, as it seems to them, of concentrating against Hitler to the neglect of Japan is to “resist the tiger at the front gate while ushering in the wolf through the back door.” This understandable point of view has much to commend it.

American and Allied strategy must always return to the problem of fighting the continental war in Asia, however many victories are won over Japanese naval expeditions. Japan will naturally attempt to secure naval control over the whole Pacific if she can, and if she cannot she will most certainly attempt to destroy the bases for offensive action which America is constructing in Alaska, Pearl Harbor, and the Southwest Pacific.

The naval successes against the Japanese are welcome, but the problem of the future is one of doing successfully against Japan what she has failed to do against us. We must win the naval side of the struggle in order the more successfully to crack Japan’s land-based empire on the continent, especially the industrial base of Manchuria, the backbone of so much of Japan’s military strength. Those who still think of an Anglo-American domination of the world forget that the Soviet Union. China, and India have the men and the strategic positions. Australia can perhaps be defended, but it is more reasonable to think of India, in spite of the longer sea route, as the more promising arsenal of war in the East. Here at least is a base to which supplies can be sent for immediate use in India or China, here is a base which can be developed on a long-term program, and here is a country which stands in vital strategic relation to the sea routes to the Near East, to Africa, and to China.

(continued on page 14)


The political problems of India far outweigh the technical aspects and difficulties of her industrialization, but the latter must not be underestimated. The enthusiasts for China and India rarely take into account the internal social obstacles to industrialization in those countries; they put all the blame for their backwardness upon the Western empires. That is where much of the blame belongs, but with the best will in the world, and now with the most urgent need to do so, it is still difficult to industrialize countries with cheap labor and an agrarian system which leaves the peasant with almost no consuming power. Nor will freedom alone remove these difficulties.

The argument that India must be set on the road to independence if her full resources are to be mobilized for war is true within the context of Western imperialism. It is a political fact that the Indian nationalist movement wants complete independence; it is a political tragedy that Britain did not offer many years ago the terms which Sir Stafford Cripps promised at the conclusion of the war, for then India could have been permitted the luxury, which China has suffered, of settling her internal affairs in civil war — an inevitable consequence, as Gandhi recently admitted, of liberation. But today neither the United States nor Great Britain can take the risk of India becoming another Ireland, and the danger was too imminent to make the technical change-over from a British to an Indian controlled army.

The main problem was always that of what India would do with her freedom. Would she declare her neutrality? On what terms would she permit, if she so decided, the full mobilization of her resources in the war against the Axis? There was always the danger, for the United Nations, that the time lost in arranging those terms and in establishing a united national government might be decisive. Because British and Indian leaders failed to solve the quandary, India today is not opposing the war effort, but on the other hand she is not putting the force of a fully aroused nation behind it.

In the broader pattern of United Nations’ purposes the failure and confusion in India is far from being hopeless of solution. The Axis set the stakes in this war and we have no choice but to accept them. It is now technically possible to conquer the world; and in spite of the independent growth and purposes of German and Japanese imperialism, both are obviously coöperating against a common enemy: that old world order which was based upon the loose combination of British, French, and American power.


The old relation between the Western empires and the peoples of Asia cannot be maintained; much of it indeed is already swept away. We cannot accept the Axis plans for a new world order; we are therefore compelled to develop a new order of our own. This will emerge, not at the peace table, but during the course of the war, and much of it is already apparent.

The new relation between the democracies and the peoples of Asia is uneven and contradictory, as it must be. While American citizens of Japanese ancestry are removed from the Pacific coast and Tokyo uses this as evidence of race discrimination, Negro troops are welcomed in “white” Australia; while Indians serve under British generals, an American general serves under Chiang Kai-shek.

So the blueprints of our course emerge, slowly and unevenly, full of contradictions, at times provincial, at times catholic and universal, but always inevitably fitting into the pattern demanded by the war - the formulation of the only possible answer to the Axis program, its very opposite.