From: firstname.lastname@example.org (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Japan FIRST!
Date: 28 Oct 1996
Magyar13 makes some telling points. If the Germans did substantially
eliminate the Soviet threat by the time the Western allies were ready to
invade the continent, then God help the landing forces.
In "Not Without Honor: The History of American Anti-Communism," Richard
Powers examines Roosevelt's Europe First policy and those advocating an
Asia First strategy. Anti-communists were the strongest advocates of an
Asia First strategy, according to Powers, not because they were hot to
revenge Pearl Harbor, but because they believed a Europe First strategy
would benefit Stalin more than the United States. Catholic
anti-communists were particularly well represented among Asia Firsters. A
Milwaukee diocesan paper insisted that "our first duty is to this country
and its own fronts, to Guadalcanal before Stalingrad." Another Catholic
paper complained that if supplies sent to England under Lend-Lease had
been shipped to the Pacific, they might have prevented American defeats.
Still other Catholics suspected that the Europe First strategy amounted to
a betrayal of the anti-communist Chiang Kai-shek, forcing him to fight
both the Japanese and the Red Chinese without sufficient American aid or
Because of their visceral anti-communism and their concern for the
Catholic populations of Eastern Europe, American Catholics were the most
outspoken critics of the American-Soviet alliance. The bishops and the
Catholic press would not fall in line with the Roosevelt administration's
policy of praising Stalin for the duration, although the Catholic
hierarchy did bend to pressure from the president to silence Father
Coughlin, "the radio priest."
The American Catholic leadership insisted on calling attention to Soviet
duplicity and crimes in eastern Europe and asserted repeatedly that the
triumph of the Red Army would doom the peoples of eastern Europe to a dark
age of misery, despair and death.
The Soviet propaganda machine counter-attacked by manufacturing and
spreading disinformation to the effect that the Catholic Church was in
league with the Nazis and Fascists to exterminate the Jews. Isvestia
published numerous articles alleging the Catholics and Fascists/Nazis had
been in league since 1929 (the year of the Vatican's concordat with
Sen. Albert Chandler was the leader of the Asia First bloc in the senate
that believed the longer the American invasion of Europe was delayed, the
better. The longer the invasion was put off, they reasoned, the more
losses Russia would suffer. They also feared that if the United States
helped the Soviets defeat Germany before the war in the Pacific was over,
the S.U. would be able to have its way in Europe while the U.S. was
focusing on Japan. Sen. Burton Wheeler asserted the U.S. should finish
off Japan first, then "we would be in a much better position to deal with
Russia when we come to the peace table, and to protect Poland."
Asia Firsters, outraged that Stalin honored the Russo-Japanese neutality
pact, and negotiated economic treaties with Japan during the war,
including a fishing treaty in mid-1943, believed Stalin might well be
trans-shipping U.S. aid meant for Russia to Japan, and if not to Japan,
then to Red Chinese forces.
Sen. Styles Bridges demanded that Roosevelt delay the invasion of Europe
until Poland's postwar freedom was guaranteed by treaty with the Soviets.
Sen. Hamilton Fish noted in late 1944 that the country "on whose behalf
World War Two was started is now about to be turned over to the Communists
in utter disregard of its terrible sacrifices in fighting the Nazis and
the pledges given to the Polish people by the allies."
The Hearst newspapers kept up a drumbeat of warnings that aid to the
Soviet war machine was a fundamental error. The New York Daily Mirror
dubbed the Teheran conference a "Red Munich." The San Francisco Examiner
predicted in 1943 that Stalin would "install in every country in Europe a
Red Regime, which means concentration camps, massacres and a continuous
reign of terror."
For these comments in his papers, Hearst was labeled "Hitler's helper" and
the "American Goebbels." by the New Republic and the New York Times, which
called for the Alien and Sedition laws be used to silence Hearst, and
possibly jail him. Roosevelt himself said the war "must not be impeded by
a few bogus patriots who use the sacred freedom of the press to echo the
sentiments of the propagandists in Tokyo and Berlin." He pressured
Attorney General Francis Biddle into assigning a special prosecutor,
William Maloney, into investigating alleged links between Asia First
proponents and German intelligence. Maloney shortly leaked hints that he
was going to indict Hamilton Fish and Congressman Clare Hoffman, two
outspoken critics of Roosevelt's pro-Soviet (as they saw it) policy of
Europe First. No indictments were, in fact, ever issued against them,
although a couple of dozen other Asia Firsters as well as isolotionist and
pacifist opponents of the war were placed on trial for sedition in 1944.
Defendents appealed to the ACLU for help, but ACLU chief counsel Morris
Ernst asserted, before any convictions were handed down, that the
defendants were guilty of treason in wartime and deserved what they were
The trial was as big in it's day as the O.J. Simpson trial or that of the
Chicago Seven in the 1960s. One of those accused, an anarchist--pacifist
named Lawrence Dennis, claimed that the tiral was an attempt to force the
public to see all mankind as divided into two camps, fascists and
anti-fascists, and to permit those in power to determine who would be
included in each group.
The trial degenerated into farce as it became clear that some of the
defendents, rather than being cunning tools of Nazi interests, were merely
eccentrics or simply held strong opinions about international affairs. It
didn't help the government's cause that the chief prosecuter was a man
named Vyshinsky Rogge, which led to half-serious claims the trial was
being directed from Moscow. On Dec. 7, 1944, during one particularly
vehement yelling match between porsecutor and defendants, the judge
dropped dead of a heart attack and a mistrial was declared. The
government continued to hound the defendents for several more years before
dropping the case in 1947.
This Asia First--Europe First argument was no simple matter of war
strategy, but invoked intense passion in its day.
It's interesting to note that to the Asia Firsters, Nazism and Japanese
militarism were seen as secondary to the real danger, Soviet Communism.
They had no doubt Germany and Japan would be defeated one way or the
other, sooner or later, but they seemed to truly fear that the West might
not be able to defeat Soviet Russia.