Tag Archives: diplomacy

Cordell Hull’s Historic Blunder – A Primer on the Failure of Leadership

This installment of my series on leadership and success is excerpted from my new book, “The Pearl Harbor Congressional Cover-Up – A True Account of How a Partisan Congress Misled the American People on the Pearl Harbor Attack,December 7. 1941. Featuring Historic Lessons on the Failure of Leadership to Foresee the Attack and to Avert War with Japan.” It is available on Amazon.

On November 26, 1941, Secretary of State Cordell Hull stood at the gates of history, a step away from becoming a diplomatic legend. What followed instead was catastrophic. Hull’s failure to avoid the unspeakable horrors of war with Japan and its enormous consequences is described in the book. It was a war marked by a devastating human toll and immense financial costs. Hull’s aborted November 1941 diplomatic efforts in abandoning the modus vivendi proposal to Japan for a 3-month truce is a lesson in the failure of accountability for all those who aspire to leadership, for no one can become a successful leader without being fully accountable for her/her actions.  This failure, marked by Hull’s admission that he was turning the whole thing over the the Army and Navy, effectively amounted to his “throwing in the towel.”  It was a total failure in accountability for America’s top diplomat, a failure to follow through and explore all avenues for peace, played out on a world scale.  His unfortunate lack of vision at this most crucial moment in history may stamp him as one of the most shortsighted, even incompetent, secretaries of state to ever hold office.

The scuttling of the modus vivendi and the substitution of Hull’s November 26 memorandum, considered by the Japanese to be an ultimatum, was followed 11 days later by the attack on Pearl Harbor, a result it may be observed, consonant with the Administration’s previously adopted policy of waiting for Japan to strike the first blow.  This course of events may never have come to pass had there been vision by Hull in those dark days of November, 1941.  There was simply too much at stake in terms of averting the prospect of total war not to have fully explored all possible avenues of peace.

The onus for Hull’s failure also falls on President Roosevelt for not following through on his hand written blue print for a modus vivendi which had been personally delivered to Hull some days earlier, likely on November 20 after receiving the Japanese proposal on that date.

A press release was issued by the White House on December 1, 1943, following a conference in North Africa attended by President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.  The press release stated in part that, “The Three Great Allies expressed their resolve to bring unrelenting pressure against their brutal enemies by sea, land and air…The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan… It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped … of all territories she has taken by violence and greed…With these objects in view the Three Allies…will continue to persevere in the serious and prolonged operations necessary to procure the unconditional surrender of Japan.”   This press release constituted mute evidence of the daunting task faced by the Allies in 1943 in fighting the war with Japan.

Arnold G. Regardie

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“Prelude to Infamy” – Now on Amazon’s Kindle

“The Japanese Navy is itching for a fight with the American Navy.”  News item, ascribed to a Japanese Navy official, on or about October 24, 1941.”

To commemorate the  forthcoming 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, I have posted a new ebook on Amazon’s Kindle.  It describes the diplomatic exchanges between the United States and Japan in the months leading up to the attack. Here’s the complete title:  “Prelude to Infamy: How Imperial Japan’s Diplomatic Treachery Led To America’s Greatest Military Disaster – Pearl Harbor.”

This book is a true account of Japanese diplomatic deception which led to the surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in the early morning hours of Sunday, December 7, 1941.  It provides an inside look at the virtual day to day diplomatic negotiations, including reports, conversations, communiques, and telegrams, from August to December, 1941, between officials of the U.S. Department of State and diplomats of the Japanese Empire as dark clouds of war continued to loom in the background.  Essentially based on the report of a Congressional investigation into the attack, released in July, 1946, it effectively puts the reader in  position of becoming an eyewitness to history being made as the process of searching for peace is continued.

The book  reveals in depth how the U.S. continued to negotiate for peace but at the same time sought to build up its military and naval forces to counter Japanese aggression in the Far East.  Militaristic Japan,  bent  on expanding its sphere of influence by force and violence to assure, it asserted,  its survival as an empire, had been reaching out to acquire the raw materials and other natural resources needed for its survival.  It  had invaded and subjugated large parts of China in 1937,  occupied  French Indochina in 1940, and was threatening the Dutch East Indies and other countries and areas in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Region.  Peace negotiations faltered as it continued to resist U.S. efforts to pull back its forces.

In February, 1941, unknown to the U.S. and apparently to its own diplomatic corps, the Japanese military began planning an attack on the United States.  In October, 1941, Hideki Tojo, a General in the Japanese Imperial Army and Minister of War under former Prime Minister Prince Konoye, who resigned on October 16, 1941, was appointed Prime Minister by Emperor Hirohito.  Chances for peace dimmed when Tojo, a hard liner, resisted U.S. efforts to have Japan pull its troops out of China, a key point in U.S endeavors, and took a tough stand against continued peace negotiations with the U.S.

On December 6, 1941, Japan began delivery of a 14 point reply to the latest U.S. peace proposal of November 26, 1941.  Due to its own bungling, the 14th point, breaking off talks with the U.S. was not delivered until well after the attack on Pearl Harbor had begun on December 7.  No formal declaration of war by Japan against the United States was received in Washington until 4 p.m. (EST), long after the attack had ended.

The book concludes with  two noteworthy quotes.  One is from the lyric of an old Glenn Miller tune, “You must be vigilant, you must be vigilant, American Patrol…”, and the other is  from a 1790 speech by John Philpot Curran  in Dublin, Ireland, that  “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  These timeless words still ring true today.

For those readers who may not be aware of the diplomatic background behind the attack, this ebook should prove to be very enlightening.

Arnold G. Regardie

 

 

 

 

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