An aggressive attitude on our part toward Japan is the best insurance for British victory and ultimate peace, asserted W. Barton Leach '21, professor of Law, in a letter published in the New York Times yesterday.
The prospect of victory for the dictators would be extremely dark for the United States, according to Professor Leach. We should be alone in a hostile world, with the problems of maintaining strong standing army and navy, and of trying to preserve our way of life.
"What can happen to prevent us from ultimately going to war, alone, against Germany, Italy, and Japan to protect our interests? The answer is too obvious: the success of the Chinese against the Japanese and the success of England against the Axis. They are fighting our fight. If they fall, we have got to take up the sword where they drop it.
"There is no purpose in allowing ourselves to be hypnotized by a word. We are already at war in a very real sense. We are doing for England and against the Axis substantially everything that we could usefully do if war had been declared. The Germans, know this; and they feel toward us just about as kindly as we should feel toward them under similar conditions."
Although we are, technically speaking, as war, conflict with the European Axis powers is doubtful at present. But war with Japan may occur at any moment, because our armed forces are so much nearer to the enemy and because the situation is more delicate.
"The recent treaty between Germany, Italy and Japan is the greatest international bluff of all time," he declared. Japan has been deluded into thinking that the others would help her if the United States attacked her, but there is little that they could do if we threatened Japan now.
"We should recognize the silly bluff for what it is and ignore it," he continued. "Looking at it dispassionately, we can come to one conclusion: The bluff is a confession of fear and weakness, an admission of helpless vulnerability to the things we can do."
Professor Leach outlined a four-point program which we should adopt as a result. 1. Send naval units to Singapore to prevent Japanese encroachment there; 2. Notify Japan that we will resist an attack on Singapore; 3. Declare an embargo on all Japanese imports and exports; and 4. Help China in every way possible.
"If we take the steps here outlined, the risk is that the Japanese naval forces may attack our naval forces. This may not happen; and if it does not, our objectives are attained. If it does happen, we are taking the risk that our naval forces may be defeated in the South China Sea by the Japanese. Let us attempt to calculate that risk, bearing in mind that if the chance of Japanese success is small enough, the attack will probably not be made."
"We seek peace, now and for the time to come," Professor Leach concluded. "But the lesson of the last two years is that the way of peace is not the way of inertia and appeasement."