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According to Harvard's authorities on Par-Eastern affairs, last week's flurry of antagonism between England and Japan caused no more of a crisis than has been present for the last few months.
"The storm of threats originating in Great Britain and the United States," said Dr. John K. Fairbank, instructor in History, "is mainly an effort on the part of England to take a strong position against Japan, and by so doing, hold her at bay until she is able to arm Singapore fully."
Quentin Roosevelt '41, who has recently been in the Orient, was in sympathy with Dr. Fairbank, and feels that what may appear to be immediate trouble is really only part of Britain's strategy--one which she must use because of her relative weakness in the East.
Singapore Vital to Britain
Dr. Fairbank, while stating that England is doing her best to build up her Eastern fortifications, believes that she will be in real trouble if she loses Singapore. The base there is the key is the sea lanes of the East, and the nation which holds it is wholly capable of taking India, and the Dutch Indies. Australia, although vulnerable, would be a harder nut to crack as it has also a Southern entrance to the sea.
As the situation now stands, both Dr. Fairbank and Roosevelt consider that Japan is a major naval power, and holds control of the Eastern seas. Nipponese preponderance on the water is a serious threat to Singapore, and unless the British can fortify it in a hurry, it is quite possible that she may lose it.
American hopes of maintaining the status quo in the East naturally center around supporting Britain's position, and to do that Dr. Fairbanks believes that sending planes in accordance with our established policy of aid will protect United States interests from Japanese aggression.
Roosevelt, who has studied the Japanese navy first hand in the war with China, is strong in the belief that she is a first class power and could not be easily damaged within the protective sphere of her own bases. At present, she has a fleet equal to our own Pacific Fleet, and in the next year plans to add four large battleships, which will put her navy about ours in total strength.
The Philippine Islands, in the opinion of both men, are highly strategic, but at the same time would be very hard to hold against Japan because of the relative naval power. Roosevelt pointed out in particular that the island of Mindanao, part of our Philippines and key point in the defense of the Sulu Sea, has a large Japanese population, and if it were shut off in addition to Singapore, our Oriental holdings would be worthless.
Another important aspect of the Eastern struggle for power seems to be China, where Japan is by no means a winner. Dr. Fairbank stated that one of the best things that the United States could do to prevent a Japanese aggression would be to send all we can to China in the way of military supplies, and Roosevelt backed him up by his own observations on China.
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