16. War Comes to China

Japan's commitment to aggression became fixed on June 4, 1937, when Prince Konoe Fumimaro formed his first cabinet. Although moderates hoped he might control the militarists, Konoe's government was almost entirely dominated by the military and he was unwilling to check the army from the beginning.1

The Marco Polo bridge spans the little Yongding river eight miles west of Beiping. It goes in China by the name of the village of Lugouqiao at its eastern end but got the name by which it is known in the West after the thirteenth-century Venetian traveler Marco Polo described it as "a very fine stone bridge" that ten armed men could ride across abreast.

Under terms of the Boxer protocol of 1901, Japan was permitted to station troops between Beiping and the sea. On July 7, 1937, a company of Japan's "garrison army" of 4,000 in the Beiping-Tianjin area held nighttime exercises in the vicinity of the Marco Polo bridge. The Japanese company was engaged in its maneuvers just east of the bridge when about a dozen live bullets landed among the company from the direction of Chinese emplacements on the western bank of the river. A quick roll call showed that one man was missing. The Japanese quickly moved up a battalion. The missing soldier rejoined the ranks within twenty minutes but the company commander failed to report this fact until hours later. Around dawn several more shots fell into the area. Meantime, the Japanese demanded they be allowed to search the garrison town of Wanping, a mile east of the bridge. The Chinese refused and the Japanese moved up to attack, driving all Chinese forces behind the Wanping town wall but were unsuccessful in capturing the town.

That ended the Marco Polo incident. No one ever found out who fired the first shots. Tensions were so high anything could have sparked a clash. The important outcome was not the incident but Japan's reaction. Within days, Japan had dispatched over four divisions to north China.2 The weak and vacillating cabinet showed little resistance to army eagerness for war and gave little thought to the consequences, allowing war preparations to generate immense enthusiasm among the people.3

On July 17 the cabinet approved a Japanese army ultimatum requiring China to withdraw troops from the area, apologize and leave solution of the problem to local officials. The Nationalist government responded with an appeal for international mediation and asserted that the dispute was a national, not a local, issue. Nanjing recognized that localizing the crisis would bolster Japanese claims that north China lay outside Nanjing's authority.

Although Nanjing apologized and tried to accede to most demands, Japanese army leaders called the reply "discourteous." On the night of July 25 a clash occurred between Chinese and Japanese detachments between Beiping and Tianjin. Without authorization from Tokyo, Lieutenant General Kazuki Kiyoshi, commander of the garrison army, ordered a regiment to attack the Chinese. Meanwhile a Japanese battalion on a routine march returned to Beiping through the Guang'an gate on the evening of July 26. Chinese troops, thinking the unit was going to attack, fired on it for a time before allowing the survivors to leave.4 That night General Kazuki decided "to chastise the Chinese troops located in the Beiping-Tianjin area" because they had been "taking acts derogatory to the prestige of the empire of Japan."5 The army high command approved Kazuki's decision, got cabinet acceptance to dispatch three divisions from Japan and gained sanction from the emperor.

On July 28, a large Kwantung army force attacked an ill-equipped Chinese unit in barracks south of Nanyuan near Beiping using furious artillery fire. The unprovoked assault killed five-thousand Chinese. A Japanese garrison also cornered an 800-man Chinese unit at Tong Xian and slaughtered it with artillery fire. When the Japanese garrison departed, it left control of Tong Xian in the hands of a Chinese militia force recruited by the Japanese. The Chinese, outraged at seeing their countrymen killed in cold blood, went on a wild campaign, killing two out of three of the 380 Japanese living in the city. The Japanese were horrified at the wanton killings but had no criticism of the actions of their soldiers.6

On July 29, fast-moving Japanese columns slipped around Beiping and marched southward, cutting off and killing many Chinese. Chiang Kai-shek declared that "the only course open to us now is to lead the masses of the nation, under a single national plan, to struggle to the last."7 It was a weak resolve but at last a commitment to resist.

Despite decades of lusting after control of China, Japan drifted into war without a coherent strategy. Although the leaders cited an "East Asian bloc" as the political aim, army chiefs had no real plan and could not even agree on the number of troops needed.8

Japan's invasion at last brought about a hesitant rapprochement between the Chinese Communists and the Nationalists.9 The Reds and the Nationalists hammered out a "second united front" in August and September. This agreement remained nominally in force for the rest of the war but was soon honored in the breach by both sides. Reds and Nationalists piously agreed to strive for Sun Yat-sen's "three people's principles." The Reds agreed to stop confiscating landlords' land, abolish the soviet government, abolish the Red army and place Communist troops under central-government command. Chiang Kai-shek released political prisoners, allowed the CCP to set up liaison officers in several cities and publish a newspaper and gave the Reds a subsidy to help pay military and administrative expenses. Chiang also appointed several Reds to a new people's political council but it had no authority.10

The Red army with 30,000 men became the Eighth Route Army (or Eighteenth Group Army) of three divisions and in December the Communist guerrilla units still surviving in the former soviet regions in the mountains south of the Yangzi became the New Fourth Army of about 10,000 men. With Red acquiescence, the Nationalists redesignated the soviet around Yan'an as the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia border region, which theoretically but not actually became a subordinate unit of the Nationalist government. The Communist region was a largely barren area of scanty rainfall about the size of Ohio or Bulgaria but with only about 1,400,000 people.11

The acceptance of the Eighth Route Army as officially a Nationalist force brought on a sharp debate among the Communist leaders about how it should be employed. Wang Ming, one of the 28 Bolsheviks who returned from Moscow about this time, along with the senior commanders Zhu De and Peng Dehuai, wanted the army to fight conventional war with Nationalist forces in combat zones.

Mao Zedong and some others resisted on the grounds the Nationalists would spy on the army and subordinate it to non-Communist forces. Mao predicted a long stalemate and he argued for guerrilla warfare and preservation and expansion of the Red forces in anticipation of major war with the Nationalists after the Japanese withdrew. Mao had conceived of a place to expand the Communist movement: behind the Japanese lines in the large areas enemy troops could not occupy because of shortage of men. These areas, already deserted by most Nationalist units and magistrates down to the county level, offered fertile ground for territorial bases under Red leadership. In this way, the Communists could avoid conflict with the KMT, yet resist the Japanese while expanding Red territory and influence. Such a move would open vast regions for Red expansion and effectively end the threat of Kuomintang suppression. All the advantages were in favor of turning the Eighth Route Army into a great infiltration force in north China behind the Japanese lines and the leadership adopted Mao's proposal.12

The Japanese advances also brought Joseph Stalin to conclude a treaty of friendship with Nationalist China on August 29, 1937, resulting in some Soviet military aid to China. Stalin sent numbers of planes and pilots to China, rotating the pilots out quickly after they had got combat experience and sending in new pilots to take their places.13

Japanese forces continued to move in north China against generally inferior and irresolute Chinese troops. They advanced mostly along the railway lines, using trains to bring up supplies. The Japanese usually extended their control only about five miles on either side of the lines, thus actually occupying only ribbons of territory. Along these routes the army could move reinforcements quickly. Though the Japanese were supreme along these strips, they could subdue the remainder of the countryside only temporarily by punitive missions.14

By the end of the year the Japanese had driven deep into Suiyuan province of Inner Mongolia in the north, captured the northern half of Shanxi province and were massed on the north bank of the Yellow river on the south.15

* * * * * * * * * *

The main arena of the war soon shifted to the Shanghai and Nanjing regions and escalated into an even more vicious and destructive conflict. Concern for Japanese civilians and an arrogant desire to share in the glory of battle pressured the Japanese navy to begin operations at Shanghai. Chiang and his advisors decided the tightly constricted area would limit Japanese superiority in weapons, divert attention from the north and draw world support by confronting the Japanese directly under the eyes of the Shanghai foreign settlement.

The Japanese excuse for starting hostilities came on August 9, 1937, when Chinese militiamen found two Japanese marines near a Chinese military airfield west of Shanghai. The militiamen ordered them to move on. When they refused, the Chinese shot them dead. The Chinese believed the marines had deliberately sacrified themselves to provide a pretext. Two days later, Chiang moved four of his best divisions, armed with German weapons and trained by General Alexander von Falkenhausen and other German advisors, to positions close to the Japanese sector in the International settlement.

On August 13, 1937, guns opened up from Japanese warships in the Whangpoo river while Chinese began attacking from the Zhabei suburb on the north. Japan soon sent in reinforcements totaling 200,000 men and the fighting escalated. The Chinese quickly became exposed to intensive Japanese artillery and naval-gun fire and air attacks. Chiang, instead of withdrawing his men, actually reinforced his lines with eleven more divisions, finally reaching 450,000 men and leaving them under constant shelling and bombing. General von Falkenhausen told Chiang that excessive sacrifice would cost China its main striking force but Chiang insisted on his best-equipped and trained divisions remaining in place while the Japanese methodically destroyed them.16 Chiang could have avoided thousands of casualties simply by moving his lines far enough inland to get beyond the range of naval guns but refused.

Chiang was one of the most incompetent military commanders in the twentieth century. His inability to corner and defeat the Red army in 1934-5 had shown his inferiority in maneuver and mobile operations. His blindness to the devastating effects of shellfire and bombing on unprotected troops at Shanghai demonstrated his equal ineptitude in defensive warfare. Yet he could have used his superior numbers to hold his initial defensive positions long enough to construct fortified defensive lines with trenches and sturdy dirt-covered underground bunkers. Bunkers would have reduced the effect of Japanese artillery and air power, protected the defenders and forced the Japanese into costly frontal assaults against machine guns, mortars and hand grenades, which Chiang had in sufficient numbers. With Chiang's immense manpower resources, he could have built successive lines to the rear in case the Japanese were able to breach the original line.

The Chinese soldiers, despite the criminal manner in which Chiang Kai-shek allowed them to be destroyed, displayed immense bravery and blocked the Japanese for three months. In the process, bombs and shells destroyed a Chinese portion of Shanghai about three miles square, killing thousands of civilians. The Japanese sealed the fate of the army in early November when they landed a force at Hangzhou bay, fifty miles southwest of Shanghai, thus blocking retreat west into the interior. The Chinese retreated in disorder toward Nanjing, which fell to the Japanese on December 12-13, 1937.17 Chiang lost about 270,000 men in the Shanghai campaign, 60 per cent of the entire force he committed, including a great majority of his junior officers. He thereby allowed his meticulously trained and well-equipped army, which had taken years to build, to be blown to bits in its first confrontation. Thereafter, the Nationalist army never was able to muster any significant offensive strength.18

Japanese soldiers and airmen already were showing an incredibly callous attitude about the lives of the Chinese. One Japanese soldier described how a group of Chinese soldiers in a concrete bunker surrendered after being promised they would be taken as prisoners. As soon as they were captured, however, the Japanese shot them down. A foreign journalist described how eighteen Japanese bombers dropped 350 bombs on a Chinese farming village with no Chinese soldiers in it and no military significance. Japanese pilots routinely machine-gunned civilians and bombed nonmilitary targets. But the worst example of wanton cruelty and killing that the world had seen in modern times occurred in Nanjing.19

A Westerner who observed the entry into Nanjing said the Japanese showed no hostility, yet a few moments later, when twenty refugees frightened by their presence fled, the Japanese ran after them and killed them all. The Japanese soldiers started on a rampage of looting, robbing, pillaging and burning. They killed people at random and in cold blood. Many they buried alive or set afire with kerosene. They murdered at least 42,000 Chinese and raped about 20,000 women and girls, some as young as 10 years, frequently in unbelievably violent gang rapes. They raped many repeatedly over several days. If a woman objected they raped her anyway, then bayoneted her. One Japanese soldier raping a woman was irritated because her five-month-old baby cried; he smothered the baby. Captured Chinese soldiers were invited to volunteer for a labor corps. When they did, they were machine-gunned or used for bayonet practice in groups. The killing and carnage went on for six weeks. The Japanese authorities did nothing to stop it. Indeed, the Japanese army practiced a regulated procedure of mass execution and terror of the civilian population. In this, the Japanese were different from the Chinese. Although there were acts of atrocity and wanton violence by individual Chinese, there was not a concerted pattern of violence and killing of Japanese civilians and soldiers. There is evidence that the Japanese army sought to habituate men into torturing Chinese as a matter of course. Japanese soldiers were brutalized by severe treatment in army service and were encouraged by their officers to commit violent acts. Their reward for capturing a town sometimes was to be turned loose to rob, kill and rape. One Japanese soldier's diary describes how his unit caught a group of civilians and tortured them to death. Another soldier wrote how his lieutenant assigned men to "killing practice," requiring the soldiers to bayonet Chinese who were forced to stand by graves they themselves had dug.

* * * * * * * * * *

Immediately after the Marco Polo bridge clash, the Nationalist government began planning to move key industrial enterprises to the interior. The transfer got under way in early August, 1937. The government provided funds and ultimately 639 private factories moved to unoccupied areas. All told, 42,000 skilled workmen went with the factories, 12,000 of them with government assistance. About three-fourths of the removed enterprises ultimately resumed production.

Although this migration became part of the Nationalist myth of a nation's determination to carry on despite all odds, the effect of it has been overstated. Undoubtedly many Chinese were motivated by patriotism but the total transfer of equipment, about 120,000 tons, was insignificant compared to the total Chinese industrial plant and to China's needs.

The nation's universities and their students and professors evidenced more dedication. Of the eighty-three universities and colleges in areas occupied by Japan, fifty-two moved west while twenty-five took refuge in foreign concessions or Hong Kong. Japan focused animosity against Nankai University at Tianjin and Qinghua University at Beiping, both noted for their antipathy to Japan. Aircraft bombed Nankai on July 29, 1937, and artillery completed the destruction the next day. Japanese soldiers spread kerosene over the ruins and set fire to them in an effort to eradicate evidence of the institution. At Qinghua, Japanese looters stripped the buildings, then converted them into barracks, hospital, bar, brothel and stables. Japanese aircraft repeatedly directed bombing attacks specifically on other universities in Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanjing and Guangzhou.

Students and teachers at Qinghua, Peita (Beiping) and Nankei Universities first fled to Changsha, then to Kunming in Yunnan province. The government exempted students from military conscription and the number of students therefore rose from 42,000 in 1936 to 79,000 in 1944.20

* * * * * * * * * *

U.S. President Roosevelt's response to the Japanese attack on China was lame in the extreme. Joseph C. Grew, ambassador to Tokyo, recommended that the United States maintain friendship with both parties. Roosevelt refused a British overture to mediate because he feared this would antagonize Japan and influence isolationists.21

By early fall 1937, however, Roosevelt realized the viciousness of the Japanese intentions and on October 5 in Chicago he made his famous "quarantine speech," which sounded much more hostile to aggressor nations than it actually was.22 Though he did not mention them by name, Roosevelt charged Germany, Italy and Japan were "threatening a breakdown of all international order and law." He proposed a quarantine of lawless nations by peace-loving states to halt an "epidemic of world lawlessness." But FDR's speech was merely a trial balloon which quickly burst and he had no plan to save China or Spain, where Germany and Italy were helping right-wing insurgents in a civil war.

On October 6, however, the League of Nations voted that Japan had violated the nine-power treaty of 1922 guaranteeing China's integrity and the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 "outlawing war." The league also suggested that the signers of the nine-power treaty confer to settle the dispute. The U.S. State Department concurred but Roosevelt refused to sponsor the conference, although it was clear that, with Britain and France preoccupied with German threats, only the U.S. was in a position to lead an international movement to stop Japan.23 The conference took place in Brussels (November 3-24, 1937) and, though the Soviet Union attended, Germany declined, as did Japan, and the conference was a flop.24

Meantime, the Japanese cabinet demanded peace terms so severe that they amounted to capitulation.25 Chiang Kai-shek rejected them on December 7, 1937, and Japan moved toward setting up a puppet regime. On January 16, 1938, Tokyo declared it no longer would deal with Chiang Kai-shek's government.26

* * * * * * * * * *

The U.S. State Department had been protesting various Japanese offenses against Americans since the war had started.27 But the U.S. did not consider any as premeditated attacks until December 12, 1937. On this day Japanese naval bombers made three separate runs on the U.S. Navy gunboat Panay and three Standard Oil company tankers in the Yangzi twenty-six miles upstream from Nanjing. The Panay sank and the tankers either sank or burned. Four officers were injured, two severely. Other Japanese machine-gunned and shelled the British gunboat Ladybird, killing a sailor. Roosevelt sent an indignant message to Tokyo demanding an apology and reparations. Japan complied on December 24 and promised to safeguard American rights in the future. Roosevelt closed the case.28 Even so the Japanese continued to harass and abuse American and British citizens.29

Roosevelt knew the British navy could not be relied upon to help in the Far East. Moreover, Neville Chamberlain, prime minister since he replaced Stanley Baldwin in May, 1937, was already embarked on a flagrant policy of appeasing Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Chamberlain quickly demonstrated he was willing to sacrifice nearly anything for this purpose.30

The U.S. began lowering its profile in China. In February, 1938, the State Department announced that the 800-man 15th Infantry Regiment, which had been at Tianjin for a quarter of a century under terms of the Boxer protocol, would be withdrawn and also announced that the 6th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, rushed in earlier to protect American civilians, was coming home. This left only elements of the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai.31

Meanwhile, the American naval rebuilding program had been proceeding at an extremely leisurely pace. Part of the reason was Roosevelt's reluctance to spend the money. Another was that the Japanese carefully hid their own massive building program and thereby kept the U.S. from feeling threatened. In fact, Japan was coming dangerously close to surpassing total American naval strength and, in the two Yamato-class battleships it was secretly building, would have capital ships of over 60,000 tons, twice the size of British and American battleships, and with 18-inch guns. Americans also seriously underestimated the quality of Japanese ships, aircraft, and men. A July, 1937, naval intelligence report confirmed that the Japanese were increasing naval aircraft appreciably but "a natural ineptitude in this field will keep them somewhat behind the more progressive occidental countries."32

The sinking of the Panay finally galvanized Roosevelt into action. In January, 1938, he asked Congress to authorize raising navy strength 20 per cent above the London treaty levels. To deflect opponents, Roosevelt told Congress the navy had to cover both coasts and also ensure safety of the Panama canal. FDR's strategy disarmed many isolationists and the bill passed easily. Even so, Japanese naval construction kept pace with American building.33

Chapter 17: China Refuses to Be Conquered >>

1. Borton, p. 349; Kataoka, pp. 48-52. The narrative of the Marco Polo bridge episode and the initial stages of the Sino-Japanese War is drawn from Morley, Quagmire, "Designs on North China, 1933-1937," by Shimada Toshihiko," pp. 225-30; "The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, 1937," by Hata Ikuhiko, pp. 233-86; "The Politics of War, 1937-1941," by Usui Katsumi, pp. 309-38; Hsü, 578-96; Tigers, pp. 13-85; Wales, pp. 275-324; Cambridge, vol. 13, chapter 11, "Nationalist China during the Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945," by Lloyd E. Eastman, professor of history, University of Illinois, pp. 547-65; chapter 12, "The Chinese Communist Movement during the Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945," by Lyman Van Slyke, professor of history, Stanford University, pp. 609-40; Pratt, pp. 602-03, 622-8; FRUS, White Paper, pp. 18-23, 45-52; FRUS, Japan, vol. 1, pp. 313-428, 487-563; Grew, vol. 2, pp. 1035-1202; Dallek, pp. 145-6, 148, 152, 153-7; Guillermaz, pp. 286-95; Liu, pp. 162-6, 197-202; Dorn, pp. 38-102; White, pp. 48-55.

2. At full strength, a Japanese infantry division had 22,000 men, 108 artillery pieces, 24 tanks and hundreds of mortars and machine guns. The average Chinese division had 4,000 to 6,000 men and many fewer mortars and machine guns. Some Chinese divisions possessed a few artillery pieces but almost none had adequate ammunition and the Chinese employed artillery only on rare occasions. A Japanese division consequently was many times more powerful than its Chinese counterpart. See Dorn, pp. 7-10.

3. Borton, p. 350.

4. Tigers, p. 21.

5. Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 550; Morley, Quagmire, p. 260.

6. Tigers, pp. 21-22.

7. Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 551.

8. Morley, Quagmire, pp. 269-70.

9. Wales, pp. 275-8.

10. Cambridge, vol. 13, pp. 610, 613; Hsü, pp. 588-9; Kataoka, pp. 55-57. FRUS, China, 1944, pp. 655-6 gives a recapitulation by the Communist leadership of the concessions the party made on September 22, 1937.

11. Schran, pp. 3-4; Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 632-4.

12. Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 614, 629; Kataoka, pp. 9, 59-60, 66-67. 69-71. See also White, pp. 49-51.

13. Dorn, pp. 66, 79.

14. Carlson, p. 81-82.

15. Morley, Quagmire, pp. 272-9; Guillermaz, pp. 288-91; Tigers, pp. 49-65.

16. Liu, pp. 162-3.

17. Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 552.

18. Liu, p. 198.

19. Tigers, pp. 44, 67-85; Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 552.

20. Cambridge, vol. 13, pp. 562-5. White, pp. 55-61, gives a somewhat more sympathic view of the transfer of industry and universities into the interior.

21. Dallek, pp. 145-56; Pratt, pp. 623-6; Road, pp. 9-10. If the U.S. had invoked the neutrality act (which FDR did not do), it would have helped Japan, which didn't need U.S. war materiel but did want U.S. oil, scrap iron and other material. Americans became increasingly uncomfortable about contributing, in this way, to the death and destruction of Chinese. On October 6, 1937, the New York Times printed a letter by Henry L. Stimson, former secretary of state, arguing that the U.S. should suspend sales of war materials to Japan. See Road, p. 11.

22. Text of the speech is reprinted in FRUS, Japan, vol. 1, pp. 379-83. See also FDR, p. 141.

23. FRUS, Japan, vol. 1, pp. 396-7.

24. Road, pp. 13-16.

25. The Japanese demanded that China recognize Manchukuo as an independent state, demilitarize north and central China and Inner Mongolia, pay a large indemnity, create a "special political structure" in north China which would have given Japan control of the region and sign an economic agreement between Japan, Manchukuo and China. The effect of the plan would have been virtually a surrender to Japan. See Morley, Quagmire, pp. 281, 284-5; Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 554.

26. Morley, Quagmire, pp. 279-86; FRUS, Japan, vol. 1, pp. 434-8.

27. FRUS, Japan, vol. 1, pp. 498-9.

28. Roosevelt sent Captain Royal E. Ingersoll, chief of the U.S. Navy's war-plans division, to London in January, 1938, to exchange information and plan a joint strategy against Japan. But the talks soon stopped and the U.S. did not enter into a full exchange of information. See Cambridge, vol. 13, p. 522; Barnes, p. 254.

29. Dallek, pp. 153-6; FRUS, Japan, vol. 1, pp. 517-52 (Japanese apology, pp. 549-51); Pratt, p. 626.

30. Reynolds, pp. 16, 19-20.

31. FRUS, Japan, vol. 1, pp. 448-51.

32. Pelz, pp. 196-200; Morison, pp. 18, 38, 78. The American strategy for war with Japan was known as the Orange plan. The U.S. Army was expected to hold Manila for three or four months until the navy could cross the Pacific and raise the siege. An extensive war game in 1935, however, demonstrated that the American fleet, though superior in the battle line, was inferior in speed, light surface forces, submarines and aircraft. Also, Japanese positions in the mandated Marshall and Caroline islands between Hawaii and the Philippines would have to be seized, increasing the estimated time for the army to hold out in the Philippines to nine months. This imposed impossible conditions. The game showed that the U.S. could not defend the Philippines unless the government commenced an immediate and massive building program, which the prevailing mood in the country would not permit. The navy and war secretaries ordered their planners to develop a more realistic strategy. The army argued that the Philippines could not be defended and the U.S. should retreat to a strategic triangle bounded by Alaska, Hawaii and Panama. The navy resisted and in 1938 the army finally agreed that the U.S. was obliged to defend the Philippines but did not develop the timing and plan of an expedition to relieve the islands. In the place of plan Orange the navy had developed in 1937 a new strategic plan: use of light American and British forces and western bases to blockade Japan at long range, since Japan was dependent upon oil and other raw materials. This plan, Rainbow Two, revised to Rainbow Five by December, 1941, accepted as fact that the U.S. would have insufficient vessels to fight in two oceans. According to Rainbow Two, British and French ships would defend a line between Singapore and Timor, aided by the Dutch and Americans. The allies would prevent the Japanese from taking the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) and the oil they produced. The allies would wait until Japan's war machine slowed down because of shortage of oil and raw materials. Then the U.S. would seize bases in the Marianas (as well as key points in the Marshalls and Carolines), advance to relieve the Philippines and then attack the Japanese homeland. The U.S. planners believed the allied navies could easily intercept a Japanese fleet sent to attack the East Indies. The plan, obviously, leaned on a slender reed: the ability and willingness of France and Britain to send large numbers of vessels to the Far East. In the event, this proved to be an illusion. In July, 1941, General Douglas MacArthur, commanding army forces in the Philippines, was so impressed with the performance of the new B-17 four-engine, long-range bomber that he believed the "citadel defense" of the island of Luzon envisioned in Rainbow could be expanded into an offensive plan. This also turned out to be an illusion.

33. Pelz, pp. 196-208; Morison, pp. 9-10.