In the summer of 1940 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in shoring up his administration for the upcoming Presidential election that year, in which he was going to be running for an unprecedented third term in office, and to win broader support for the U. S. policies of containing the Axis powers then on the loose in the world, appointed a new Secretary of the Navy and a new Secretary of War, both Republicans. Both men had apposed Roosevelt right up to the moment that Adolph Hitler had attacked Poland in 1939.
The new Secretary of the Navy was Frank Knox, a newspaperman of national repute, and who himself had been selected by the Republicans to be their nominee for Vice President back in 1936. The new Secretary of War was Henry L. Stimson, a veteran statesman who had served in the cabinets of three previous presidents, and who was the originator of the United States Foreign Policy that had been the governing force of the nation since World War I, and which was the basis of the diplomatic positions of the United States in the wars then raging in Europe and Asia.
It is well to recall that the "Axis Powers" in Europe were then Germany, Italy, and Russia. Between the three of them they had gobbled up three quarters of Europe.
Ethiopia--the oldest monarchy in the world--had been swept away by Benito Mussolini's Italian troops in 1935 after the slaughter of warriors whose only weapons were still the spears and shields of their ancestors. Then Czechoslovakia fell to Germany in 1939. Then Poland had been carved up between Hitler and Stalin Then Norway, Belgium, Holland and the low countries had been overrun and were occupied by Hitler's troops.
Then France, fortress France, indestructible France, had fallen to Hitler. By July of 1940 German troops occupied Paris.
However, even though Hitler and Stalin had been partners of convenience for the carving up of Poland, Stalin demurred when Hitler suggested that Russia jump into the war against England, and Hitler then began to worry in earnest about what the Russian Bear would do if Germany should show signs of weakening.
But that did not seem likely. That fall in "The Battle of Briton" England was all but been beaten down by the German airforce's bombers, and an invasion of England by Germany was on the drawing boards.
Meanwhile out in far off Asia, Japan in 1940 after the fall of France, had landed "peace-keeping" troops in Saigon, the capitol of French Indo-china, with the permission of Hitler, who was calling the shots as France's new ruler. It was the Germans who now had the say, at least in the short term, as to what was to become of French Indo-china, a vast Asian-populated domain which Japan was dead set on being the one to