The effect of the freezing order is to require an

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The effect of the freezing order is to require an export license before any goods can be shipped to Japan but the President indicated that we would still continue to ship oil and gasoline." As Roosevelt explained it to a group of civilian defense volunteers on July 24, oil exports to Japan served American and British self-interest by keeping the Japanese out of the Dutch East Indies and thereby prevent-
THE TORTUOUS ROAD TO WAR ing a war in the South Pacific which would disrupt essential lines of supply. Roosevelt also tried to forestall a crisis with Japan by proposing that if Tokyo withdrew from Indochina, the Powers would neutralize the area and guarantee equal access to all its resources. Though Roose-velt had little hope of a favorable response to his plan, he saw it as "one more effort to avoid Japanese expansion to [the) South Pacific." 9 Neither of these efforts at appeasement, however, made an impression on the Japanese. They refused to take the President's neutralization scheme seriously, and they saw no evidence of his intention to permit further oil exports. So as to leave petroleum policy open, the White House announcement of the President's· freezing order said nothing about oil. This left the impression both in the United States and Japan that all trade between them, including petroleum exports, had been suspended. 1110ugh an announcement of August 1 indicated that appli-cations for petroleum export licenses could be resubmitted if they did not exceed prewar quantities or involve fuels and oils suitable for use in aircraft, the administration's failure to state its policy clearly allowed government agencies to reject these applications and establish a de facto embargo on oil to Japan. Roosevelt, who left on August 3 for a confer-ence with Churchill on board a ship in the Atlantic, did not realize that a full embargo had been introduced until early September, and by then he saw a shift in policy as a show of weakness which Japan would exploit and London and American leaders would deplore. Roosevelt's acceptance of the full embargo was one expression of his growing belief that only a firm policy would have an impact on Japan. An initial report on the results of the freezing action indicated that it had thrown the Japanese off balance and put them in a quandary about future policy. On the one hand, they asked for further conversations with the United States, even proposing a meeting betweeen Prince Konoye and the President. On the other hand, they made plans for further expansion to the south. Since Roosevelt was aware of these plans because Japanese diplomatic cables could be read through a code-breaking device called "Magic," he viewed their suggestions for talks as insincere. "You will ... find the President quite ready to talk freely about Japan and about the question of joint action with ourselves if the Japs go for our-selves or the Dutch," Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador to Washing-ton since January, had cabled Churchill in early August. "Opinion has

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