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  Library Correspondence Henry Stimson: Memorandum, May 16, 1945

Memorandum on Outline of Campaign against Japan
From: Henry Stimson, Secretary of War
To: Harry S Truman, President of the Unites States of America
Date: May 16, 1945

Dear Mr. President:
Here is a skeleton outline of the views which I presented to you this morning:

I.
The campaign against Japan

1. There should be no attempt to engage the masses of the Japanese Army in China by our own ground forces. It is neither the best strategic way to beat Japan nor in my opinion would it be acceptable to the American people, and it would be a hard strain upon the morale of our Army which has fought so well thus far. If those Jap [sic] troops have to be beaten in that location, China should do it.

2. The plans for the campaign are now being worked out by the Joint Chiefs of Staff [the U.S. military heads]. I believe they will be adequate for the defeat of Japan without such a sacrifice of American lives as would be involved in such an engagement in China.

3. The work of redeploying our forces from Europe to the Pacific will necessarily take so long that there will be more time for your necessary diplomacy with the other large allies than some of our hasty friends realize [such as British Prime Minister Churchill, who wanted to meet with the Russian leaders as soon as possible, which would be before the atomic bomb was tested]. Therefore I believe that good and not harm would be done by the policy towards your coming meeting which you mentioned to me [the Potsdam Conference]. We shall probably hold more cards in our hands later than now.

4. For reasons I mentioned to you, I am anxious to hold our Air Force, so far as possible, to the 'precision' bombing which it has done so well in Europe. I am told that it is possible and adequate. The reputation of the United States for fair play and humanitarianism is the world's biggest asset for peace in the coming decades. I believe the same rule of sparing the civilian population should be applied as far as possible to the use of any new weapons.

Stimson went on to discuss postwar "Rehabilitation in Europe". At the end of this portion of his 5/16/45 memorandum he noted:

All of this is a tough problem requiring coordination between the Anglo-American allies and Russia. Russia will occupy most of the good food lands of central Europe while we have the industrial portions. We must find some way of persuading Russia to play ball.

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