Appeasement lags in Europe and tension builds in the Far East

Somebody must have reminded Neville Chamberlain that he had become the Prime Minister in a supposedly national government rather than a Conservative government supported by a couple of minor, fringe elements. A mass meeting of the supporters of the three parties concerned was held at the Albert Hall, which attracted a respectable audience of 8,000. The only precedent had been in the election year of 1935. The giveaway were the representatives chosen to represent the two minor parties: Malcolm Macdonald, son of the National Government’s begetter, and one of the tiny handful of National Labour MPs, and Sir John Simon for the National Liberals, a party affiliation that only dedicated historians will recall. Chamberlain’s 45 minute speech was felt to be rather perfunctory and the reference to the fact that it was his late father’s birthday, redundant. Beyond deploring the failure of his plan for the German Foreign Minister to come to London – appeasement was still very much on the agenda – there was little of consequence.

Not content with scraping a bit of territory from the USSR for its notionally autonomous Manchukuo region in in China, Japan resumed the process of eroding territory from China itself. A tactical withdrawal of troops from Wangpin was counter-balanced by a leaflet raid on Nanyuan. Japanese troop and naval strengths in north China were further increased.

In the US it was clear that something should be done to deter Japan. There was a financial/military left and right. The US Treasury announced an agreement on a three way transaction involving  gold and US dollar purchases by China matched by silver purchases by the US with the goal of bolstering Chinese finances as well as reflating the US economy. On a more practical level the State Department confessed bafflement at the failure to obtain general agreement for naval arms limitation and “reluctantly” announced that two new battleships would mount 16” guns in place of the less powerful 14” originally anticipated in negotiations.


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