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Weary soldiers on Bataan listen to Voice of Freedom radio. [US Army Signal Corps]

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FEBRUARY 23, 1942 AT 10:00 P.M. E.W.T.


EXTRACT (In Transcript: pp. 6-8)



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I ask you to look at your maps again, particularly at that portion of the Pacific Ocean lying west of Hawaii. Before this war even started, the Philippine Islands were already surrounded on three sides by Japanese power. On the west, the China side, the Japanese were in possession of the coast of China and the coast of Indo-China which had been yielded to them by the Vichy French. On the north, are the islands of Japan themselves, reaching down almost to northern Luzon. On the east, are the Mandated Islands — which Japan had occupied exclusively, and had fortified in absolute violation of her written word.


The islands that lie between Hawaii and the Philippines — these islands, hundreds of them, appear only as dots on most maps, or do not appear at all, but they cover a large strategic area. Guam lies in the middle of them — a loan outpost which we have never fortified.


Under the Washington Treaty of 1921, we had solemnly agreed not to add to the fortification of the Philippines. We had no safe naval base there, so we could not use the islands for extensive naval operations.


Immediately after this war started, Japanese forces moved down on either side of the Philippines to numerous points south of them — thereby completely encircling the Philippines from north and south, and east and west.


It is that complete encirclement, with control of the air by Japanese land-based aircraft, which has prevented us from sending substantial reinforcements of men and material to the gallant defenders of the Philippines. For forty years it has always been our strategy — a strategy born of necessity — that in the event of a full-scale attack on the Islands by Japan, we should fight a delaying action, attempting to retire slowly into Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor.


We knew that the war as a whole would have to be fought and won by a process of attrition against Japan itself. We knew all along that, with our greater resources, we could ultimately out build Japan and overwhelm her on sea, and on land and in the air. We knew that, to obtain our objective, many varieties of operations would be necessary in areas other than the Philippines.


Now nothing that has occurred in the past two months has caused us to revise this basic strategy of necessity — except that the defense put up by General MacArthur has magnificently exceeded the previous estimates of endurance; and he and his men are gaining eternal glory therefore.


MacArthur’s army of Filipinos and Americans, and the forces of the United Nations in China, Burma and the Netherlands East Indies, are all together fulfilling the same essential task. They are making Japan pay an increasingly terrible price for her ambitious attempts to seize control of the whole Asiatic world. Every Japanese transport sunk off Java is one less transport that they can use to carry reinforcements to their army opposing General MacArthur in Luzon.


It has been said that Japanese gains in the Philippines were made possible only by the success of their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. I tell you that this is not so.


Even if the attack had not been made, your map will show that it would have been a hopeless operation for us to send the Fleet to the Philippines through thousands of miles of ocean, while all those island bases were under the sole control of the Japanese.


Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (NLFDR)