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Another contingency war plan they developed was the RED-ORANGE PLAN, which hypothesized a two-theater war, seeking to win first in the Atlantic, against England, while fighting a holding battle in the Pacific, and then defeating Japan. When World War Two broke out, military and naval planners simply dusted off the old RED-ORANGE PLAN and substituted Germany for England in the Atlantic Theater.

At the time of President Wilson's first inauguration, in 1913, the country faced two crises in foreign affairs. The first was the murder of Francisco Madero, Diaz' successor in Mexico. Wilson, who regarded Madero as his ideological counterpart, became the uncompromising opponent of Madero's murderer, Victoriano Huerta. At about the same time, the California state legislature passed the Alien Exclusion Act, which forbade Japanese nationals from owning or leasing land in that state. The Japanese government, which refused to believe that the Federal government could not overturn a state law, was incensed, and began to take advantage of what they saw as a convergence of interests with Mexico. In the spring and summer of 1913, Japan supplied arms to the Huerta government.

Then, in May 1913, England recognized the Huerta government in order to secure a steady supply of Mexican oil to fuel the warships of the Royal Navy. These developments moved the Army-Navy Joint Planning Board to act. What the Board did was based upon the conclusion that the country could not defeat any hostile force landed on the west coast. One analysis read: "If 200,000 men of any first class hostile power should be landedon our Pacific Coast, we should have no course but to hand overto a foreign nation the rich empire west of the Rockies, with its cities, its harbors, and the wealth of its valleys and mountains."

In the summer of 1913 the Joint Board dispatched a number of warships to Manila and the Pacific Fleet to Hawaii, thus following the example of the Navy Board in 1898, which began the deployment of the fleet in advance of a declaration of war or of a Presidential order. Wilson, however, was less inclined to provoke a war than McKinley. He countermanded the order and disbanded the Joint Board. The United States would not be like the European powers in letting military planning requirements drive the decision to wage war.

The outbreak of the European war in the summer of 1914 initially seemed to confirm American assumptions that the rivalry among the European powers would keep them so preoccupied that none of them would be able to pose anythreat in the Americas. The dangers of war seemed to converge with the most immediate impact in Mexico. In December 1914, the captain of a Japanese warship visited Mexico City. Japan was aggrieved at the United States and had been preparing for war for over 3 years. In April 1915, the Japanese battle cruiser Asama was detected maneuvering off the coast of Baja California. The Hearst press, which had so effectively worked Americans into a war fever in 1898, screamed that the Japanese had been using naval bases in Baja California.

In 1923, the Army draft of RED-ORANGE started with the statement, "Under existing conditions a coalition of RED and ORANGE is unlikely," and twelve years later the Director of Naval Intelligence, commenting on another draft plan, stated that a RED-ORANGE combination was "highly improbable" in the next decade, if at all.

The broader strategy and the resources to carry it out, including defense construction and mobilization of reserves, was essentially the same. The main point to be learned here is that a theoretical planning construct does not make an enemy of a country. England made a strategic policy choice at the Washington Conference, deciding to cast its lot with the United States, and turned out to be a close ally by the late-1930s. But the RED-ORANGE PLAN stayed on the US Joint Army-Navy Board's agenda through 1939.

The problems presented by a RED-ORANGE coalition, though highly theoretical, were more complicated. Here the American strategists had to face all the possibilities of an ORANGE and a RED war-seizure of American possessions in the western Pacific, violation of the Monroe Doctrine, attacks on the Panama Canal, Hawaii, and other places, and, finally, the invasion of the United States itself. Basically the problem was to prepare for a war in both oceans against the two great naval powers, Great Britain and Japan.

As the planners viewed this problem, the strategic choices open to the United States were limited. Certainly the United State did not have the naval strength to conduct offensive operations simultaneously in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; she must adopt a strategic defensive on both fronts or else assume the strategic offensive in one theater while standing on the defensive in the other. The recommended solution to this problem-and it was only a recommended solution, for no joint war plan was ever adopted-was "to concentrate on obtaining a favorable decision" in the Atlantic and to stand on the defensive in the Pacific with minimum forces. This was based on the assumption that since the Atlantic enemy was the stronger and since the vital areas of the United States were located in the northeast, the main effort of the hostile coalition would be made there. For this reason, the initial effort of the United States, the planners argued, should be in the Atlantic.

A strategic offensive-defensive in a two-front war, American strategists recognized, entailed serious disadvantages. It gave the hostile coalition freedom of action to attack at points of its own choosing, compelled the United States to be prepared to meet attacks practically everywhere, exposed all U.S. overseas possessions to capture, and imposed on the American people a restraint inconsistent with their traditions and spirit. Also it involved serious and humiliating defeats in the Pacific during the first phase of the war and the almost certain loss of outlying possessions in that region.

But the strategic offensive-defensive had definite advantages. It enabled the United States to conduct operations in close proximity to its home bases and to force the enemy to fight at great distance from his own home bases at the end of a long line of communications. Moreover, the forces raised in the process of producing a favorable decision in the Atlantic would give the United States such a superiority over Japan that the Japanese might well negotiate rather than fight the United States alone. "It is not unreasonable to hope," the planners observed, "that the situation at the end of the struggle with RED may be such as to induce ORANGE to yield rather than face a war carried to the Western Pacific."

This plan for a RED-ORANGE war was admittedly unrealistic in terms of the international situation during the 1920's and 1930's. The military planners knew this as well and better than most and often noted this fact in the draft plans they wrote.

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