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War Plan Violet

War Plan Violet covered Latin America. By the mid-1800s, the Monroe Doctrine, combined with ideas of Manifest Destiny, provided precedent and support for U.S. expansion on the American continent. In the late 1800s, U.S. economic and military power enabled it to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. The doctrine's greatest extension came with Theodore Roosevelt's Corollary, which inverted the original meaning of the doctrine and came to justify unilateral U.S. intervention in Latin America.

In his December 2, 1823, address to Congress, President James Monroe articulated United States' policy on the new political order developing in the rest of the Americas and the role of Europe in the Western Hemisphere. The statement, known as the Monroe Doctrine, was little noted by the Great Powers of Europe, but eventually became a longstanding tenet of U.S. foreign policy. Monroe and his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams drew upon a foundation of American diplomatic ideals such as disentanglement from European affairs and defense of neutral rights as expressed in Washington's Farewell Address and Madison's stated rationale for waging the War of 1812. The three main concepts of the doctrine--separate spheres of influence for the Americas and Europe, non-colonization, and non-intervention--were designed to signify a clear break between the New World and the autocratic realm of Europe. Monroe's administration forewarned the imperial European powers against interfering in the affairs of the newly independent Latin American states or potential United States territories. While Americans generally objected to European colonies in the New World, they also desired to increase United States influence and trading ties throughout the region to their south. European mercantilism posed the greatest obstacle to economic expansion. In particular, Americans feared that Spain and France might reassert colonialism over the Latin American peoples who had just overthrown European rule. The British also had a strong interest in ensuring the demise of Spanish colonialism, with all the trade restrictions mercantilism imposed

As Monroe stated: "The American continents . are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers." Monroe outlined two separate spheres of influence: the Americas and Europe. The independent lands of the Western Hemisphere would be solely the United States' domain. In exchange, the United States pledged to avoid involvement in the political affairs of Europe, such as the ongoing Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, and not to interfere in the existing European colonies already in the Americas.

Violet, the fourth color of the spectrum, might be said to result from the union of the American colors of red, white, and blue. Violets and lavenders can easily be mixed with the primary colors blue and red. However, violet as a single wavelength is a perceptible part of the rainbow. Certain cells in the eye respond to certain range of wavelengths of light (nominally -- red, green, and blue). However, There is no sharp wavelength cutoff where "red" ends and "green" begins. That varies from person to person and many other factors -- physical, psychological, and physiological. The classic experiment being saturation or "fatigue" where if you stare at a certain color for a minute and then quickly shift your eyes to a white surface you will see the complementary color of the original. In the case of "blue" there is no sharp cutoff wavelength where "blue" ends and the ultraviolet wavelengths begin. The "blue" cones are still sensitive to electromagnetic radiation that is refered to as "violet".

The President and his military advisers in conferences on 16 May 1940 agreed that, for the time being, the bulk of the United States Fleet should remain in the Pacific and, in consequence, that the Army should have primary responsibility for air operations in the Atlantic area and along the east coast of South America. Should France fall, they anticipated that Germany might secure immediate and free access to French African possessions. German air forces would then be in a position to launch a direct attack on South America, and should Germany also acquire the British and French Fleets it might be able to launch a ground force across the South Atlantic as well. In view of these alarming prospects, the Department of State hastily made the necessary arrangements for military staff conversations with the Latin American nations in order to plan measures for the common defense, secure the use of bases, and obtain other military assistance for operations of United States forces.

The War Plans Division on 22 May 1940 summarized what it termed the "imminently probable complications of today's situation." These it considered to be a Nazi-inspired revolution in Brazil, similarly inspired disorders in Mexico, Japanese hostilities against the United States in the Far East, a decisive Allied defeat in Europe followed by German aggression against the Western Hemisphere, or "all combined."

The President and his military advisers were particularly concerned over the possibilities of Nazi intervention in Brazil. Prompted in part by reports received through the British Admiralty on 24 May 1940 that the Nazis might be preparing to send an expeditionary force toward Brazil, President Roosevelt on the following day directed the Army and Navy to prepare a joint plan for sending an American force to forestall any such German move. The planning staffs hurriedly prepared a plan, with the code name POT OF GOLD, over the weekend of 25-27 May. It provided for the emergency movement of a large expeditionary force to Brazilian coastal points from Belm to Rio de Janeiro and for sending the first ten thousand men by plane to northeastern Brazil as soon as an Axis move or pro-Axis movement occurred.

Of course the United States Government had no intention of putting the POT OF GOLD plan into effect either in whole or part except in extreme emergency and after consultation with Brazil. The services realized only too well that its execution would revive Latin American fears of Yankee imperialism; the Army, as the War Plans Division had pointed out on 22 May, had no units that were really ready for expeditionary force use; the Army Air Corps was certainly not equipped to carry out the contemplated air movement, and existing airfields on the route to Brazil were wholly inadequate to handle an air movement of this sort even if the equipment had been available; finally, the plan would have required the transfer of a substantial portion of the United States Fleet from the Pacific, a step strongly opposed by the Navy.

Since they did not know the real scope and direction of German intentions, American military planners in May 1940 had to base their calculations on the known capabilities of the German war machine and on the unpredictability of the Nazi Fuehrer. The course of subsequent events and later revelations were to make emergency schemes such as the POT OF GOLD plan seem somewhat excessive, to say the least. But, as President Roosevelt had repeatedly observed since early 1939, the long-range threat was very real, and an immediate German victory over Britain as well as France would have made it very present. Speaking confidentially to a group of businessmen on 23 May, the President said that the defeat of France and Britain would eliminate a buffer that for decades had protected the United States and its way of life. "The buffer," he continued, "has been the British Fleet and the French Army." If they were removed, the American system would be directly and immediately menaced by a Nazi-dominated Europe.

The new joint RAINBOW 4 plan was based on assumptions that clearly indicated the dire forebodings of Army and Navy officers at the end of May. It assumed that, after the defeat of Britain and France, the United States would be faced by a hostile German-Italian-Japanese coalition. Its combined naval power, bolstered by portions of the British and French Fleets, would considerably exceed that of the United States. Japan would proclaim its absolute hegemony in the Far East, and might seize the Philippines and Guam.

Germany and Italy would occupy all British and French territory in Africa, and also Iceland. In Latin America, the Germans and Italians would use every means to stir antagonism toward the United States, and they might succeed in establishing pro-Axis governments in strategically located countries. Canada; remaining technically at war with Germany, would occupy Newfoundland, and the United States would have to join with Canada in the defense of Newfoundland and Greenland. Nevertheless, a considerable interval would probably elapse after the British and French collapse before the United States would be drawn openly into war.

The United States planned to counter these threats initially by occupying key British, French, Dutch, and Danish possessions in the Western Hemisphere claimed by Germany and Italy as the spoils of war. Thereafter, its armed forces must be disposed along the Atlantic front of the hemisphere so as to prevent any lodgment by Axis military forces. In the Pacific, every effort would have to be made to avoid open hostilities with Japan; if they began, the United States should base its defense on Oahu and Alaska. The major portion of the United States Fleet would have to be withdrawn from the Pacific and concentrated in the Caribbean area. Though the original RAINBOW 4 concept had contemplated defense of the entire Western Hemisphere, the armed forces of the United States for the time being would have to confine their operations to North America and the northern part of South America (approximately within RAINBOW 1 limits), extending their operations southward only as additional forces became available. While maintaining a defensive position in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, the nation would have to increase its military power as rapidly as possible, with the eventual objective of limited offensive action.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:36:34 Zulu