No. 17 NAI DFA Washington Embassy File XIII
WASHINGTON, 28 February 1941
It is fairly certain at this stage that the Lend-Lease Bill will be passed next week by a majority of about 2 to 1 in the Senate. As to what will happen after that there is only conjecture. Most people are agreed that America will not declare war and will leave such a declaration up to Hitler if at any time he considers that it will be to his advantage to have a declaration of war. It is presumed that the first step will be the presentation of a number of ships of the Mercantile Marine to England. This is, of course, in addition to supplying them with all the munitions they have on order free of charge. There is, however, some discussion that a number of American destroyers and cruisers will be exchanged for battleships, the object of this barter being to strengthen the American Navy in battleships in the Pacific. It is not outside the bounds of possibility that a display of force may be made in order to get Japan to climb down, even if this step should lead to war. Most of the naval authorities here consider that a war with Japan would be a short one if the Japanese fight, and that the issue of such a war would free American forces for the Atlantic. There is a doubt, however, as to whether Japan would fight or merely retire to her own waters and thus prolong the conflict.
Against this there are conjectures, based on the present plight of England, according to which it would be essential for America at once to convoy ships half way across the Atlantic so as to free the British convoy fleet from an area 1500 miles across.
Practically all opinion here now agrees that whether there is a declaration of war or not America will be in it within the next few months. The attached cuttings show trend of opinion here.1
(Signed) ROBT. BRENNAN
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