Osmeña was operated upon hurriedly on Saturday last for appendicitis. Quezon goes down to Doctors’ Hospital every day to call on him.
The President told me of a recent meeting of the Pacific War Council. Mr. Roosevelt had opened with a talk of Attu, of which he had a large map. Evidently, he intended this to be the end of the meeting, but Mr. Churchill took the floor. Quezon remarked that if he had not heard his statement, he would have had quite an erroneous idea of the situation in the Pacific merely from hearing Churchill’s previous recent address to the American Congress.
The Prime Minister now explained to the Council quite frankly that England could not undertake the prosecution of a campaign in Burma–they could, he said, use only a certain sized force there, and added: “The Japanese are better than we at jungle fighting.” Now, he could not supply the men to put the Burma road into proper condition and to maintain it. “This,” remarked Quezon to me “left me in some doubt as to whether the British Government really wanted to help China.” Thereupon, H. H. Kung made a “silly speech” and begged Churchill to open up the Burma road for them, adding that it was probably a choice of generals! Churchill interrupted to say, tartly: “I hope the time will never come when England cannot select its own generals.”
Churchill continued and stated that he heartily backed the present Australian demand, presented by Dr. Evatt, for more planes than the 400 he had requested. Roosevelt replied that both Australia and General Chennault were to get more planes than those for which they had originally asked.
In some unexplained way, Quezon seemed to think that the big attack on Japan was to come from Siberia! He also felt that the Philippines would be reclaimed from the enemy by direct attack which would be ruinous to his country.
Quezon added that from listening to these debates on the War Council he is inclined to believe that Churchill will not enter upon any more military or naval enterprises unless he is seventy per cent sure of success. For his own part, Quezon added while attending the meeting of the Pacific War Council, he was confining his part strictly to the interests of the Philippines. These seemed to fit in with the English plans. He recalled such Englishmen as he had liked personally in the Philippines, such as Horace Whittall and Pat Jollye–then he added reflectively: “Who could ever have expected the time to come when I should appear to be backing English imperialism?” He does indeed, at the present juncture, seem to be inclined towards English strategy. For years I have been cautioning Quezon not to neglect the importance for his country of the sympathetic backing of Great Britain.
Quezon next turned to political history as he had seen it unfold. He believed that Woodrow Wilson was the greatest American of this half century. Of Roosevelt, he commented: “He stands the criticism against him throughout the United States admirably,” adding: “I should be bursting out all the time.” He thinks Churchill is a greater man than Roosevelt.
Then Quezon turned to recollections of his service in the American Congress as Resident Commissioner from the Philippines, and dwelt on the failure to get the Clarke Amendment to the Jones Bill in 1916 through the House of Representatives. Senator Clarke introduced his bill for independence of the Philippines effective within two years. He was a solitary man who did his own thinking, and never went to the White House. So President Wilson went to Clarke’s apartment and asked him to change the period before full independence from two to four years because the first World War was then in full swing. Clarke was flattered and accepted the suggestion. The Philippine bill including this “Clarke Amendment” passed the Senate by the deciding vote of Vice President Marshall. In the House, however, Fitzgerald and his large bloc of Roman Catholic Democrats bolted the Democratic leadership and killed the Clarke Amendment. The only Catholics in the House to vote for the amendment were Ansberry of Ohio and Broussard of Louisiana. It appears that Osmeña had cabled Quezon from Manila not exactly expressing his own opposition to the Clarke Amendment but quoting adverse opinions of his followers–Rafael Palma, etc.
Independence for the Philippines in 1918 or 1920 would among other favourable results, have prevented the growth there of the “sugar barons” and might even, later on, have staved off the Japanese invasion. Their economy would have stood up to the test at that time better than in the subsequent period when sugar dominated the market.