June 9, 1945



SUBJECT: Basic Objective in the Pacific War

With reference to your suggestion that we change the Combined Chiefs statement of our objective in the war against Japan from "unconditional surrender" to "complete defeat and permanent destruction of the war making power of Japan," this seems acceptable from the strictly military viewpoint with one possible exception. That is the necessity for having in the statement a formal provision that the objective must be pressed to limit the duration of the Pacific war as much as possible. The expression "at the earliest possible date" should therefore be included.

Viewing any proposed change form the political and psychological standpoint and remembering that we have held to the "unconditional surrender" wording for so long, it appears probable that a deviation at this time would occasion an undesirable amount of questioning and doubt as to the nature of our changed intentions. Our military difficulties arising from the problems of holding not only our own people but particularly our Allies, the British, to the task of achieving our objective in the Japanese war at the earliest possible date might thereby be increased.

Instead of trying to change the wording of this top secret paper which eventually, as a Combined Chiefs paper, must involve British agreement, but which will never come to the eyes of the Japanese, it would seem better that we take action to discourage public use of the term "unconditional surrender," which we all agree is difficult to define, and encourage instead more definitive public statements concerning our policy and war aims. We should cease talking about unconditional surrender of Japan and begin to define our true objective in terms of defeat and disarmament. We should, however, diligently avoid giving any impression that we are growing soft. It is believed that this course would answer the objections raised by Mr. McCloy.

The nature of the objective, whether phrased as "complete defeat" or "unconditional surrender," is going to be determined by the detailed instructions, and the suppression of the statement "unconditional surrender" will have little practical effect on the final result.

/s/ G. C. Marshal
Chief of Staff

Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation