Press Conference Held By Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
P R E S S.
Saturday A.M., - - - March 2, 1918.
Good morning, gentlemen. I haven’t a thing today, gentlemen.
Q. Have you appointed a new head?
A. No, I have not.
Q. Can you help us out on the Siberian matter,--as to what the Navy is going to do.
A. No, I cannot. I would rather you would not quote me about anything. We have no ships over there.
Q. Have the Japanese any ships there?
A. I don’t know. They may have.
Q. Any advices about the situation at Vladivostok?
A. No, I have not.
Q. Do you think the stories being written are accurate?
A. Of course, Russia is a big country and conditions are very bad and you cannot tell what is going to happen next.
Q. Will our part be considered from the military point of view?
A. Well, it is not a proper thing for me to talk about. I think this. I think Japan feels that if the Germans take Petrograd and go on, and if they do not stop them, that they will take them. If the Germans get as far as Vladisvostok our sphere of influence is gone. It is a good long stretch, but if the Germans take Petrograd and Moscow they could get the whole country. It is a very difficult situation and I don’t want to be quoted. There is no use to go anywhere unless you can go well. If we go in the first thing Germany will say is, “You are going in to take a part of Russia, too!” We are not going over there at all except to hold a line. There are so many difficulties to the situation that it is pretty hard right now to say anything about it.
Q. Will large forces be sent to Vladivostok?
A. I don’t think so. We are sending soldiers to France. The war is going to be won there. As to going in very far Japan probably would not. She would be charged with wanting to take part of the country. We have no interest in taking Vladivostok; moreover we haven’t the ships. Everything we have is on this side. The only ships we have there are for patrol duty and if we take them from over here we might need them on the other side.
Q. Would you change your views at all if the Germans captured the Russian fleet?
A. Well, I have no views to change. I think we had better keep on the line we are on now. If the Germans take the country they cannot hold it in the long run unless they get the west coast. In France is the place to fight and not on this coast or in Siberia. I have not talked with the State Department about it, however.
Q. Did we tell Japan that we would disapprove of her position?
A. I don’t know. It is too difficult a thing to tell anything about.
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