WASHINGTON, March 17, 1911 (UP) - Japan, rather than Mexico, is the objective of the present "maneuvers" of the American army.
This statement was made to the United Press to-day by an official in Washington whose information can scarcely be questioned. His statement has been supported and confirmed by information obtained in half a dozen state capitals where executive officers of the national guard have been taken into the confidences of the war department.
"President Taft is to-day the most misunderstood man in the country," said the official referred to, who is himself not an active partisan politician and is not personally friendly to or a member of the so-called administration group.
"Those who have criticized the President's action in this matter on the Mexican frontier and have questioned his motives are merely putting themselves in a bad light," continued the speaker. "The President did not make the 'maneuver' move inadvisedly or hastily. He knew that he would be called on for an explanation by the incoming Congress and he has what he considers ample justification for his act. When the full facts are known even his partisan foes will have to admit the wisdom of his move."
It was the original plan of the President to mobilize 60,000 regular troops on the Mexican border. This would have been practically the entire regular army with the exception of the details necessary to guard government property and garrison the Philippines. The President's decision to call out only 20,000 troops was reached on the afternoon of the day of the mobilization order and immediately was followed by instructions to national guard officers which have resulted in the preparation of plans that will make possible the mobilization of the present national guard on the shortest possible notice.
It is pointed out that the present move is not a defensive one and was not prompted by any fear of immediate trouble with Japan. On the contrary it is designed as an offensive "maneuver" having for its object the thwarting of certain influences now active in Mexico and which are believed to be looking toward Japanese aggression in lower California. Today's developments point clearly to the peninsula of lower California as being the real center of trouble rather than the Mexican republic generally or the Diaz administration.
In the light of these developments President Taft's statement to the correspondents which accompanied him south on the night of March 9th, takes on added significance. At this time the President speaking informally and with the understanding that he was not to be quoted directly, pointed out that the reports of the growing possibility of the organization of an independent republic in lower California would through its irresponsibility be a constant source of trouble to this country.
At that time no public attention had been given to the Japanese activities in California or to the diplomatic exchanges between Mexico and Japan which have since become public.
It is taken for granted here that the President has had knowledge of these exchanges for some time and that matters reached their climax upon the return to this country of the United States minister to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson.
It has been fully established now that there is no hostility between this government and the government of Mexico, at least so far as President Diaz is concerned. It is not believe that the aged president of Mexico has been guilty of any branch of the good faith which he has always fostered between his government and the United States. It has been intimated, however, that Japanese money has been spent in large quantities in Mexico at points where it would do the most good.
Japan's continued efforts to secure a coaling station, a naval base or other concessions in lower California was what the President had in mind when he stated that the American troops would cross into Mexico "upon the first necessary cause for action."
It is believed that if the present maneuver suffices to thwart the plans of the Mexican conspirators who have been negotiating with the Japanese, the present demonstration will end. If the demonstration does not bring this result the prediction is freely made here that the American army will advance into Mexico ostensibly to protect American interests and restore order and will use its offices to set up a government whereby the peace and prosperity of the United States may not be menaced through possible grants and favors to the Japanese government.
The first indication that an actual invasion of Mexico has become necessary will probably appear in the order for the mobilization of the state militia, preparations for which are known to be under way.
No attempt is made in official circles to disguise the feeling of satisfaction caused by the approval given in England to President Taft's arbitration proposition. The popularity of this proposal with the British public and with the public officials is taken here to indicate that even the existing offensive and defensive alliance now in force between England and Japan would not suffice to prevent British public opinion from forcing that government ally itself with the United States on any issue in which it was necessary to chose between the United States and Japan.
Contrary to certain charges that have been made there is little jingo spirit prevalent in Washington to-day. Instead of expressions of fear of trouble with Japanese belief is everywhere expresses that by making the first move and making it promptly President Taft has nipped in the bud or at least is about to do so, what might have grown into a serious menace to the peace of the country.