From: San Diego
It does show that, contrary to the common "lay" perception, war with Japan was no surprise and it suggests FDR took measures to make it more likely
I am not a historian, only a fan of history.
Is it still really "lay" perception that (eventual) war with Japan was a surprise?
I thought that only the specific opening moves (and the exact date) was a surprise...
Page 4, Para 9, seems to indicate that there was still hope that the Japanese might "modify" their belligerent attitude if the US presented a more forceful military and political front. (Up to the time of the memo, Oct '40, the USA was seen as pretty insular and ineffective, politically and diplomatically speaking.)
The memo seems to have assumed that the Axis powers wanted to defeat the British before taking on the USA, NOT engage them at the same time. (Page 1/2, Para 2-4.)
It might be inferred that the author assumed that the Japanese and it's European Axis partners were working more closely in their strategic planning than was actually the case...
Therefore, if Japan and the EuroAxis want to defeat the UK seperately, and if the EuroAxis needs Japan's help in finally defeating the UK (Suez and India are specifically mentioned as targets), than discouraging Japan from attacking, while at the same time, bolstering the UK as much as possible (short of declaring ourselves in the war), seems to be the advice of the memo. (Which, as you point out, the advice of Page 4, para 9, was for the large part, accepted and enacted.)
The only flaw of the memo, as far as I can see it, was assuming that Japan would not want to DOW (or could not fight) both the UK and US at the same time. But Japan decided on war for it's own reasons (and not quite the reasons we assumed), with an expectation of a quick war. (Perhaps they thought that the US would abandon the Pacific in favor of war in Europe. I don't think the "Germany First" policy was all that secret...)
In summary, I don't see the "puppet-master-string-pulling" by FDR.
I think he wanted to bolster England, I think he observed the over aggressiveness of Germany and Japan, and I think he saw the ultimate involvment, by the USA, in hostilities versus those nations.
FDR was trying to play for time (in order to sway domestic public opinion to a less isolationist stance, keep the UK in the war, and build up the US military, all without getting voted out of office).
The less time the US had, the less time it's military and industry would have to prepare/strengthen. So, he didnt want to push Japan into war before '43 (when the USAAF and USN were slated to receive it's new construction and aircraft models).