File No. 763.72119/48½
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11.15 p. m.]
1474. I lunched to-day with French who came here secretly for a council of war. He talked of course in profound confidence.
He says the military situation is a stalemate. The Germans cannot get to Paris or to Calais. On the other hand it will take the Allies a year, perhaps two years, and an incalculable loss of men to drive the Germans through Belgium. It would take perhaps four years and unlimited men to invade Germany. He has little confidence in the ability of Russian aid in conquest of Germany. Russia has whipped Austria and will whip Turkey. But he hopes for little more from her.[Page 6]
Speaking only for himself and in profoundest confidence he told me of a peace proposal which he says the President at Germany’s request has submitted to England. He tells me that this proposal is to end the war on condition that Germany give up Belgium and pay for its restoration. French’s personal opinion is that England would have to accept such an offer if it should be accompanied with additional offers to satisfy the other Allies, such, for example, as the restoration to France of Alsace-Lorraine and the agreement that Russia shall have Constantinople.
I had an agreeable and friendly acquaintance with General French before the war and he has sent me several personal messages from the front. But I cannot help suspecting that he had a further purpose than a merely friendly talk in telling me these things. He seemed so much surprised when I confessed that I had not heard of such a proposal that I felt that possibly he held back something else than he [sic] for the President [that he had] it in mind to say.
He was solicitous to find out my opinion whether this peace proposal has been made in good faith or whether it was probably a German move to affect public opinion in the United States.
Colonel Squier1 had an interview to-day with Lord Kitchener whose military opinion coincides with General French’s.
- Military attaché of the Embassy.↩