File No. 763.72/2106
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 9, 8 a. m.]
2771. The feeling even of conservative men here seems hardening into the conviction that the United States is losing the fear and [Page 538] therefore the respect of foreign governments and of foreign opinion. The sinking of the Arabic and the apparent acceptance of Bernstorff’s assurance of the cessation of submarine attacks on passenger ships created a bad impression because the assurance was not frank and specific and because no mention was made of the Lusitania. Fear of the same acquiescence in the torpedoing of the Hesperian is provoking ridicule and is fortifying the belief that we will desist from action under any provocation. This feeling is not confined to those who would like to have us enter the war but it exists among our best friends, who think we ought to keep out of actual war. They seem to construe our attitude as proof of weakness and there is danger that whatever we may say hereafter will be listened to with less respect. I think I detect evidence already of a diminishing respect for our communications. The impression grows that the “peace-at-any-price” type of man has control of American opinion. Dumba’s remaining would certainly tend to deepen this feeling into a permanent conviction.
You must read this not as my opinion but as my interpretation of responsible opinion here. Men here are, of course, likely to form judgments on partial selfishness, but I have tried to leave out of account the ordinary, temporary, selfish section of public opinion and to include only that which looks as if it may become the permanent English judgment of the American democracy. Thinking men persist in regarding the United States as a more or less loose aggregation of different nationalities without national unity, national aims, or definite moral qualities.