File No. 763.72119/1051
The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 29, 10.55 a.m.]
2964. All the papers comment to-day upon the speech of Mr. Stephen Pichon, Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the Chamber of [Page 508] Deputies yesterday in reply to certain interpellations upon the situation in Russia. With the exception of a few Socialist organs, the comments are very favorable to the Minister’s deciding France’s attitude towards the peace negotiations being conducted at Brest-Litovsk.
Mr. Pichon declared France was under no delusion as to Germany’s designs. She would either make Russia capitulate or break off negotiations. He [said,] “Whenever a direct and definite peace proposal is made to us, we will consider it, but not in an indirect one and we cannot discuss it.”
Perhaps no man in France has been in years past closer in the confidence of Mr. Clemenceau than Mr. Pichon and it is generally accepted that his utterances are those of the Premier. After declaring that the acts of the Maximalist government had made impossible for the French Government to have any official intercourse with that body, he announced that France still had duty to perform to help noble and generous ally Roumania whose very existence was threatened by the capitulations which were being carried out all around her on the Russian front. The misfortunes of Roumania were among the most serious consequences monarchist Maximalist doings. Mr. Pichon after declaring that France’s war aims had been publicly declared in Parliament, said the first was victory because without it there would be no real peace. The object of victory was not to conquer or dominate, but to bring about a just and humane peace. Anyone who sought to find ideas of conquest among the Allies would seek in vain. France was in complete agreement with President Wilson on every point. It was her duty to assist the oppressed peoples of Bulgaria, Servia and Roumania and also to consider the case of Poland which she wanted to see united and independent with all the political and military consequences of this unity and independence. This desire also applied to the peoples of Armenia, Syria, and Lebanon. Referring to Alsace and Lorraine, Mr. Pichon said that it was not merely one of territory but a moral question of worldwide importance. Whether there would or would not be a lasting peace for the world would depend on whether Alsace-Lorraine was restored to France or retained by Germany.
At the conclusion of Mr. Pichon’s speech priority for a Socialist resolution calling for a revision of war aims was refused by 378 votes to 103. A resolution of confidence in the Government and approval of Mr. Pichon’s statements was also then passed by 304 votes to 9 against it, though the Socialists abstained from voting.