File No. 861.00/3457
The British Chargé ( Barclay ) to the Secretary of State
The British Chargé d’Affaires presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honour to inform him that His Majesty’s Government have been giving serious consideration to the present organization of Allied effort in Siberia. The present system is one which occasions considerable anxiety to His Majesty’s Government, who would suggest that the question of reorganizing the system might well be considered by the Associated Governments, without prejudice to the larger questions of policy which arise in this matter. His Majesty’s Government desire therefore to offer certain suggestions, which will be found set forth in this memorandum, but in doing so they wish to make it perfectly plain that the object of these suggestions is solely to deal with the machinery of administration of the Allied effort in Siberia and not with its [Page 400] objects; and that the suggestions put forward are not and are not intended to be any contribution to the discussion of the more important questions of policy. His Majesty’s Government are, in fact, of opinion that it is absolutely necessary to make some reform in Allied methods in Siberia, even if the object in view be restricted to the rescue of the Czecho-Slovak troops and their transfer to Vladivostok and to France. The districts in which the Czecho-Slovak troops are now or soon will be operating, are divided among different Governments of different political colours. These districts are crossed by contending armies of different allegiances. Commodities are always scarce and food and money are sometimes lacking/Large portions of the country, the boundaries of which are not exactly fixed, are under the control of the enemy and even where there are no enemy troops there are large numbers of enemy agents.
His Majesty’s Government take the view that it is riot possible for the Allies to deal with questions which will be forced upon their attention by this condition of things by giving additional powers to the commander in chief. The questions which will arise are not purely military matters in connection with the supply of forces in the field, their control or their safety, but political and other questions of the greatest delicacy and difficulty must frequently be involved. The Associated powers have decided as a settled policy not to take sides in Russian political questions and all the Associated powers agree in the belief that it is for the Russians alone to decide on the future government of Russia. In spite of this settled policy, however, it is not possible for the Associated Governments to isolate themselves entirely from the disputes of the immediate present: it is necessary to oppose those forces which are opposed to our friends and to cooperate with those which are opposed to our enemies. Even if it were desired to do so, it would be impossible to avoid entering into relations of some kind with the different armies and governments by which the country is controlled and when such relations are entered into questions will unavoidably be raised which are beyond the proper functions of the commander in chief and his staff.
In these circumstances the question arises as to what other machinery exists for dealing with the problems likely to arise, and, as far as His Majesty’s Government are informed, none exists except such as have been evolved by informal communications between the commissioners, consuls, and naval and military officers of the Allies at Vladivostok, who belong, including the Czechs, to six different nationalities, and exercise no collective authority and little individual [Page 401] power. They are obliged to refer constantly to their own governments which, in their turn must, in any questions in which common action is required, consult with each other before a decision can be reached. Realizing the possible vital importance of prompt action and the near approach of the Russian winter it is impossible to regard this state of affairs without serious anxiety.
His Majesty’s Government are unable to suggest any absolute remedy for the evils above described, but the following suggestions are made in the hope that their adoption might result in an improvement of the situation:
(a) The military authorities should of course continue to decide all purely military matters, but any questions involving economic, social, or political issues should be referred to a body containing a strong civilian element and representative of all the powers. The work of this convention might be done through committees when such a course seems most convenient.
(b) Washington or Vladivostok should be the meeting place for the convention suggested above. The latter is of course the nearest to the theatre of operations, but of the various capitals of the powers Washington seems most suitable if it is thought desirable that a capital should be the seat of the convention. Washington would be more convenient than Tokyo for the European Allies and would be more convenient that [than] either Vladivostok or Tokyo for the United States.
In this connection it may be observed that neither Japan nor the United States are fully represented at Versailles, while as these two powers have the largest share in Siberian operations they would naturally be entitled to special consideration ill any arrangements for a convention.
(c) Unlike the council at Versailles, the convention should sit continuously and should, to a certain extent, be granted executive responsibility. The various governments in consultation would, as hitherto, take the decision on large questions of policy, but it is hoped that the convention would settle minor questions on the spot and that, even in cases in which it does not feel able to act on its own responsibility, it will be able to give advice which would be of great value to the several governments.
In communicating the above suggestions, the British Chargé d’Affaires is instructed to add that His Majesty’s Government do not attach special value to the particular scheme outlined, but they regard it as of the utmost importance that some scheme of organization should be devised which would be less unwieldly in its operation than that by which the difficult work of the cobelligerent powers in Siberia is now being carried on.
[Received October 2.]