File No. 763.72/9893

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State


3825. The following is the reply of General Bliss to your 3831:2

Immediately after receipt by me of the State Department telegram 3831, I submitted the subject of it in conference to my colleagues and after careful consideration we agreed to the following joint recommendation:

In reply to the question submitted by the American military representative at the instance of his Government as to whether it [Page 228] would be advisable for the United States to declare that a state of war exists at the present time between the United States and both the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria or either of them, the majority representatives after considering the subject from a military standpoint agree to the following joint recommendation:
An immediate declaration that a state of war exists between the United States and the Ottoman Empire is desirable through their representatives.
In view of the moral effect upon Bulgaria of the above action, it is advisable to oppose a declaration that a state of war exists between the United States and Bulgaria until it shall have been found impossible by diplomatic negotiation to detach the latter country from her alliance with the Central Powers, but a limit should be placed upon the time allowed her for consideration of this subject, to be immediately followed by a declaration of a state of war should she within that time limit fail to take satisfactory action.
It is distinctly understood, however, that no situation resulting from a declaration of the existence of a state of war between the United States, on the one hand, and Ottoman Empire or Bulgaria or both of them, on the other, shall be allowed to divert any American troops from the western front, which is in need of, and will be in need of, every man that the United States can send to it until the situation on that front is radically changed.
Although it is imperative that the United States permit no diversion of the assistance desired by the Allies on the western front, the military representatives are of opinion that the following military advantages would result from the action recommended above:
The moral effect and influence on the peoples of these countries that would follow such a declaration, in the case of the Ottoman Empire and subsequently, if necessary, in the case of Bulgaria, showing the Allies to be really in unison in every theater of the war.
The fact that this declaration would enable the United States to participate in the eastern theater and cooperate there with her allies, should opportunity offer, which she cannot do under present conditions and which the necessity for legislative action might prevent her from doing, in their opinion, should the declaration be left until the emergency presents itself.
Those elements of the peoples of the Middle East who, owing to the uncertainty of the situation, are now hesitating to put forth strong efforts against the Turks will be encouraged to throw in their lot decidedly with the Entente Powers when they find that the vast potential power of the United States is now to be opposed to the Government of the Ottoman Empire.

Signed by
Generals Sackville-West
Di Robilant
, and
  1. Not printed; requesting General Bliss to obtain the opinion of the military representatives with the Supreme War Council on the subject of telegram No. 3830, ante, p. 222 (footnote).