The Special Representative ( House ) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 20—1:38 p.m.]
126. Secret for the President and Secretary of State. Various circumstances are delaying an agreement respecting important points connected with the constitution of the Peace Conference and the procedure to be followed therein. George and the other members of the English Government are engrossed in the pending elections and will in all probability be unwilling until the elections are over to decide definitely how many delegates they will wish to nominate, and who these delegates will be. If George is defeated of course considerable confusion respecting this matter will result. If George wins he will make probably some radical changes in his Cabinet which may affect the make-up of the English delegation at the Peace Conference. In [Page 161] France, Clemenceau may try to limit the representative[s] to three. He would then head the French delegation and would have with him Pichon and possibly Foch, over both of whom he exercises almost complete control. If it is decided that there shall be more than three delegates Clemenceau would probably have to appoint some man like Briand 8 who would act independently and would have a strong following. In Italy the situation, so far as I am informed concerning it, has not taken any very definite shape. Orlando will of course head the delegation.
In view of the uncertainty in connection with this matter, I suggest that no announcement be made concerning our delegation until England, France and Italy are committed to a definite number of delegates. The French are urging that the French language be used as the official language of the Conference. Since the French are to be given the place of meeting and the presidency of the Conference, it would seem as if they should meet the convenience of England and ourselves with respect to the language to be used. At the conferences before the Armistice was signed Orlando and Pichon were the only ones that could not understand English. In addition to ourselves and the English, Clemenceau, Sonnino, the Belgian representative, the Servian representative, the Greek representative and the Japanese representative are all able to understand English. I shall take up this question with the English in order to see how they feel.
- Aristide Briand, French President of the Council, Oct. 29, 1915–Mar. 20, 1917.↩