Paris Peace Conf. 855.51/4
General Tasker H. Bliss to the Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I beg to acknowledge receipt of your note of January 11th25 in which you enclose a note addressed to you by Mr. Crosby on the subject of a telegram received by him from the Secretary of the Treasury26 and which refers to the Belgian Army. You ask me to give you my views in regard to Mr. Crosby’s communication.
- First, I am decidedly of the opinion that the United States should not finance, in whole or in part, any increase in any military establishment in Europe. I know of no reason, nor is there any presented in the papers handed to me by you, why the United States should finance an increase of 100,000 men in the Belgian Army.
- Second, I am inclined to think (as I understand the law) that we should not further finance any part of any military establishment in Europe except that which may be necessary in connection with carrying out the conditions of the armistice to which the United States is a party along with its associated powers. I understand that Italy has indefinitely postponed any demobilization of her military forces. If she desires to keep an army on foot in order to prosecute a war for her own interests in Africa, or in order to be [Page 566] prepared for a war to enforce her claims east of the Adriatic, I do not see why we should give her financial support in so doing.
Of course there may be political reasons for our indefinitely continuing our financial assistance for military purposes. But these do not concern me. I know of no military reason for the maintenance of military establishments beyond the usual capacity of the respective countries to support except the necessity of maintaining a sufficient Allied force to guarantee that the Peace Conference can continue its work without interruption by a resumption of hostilities on the part of the Central Powers.
If the allied powers in Europe did not feel that they have (largely due to the financial support of the United States) a military force sufficiently large to enable them to enforce any will they may choose to form, it is possible that they would take a different view as to the prompt rehabilitation of Europe. Therefore, it seems to me that a gradual, but at the same time rather prompt limitation of our financial aid in the maintenance of these military establishments would be a way in which we might exercise benevolent pressure.