The Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Secretary of State
[Received November 15, 5.40 a.m.]
5187. For the Secretary of State from Polk:
Following is list of questions which, according to the Secretary-General of the Peace Conference, have not been disposed of. I [Page 20] will give them in the order presented with [our] comments after each subject.
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It is evident that the ratifications will not be delivered until after the 1st of December. It will, therefore, be necessary for the Ambassador, assuming the treaty has not actually been defeated, to be charged with the duty of attending to such details as have not been covered in connection with the ratification of the treaty and the first meeting of the League. It is true that we will not be represented, but it is necessary for us to see that nothing is done which would be prejudicial to our interests. There is no disposition as far as I can see on the part of any of the governments to proceed in the matter of the League without a full understanding with us.
In connection with your 3706, November 6 , in regard to the [negotiations] of the Coordination Committee, I call your attention to the resolution creating the Committee adopted July 23rd. The resolution reads as follows:
“The questions concerning the interpretation and execution of the treaty with Germany, with the exception of those confided either to the Society of Nation[s], Reparation Commissions, Naval and Aerial and Military Control, the left Bank of the Rhine, or to other permanent organs of the same nature, should be studied and followed by a special committee whose seat will be in Paris but which can, should it be judged opportune time by reason of the nature of certain questions, be transported to other capitals.”
According to this resolution you will notice that the Ambassadors’ Committee or Committee on Coordination has practically no powers as the important committees are certain to be independent. There is no great objection to that in my mind except in the case of the committees of military, naval and air control and those committees should be under the Ambassador. But quite apart from the duties contemplated in the resolution of July 23rd, there will be certain questions, as you will observe from reading the list above, which will require our having some sort of representative in the proposed ambassadorial committee for the purpose at least of conveying the views of the Government to this committee.
As you can see, it would be difficult for us to leave here arbitrarily on or about the 1st of December unless it is the intention to charge some one with the duty of tying up the loose ends in a limited number of subjects. It would not be fair to our Allies or to the questions involved. The questions are simple and the understanding would be that the Ambassador would act only on instructions from his Government. Wallace would have the assistance of Grew and Harrison and I think such arrangement would be possible. Please consider this particular point and let me know your views.[Page 21]
As you will see, I am assuming that we will all leave here on or about December 1st. This I have told my colleagues and they are expecting us to leave at about that time but as I have already pointed out we cannot leave the pending questions I have suggested entirely in the air.
As you will notice Wallace would have two functions: (1) a member of the Coordinating Committee to carry out the terms of the treaty, this to depend upon our ratifying the treaty; (2) to sit in the Ambassadors’ Committee for the purpose of completing such unfinished business as we are justified in leaving to them. If Wallace is not permitted to complete this work, we really should leave a commissioner behind, but I think the best plan is to end Peace Conference and have this Committee of Ambassadors clean up more or less important unfinished business. Polk.