860j.01/40: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Davis) to the Secretary of State

2766. Your 5792 August 9, 7 p.m. Conferred with Curzon yesterday, August 11, first opportunity following instructions. I confined myself to inquiring whether order for withdrawal was definite and irrevocable and expressed fears which were entertained as to its consequences. Curzon professed himself fully alive to possibilities, said withdrawal had been definitely decided upon, that men belonging to units [whose] period [of] enlistment had expired, that no forces were at hand for replacement, that Great Britain had given notice of her intention to withdraw and Allies had offered task to Italy, who declined it, that Great Britain would be highly gratified [Page 830] to see America take mandate for Armenia and assume duty of policing. I told him, in response to questions, that [regardless] of future decisions the instant despatch of American forces was in my judgment, a military and political impossibility. [If] matter went to Congress it was unsafe to rely on prompt action. Matter will go before British Cabinet today but he gave me no reason to expect reversal of its decision.

I also met General Bridges, who has just returned from scene of operations, and says revocation of order is important; transports are at Batum or en route and arrangement for concentration and embarkation of troops already completed. Present forces in Caucasus about 22,000 men, [concentration of which] will occupy a month or six weeks. He also says that by his advice, British Government has offered or will offer price of 35,000 pounds sterling on the head of Enver Pasha who is now in Asia Minor leader of the Young Turks and a growing pan Islamic movement. He, as well as Curzon, anticipates disorder following withdrawal of British troops. He remarked casually that “The thing to do is for us to do the job and you to pay for it.[”]

Have received today your 5795 August 11th, 5 p.m. Can add nothing as to gravity of situation of which the British Government is not already aware unless as to danger to American relief workers. Have presented at once, by informal note to Curzon, substance of your message adding this point. [As] result of cabinet deliberations desire of British for our acceptance of Armenian mandate is evident as well as their fear of pan Islamic movement; latter may operate to restrict their departure. Would appreciate information, if possible, as to our probable policy in matter of Armenian mandate. Repeated to Am[erican] Mission as our number 2766.

Davis