The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Wallace)
679. For Rathbone from Davis. Treasury R-318.
Reference your R-444, my R-300.64 For your information our personal views regarding an international conference are substantially as follows: It is now generally accepted that loans from Government to Government with the resultant continued control by the borrowing government over private activities should cease. Problems requiring solution such as the supply of credits, etc., can only be worked out by private initiative with governmental moral support. A conference of governmental representatives would be unable to speak for the financial and business interests of the respective countries, and they would also be reluctant to make any recommendations which would not be pleasant or acceptable to the governments they represent. On the other hand, a conference of representative business interests of the various countries would be free to make such recommendations as they may consider sound, to devise if possible means for private cooperation and to recommend to the governments such measures as would facilitate private activities. While such a conference might not accomplish as much as anticipated, it would probably have a good psychological effect in creating a better understanding and would show that efforts were being made to find solutions to the various existing difficulties. While we have no objection to offer to a governmental conference as I have heretofore explained, I am not sure that we would be able to attend it, or that such a conference would be effective, and if members of the Chamber of Commerce should attend a conference where all the other delegates represent governments, they would be placed in an unprecedented and probably embarrassing position. Assuming that a conference of private business interests as above indicated would [Page 91] be more practicable and feasible, the question is how to call it. We cannot make any proposal but it occurs to me that the League of Nations might to advantage take the position that after further consideration of the questions involved they have, for reasons as above indicated, come to the conclusion that a conference of the representative business interests of the respective countries would be more practicable and effective, and that the various governments should therefore be requested to convey to the representative business organization or organizations of each country such as the United States Chambers of Commerce, an invitation from the League to send delegates to a conference to be called immediately. This, of course, could be done by a neutral country, but I doubt if the principal powers would care for a neutral country to obtain the moral advantage of leadership in such a move. While we cannot instigate [sic] such a plan it would seem that this might be a graceful and practical way out of the existing embarrassment of governmental complications and the only way in which some good might result. I understand that some members of the United States Chamber of Commerce are making suggestions on above lines to British business interests.
- Latter not printed.↩