462.00 R 29/488: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Wallace)

89. For Boyden from Davis:

Refer Embassy’s 104, February 12th, 6 p.m.

It was not intended to imply that our representation would have been continued if Paris arrangement about indemnity had not been made. Realizing that our withdrawal might be misconstrued by Germany and create wrong impression upon Allies the proposed statement was intended to prevent this as much as possible by stating as clearly as possible the reasons for our action. Our principal reason for withdrawing has been a growing realization of the anomalous position in which we are being placed by not having ratified the Treaty; the fact that we did not feel justified in being represented at a meeting of the Supreme Council to consider a settlement of the reparations question, which involves changes in a treaty which we have not ratified; and that while we are not in a position to approve or disapprove any such arrangements, we are not willing to renounce our inherent rights, or admit that our failure to ratify the Treaty has debarred us from a voice in the determination of such an important matter which concerns us. While it is true that our only connection between Reparation Commission and Paris decisions is that Commission would execute decisions, there is at least the difference that Commission is now supposed to execute terms of Treaty which we helped formulate, although we have not ratified it.

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I am confident that reparations plan as modified at Paris meeting is entirely unworkable and in a way worse than the reparation obligations under the Treaty because at least under the Treaty unanimous consent is required for any action in case of Germany’s inability to pay, and contingent alone upon Germany’s wilful refusal to comply.

There is considerable sentiment here in favor of our filing a caveat against the Paris plan. This we have not considered necessary or advisable but we do not wish to approve the plan or indirectly commit ourselves to it. While no plan can be effective without American approval, unfortunately circumstances here at present would prevent our definite approval of a plan which we might consider thoroughly sound. We will endeavor through our press to avoid the erroneous impression that we are taking sides with Germany, and to accentuate the necessity and desirability of unified action in dealing with this problem.

We concur in your recommendation regarding publication of statement of withdrawal and will await your advices.

After considering entire question we hope that following draft will meet your objections to former proposed draft and maintain position which we consider necessary. You may however make such alterations in following draft as you deem wise, having in view the position above outlined, which we consider it necessary to maintain. Bear in mind that we are not expressing an opinion as to the probable ratification of the Treaty, which this Administration still hopes will be done, but that if we never ratify the Treaty we have inherent rights which we must not renounce.

“I am instructed by my Government to announce my retirement as its unofficial representative upon the Reparation Commission. All representation upon this Commission was in the beginning unofficial in anticipation of the ratification of the Treaty. The other powers have ratified and their representation long ago became official. The United States has not ratified and as time has passed its unofficial representation on the Commission has gradually become anomalous. My Government, not having ratified the Versailles Treaty, was unable directly to cooperate with the Allied Powers in the preparation of plans which would involve a change in that Treaty. It realizes fully the great difficulties involved in the problem and recognizes the value of unified action, but as it does not under present circumstances feel able to share in such discussions, and to define its views, it can only feel the impropriety of retaining even an unofficial representative on a Commission charged with the execution of a plan, in the drawing up of which it did not participate. After long hesitation my Government has decided that even this unofficial representation ought not to be continued. (Follow with expression of appreciation of courtesies extended).”