President Harding to the Secretary of State
My Dear Secretary Hughes: I have your note of this morning relating to our participation in the proposed inquiry into the atrocities in Armenia. Frankly, I very much hesitate to hold aloof from a participation which makes such a strong appeal to a very large portion of our American citizenship. At the same time I can not escape the feeling that we will be utterly helpless to do anything effective in case an investigation proves the statements concerning atrocities are substantiated. I am very sure that there will be no American support for a proposal to send an armed force there to correct any abuses which are proven. I am wondering if the possible manifestation of our impotence would not be more humiliating than our nonparticipation is distressing. However, if you are well convinced that we may venture upon this enterprise without regrets I am content to trust your judgment quite as much as my own. We can call upon General Harbord to participate in such an investigation and I should have no hesitancy to place the fullest confidence in any report to which he subscribes his name. I think, even at the risk of criticism, our expressed willingness to participate in such an investigation ought to carry with it a hint that it is not consistent with the American policy to call upon our armed forces to minister to all the troubled spots of the world.
I am wholly conscious of a highly sentimental and very earnest sympathy among our people for the unfortunate Armenians. I doubt very much if that sympathy would assert itself in a positive maintenance if we were called upon to participate in a drastic action to cure conditions there.
Very truly yours,