767.68119/54: Telegram

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

499. I presented your aide-mémoire to Curzon last evening.9 He glimpsed it page by page with keen interest chatting freely as he read. The United States could not be expected to sign a peace treaty with Turkey when she had never been at war with Turkey. Quite so. Quite right. But necessarily she was concerned in the terms of settlement because her many and varied interests were inextricably involved. Her representatives or “observers” then were as he judged to be empowered to elucidate and amplify the fundamental propositions set down by the Secretary of State promptly as occasion might require. That was good, businesslike and would be timesaving and helpful.

Would they attend all sessions? I replied that that was a matter of procedure only which would be covered doubtless in your instructions to the delegates. Very good. Nevertheless it was, as I must realize from my own experience and observation, a matter also of importance. It would be awkward, difficult, embarrassing and “invidious” for the American delegation to remain in their rooms in a hotel awaiting a call only when the conference considered that they should be summoned. He trusted that they would be directed to attend all sessions and be ready to answer any questions respecting the attitude of the United States which they did not consider necessary to refer back to their Government and feel equally free to make any inquiries for the information of themselves and their Government. In this way only could the full advantage of their disinterested counsel, judgment and attitude be obtained.

This as to the main peace conference. The convention for drafting measures to safeguard the freedom of the Straits was to be subsequent and separate. Many countries were to participate in that convention which would not be asked to the peace conference—all of the bordering states for example interested necessarily. I asked if he had read Lenin’s declaration that the Soviet Government would demand representation in the peace conference. (New York Times [Page 891] Sunday10 I assume.) He had, yes, and did not doubt it was authentic. But their claim would be resisted and he believed denied.

He could not escape the conclusion pronounced to me in our previous interview, as I cabled,11 that the United States [as a] maritime power in her own interest as well as in common interest ought to participate to the full in the Straits convention. He still hoped that the situation would so develop that my Government and the American people would appreciate the propriety, wisdom and obligation of this sharing of responsibility for maintaining great open waterway as a wide-open door. That existing conditions prevented the adoption of such a policy at the moment he could readily understand. His hope was that those conditions might change.

As to capitulations so far as I could judge his views were identical with ours. The Angora Government would make a determined stand for their complete extinguishment he did not doubt. But that was out of the question. Modification with respect to terms, et cetera, assuredly but neither yielding on essential safeguards. He had been gravely concerned by the French attitude on this subject but was feeling much easier now. The French nationals in Constantinople had become panic-stricken and through their chamber of commerce had made vehement protest to Poincaré which did not see daylight until in some mysterious way Pertinax12 got hold of it and revealed just enough to frighten the Government into revising approaching reversion [sic] of their position.

He was still uncertain as to whether Angora would consent to inclusion of the Sublime Porte in the conference. Very hard on the poor Sultan he thought. But was not that after all, I inquired, a purely domestic matter? To which he responded with equal solemnity that such in the circumstances it probably must be considered.

  1. See telegram no. 344, Oct. 27, to the Ambassador in France, p. 884.
  2. Oct. 29.
  3. See telegram no. 460, Oct. 12, from the Ambassador, p. 881.
  4. Pen name of Andre Geraud, French journalist.