511.3 B 1/149: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland ( Grew )


22. Invitation extended to you to participate in the coming meeting of the Temporary Mixed Commission’s first subcommittee has been given careful consideration by the Department. You should attend meeting of the subcommittee for the same purposes for which you attended the meeting of the Commission, thus making it possible for our Government to be kept fully informed regarding proceedings in the subcommittee. You will not, of course, take part in the actual drafting of the convention which is proposed. You should inform M. Lebrun, therefore, that you will gladly attend the Paris meeting to give information and appropriate explanations respecting the attitude of the United States as occasion may require.

With the above and previous instructions in mind you may use the following as occasion arises:

Regarding the manufacture of arms. Production or manufacture in itself is not commerce and the interstate commerce power does not give Congress the power to control mere production or manufacture within a State. Congress, however, has power:
To control the manufacture of arms in the Territories and possessions of the United States and within the District of Columbia;
To prohibit except under Federal license the shipment of arms in foreign or interstate commerce.
Regarding the traffic in arms. Foreign or interstate commerce is subject to the control of Congress. As a possible basis for cooperation with other powers the following points are suggested:
Through a license system the Federal Government could control arms traffic in foreign commerce.
Adequate publicity could be given.
This Government could make or allow sales only to governments or belligerents recognized by it.
The following are matters to be reserved:
There must be no restriction upon this Government in supplying its own wants.
The right of the United States Government in its discretion to sell or allow sales to other American governments whether such governments are parties to the convention or not must not be restricted.
The American Government cannot place itself under the supervision or direction of the League of Nations, of which it is not a member, in any manner. It should also be noted that this country has not given its adherence to the protocol of the Permanent Court of International Justice.
If the United States signed or adhered to a convention, legislation by Congress would be necessary to make it effective. For this reason this Government cannot finally commit itself without some reservation as to action by Congress or some assurance which will satisfy the President that Congress will pass the necessary legislation.
It is understood that in the above the word “arms” means arms and munitions of war, mere sporting or commercial munitions not being included.

Make a full report on proceedings of the subcommittee. Telegraph at your discretion.