Excerpt From a Memorandum of a Conversation Between the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Chamberlain) and the American Ambassador (Kellogg), London, February 11 [10?], 19255

As to naval disarmament, he6 thought much more could be accomplished and rather intimated that he would welcome an invitation from the United States to hold such a conference. He did say that, as to land armament, Herriot7 had told him that if France were invited by the United States she would have to decline. As to naval armament he said he thought much more could be accomplished and he was hopeful that France could be induced not only to attend but to join in further agreement. He suggested much could be accomplished as in the size and time of renewal of battle ships; that this constantly increasing size of battle ships was an enormous expense. Why 35,000 tons, why not 25,000? Why a certain number of years? Four or five years added to the length of time for renewals would save an enormous expense. He suggested also that [sic] the limitation in the size of cruisers. Instead of having cruisers which would carry 1,200 men, cruisers that would carry half that number would answer every purpose. He realized that countries like Great Britain whose Dominions reach all over the world, in all the seas, had to have a larger number of cruisers than Germany which had no Dominions or other countries which had few. So far as he was concerned, Great Britain was prepared to agree to absolute elimination of submarines. It was a barbarous mode of warfare and could only be carried on by sinking merchant ships, women, children and noncombatants; that they ought to do away absolutely with poisonous gases and limit the number of air-planes, etc. The last Washington Conference8 had been a great success. Mr. Hughes had made a spectacular and a wonderful proposition which had been immediately accepted by the British Government. He thought that if another one were to be called it would be wise to quietly sound out the different governments in advance so that there would be no failure. Of course, I told him I had no knowledge whatever as to the President’s or the Secretary’s views on the subject of calling a conference; that the resolution of Congress was simply advisory but indicated [Page 4] a public opinion. I think he rather expects such a conference and I am inclined to think he would welcome it and that he thinks it could succeed best in Washington.

  1. See telegram from the Ambassador in Great Britain, Feb. 14, 10 a.m., infra. The date of receipt by the Department of this memorandum is not indicated.
  2. Sir Austen Chamberlain.
  3. French Premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Nov. 12, 1921–Feb. 6, 1922; see Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.