500.A15/204a: Telegram

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

52. (1) You will remember that in the documentation accompanying the invitation to the Preparatory Commission it was stated that body was to have “at its disposal the advice of the technical (military and civilian) organizations of the League of Nations, as well as that of any other qualified authorities which in the opinion of the Commission it may be advisable to consult on any of the suggestions which may come under its consideration.” This Government accepted the invitation to sit on the Preparatory Commission but has not consented to be represented on any other organization than the Preparatory Commission. I have now received the full text of a note from Drummond76 asking me to designate experts from our delegation to sit on Permanent Advisory Commission “on a footing of equality with members of that Commission whenever it is convened to assist the work [Page 73] of the Preparatory Commission.” If wording is accurate it would imply more active participation by the Permanent Advisory Commission than was originally contemplated.

(2) With respect to Joint Commission which we discussed when you were in Washington and the proposed appointment of an unofficial American citizen on this Commission, Legation Berne has informed League that appointment by the League of an unofficial American citizen to this Commission could not be looked upon as affording us representation or justifying the reference to Joint Commission of questions of interest to us. Drummond has orally replied to these representations that since he was obliged by Council’s decision to invite an American to sit with the Joint Commission there appeared to be no course for him to follow other than to explain to the President of the Council by letter and request that he be relieved if possible of this obligation at least until the Preparatory Commission shall have convened.

(3) Our Chargé at Berne reports that Drummond states view is generally held in Geneva that there will be a session of the Preparatory Commission lasting about 10 days after which there will be an adjournment until sometime in July and that during the interval the Permanent Advisory Commission and Joint Commission will continue to function.

(4) The Department has just received a telegram from our Minister at Prague77 reporting that Beneš anticipates that the Preparatory Commission will meet for a three-day formal session and will meet again before the Assembly in September.

(5) The idea of a brief and purely formal session would seem to imply a further advance toward turning the work of the Preparatory Commission entirely over to the League Committees. This is entirely different from the plan indicated in the original invitation which we accepted and as we have not consented to be represented on either of the League Committees it is not seen wherein American participation would be effective under such a scheme. It was assumed that Preparatory Commission was to devote itself continuously to discussion of disarmament problems and on that assumption the President has appointed a sufficiently large delegation to consider the various questions which might be presented and has assigned men who can be spared from their present work only for serious and continuous discussion of disarmament problems.

(6) I should like to have you discuss this matter promptly with Chamberlain and ascertain his views as to how the Preparatory Commission is to function. You may say that we feel that the only [Page 74] effective way in which this Government can participate is to have the Preparatory Commission itself continue the discussions, appoint its own committees, and remain in practically continuous session until its work has been concluded.

(7) I have instructed Legation at Berne to address to Secretary General of the League a written communication setting forth our views as outlined above.

(8) Repeat to Paris, Berne and Prague for their confidential information. Ask Paris to make confidential distribution.

  1. Ante, p. 66.
  2. Not printed.