500.A15/444: Telegram

The Chief of the American Representation on the Preparatory Commission ( Gibson ) to the Secretary of State


191. The entire character of the proceedings of the Preparatory Commission will change with the presentation of the British, French, and possibly other texts as basis for work instead of the original agenda.

The French draft is based entirely upon the idea of enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles by the League of Nations; nominally the British draft is also largely based on League enforcement but in this [Page 178] respect its provisions are more readily susceptible of being worked out by organizations and procedure which does not bear the label of the League, as Cecil has indicated in his statement. Such action, however, would meet with determined opposition from the French bloc. We must decide how far our course of action is to be affected by this change. We have two courses open to us, in my opinion: (1) To continue to present our views on all questions with view to having them adopted in draft of convention; (2) to set forth our views making known the sort of treaty we would be in position to accept and leave to other delegations adoption, or otherwise, of such a draft, placing on them the responsibility for adoption of a draft which would make our participation impossible.

Adoption of first course would lead inevitably, I think, to deadlock, providing those who hold other views with pretext for throwing on us responsibility for failure to solve problem of disarmament; certainly the tension with the French would be increased, as well as with nations supporting them, and it would lead to multiplicity of arguments, merits of which a large part of the continental press and possibly a portion of the American press would inevitably distort. I do not see how, by such methods, we could arrive at a generally acceptable treaty draft.

Second method, if well presented, would enable us, on the other hand, to state our views with equal clarity and would at same time allow for recognition of fact that measures which we could not accept for constitutional or legal reasons might be desirable and practicable for other countries. Essential obstacle to a plan generally acceptable is that large number of delegations desire to have entire machinery of disarmament placed under supervision and control of League in order to make disarmament contingent on security under League, on international inspection and control, and to put measures of sanction under jurisdiction of the League Council. We might express desire to enter into general scheme for limitation and reduction of armaments and then leave to the others the decision as to which was more important: Abandonment of use of League in this matter in order to obtain American participation, or agreement upon what they deemed to be effective measures under League, with full knowledge that this action would thereby eliminate us from any final arrangement.

I shall cable you a tentative outline of statement on this subject for your consideration. If it proves acceptable I should appreciate your full instructions for exact form in which matter is to be presented. Urgent that I have instructions early, as the situation may develop so rapidly that our attitude will have to be made clear in course of next few days.