500.A15/454: Telegram

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


101. Your No. 201, March 27, 5 p.m. What we do not wish to have come about is to appear before Conference and world as originators [Page 190] and proponents of a formula that would hereafter be known as the “American Plan”, which in effect calls for joint international supervision and control of armaments for every power except ourselves. Although distinction between affirmative proposal and passive acquiescence may seem fine in this matter it is real nevertheless. Double treaty formula may be well worth considering although in working it out and putting it in practicable shape serious difficulties may be encountered, but after having given question mature consideration we are convinced that we ought not to accept responsibility of originating suggestion. On other hand we so genuinely appreciate possible embarrassment which it is evident that you are feeling keenly that we are anxious to go as far as we can towards meeting your views. It seems to us that our position before the Conference would be quite understandable and tenable were you to speak to your associates something along following lines: They have proposed some form of international supervision and control; we do not believe in this (give reasons) and cannot accept it; if, however, they want it and insist upon it for themselves and if they can find any way by which to accomplish what they desire for themselves and can at same time eliminate, as far as the United States is concerned, the feature of international supervision and control, then you are ready to cooperate with them in sincere endeavor to find solution of that problem.

In our judgment, statement along these lines represents limit to which we can go. Other delegations will then be able, as you expect, to come forward with the double convention suggestion.