The Secretary of State to the Chief of the American Representation on the Preparatory Commission (Gibson)
5. Your telegram No. 11 of March 19, 8 p.m. I think your suggestion would not be advisable if it means a complete withdrawal from the Preparatory Commission. From your reports I judge that there is slight hope for the Conference now continuing or accomplishing anything, and if we should withdraw it would give them just the chance they are looking for to step out from under and put the blame on us. As far as possible we should avoid any action which it is clearly foreseen would give an opportunity to other powers to place the blame on the United States.
I am in sympathy with your ideas, and I think that you should, of course, make every effort to avoid taking part in such a useless discussion. If a sufficient number of countries are willing to join, it might have some effect to issue a statement that such a procedure is useless and to intimate that there is no use of continuing to participate on such a basis, but care should be taken that the Conference be given no opportunity to blame our Government.
You may wish to consider suggesting to one of your colleagues that the Preparatory Commission might very properly ask the Council of the League for instructions as to the competence of the Commission to consider a plan for total disarmament when it was called by a resolution to prepare the way for a conference to reduce and limit armament. This Government would not care to make such a proposal, as we are not a member of the League. If made, the [Page 252]suggestion should be to the representative of a state which is in the League and preferably represented on the Council.
It would not be sufficient reason for us to withdraw should the proceedings be reduced to futility by the amalgamation of the Soviet proposal with draft treaties already under consideration, in case the interested countries are unable to find other means of dealing with the Soviet plan. I see no reason why, in conjunction with your colleagues from the great powers, a resolution could not be drafted stating that the Utopian idea of total disarmament could not be discussed with profit until a degree of limitation and reduction had been attained which would prove the sincerity of the desire of the peoples of the world to work for disarmament as the ultimate goal, and that the Preparatory Commission should therefore proceed in accordance with its original program.