500.A15/824: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium (Gibson) to the Secretary of State

[Paraphrase]

81. Referring to Minister Wilson’s 118, December 6, 4 p.m. There is no purpose in seeking to convince Secretary General Drummond, although the governments of all principal members of the League, except Germany, are opposed to a meeting at an early date of the Preparatory Commission, if he feels that the calling of an early session is necessary, or if more specific instructions on this question are issued by the present meeting of the Council. Furthermore, it is highly probable that Loudon will concur in the view of the Secretary General.

A meeting at the present time, in my opinion, cannot be other than harmful, and the value of the Secretary General’s suggestion of a limited agenda from which naval matters are to be excluded is questionable; there has been general disregard of the agenda at former sessions, and I doubt if the stirring up of bad feeling by the Russians could be prevented, even if British and American delegates did not enter into discussion in such an eventuality; there would still be the danger that the cudgels would be taken up by the press in such a manner as to aggravate the situation.

There might be, if there were any hope of general progress at the next session, some reason for running risks as to our relations with [Page 262]Great Britain. However, since as far as we can foresee now, there is no such hope, the avoidance of a meeting appears important, as its only result will probably be to embitter the relations of the two countries.

The decision, as far as I can ascertain, practically rests with Germany, the sole League member now urging a meeting and doing so for the purposes of internal politics, and with the Government of Italy. As a nonmember of the League the United States obviously cannot take any initiative, but no similar objection prevents action by the British Government, who in this matter have interests similar to our own. I venture to suggest, in view of the importance of the issues involved, the possibility of placing the entire question frankly before the British, explaining the reluctance of the United States toward a meeting which in all probability will be utilized for the stirring up of dissension between the two countries, and inquiring if the British feel justified in a serious discussion of the matter at Berlin, with a view to convincing the Germans that since no hope of accomplishing anything exists at the present time, they are not warranted in holding out for a meeting distasteful to most of the other governments; and that Germany will assist the movement toward disarmament better in the long run by letting the Secretary General know her preference that the adjournment be extended, in the belief that no reasonable hope of progress lies in an early meeting. There is little doubt that, if this course is followed, the Secretary General would be able to canvass Council members and secure the authority of the Council for a generous breathing spell as in previous cases.

Gibson