500.A15/835a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Wilson)

107. New York Times article by Carlyle Macdonald under Lugano date-line December 8, states that French and League officials were informed by an American Minister to a European country

“that it was the view of the present administration at Washington that the grave subject of naval disarmament must be postponed until President-elect Hoover and his advisers should have had an opportunity of studying it or in other words after the inauguration.

After a careful discussion and some exchanges with Washington it is understood the American Minister requested, and the others agreed, that the meeting of the preliminary commission should be postponed for one or two months, pending which time the projected direct conversations between Great Britain and the United States might have borne results.”

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Also that suggestion “that M. Loudon be instructed to call a ‘consultative parley of five naval powers’ was turned down by the American Minister as being of no value in the face of the present complete disaccord between the British and the Americans.” Later article of similar tenor of December 13 quotes you as the Minister concerned. In his press conference yesterday the President said that he had noticed a press report to the effect that there was some suggestion that this administration did not desire to take any further part in the disarmament question which is being discussed under the leadership of the League. He stated that this movement is under the League and would of course have to be carried on by them irrespective of the attitude of this Government. He added that this Government has never indicated that it desired postponement of the discussions and that it is always ready to cooperate with the League Committee.

[Paraphrase.] The Department knows, of course, that you did not make the remarks which have been attributed to you, but it wished you to have President’s statement immediately.

I am told by Assistant Secretary of State Castle that he has answered questions of both British and French officials by saying that it would be unfortunate in the general interest of cause of limitation of armaments for meeting of the Preparatory Commission to be held in the immediate future unless there was some prospect of accomplishment, and that cause would be served better by frankly postponing such meeting until there could be at least some measure of agreement. Without doubt this is true. It is clear, also, that attempts will be made to put blame for delay on this Government, and that we cannot, as a nonmember of the League, ask for a postponement. While I should be glad, therefore, if view expressed by Loudon to Gibson in favor of a postponement of meeting of the Preparatory Commission should prevail, I feel that attitude expressed by President Coolidge should be adhered to firmly. Repeat to Gibson. [End paraphrase.]