500.A15a3/50: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Dawes)

174. Your 179, July 9, 9 a.m., 180 and 181, July 10, 4 p.m.17 The President and I would be glad if you would informally communicate the following to Mr. MacDonald.

[Page 142]

“We wish to express our great appreciation of the letter from the Prime Minister. It is most constructive in its tenor and practical in its proposals. We have some variants to suggest as to procedure, which by simplifying the problem would even further expedite practical results.

Referring in detail to his suggestions:

Paragraph 1—We are in agreement.
Paragraph 2—We are in agreement as to reduction of naval armaments.
Paragraph 3—We are in agreement—with the understanding that the expression ‘slightly different values in our respective national needs’ refers to characteristics of combatant ships but does not refer to reasonable equality of the respective total combatant strength.
Paragraphs 4 and 5—These relate to the method of developing a yardstick by our technical advisers. It seems to us that the suggestion made may perhaps, by its shortcut, lead to technical difficulties, and, more important, to conflict within and between our different Navy Departments and their experts. We believe that instead of this suggestion we should take a little more time and direct our activities on both sides to securing a common line of thought in our different Navy Departments. To bring this about we make the following suggestions to Mr. MacDonald for consideration, which we think will greatly simplify the technical questions:
These points are:
We suggest that the scope of agreement shall cover all combatant ships.
We suggest that combatant strength shall be considered by categories of capital ships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and submarines.
We suggest that right of limited transfer between these categories be recognized and that such transfer be made in accordance with an agreed yardstick.
As our capital ship and aircraft carrier status is fixed by the Washington Treaty of 1922,18 we suggest that these categories require no further discussion as to relative combatant strength. The only question for consideration in these categories is deferment of replacements.
We suggest that in measuring relative combatant strength of ships we should consider the elements of such yardstick to be
Our general view is that protection, speed, habitability, etc., are entirely relative to the other factors and do not require special consideration.
We suggest that these factors may deserve different weight for different categories.
It is not expected that any yardstick will be a mathematical nicety. It would appear to us that if the suggestions in paragraphs E, F and G meet with approval we shall have enormously simplified the problem which we have to lay before naval experts and that they could quickly come to conclusions.
Paragraph 6—We are in agreement.
Paragraph 7—We are in agreement.
Paragraph 8—This raises the question as to the location of the final conference. We still believe that this should be held open until our progress in these preliminary steps enables us to determine these final questions with the best chances of ultimate success.
Paragraph 9—is affected by comment on paragraph 8. We are entirely agreeable as to the desirability of expediting matters as rapidly as we can and to do so with an assurance of success. We should hope to do this by simplifying our problem as much as possible by these direct discussions. If we could agree upon the principles in E and F we could at once send a naval expert if it is desired or we could mutually exchange views upon the weight to be given factors mentioned in F with hope of early decision.”

  1. Nos. 180 and 181 not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 247.