500.A15A4/1189: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson)

152. For Gibson and Davis. Your 278, June 26, 6:00 p.m. I appreciate MacDonald’s frank confidence as revealed in his conference with you. I am glad that you made clear to him the reasons which had actuated the making of the President’s statement. I concur with your position in respect to the next steps to be taken by the British. Their attitude is important as to the success of the President’s proposal, but it is even more important that we preserve our good working understanding with them as to policies in general. Personally I am impressed with the fact that under the continuing and increasing pressure of the economic crisis, almost anything may [Page 241]happen this summer in which such cooperation with them will be vital.

I desire that at your convenience you should let MacDonald know how much I appreciate his attitude; also that both you and he should carry in mind that there is no change whatever in our concern as to our special naval relation with the Far East. For that reason, while we have made the offer of a drastic cut in naval power, it is vital that our naval ratios of actual strength with Japan be strictly preserved; and we can consider no alternatives which modify that. It is that feature which you will keep in mind at the first moment when the British present any alternative proposition. For example, I have always doubted the feasibility in this respect of a change in battleship size. Any structural change is likely to produce a demand for greater equality by Japan; and the period of transition between two systems would be necessarily a period of danger during which our more careless government might neglect to live up to treaty size and provisions in the interests of economy.

Your 276, June 25th, 2:00 p.m. is also carefully in my mind.