The Acting Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary of State
[Received 8:40 p.m.]
284. Since the presentation of the President’s plan the Conference has been doing the type of work which it should have started in February. Various groups with special interests have been negotiating to see how far they can accept the plan and what suggestions they must bring for possible alteration. Representatives of these various groups have kept us continually in touch with their activities. The groups may be roughly divided in three:
- The Central European states who are disarmed under the military clauses of the peace treaties.
- The Baltic states.
- A group including Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and certain others usually referred to as the “eight-power group”.
In general we are happy to state that all of them are enthusiastically in favor of the broad principle of radical reductions along general lines as proposed by the President but they have certain additions and suggestions that they are all working on.
A representative of group number 1 called to inquire specifically how we envisaged the problem of “equality of treatment”, the obligations of article 8 of the covenant and the position of the vanquished states, in other words how we foresaw that these questions would be treated under our plan. We replied that inasmuch as we were not parties to the covenant and since these problems were primarily European it would not have been fitting for us to propose a solution but speaking informally and personally we discussed that solution with which you are familiar of including the military clauses of the peace treaties in the treaty which we are writing. Without entering into any details it is suggested that they consider this problem and perhaps get in touch with their neighbors if they thought it offered possibilities.
Representatives of group number 2 are mainly concerned as to the formula for effectives. They point out that their armies are so small [Page 247]showing defense contingents of some 10,000 to 25,000 men that it would be a very serious dislocation of their national organization to cut these contingents. They ask whether we can contemplate an amendment exempting from the scope of the contemplated reduction those armies whose defense contingents are less than 25,000 men. Our military experts are now working on this problem. Representatives of group 3 have told us that they are not primarily concerned with working on naval problems since they recognize that this must be done in the first instance by the naval powers themselves. They have hope of uniting on the President’s proposal regarding air and are studying seriously the effectives problem. On this they have asked numerous questions and discussed certain amendments in detail with us. Generally speaking we believe that they will find it possible to accept the project. On heavy mobile artillery they are willing to draw the line at 155 millimeters and we believe the problem of tanks offers no particular difficulty.
The foregoing of course concerns only groups of small states. The situation as regards the great powers is far from being so clear and we may not be able to report more definitely for several days.
We will keep the Department informed as to developments from time to time but submit the foregoing as of interest in showing the trend of affairs.