500.A15A4 Steering Committee/51: Telegram

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

384. Beneš telephoned me in strict confidence that Henderson was planning, at the next meeting of the Bureau, set for Monday afternoon, to lay emphasis on the reluctance of the Bureau to discuss the larger aspects of the Resolution and to propose that a meeting of the General Commission should be summoned about November 10th in order to give an additional incentive to speed in the Bureau’s work and also to have a body about whose competence to handle larger political questions there can be no doubt.

It seems to me the plan outlined places a premium upon procrastination since it would encourage the members of the Bureau to pass the matter back to the General Commission. The Bureau has received a definite mandate in the Resolution of July 23rd in which it has certain drafting functions under section 2 and certain preparatory functions under section 3, as well as a definite obligation for the substantial reduction of armaments and a limitation upon the means of attack in section 1. Unless and until the Bureau has made an honest and intelligent effort to solve the specific questions placed before them in sections 1, 2 and 3 of their mandate, there appears to be nothing which they can report to the General Commission unless it be a confession of inability to accomplish anything.

Unless I am instructed to the contrary prior to Monday noon, I shall oppose any consideration of the question of setting a date at this moment for the reconvening of the General Commission. I shall vigorously urge the carrying out of the provisions of the Resolution of July 23rd, step by step and subject by subject. I shall take the position that we must discover either whether progress can be made or whether failure must be reported. Before we are justified in considering a date we must have acted on the mandate which the General [Page 336]Commission has given us. I shall pledge all our efforts to reach these decisions at the earliest possible moment in order to enable the Commission to be called as soon as possible.

There is some doubt as to whether the Bureau may undertake consideration of large political questions which are not specifically entrusted to it by the resolution of July 23rd. Simon, supported by Paul-Boncour, made an argument in the last meeting which seemed to indicate that such was his opinion. Henderson feels the contrary. It may be that Henderson is animated in his desire to call the General Commission by a desire to enlarge the scope of the Bureau’s mandate. In the event that such is the purpose of his proposal it might be well to add that I have no objection to resuming consideration within a few weeks of setting a date since by that time we might be able to judge whether progress was possible or impossible but that to discuss the matter now without any such indication seemed to me obviously premature. Certainly in the event that the General Commission was called it would have to be with the clear understanding that the Bureau was not to be relieved of solving these particular questions which have been given to it and which all are agreed are in its competence.

I should be very grateful for your opinion before the meeting of the Bureau.