500.A15A4/1506: Telegram

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

404. Supplements telegram No. 585, October 7, 4 p.m., to Department from Paris.83 Beneš told me that in the visit which he planned to pay to Herriot next week he was going to talk over with him a plan which he hoped to persuade Henderson to put before the Bureau.

According to Beneš’ idea Henderson should postpone the Bureau until about the 19th instant at which time reports could be made on the state of the work of the various rapporteurs and committees. Henderson might then say that he thought it would be wise if the United States, Italian, French, and British representatives should have some informal conversation on the major political problems such as equality of security, et cetera, in order to see if they could reach an accord. He could propose that these conversations if convenient, however, start early in November before the Manchurian question came up.

I replied that speaking personally I saw certain advantages in this procedure inasmuch as the United States could more readily participate in discussion of strictly disarmament problems than if the field were extended. I pointed out, however, that such procedure, unless something was done in the way of explanation and preparation with Germany, might cause the latter nation to think that a bloc [Page 342]of four was preparing an ultimatum to hand to her. This danger should certainly be given consideration. Finally I urged Beneš to keep me apprised regarding this matter since a most embarrassing situation might be produced by a sudden and unexpected proposal of the President of the Bureau in this sense if such a proposal were made before I had time to consult you.

Beneš stated he would certainly keep me advised and that his own thoughts were only tentative in that, as I understood, he had to harmonize them with Herriot’s before urging them on the Conference.

While I did not consider it proper to enter more deeply into the matter with Beneš before consulting you I submit certain thoughts for your consideration.

Beneš’ idea of dealing with the German equality demand seems to me a logical and happy consequence of the various currents and interests which have come to light through the British proposal for a five-power conference at London. The subsequent discussions have shown:
A reluctance on the part of the French to hold the conversations elsewhere than in Geneva.
A preoccupation on the part of both the French and certain other smaller interested states that the latter be not left entirely out of the picture. Beneš’ plan would furnish the possibility of keeping Henderson in touch with the conversations and he in turn could apprise the smaller interested powers.
There is a real preoccupation in my mind as to the necessity that the German Government should be apprised if such a plan is contemplated at the earliest possible moment and asked whether they cannot enter these informal discussions as a means of solving their difficulty. They would thus be given an opportunity to discuss their problem through a means which would not seem to be politically unacceptable to them.

I am mailing cipher text of this telegram to Paris and London for Davis’ information, and to Brussels, and would appreciate the benefit of your advice on this matter and suggest that any instructions you give me be repeated to Davis.

  1. Post, p. 457.