500.A15A4 Naval Armaments/144: Telegram

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

302. From Davis. If I am to be in Geneva October 29th to confer with our experts for Economic and Monetary Conference it leaves only a week in which to bring our naval conversations to a head unless I should return here later. I am satisfied that the British would agree to changes in the naval set-up in line with the memorandum in my 301, October 19, 6 p.m., which in the course of time will represent a substantial reduction and financial saving, but that the Admiralty will not go further than this unless the Cabinet is prepared to override them. Baldwin clearly indicated to me that he is in favor of our agreeing upon a very comprehensive program of reduction.

The Prime Minister has just invited me to visit him Saturday at Checquers and I understand Baldwin and Simon are to be there. It is important therefore for me to have for my guidance an indication [Page 535]as to the importance you place upon pressing the British to go further than the memorandum and also whether the memorandum presents a possible basis for collaboration between the two governments. The psychological effect of an announcement that we had reconciled our naval points of view to an extent that would permit our joint collaboration with the other naval powers in completing the naval section of a general disarmament treaty would be excellent. It is of course understood that any agreement between the United States and Great Britain along the lines of the memorandum would be contingent upon corresponding action by Japan, appropriate agreement to bring France and Italy into the London treaty and the completion of a general disarmament treaty. An explanatory paragraph should be added to the memorandum to set this forth as well as to give a concise statement of the purpose of the conversations which resulted in the preparation of the memorandum.

I am also satisfied that MacDonald will want to discuss the problems of the Disarmament Conference including the proposed meeting with the Germans and it would therefore be [helpful?] to have your views on my 297, October 17, 5 p.m.15

In a talk with MacDonald yesterday I told him that while I did not know just how you feel about it my own personal view was that it was better to approach the German problem in connection with the Disarmament Conference rather than invoke the Consultative Pact16 to which we are not a party; that it seemed to me that the most practical way to prevent German rearmament is to bring about disarmament on the part of France and the other powers; that accordingly the first step would be for England and the United States to get together on the navy, then to use our good offices to get France and Italy together and then to agree if possible with France on a comprehensive plan for reduction along the lines of Hoover Proposal so that we could present to the Germans a concrete program which would give them a considerable measure of satisfaction. [Davis.]

  1. Ante, p. 465.
  2. The Anglo-French Declaration of July 13, p. 694.