500.A15A4/988½: Telegram

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


Your 10877 containing proposed speech was handed to me on embarkation. Have not seen the suggestions which may have been sent you from the Department. In general I warmly approve of your thesis and I think that in singling out protection against invasion as the cardinal and chief feature of security you will be performing a very distinct service in the clarification of the main problem of the conference. Davis and I, however, both feel that there is tactical danger involved in the emphasis placed upon the American parentage of the plan to abolish these offensive weapons. Your speech several times repeats it as if it were a purely American proposal and we fear that will arouse unnecessary antagonism. The record of the conference negatives such a position and indicates that such proposals, at least in general, were made by a very large number of the nations. We think your proposal would go further if it were treated more as a product of the evolution of the work of disarmament to this point, i. e., as a specific practical proposal for applying the general principles which have been enunciated by many others. To illustrate what I mean I discussed this thesis last August with Prime Minister MacDonald and found that it had been one of the chief results of the 6 months study made prior to that time by the British Three-Party Parliamentary Commission. The Italians have also made [Page 84] similar concrete proposals. I therefore fear that it would have a very bad effect for us to give the very slightest impression of trying to appropriate it now.

If in submitting your proposals, credit is given to others, who have advanced more or less similar ideas, although in less elaborate form, you not only enlist their support but are less apt to make others, particularly France, feel prompted for strategic reasons to offer opposition. With slight alterations, eliminations and additions your draft speech could be made to conform to above suggestions.

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  1. The omitted portion of this telegram contains various textual changes suggested by Mr. Stimson.
  2. Apparently sent from on board the Ile de France. Telegram in two sections.
  3. Not printed.