500.A15A4 Plenary Sessions/110: Telegram

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

68. Your 116, April 12, 6 p.m. Our recent interchange of telegrams has clearly given you the impression that we are trying to impose on the Delegation a preconceived plan of Conference strategy. This is not the case and we perfectly well appreciate that no one Delegation can dictate the conditions under which a given subject will be considered.

On the other hand, I fear that you may not fully have grasped our fundamental difficulties, and that you do not appreciate the extent to which American public opinion has been stiffening during the past 2 months.

I doubt if we attach as much importance as you to the value of retaining, through further initiative, the position of leadership you have recently assumed. This country would like to see some constructive leadership coming from the principal European nations. The Naval powers alone have thus far made contribution to disarmament and there is an insistent demand here for an equivalent contribution by the Land Powers as a gauge of their sincerity. Should [Page 90] the Conference decide not to discuss your proposals without their prior extension to other categories of armaments, (with the attendant risk of an endless discussion as to just which weapons are aggressive) there is no reason for you to be a party thereto. In fact, the only course of action we feel you can take, at least until after the Secretary’s arrival, is to refuse to be drawn further into agreeing to an extension of the principle, and to reserve your position on all other questions pending some affirmative action on the part of the Land Powers to the suggestions you have proposed.

As to the statement quoted in section 2 of your telegram under reference,85 we like it but notice that the last sentence seems aimed specifically at France rather than the Land Powers in general. Would it not serve your purpose to substitute for the words “have made the sacrifice of possible superiority over their neighbors which the United States made at the Washington Conference”, some more general clause?

  1. See footnote 80, p. 87.