Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (White)
Mr. Espil called and discussed with me the Chaco situation. I told him that certain of the Neutrals had discussed with me the question of further steps and we had considered that if there should be a breakdown of negotiations here or a resort to war before Bolivia actually withdraws it would be well for the nations of this hemisphere to make a statement to Bolivia and Paraguay to the effect that respect for law and order is a tradition of this hemisphere; that we are opposed to war for the settlement of disputes in America; that the history of the American nations shows that nearly all their boundary and territorial controversies have been settled by peaceful means, and that therefore the nations of America declare that the Chaco dispute is susceptible of a peaceful solution; that the nations of this hemisphere further advise both Governments that they will recognize no territorial settlement made by other than peaceful means, and that they will not recognize for any future arbitration as valid any territory acquired at this time through occupation or conquest by force of arms, and that they therefore call upon Bolivia and Paraguay to submit the matter to arbitration.
I told Mr. Espil that, in view of the statement which he had made to me on the twenty-fifth15 regarding the action which Argentina had taken on the Brazilian proposal, this Government felt that such an initiative would be more effective coming from some of the neighboring countries; that we welcome the initiative which Argentina is already taking for a peaceful settlement, and that, furthermore, as the Chaco matter touches more closely Argentina and the other countries bordering on Bolivia and Paraguay, I wanted to suggest to him that he, as of his own initiative, suggest such a step to his Government.
Mr. Espil said that for various reasons he did not want to seem to be advising his Government at this time how they should act but [Page 148] that he would put the proposition up to them gladly as coming from this Government.
I suggested to him then that he tell his Government that the matter had been discussed informally by certain of the Neutrals; that this Government was in favor of this step; that we were not looking for any credit to the United States in the matter, and that we would like to know how Argentina looked upon the proposal itself, and secondly, if they were in favor thereof, whether they would take the initiative in the matter. Mr. Espil said that he would put the matter up to his Government and let me know as soon as possible the results. I told him that I would like, if possible, to have an answer by Friday as the Secretary expects to leave town then. He said that he would do his best.
- Memorandum of conversation not printed.↩