724.3415/2339: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

269. De Valera asked me to come to see him this afternoon. He said that a small Council committee will be appointed possibly this evening to consider the Bolivia-Paraguay situation (Consulate’s No. 263, September 23, 4 p.m., final paragraph) which will consist of himself, Matos and one or possibly more Council members.

He stated that he had learned that the United States had taken up questions of policy in this matter with certain League officials; that he was most favorably disposed toward the United States and that he thought it well to present his present views on this subject for transmission to Washington should I desire to do so. He then expressed [Page 233] himself in substance as follows. The small committee referred to would meet at an early date. While a settlement of the problem in the Chaco was the aim to be attained by whatever means were best, the committee would nevertheless have to consider fully the duties and obligations of the League in an affair of this kind. He well recognized the dangers of double jurisdiction (referring of course to the Committee of Neutrals in Washington) but should war eventuate, the League would be faced by a situation in which it would be compelled to take definite action and that therefore it could not disregard a condition which might lead to war. The League should of course lend full support in the most expedient manner to mediatory action which was being taken in Washington but that League action would depend upon the progressive or prospective success of those mediatory efforts. He declared that he was quite in the dark as to: (1), the precise action which had been taken and was being taken in Washington; (2), by whom it was being taken; (3) the proposals made to the disputants and the commitments obtained from them and; (4), the present status of the situation from a technical point of view and the prospects of a successful outcome. He said that tonight the Council committee would be determined very largely by the nature of this information could it be placed before them. He indicated that if possible he would like to have it furnished from Washington.

In order that the Department may more fully evaluate the situation here I may add that ever since the action of the Extraordinary Assembly in the Sino-Japanese matter with which the Department is familiar there has been a marked tendency for the smaller states to assert themselves more strongly in the matter of League policy which means in effect a more insistent and perhaps idealistic regard for the prestige of the League itself and certainly greater insistence on a regard for the obligations of League states under League instruments.

Furthermore the circumstance of De Valera being President of the Council presumably until January suggests strongly that League policy at least for the present will be less under British influence and in a more general sense less under the influence of the great powers.