The Assistant Secretary of State (White) to the Minister in Switzerland (Wilson), at Geneva
Dear Hugh : Thank you very much for your letter of October 17. I appreciate tremendously all you have done in this Chaco matter. I think that the League may well try to take some action in this dispute egged on by Argentina. Argentina seems to be succeeding, to a certain extent, in weaning Paraguay away from the Commission. By the same token Bolivia is all the more determined that this question shall not go to the League or anywhere where there is Argentine [Page 245] influence. Argentina is correctly recognized in Bolivia as being an out-and-out supporter of Paraguay and naturally the Bolivians have no confidence in anything that Argentina has any connection with whatsoever. I regret to say that Uruguay is considered as somewhat similarly tainted. The action of Varela in the Commission here lends support to the chargé that Uruguay is more friendly to Paraguay than to Bolivia.
As suggested by you in your cables, I sent today a cable to the President of the Council30 informing him of what is going on. Of course I am in favor of keeping them informed so long as they play the game with us, but at the same time the Neutral Commission can not afford either to be put in the position that it is subordinate to the League and can only work through it or as permitted by it.
I enclose herewith for your information and background a copy of a memorandum of a conversation I had on the night of October 1931 with the Paraguayan delegate regarding the Chaco. I also enclose a translation of a note dated October 18,32 which I received as Chairman of the Neutral Commission, from the Argentine Ambassador. This note was of course drafted by Saavedra Lamas in Buenos Aires and shows, I think, three things: one, his desire to get in the limelight by making us support a very hastily drawn up South American Anti-War Pact33 which he feverishly drafted last August when his unfounded claim of authorship of the doctrine of August 334 was challenged (not by the Neutrals who purposely said nothing in order not to irritate him and let him get a certain amount of favorable publicity) but by La Prensa in Buenos Aires and by certain senators who interpellated him. His note tries to show that the Neutrals have no authority under which to act as we are not acting under a treaty. If he can get us to support his pact that is what he would like above all but, failing that, and of course he can not help realizing that under the present circumstances one at least of the contending parties would not ratify his pact, then to transfer the negotiations to the League of Nations. He would then undoubtedly want to exhibit his note as showing how he was responsible for bringing the negotiations to Geneva and perhaps endeavor to have the League appoint Argentina as its mandatory in the matter. Collateral with this is his desire to press a chargé against us of high-handed, threatening, imperialistic dealing with the small weak powers of Paraguay and Bolivia and to exhibit himself as the champion standing out against us. These [Page 246] charges of course are entirely unfounded, as we point out in our reply, a copy of which in English and Spanish is enclosed herewith.35
The Colombian Minister here is sending copies of all communications to Colombia’s representative on the League and I think that if Argentina tries anything they will find that Colombia is one of the countries that will take issue and Mexico will certainly strongly support anything that Colombia does and most likely the Cuban also. If the matter does come up you might find it advantageous to keep in touch informally with the Colombian.
I shall keep you advised of course of any other developments.
Yours, very sincerely,