Memorandum by the Secretary of State
The British Chargé6 called and presented an aide-mémoire 6a on the question of the proposed increase of naval armaments by the United States Government, and requested a reply at my convenience. I told him I might now say that it is not in the mind of the United States Government to enter upon an armament race with any other nation or nations; that in the great crisis of the panic, with 12,000,000 unemployed wage-earners, and industrial prostration, especially as it relates to industries that would supply materials for naval armaments, it is a perfectly natural thing for our Government to fill up still more its quota under the London Treaty. I said we had no substantial interests or motives whatever to enter upon a naval race with Japan, for the reason that there was nothing to take us to the Orient, much less to induce us to make preparations for a naval conflict on account of any oriental considerations. I further added that during recent months the United States Government had sent delegations both to Geneva and London for the purpose of making earnest pleas with other governments for both military and economic disarmament, but that both movements and efforts in both directions were very disappointing and trying to date. I remarked that President Wilson stated to me on one occasion that the only alternative to disarmament was armament, and hence the suicidal policy on the part of the nations of the world in refusing or failing to enter into suitable disarmament agreements. I further added that the United States Government wanted nothing in any part of the world that would call for an increase of the navy or the army for purposes of conquest, and that hence, as a part of a general building program, involving expenditures of $3,300,000,000 as stated, and as another step towards building up somewhat America’s quota or ratio under the provisions of the London Treaty, these naval construction steps are naturally being undertaken. I told him finally that of course to the extent that disarmament agreements might at any time in the early future be reached at Geneva, while I was not in any sense making the slightest commitments [Page 385]in advance, it would, to say the least, be ample time then for discussions among our various governments as to existing phases of naval construction and other increases of armaments.