793.94 Advisory Committee/29: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

159. Supplementing my 158, March 28, 10 p.m. While the United States was not cited by name during the debate, all of the members of the Committee who spoke on the embargo question made reference to subordinating their action to action of other states and to the necessity for a period of time to “clarify the situation”.

It becomes more obvious as I attend these meetings that the arms producing states are reluctant to take any position in this matter at least until the United States is able through legislation to adopt an attitude. I have the feeling that even should enabling legislation be enacted we will still find in the arms producing states the same [Page 261] reluctance to take a position themselves until they know what our attitude is to be.

If we decide to favor an embargo against Peru, let us say, I am inclined to think that every arms producing state will adopt the same attitude. If on the other hand we decline to declare an embargo against Peru I feel equally convinced that the other states will decline regretfully on the ground that in view of the attitude of the United States they are unable to take any steps in this direction.

As to an embargo on Japan alone the situation is not so clear since Great Britain obviously has grave apprehensions about such action. From private conversations I am inclined to think that France would join in an embargo on Japan alone. I have been unable to obtain any indication of the attitude of the other arms-producing countries with the possible exception of Italy (see my 143, March 9, 6 p.m.81).

I have put these observations before you since it seems to me that the attitude of the American Government will be in a large measure the determining factor on these questions whether we desire it or not. You may feel therefore that it would be a wise procedure if and when legislative authority is granted to discuss the matter with the representatives of other countries especially Great Britain, France and Italy either in Washington or wherever you may think advisable before we reveal any decision to the Committee.

With reference to this whole question of embargo I cannot escape the feeling that many of the powers involved are happy to feel that the geographical and political factors in the cases involved are such that they can thrust the responsibility for this decision upon the United States.

  1. Printed in vol. i, section on the Disarmament Conference.