500.A15A5/254a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis)

17. (1) During my absence I have carefully followed all your telegrams and entirely approve your methods of handling a very difficult situation. The following observations may be useful to you as showing the way our minds are running here.

(2) As to immediate tactics. We agree with you that pending the Japanese answer to the British proposals, we should make no move. If the Japanese reject them, it will convince the British public more effectively of Japanese intransigence than if we had in the meanwhile expressed an opinion or shown concern. If, on the other hand, the Japanese accept the British proposals or give an ambiguous reply, we shall still have plenty of time to meet the situation thereby created.

(3) American public opinion has been frankly suspicious, not to say resentful, of the recent British compromise proposals, and the fact that the newspaper accounts attributed without contradiction to “authoritative sources” do not tally with the explanations given you by Craigie, have caused us some worry.

(4) The conversations of the past 3 weeks have convinced us that there is virtually no chance of bridging the definite disagreement between the Japanese on the one hand and ourselves and the British on the other as to the fundamentals of future naval limitation. We have given the Japanese every chance to explain and justify their demands; we have not forced the pace nor have we refused them a chance to “save face”. I feel we should continue to emphasize our thesis that maintaining the treaties as a basis for future limitation rests on the equality of self-defense, equality of security, and a united purpose to avoid rivalry in armaments. The Japanese thesis can only be construed as a desire to substitute overwhelming supremacy in the Orient which would open the way to preferential rights and privileges and to a destruction of the delicate balance in Asia, both political and economic, represented by the other basic principles and policies contained in the Washington and other treaties.

(5) If the Japanese position remains unmodified, we feel that the next move is for you to ask the British what they think should be done. You might preface your inquiry with the simple statement that you are willing to stay as long as they may be willing to give you an assurance that in their opinion a useful purpose in the interest of all concerned is to be served by your doing so. In other words, the situation seems to warrant a real effort to compel the British to assume a [Page 328] responsibility, if they seek to prolong the naval conversations and to keep you in London indefinitely, in connection therewith.