500.A15A4 General Committee/1034: Telegram

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

976. The facts of today’s meeting I have reported in my 975. The attitude of the Italian delegate had of course been discounted, but Stanhope’s declaration as to British policy came as a severe shock to the meeting. The British refusal to accept investigation on the spot is a direct blow at the French and Continental conception of any convention. The declaration that they preferred separate conventions dealing with the establishment of a permanent disarmament commission and traffic in and manufacture of arms was stated in spite of their definite knowledge of our objections to this procedure. The suggestion that government credits for the export of arms should be abolished is interpreted at least by the press as being directly aimed at French subsidies to the Little Entente.

Lord Stanhope, British delegate, asked me to see him this morning and explained to me what the British attitude would be. An additional amendment which he mentioned to me but which he did not bring out in his speech was to the effect that they desired frequent statements as to global value of shipments within categories rather than reports on orders received. When Stanhope mentioned their preference for separate instruments I emphasized our very real desire for a single treaty and I outlined at some length our reasons therefor. I had the impression at the time that as a result of this conversation he would refrain for the moment from making public his preference.

Strang39 tells me that the Cabinet only recently reached these decisions and that for this reason they had been unable to discuss the matter with us before; that he and Eden had urged the importance of inspection on the spot but that the Cabinet had nevertheless decided the contrary.

Aubert called after the meeting in considerable discouragement stating that he had endeavored to persuade his press “not to start on the warpath”. He has arranged to see Stanhope before the meeting tomorrow morning and will endeavor to get further precision as to their attitude. He is particularly concerned because, as he explained, this negotiation is not an isolated event but will have serious influence on the broader negotiations. As Aubert put it, the British are asking France for a blank check in regard to German rearmament but at the same time are unwilling to participate in the experiment of seeing whether control can be efficiently administered. Aubert said [Page 15] he could not understand the situation, that Laval had told Simon at London that an indispensable part of the “general settlement” was that work should continue at Geneva to work out an efficient control which could be put into effect immediately in a limited convention and could serve as a test period. He said that Simon had agreed and that now Stanhope repudiated inspection without a word of warning to him.

  1. William Strang, Counselor in the British Foreign Office.