500.A15A4 General Committee (Arms)/104: Telegram (part air)

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

988. With the exception of a general discussion on February 25th on the subject of “control” the preliminary general review of the various chapters has been terminated.

There is little evidence as yet of any change in the British attitude. Massigli who arrived today tells me that his Government intends during the course of the discussions of the next few days relative to the reply to the German note to press the British hard respecting their attitude toward this convention. Massigli intends to impress on the British here the great importance the French attach to this convention and its essential place in the “general settlement”.

During the coming week we will enter into discussion of chapter 2 in the subcommittee on manufacture which sits in private. This discussion will be article by article and amendments will be submitted. In the course of this technical consideration the subject matter of chapter 4 will also be discussed. As I pointed out in my 979, February 17, 2 p.m., the procedure during the past week has been governed largely by the desire of the British and French delegates to avoid a head-on collision in public. A head-on collision seems to be inevitable in the more technical and detailed discussion which we now anticipate. As for my own position it has been simple in the past week to fall in with the ideas of the British and French and not make direct rebuttal to the British views. Such direct rebuttal will, I feel, be indispensable in the more detailed discussion. During these coming discussions we think it more than likely that the French will bring in amendments particularly on chapter 4 which may be of a character which we ourselves as well as the British will find unacceptable. In other words, the line-up on chapters 2 and 3 will appear to be ourselves and the French against the British; on the subject matter of chapter 4, however, we will presumably be sometimes with one and sometimes with the other.

Personally I feel that having presented the convention and really believing in it we should defend it vigorously and I shall act on this assumption unless you give me contrary instructions. As I stated in the meeting this morning the debate so far confirms me in my belief that our draft in its essence offers a middle road and the only one on which general accord is possible.