500.A15A4/2628: Telegram

The American Adviser ( Mayer ) to the Secretary of State

966. Following is brief résumé of situation resulting from recent Council meeting as we see it here with special reference to background for disarmament activity.

The outstanding feature of this meeting of the Council is the changes in atmosphere resulting from the overwhelming vote for Germany in the Saar. The optimism engendered by the reaction from the Council meeting in December has been rather in part dissipated.

The chief complaint of this quick change from optimism to uncertainty if not indeed because of the pessimism of some weeks ago results from the feeling which I found practically unanimous that Germany intends to exploit the vote in the Saar for the benefit of her anti-Versailles treaty policy. This would include not only specific treaty provisions such as armaments but the European structure created by the treaty directly or indirectly.

A foreign journalist well acquainted with Germany epitomized the situation by saying that Germany was now passing from the inferiority complex of the years just succeeding the peace to the superiority complex of 1914.

One of the most important if not indeed critical aspects of the change of sentiment discussed above is the position in which it places Laval at home. He is walking a mean political tightrope. If the Germans continue in their present attitude it may well mean Laval’s downfall since he has been basing his policy of rapprochement with Germany largely on the recent optimistic feeling that she would be more reasonable after the Saar election.

In direct relation to Laval’s position and of perhaps even greater general interest is the question of Russia’s position and the activity of her adherents in France, Herriot,16 et cetera, et cetera, and the general [Page 6] staff who are quite evidently taking every opportunity to undermine Laval as well as to promote a Franco-Russian entente. The Soviets, the Little Entente and the Balkan Entente have put a pistol at Laval’s head. Either France must go forward unequivocally with Russia, et cetera, to force Germany into an Eastern pact or to encircle her if she refuses or in the alternative Russia will become the “protector” of the Little and Balkan Ententes in the place of France. This group is working hard to prevent the Flandin–Laval visit before definite commitments are taken by France in the above regard.

Whether the British will press for immediate discussion of disarmament with Germany despite the present atmosphere is a question. It will doubtless depend upon the Flandin-Laval conversations in London if and when they take place. There are reliable indications that the British are developing a policy of a “concert of Europe” in a reformed regionalized league, namely, the Four Power Pact17 idea rather than of a “balance of power”. While the British realize the danger of leaving Russia out they fear more her presence with France in a central and eastern European group for the encirclement of Germany.

I gather clearly that the optimism of several weeks ago respecting disarmament negotiations with Germany has now changed to a feeling of considerable uncertainty as to the possibility of success in this regard in the near future.

Cipher mailed Paris, Rome, Berlin, London.

Mayer
  1. Edouard Herriot, French Minister of State without Portfolio.
  2. Between the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany.