765.84/1784: Telegram

The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

Your telegram October 1388 requesting exact language Paris Pact under which it can be “invoked”. There is no provision and no language prescribing any method of its invocation. The Pact simply outlaws war as a solution of international controversies and renounces it as an instrument of national policy, and the signatories agree that [Page 774] all disputes of whatever nature shall be settled only by pacific means. Former Secretaries of State have unofficially expressed the opinion that the Pact impliedly authorizes and calls for consultation; and it is our view that consultation at the present stage at least does not contemplate anything more than a concerted or simultaneous appeal by all of the signatories to the belligerent countries to abide by their legal and moral obligations by desisting from further hostilities and returning to a state of peace.

The two substantive articles are as follows:

  • “Article 1. The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare, in the names of their respective peoples, that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
  • Article 2. The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts, of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.”

May I sum up our record thus far as follows: The League, with the special cooperation of England, France and others of its members assumed leadership and initiative at the outset in the endeavor to preserve peace. The United States, avoiding any interference with this plan and movement, sought to cooperate at every stage in every practical way consistent with our well defined foreign policy. These efforts of the United States revolved around the Paris Pact and our obligations under it. We repeatedly recited and emphasized the Pact and the solemn and inescapable obligations of each signatory. We went further and, to all practical intent and purpose, really invoked it both in public statements and special urgings upon the Italian Government. In reply to a British Government inquiry89 we some days ago cabled Bingham90 that we would not be opposed to accepting an invitation to a consultation of the signatories for the presumed purpose of further mobilizing world opinion. But we especially referred to what we and others had already said and done in this respect, and to what the League and its members have been and are doing in a far more substantial respect, and raised the question of the hurtful interference that might result to the League and its concrete program by now projecting an invocation of the Paris Pact. We have, during the days since, been closely observing and studying every phase of situation as it might involve Paris Pact and still are doing so. Our present slant of mind is as it has been heretofore, but we feel that if there is to be an invocation in existing circumstances not the American [Page 775] Government nor the League but four to six important governments in North and South America and Europe would through diplomatic channels more appropriately initiate this formal step.

I herewith submit proposed draft of cable to Bingham for your approval91 as follows:

[Here follows text of telegram No. 299, October 14, 1 p.m., to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, printed infra.]

  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram No. 472, September 25, 6 p.m., from the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, p. 766.
  3. Telegram No. 270, September 27, 6 p.m., to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, p. 767.
  4. In a telegram dated October 14, 1935, President Roosevelt replied: “Think draft of your proposed cable to Bingham is excellent.” (765.84/1783)