765.84/1197: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Atherton)

262. Your 447, September 16, 9 p.m.39 With reference to the possibilities of a desire at some future time for information with regard to [Page 837] the attitude of this Government with respect to collective measures which might be adopted by the League in connection with this controversy, I shall endeavor to give you some of our thoughts in that regard.

This Government and the American people are deeply interested in the maintenance of peace, in the settlement of international disputes by peaceable methods and in avoiding being involved in war. The recent Joint Resolution of Congress40 providing for certain steps to be taken by this country upon the outbreak or during the progress of war provides among other things for an embargo against the shipment of arms and implements of war to belligerent nations. This provision is mandatory upon the President in the event of an outbreak or during the progress of war. The President is given authority in this Joint Resolution to define the items to be prohibited shipment.

This Government would not join in the imposition of sanctions upon any nation involved in the pending controversy between Italy and Ethiopia. As far as concerns any action to be taken by this Government in connection with measures which might be adopted by collective action under the League with reference to the Italo-Ethiopian controversy, it would of course be obviously impossible for this Government to arrive at any conclusion with regard thereto before it was placed in full possession of the reasons and bases upon which such collective action by the League were founded and a complete description of the specific measures to be put into effect. You can, I am sure, quite well understand that no advantage could be gained from any premature discussion of hypothetical possibilities in this regard. We are following the situation closely as its developments are being reported by you and our other representatives in the field and we were glad to learn from a telegram from Mr. Wilson41 in Geneva reporting a conversation he had with Mr. Eden that there would probably not be any discussion with us of any phases of our attitude, in the event of knowledge of our attitude becoming important, before a definite program was completed and generally agreed to. We appreciate the spirit in which the British Government is keeping us informed of the developments in the situation and its attitude toward those developments and we will be glad to continue to be kept informed as events occur and as the proceedings with regard to them advance.

I am giving you these thoughts entirely for your own information in connection with possible future developments and for your guidance in the event of any future reference to the subject.

Please send a copy of this telegram to Paris and Geneva.

  1. Ante, p. 649.
  2. S. J. Res. 173, approved August 31, 1935; 49 Stat. 1081.
  3. Hugh R. Wilson, Minister in Switzerland.