The Secretary of State to the Chargé in France ( Marriner )
420. The following condensed commentaries on the Italo-Ethiopian dispute from our Missions in Geneva and London are sent to you as an appraisal of the current situation as viewed from those two points.
(1) In a telegram dated October 1048 Minister Wilson indicated that he had presented our point of view regarding non-participation in Coordination Committee to Avenol, Laval, and Eden, all of whom will oppose invitation being extended to us.
In a subsequent message Wilson reported that Eden stated that on inquiry from London he had replied he thought the Paris Pact49 might usefully be put in motion. He hopes for prompt action of Coordination Committee on a few simple measures, namely, arms and credit embargo and undertaking not to buy from Italy. British are now working on French to obtain agreement to these measures. Refusal to buy would be effective even without cooperation of non-Member States and would reduce Italian exports trade about 70%. French, on contrary, were pushing embargo on key products which Eden thinks would take eternity and incidentally not affect French products. Laval confirmed to Wilson French position in favor of embargo on key products, claiming it could be done effectively, although not excluding export embargo. Laval still hopes for agreement acceptable [Page 845] to Italy, adding confidentially that he believes League action has already considerably modified Italian opinion and put Mussolini in frame of mind propitious for opening negotiations and accepting considerably less than formerly demanded.
Avenol considers most serious danger lies in inability to stop war once begun. Even if France, Great Britain and Italy come to terms, Ethiopian Emperor and tribal chieftains would still have to be reckoned with. Avenol does not believe in the possibility of the one small victory idea.
Japanese Minister at Bern has been instructed that Japan would not participate in Coordination Committee; as to possible sanctions, Japan prefers to see what form they take before expressing opinion.
(2) Ambassador Bingham in a telegram from London dated October 1050 emphasizes the influence of forthcoming elections—probably before December—in strengthening British stand at Geneva. After elections, there may be revision of British policy. Italian Ambassadors in London and Paris last week, presented personal message from Mussolini indirectly inquiring whether the three Governments could not reduce tension in present circumstances. Hoare considered himself prohibited from giving answer on account of the nature of the suggestion which amounted to seeking a solution outside of the League. Bingham states that he is reliably informed that the Pope has let it be known in London and Paris that he would be willing to act as mediator between Italian demands and Franco-British proposals. There are rumors that Italy has transferred important sums of gold to Germany against future purchases. Japanese Embassy is reported to have considerably augmented its commercial staff at Rome. Increased nervousness over outlook during pre-election period in well informed financial and semi-official circles is reported.
Repeat entire telegram to Rome and paragraph No. 2 to Geneva.