The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 15—4 p.m.]
508. As I have reported in recent telegrams, discussions in various bodies held here indicate considerations respecting some approach being made to non-member states in regard to measures being taken here. While I believe that the question of an invitation to participate in the Committee of Coordination has been definitely dropped, preoccupations are in evidence concerning either “officially” transmitting the records of the proceedings of the Committee of Coordination to [Page 846] non-member governments or of transmitting a summary program of League action especially prepared for the governments concerned; in either case the covering communication might call for reply as to the attitude of the government thus addressed. While I have no definite knowledge how the Department views the prospects of such a development, if I correctly understand our legal position, we are directly limited in taking action along the lines of certain of the measures now being formulated here. If this be the case it is to be presumed that our reply to such a communication would either have to be a simple acknowledgement of the material forwarded or a negative response as the case might be.
In respect of this I venture to state that it would seem to me that, aside from the limiting effects on our future action which public opinion at home might create by a misinterpretation of any formal exchanges between ourselves and the League in such a juncture as this, the receipt here of either types of reply from us, such as I have mentioned, would be of no advantage in the situation as it exists here and might have a definitely adverse effect.
From the intimations of your policy which I gather from Department’s 120, October 12, 9 p.m., third paragraph,51 I shall for the moment unless I am instructed to the contrary informally discourage when approached on this matter our being placed in the position at this time of having to respond to any formal communication on this subject. The imminence of the possibility of our being addressed in some manner in this matter may suggest to the Department the desirability of taking more definite steps.
There is in this I presume the possibility that certain steps which may be taken here might involve a juridical obligation on the part of the states taking them to notify non-member states of such action in its relations to their interests.
Telegram not printed; it referred to news reports which gave the impression that the Secretary of State was “establishing a closer and more direct relationship and communication with the League in connection with developments in the Italo-Ethiopian situation.” The third paragraph read:
“You will, of course, understand that this is directly contrary to the policy of entirely independent action which we have so carefully built up and maintained and in which we have been widely supported by public opinion. I consider it of primary importance that no erroneous impression interfere with this policy.” (125.3973/214a).↩