The Secretary of State to the Consul at Geneva ( Gilbert )
141. Your 625, November 29, 2 p.m., and 629, November 30, noon. Referring to your recent conversations on the subject of the recent postponement of the Meeting of the Committee of Eighteen, I fear from this and intimations in press dispatches from some European capitals and Geneva that sight is being lost of the entirely separate and independent course and program of policies which this country has openly and avowedly pursued from the beginning of the Ethiopian-Italian controversy. The very purpose of and occasion for our independent course was to avoid any agreements or understandings of a cooperative nature with any other nation or group of nations such as those at Geneva with respect to sanctions or any other phase of the war. Our policies culminated in the definite announcement78 that while not seeking to obstruct the normal volume of trade between this country and belligerents this Government would strive to carry out the plain spirit of the Embargo Act by opposing all abnormal shipments of essential war materials, mentioning oil, copper, trucks, tractors, scrap iron and scrap steel, which at the time of our announcement of this latter policy were being shipped to belligerents in abnormal quantities. We frankly state this program to any official or [Page 870] person making inquiry about our policy. We then add that we can say nothing about the future in any way except that this country will in the future refrain from the slightest agreement or understanding with nations or peace agencies relative to sanctions or other phases of the war controversy. To predict as to the nature and duration of the present ban of our Government on the shipment of war materials would at once be heralded abroad as a promise to the League or to other nations, and this would violate our pledges to the people as to our independent course. Any talk therefore by anyone, especially officials, intimating or hinting that they are speaking for our Government and that it is cooperating in some sort of way over there or has the slightest agreement or understanding as to any phase of the war, and any press dispatches from there to this country or to other countries to the same effect, are of course not only false and misleading but seriously embarrass us in prosecuting our own Neutrality program and our own separate policies relating to all phases of the war.
Reports purporting to give an impression that there is some connection between steps taken by this Government and other governments or the League have been causing us considerable difficulty here and we hope that you will make every effort to make clear our position as given above.
Please furnish copy to the Minister, and a copy to Paris for transmission to the Embassies at London and Rome.