611.6531/190: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Long) to the Secretary of State



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It is not easy to make recommendations as to definite action which might safeguard the interests of the United States in the face of the situation with which we are confronted. The entire problem is one of such far reaching ramifications and subject to such rapid changes in character that any measure may prove inadequate in its scope and inopportune in the light of later developments. Italy is in the throes of a very difficult economic situation and is forced to be hard, selfish, super-nationalistic. She is seeking her own advantage and using every available weapon to fight a winning economic battle no matter how it may affect us. I think they are now inclined to consider that little advantage can be gained by Italy through the medium of the Washington conversations looking to a trade agreement. I hear that they are not planning to send a delegation of experts as they had intended but are simply to allow their Commercial Attaché in Washington to carry on the negotiations casually. I believe the Italian Government takes lightly the prospect of any real advantage accruing to them from those conversations and is consequently inclined to take little trouble on that account.

If we are to secure just, proper and reasonable treatment for our exporters, and if we are to extend the interest of our citizens abroad and eventually enlarge the volume of world trade, we ought now to use every available instrumentality to bring Italy to a position where she will realize her dependence on American markets and be forced to make some modification of her rigid policy. Unless we do so the trade situation may so change by May that Italy will be able to predicate her argument on a basis which has changed materially to her advantage. The struggle with Italy is just one battle in an economic war but I fear that unless we use the instrumentalities at our command we will lose the battle.