811.04418/115: Telegram

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

23. Editorials criticising the President’s address59 for the most part ceased last Thursday although occasional headlines or wording of news despatches contain some continuing comment.

The amendment made in the neutrality bill60 by the Senate Committee is received with satisfaction. The Foreign Office spokesman said editorially yesterday that while final decision depends on Congress the amendment indicates that the United States is not disposed to reverse its neutrality policy and to extend embargoes to general trade with belligerents. “The oil question is here sharply defined. For the moment there is no further talk of limitation. And it is noteworthy that this definition follows upon the intensive propaganda carried out in America by England who has spared no means of influencing the United States to support her policy to obtain an oil embargo.”

Such a policy, he says, would amount to indirect participation in the war and would also be an act of partnership, in that it would affect only a [in?] part countries deprived of raw materials and not those such as England, Russia and France. “It now remains to be seen whether the sanctions committee at Geneva will reflect the negative attitude of the United States or will attempt to act independently. With or without oil sanctions Italy can unquestionably provide for all her requirements. But it must once more be stated that an oil embargo would extend sanctions from the economic to the military sphere.” The arms and munitions embargo even if partially applied can in a way be regarded as the application of an international neutrality principle established prior to and independent of the League; [Page 89] but an oil embargo would be an application of League law exclusively and have a character of unconcealed hostility. “In substance the alteration in the oil trade with Italy while it would not change her military raids [sic] would represent a further alteration of League policy in her regard and would thereby make a reconsideration of her positions necessary.”

  1. Message of the President to the Congress, January 3, 1936, Congressional Record, vol. 80, pt. 1, p. 27.
  2. At this time no amendments had been made. This is probably a reference to the provisions of the newly proposed neutrality bill upon which the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had commenced hearings in secret sessions on January 10, 1936. See Neutrality: Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 74th Cong, 2d sess., on S. 3474 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1936). This bill, however, was not adopted. The 1935 legislation on neutrality with amendments was extended for one year. See Congressional Record, vol. 80, pt. 2, p. 2306, or 49 Stat. 1152.