Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Referring to my memorandum of July 27, 1937, on the subject of diplomatic representation in Afghanistan, it is thought that you may be interested in the following developments in that connection:

1. In accordance with standing instructions from the Department, Consul General White spent a month in Afghanistan both in 1936 and 1937 with a view to keeping the Department informed of current developments. In his despatch of August 11, 1937,18 reporting on his visit this year, Mr. White remarked that the insistence of the Afghans in their demand for an American Legation in Kabul was particularly emphatic and that the Afghan Foreign Minister, professing to “view the situation with alarm,” had stressed the danger of leaving a large investment and numerous nationals without protection by this Government (a reference to the Inland Exploration Company’s activities). The Foreign Minister added that he would not countenance representation [Page 612] of American interests by diplomatic establishments of other countries.

In this latter connection the British Minister, who had agreed on the occasion of Mr. Hornibrook’s visit in 1935 to lend his good offices in the event that American nationals should become involved in difficulty, frankly told Mr. White this year that he could no longer be counted on for such assistance.

2. In order to get together all available information in the Department on the question of the status of foreigners in Afghanistan a memorandum, dated September 3, 1937,20 was prepared. This memorandum is attached in the thought that you may wish to look through it.

3. The preparation of the memorandum having made clear the lack in the Department of accurate and up-to-date information on the administration of justice in Afghanistan, we have written to the Consulate General at Calcutta and the Embassies at Paris and London in the quest of such additional information as may be obtained informally from the appropriate officials of the Indian, French and British Governments.

4. On August 23, 1937, the late Ogden Mills, who was one of the participants in the Inland Exploration Company, wrote the Department21 bespeaking its sympathetic consideration in the matter of the establishment of a Legation at Kabul.

The opinion was expressed in the Secretary’s reply of September 1, 1937,20 that our present representation in Afghanistan through the Legation in Teheran, the Consulate General at Calcutta and the Consulate at Karachi seemed adequate for the time being. On the other hand, the Secretary stated that the Department is closely following the development of American interests in Afghanistan and will be prepared to consider appropriate revision of our representation in the event of the materialization there of American interests of importance and permanence requiring diplomatic or consular services which cannot be adequately rendered under the present system. In this connection it was stated that the Department welcomes and is prepared to give sympathetic consideration to any information such as that furnished in Mr. Mills’ letter descriptive of the development of American activity in Afghanistan.

More recently, we have written to Mr. Lovejoy,21 President of the Inland Company, referring to Mr. Mills’ letter and suggesting the advisability of the Company’s keeping the Department informed with regard to its personnel in Afghanistan.

[Page 613]

5. We have just received a report22 from the Consul at Karachi to the effect that there are now four Inland representatives in Afghanistan and that they expect to be joined before winter by Mr. Frederick G. Clapp, in charge of field operations, accompanied by his wife, daughter and an assistant, and Dr. Schenck, a paleontologist, both of whom will also spend part of their time in Iran. According to this information it would appear that for the time being the size of the American colony in Afghanistan will vary between the limits of four and nine.

6. As matters stand at the present there is no particular urgency as to such decision as we may take on the question of our representation in Afghanistan. On the other hand, it is felt that if and when the occasion arises for a revision of our representation we should have our plans as clearly formed as possible in advance, and with that thought in mind consideration is being given to having a representative from the Department or the field visit Afghanistan this coming spring for the purpose of studying the situation and submitting appropriate recommendations. In the meantime we shall, of course, continue to follow this matter with a view to making the necessary revision of our plans should the occasion arise.

In view of the budgetary angle of this matter I am furnishing a copy of this memorandum to Mr. Messersmith in supplementation of information previously submitted recommending that provision be made in the 1939 budget for the possible establishment of a legation in Kabul.

Wallace Murray
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Letter not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Letter not printed.
  6. Not found in Department files.