793.94/9941: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)

466. Your 1238, September 2, 6 p.m. I quote below a memorandum of a conversation between Wilson and Mallet of the British Embassy, dated September 2nd, in which Wilson replied orally to an aide-mémoire from the British Embassy inquiring if the United States would be represented in any way at the sessions at Geneva:

[Here follows quotation of memorandum dated September 2, printed on page 9.]

In talking with Delbos, I should like you to be guided by the recollection that the League states have repeatedly asked this Government [Page 13] to commit itself to a course of action or a type of representation before they have carried through or even embarked upon the necessary campaign in the Assembly to make such a course of action possible. In other words, the tendency of the League states has often been to shove the United States to the fore and to base their campaign for action on the fact that the United States is already pledged. In this instance, we do not know under what conditions we might be asked to participate and, therefore, prefer to leave our hands free to deal with the fact when it arises. This does not indicate that we will not give sympathetic consideration to the possibility of cooperation with any serious effort of the states of the League to deal with this problem.18

I think you should bear another thing in mind. Harrison will be in Geneva and I am preparing a telegraphic instruction for his guidance during this session. I plan to mention, among other things, the fact that if the Neutrality Act has been put into force the policy of the American Government must be in conformity with that Act and our course of action will be legally and specifically limited.

  1. The Ambassador in France, in his telegram No. 1251, September 7, 11 a.m. (vol. i, p. 123), reported carrying out instructions, and added that Foreign Minister Delbos believed the League of Nations would go only so far as to request both belligerents to stop fighting. He also was of the opinion that Germany would attack Czechoslovakia in the event that the Soviet Union were to support China strongly enough to make Japanese victory doubtful.