793.94 Conference/212: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)80

568. Your 1575, November 8, 8 p.m.,81 and 1576, November 8, 9 p.m. The President saw Jules Henry82 when he called at the White House last Saturday to present Jacques Stern. The President referred during the brief conversation they had to the action taken by the French Government in refusing to permit shipment of munitions to China through French Indo-China and remarked that he thought some of the great powers with territorial interests in the Far East were behaving “like scared rabbits”. The remark was then made to the President that in view of the Mediterranean situation, France could not take measures which could be taken in normal times, any more than could Great Britain, to defend their territorial possessions in the Far East from possible aggression and inquiry was made as to what the attitude of the United States might be in the event that such aggression transpired. The President made it very clear that this was a hypothetical question; that he regarded it as such a remote contingency that it should not even be discussed at the present time. The President then added that if such acts of aggression were committed, the repercussions thereof would be of such worldwide character that obviously the United States could not remain unaffected by such repercussions. The President made no statement other than those set forth above and gave no impression directly or indirectly as to the possible extension of the protection of the American fleet.

I have spoken to the President with regard to this question and this telegram is sent you with his authorization.

I have attempted to see Jules Henry this morning in order to request that he make the necessary clarification as above indicated. I [Page 171] find, however, that he is in New York, but I have sent word to him that I wish to see him and I shall endeavor to do so tonight upon his return.

You may, of course, make our position clear in the above sense in your conversations tomorrow with the Prime Minister.83 Please telegraph me the result of your conversations.

  1. Notation by President Roosevelt: “O. K. FDR.”
  2. Vol. iii, p. 666.
  3. French Chargé at Washington.
  4. Camille Chautemps.