The Chargé in France ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 1—8 p.m.]
320. Delbos’ most intimate collaborator told me today that Delbos and the Foreign Office are deeply depressed over the turn events are taking. Chamberlain has not revealed to the French Government exactly what he has in mind for the Italian negotiations. The French Government believes in Chamberlain’s friendship for France but also believes that he sees himself in the role of the British statesman predestined to give peace to the world; that while he is negotiating with the Italians the “constant contact” between the British and French Governments to which he referred recently in the House of Commons will probably consist of a few crumbs of routine information about once every two weeks; and that finally the French Government will be faced with an Anglo-Italian settlement which will leave France little leeway to work out a settlement with Italy satisfactory to French interests.[Page 30]
The Foreign Office believes that the Anglo-Italian negotiations concerning Spain will result in an arrangement for reestablishing control at the frontiers. This will mean that the Republicans will be deprived of the essential aid they are now getting from France; the Italians proposed to send military supplies on Italian Government vessels to Nationalist ports; the granting of belligerent rights will enable Franco to blockade the Republican ports; and the final result will be the collapse of the Republican Government, the victory of Franco, and the establishment of a regime unfriendly to France on the frontier of the Pyrenees and across its lines of communication with North Africa.
To add to the depression at the Foreign Office had come the announcement by the Balkan Entente states of their intention to recognize the Ethiopian conquest and to accredit representatives to Franco. The French Government was informed before the announcement of the decision but this obviously cannot mitigate the sense of discouragement and failure with which the French Government is witnessing the throwing overboard of policies to which it has been consistently devoted in the past but which it is no longer in a position to impose.