740.00111 A.R./1037: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Brazil (Caffery)

122. For the Ambassador from the Under Secretary. Your Nos. 203, May 10, 1 p.m. and 201, May 9, 7 p.m. In my judgment the steps which are under contemplation may prove to be very prejudicial to continental unity and to the prevention of that kind of incident which may provoke dissension between one of the American Republics and some of the belligerents in the present European war unless there is a completely clear understanding of where the new road which it is proposed we should take is going to lead. The danger of the situation is further increased by the very natural and understandable emotions which have been aroused as the result of the most recent events in the development of the war in Europe.

The only concrete suggestion so far made by the Argentine Government is that the American Republics should adopt a policy of “non-belligerency” rather than a policy of neutrality based upon international law, upon international conventions and upon innumerable precedents as agreed upon unanimously at Panama. As we set forth in our reply to the Argentine Government, the course proposed would seem to be uncharted and the precedent cited by the Argentine Foreign Minister, namely, the case of Italy, is not applicable inasmuch as Italy is an ally to Germany and none of the American Republics are allies of any belligerent power.

You will yourself, of course, understand that under present conditions in the United States any indication on the part of this Government of any willingness to adopt a policy of “non-belligerency” would be at once construed by the great majority of our own people as being the first step towards ultimate involvement in war. It would of course likewise be prevented by existing law.

With the objective of Aranha, namely, “to persuade the Argentine to adopt a more open policy of Pan Americanism”, this Government naturally would be whole-heartedly in accord, but this Government could not agree with the position which Aranha apparently contemplates, namely, that in principle “some measures should be taken along the lines of the Argentine suggestion”.

[Page 763]

Have you any reason to believe that allied pressure is responsible for the Argentine initiative or for the apparent change of opinion on the part of Aranha himself? I cannot conceive of the proposal having been seriously made unless there was some ulterior motive behind it.

Please telegraph me any developments which take place and inform Aranha that it would be particularly helpful if we could be informed confidentially of any suggestions which he may have it in mind to make before the matter crystallizes any further. [Welles.]