740.00111 A.R./1126

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)25

My distinct impression is that a difficult situation may arise among the American republics as a result of abortive moves either to redefine neutrality—as in the case of the Cantilo suggestion,26 or to work out a new continental declaration (the Uruguayan suggestion).27 It seems to me that Aranha’s feeling that we should make a constructive suggestion has a solid basis for it.28

To my mind, the solid necessity is not one of setting up new legal and diplomatic conceptions, but of having some arrangements made looking toward hemispheric defense. This ought to include conferences relating to military and naval cooperation, in detail, rather than in general terms; and particularly to methods of handling “fifth column” or other similar penetrations.

I wonder if we could not turn some of the more or less legalistic suggestions into more practical channels, which might include the [Page 15]interchange of views as to staff cooperation, etc., in the event that joint action might be necessary. Should necessity arise later, matters ought to be so arranged that plans are ready, intelligence has been interchanged and organized, agreement has been reached as to communications and transport, staff work has been blocked out, and perhaps even agreement reached as to command.

The situation might be met by indicating to the various interested parties that before any new declaration or revision of policy could be considered, a study of practical possibilities ought to be made. We could thus steer the existing pressure into useful channels for purposes of study. There are many forms which this might take; one of them might be a meeting of representatives of the general staffs, preferably unobtrusively; or by the quiet sending to Rio, or some other central point, of representatives of the various war departments.

A. A. Berle, Jr.
  1. Addressed to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary (Welles).
  2. See section entitled “Argentine proposal that the American Republics declare they cease to be neutrals and announce they have become nonbelligerents,” vol. i, pp. 743 ff. José Maria Cantilo was Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. See section entitled “Collective protest by the American Republics against the violation of the sovereignty and neutrality of the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Belgium by Germany (Uruguayan proposal),” vol. i, pp. 727 ff.
  4. Oswaldo Aranha, Brazilian Minister for Foreign Affairs; see telegram No. 213, May 13, noon, from the Ambassador in Brazil, ibid., p. 765.