810.20 Defense/6–1140: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Colombia (Braden)

107. From the Under Secretary. Your 151 June 11, 10 p.m. I shall probably want subsequently to comment at greater length on your telegram under acknowledgment but for the moment I desire urgently to send you my views with regard to three points.

I do not know where you obtained the idea which you expressed to the President, as reported in Section 4 of your telegram,88 that in the event of the contingencies you mention the United States would not undertake to give assistance to the other republics “around the corner of northeastern Brazil”. I think President Santos was quite right in saying to you in reply that any such policy on our part would imply a breakdown of Pan-Americanism. Any limitation of that kind on our policy would be counter to the basic principles of the Monroe Doctrine and destructive of fundamental principles in the basic inter-American agreements entered into during the past 5 years. As you know, confidential conversations similar to those now being held in Bogotá under your auspices are taking place more or less simultaneously in the capitals of every other American republic. I think nothing would be more fatal than for the republics of the southern part of South America to believe that this practical evidence of a willingness on our part to cooperate in time of need is merely an empty gesture and that we would leave them to their own devices in time of emergency should they be located below the “corner of northeastern Brazil”.

I trust that at the first possible opportunity you will make it entirely clear to President Santos that it is the policy of this Government to consider an act of aggression committed against an American republic by a non-American power as an act of aggression committed against itself, and that all possible means would in such event be employed by the United States to join with the other American republics in defending the peace and integrity of the Western Hemisphere.

For your confidential information, I am sure you will understand that the very disquieting defeatist psychology already existing in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay would be greatly enhanced if the [Page 65] Governments of those republics believed that they could expect no help from the United States in time of need. I earnestly hope that President Santos has not repeated the opinion you expressed to him to the diplomatic representatives of any of those countries. If you have any reason to think that he has, please telegraph me immediately.

With regard to the suggestion for the early holding of an Inter-American Conference, please say that this suggestion, like any other suggestion coming from President Santos, will receive our immediate and careful thought. It would of course be helpful if the President would indicate to you a little more precisely some of the specific problems which he believes should be discussed at such a conference. I assume that he will agree with this Government that questions of naval or military cooperation should be discussed secretly and probably bilaterally, at least at the present moment.

Finally, with reference to your suggestion that Colonel Ridgway may properly bring up in his conversations with Colombian authorities the possibility of a temporary occupation of colonies by United States forces as a safety measure, Colonel Ridgway is not authorized to take up any questions other than those contained in his instructions. Under no conditions should he discuss any such possibility as that which you mention. The question involves problems of the most far-reaching nature involving our Far Eastern policy as well as many other matters of the utmost importance, and no reference whatever should be made to this question at this time. [Welles.]

  1. See section (c), p. 62.