740.0011 European War 1939/10391a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Ireland (Gray)

18. Please call as soon as possible upon the Prime Minister and make to him a statement along the following lines:

The Government of the United States regards with very real sympathy the situation in which the Irish people find themselves as a result of the curtailment of shipping which has resulted in a material scarcity of normal food supplies for the population. In the early weeks of this year before the shipping question had reached its present acute stage, in discussing the developing Irish situation with Mr. Brennan, he was advised to bring all phases of the problem to the immediate attention of the appropriate United States authorities. Mr. de Valera of course understands fully the need of the United States for the utmost volume of shipping, not only for its own requirements, but also in order to make it possible for it to furnish additional shipping facilities for the British Government. Nevertheless, because of its full realization of the situation in Ireland, and because of the very close and traditional friendship between the Irish and American peoples, the Government of the United States is willing now to negotiate with the Irish Government for the acquisition by the latter, either through purchase or through charter—preferably the latter—of two freight vessels which could be utilized in the transportation of food supplies from the United States to Ireland.

At this point you should make it very clear that this offer is being made by instruction of your Government directly to the Prime Minister. You should say that your Government has seen with regret, as a result of the conversations which various officials of your Government have had with General Aiken, that the point of view of the latter … would appear to be utterly lacking in any appreciation of the [Page 227] fact, which seems to your Government completely clear, that the future safety and security of Eire depends inevitably upon the triumph of the British cause. As Mr. de Valera fully realizes, the Government of the United States believes that the future security of democracy and liberty in the world depends upon the ultimate victory of the British Government and of the other nations which are defending themselves against the aggression of the Axis powers, and the Government of the United States is pledged to do everything practicable, in accordance with its announced policy, to assist those nations in achieving success in their present struggle. Any policy on the part of Ireland which was opposed to this objective on the part of the United States would naturally offer no ground for helpful and fruitful cooperation between our two countries. It is for that reason that your Government has instructed you to make this offer directly to Mr. de Valera.

You may further state very definitely that under the existing policy of the American Government, all military and naval matériel now produced in the United States which is not required by the national rearmament program will continue to be made available to the British Empire and to the other nations resisting aggression. It cannot therefore be made available to the Irish Government as requested by General Aiken unless and until the Irish Government is prepared to adopt a more cooperative attitude in the war endeavor of those nations. The Government of the United States does not question the right or the determination of the Irish people to preserve their neutrality but there is a clear distinction between such a policy and a policy which at least potentially provides real encouragement to the German Government.