810.20 Defense/892a: Telegram

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

471. My secret airmail letter to you, June 18. The situation is changing with great rapidity and the possibility of German aggression against the Western Hemisphere is becoming more imminent. In the considered judgment of the President and of the service heads of the War and Navy Departments, the most vulnerable points from the standpoint of the security of the Western Hemisphere are Iceland22 and Natal. Should the German Government be enabled in the near future to obtain control of Dakar, it is probable that Germany would then undertake its classic pincer strategy by attempting to occupy Iceland and Natal, the objective being, of course through the use of air forces based upon those regions to cut off Great Britain from the supplies now reaching her across the North Atlantic and from the South Atlantic.

The President feels that under these circumstances the approach outlined in my letter should be made and that the considerations above mentioned should be made clear. I believe that probably the pretext of maneuvers would be the best explanation to give so far as the public is concerned, but that is, of course a question which can be determined in the light of any recommendations or wishes that may be expressed to you. The underlying basis, however, would be the provision in existing inter-American agreements that any two or more American republics shall undertake such arrangements for their joint defense as they may consider necessary and desirable.

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The President asks me to let you know that he considers the matter urgent and I shall therefore appreciate your telegraphing me your immediate views and any suggestions as to the manner of handling the question which you consider desirable.

  1. For correspondence regarding agreement with the Icelandic Government for sending of American troops to assume protection of Iceland, see vol. ii, pp. 776 ff.