The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Argentina (Armour)
192. From the Under Secretary. The Argentine Ambassador7 called to see me yesterday evening. He told me that he had received several telegrams from his Government since my return to Washington urging that he obtain a statement from me of the general views and policies of this Government with regard to Argentina since the conclusion of the conference at Rio de Janeiro.
The Ambassador, who is laboring under very considerable personal resentment because of the increasingly severe trend of press comment in the United States with regard to Argentina’s present policies and attitude, said that he feared that the United States was embarking upon a policy of pressure upon Argentina and a policy of reprisal because of the refusal of Argentina to follow the course taken by 19 other American republics.
I stated to the Ambassador that he could inform his Government that the United States was following neither a policy of pressure nor a policy of reprisal. I said that I was surprised, in view of the relations which had existed between Argentina and the United States during the past 9 years and the well-known and proven policy of the Government of the United States, that such a question could even be raised.
I stated that this Government was pursuing a policy which was completely realistic. I said that at the present time demands were being made upon the United States by all of the united nations in all parts of the world for urgently-needed naval and military material. I continued that adequate defense of the Western Hemisphere was a matter of cardinal concern to this Government. During the past few weeks, moreover, six American republics, in addition to those which had already taken action, had broken relations with [Page 308]the Axis powers and had openly sided with the United States. These nations had consequently incurred the dangers inherent in the position which they had assumed. For that reason, I said, it was imperative for this Government to give immediate and prompt consideration to their defense requirements. By reason of the fact that Argentina had not adopted a similar attitude, it should be obvious that the requirements of these other nations were more urgent than those of Argentina and would consequently be given preferential attention by the United States. I concluded by saying that this position would be made clear to the military and naval representatives of Argentina now in Washington by the War and Navy Departments as well as by the Department of State.
In your conversations with the Acting Foreign Minister you may inform him accordingly.
For your personal information, the policies which you and I discussed, and which have been recently referred to in telegrams exchanged between you and the Department, will be followed in detail. As a result of a meeting I had this morning with appropriate officials here in the Department, certain studies will be promptly undertaken of the actual need by the United States of so-called strategic materials in Argentina in order to determine whether the pending contract for the purchase by us of strategic materials in Argentina should be consummated in whole or in part. I feel very strongly that the announcement of a contract of this kind would be politically inexpedient owing to present conditions in Argentina and in the neighboring countries. It seems to me that this Government can purchase in the open market in Argentina the quantities it requires of hides, wool, and linseed and that there is no need to enter into the contract which has been under discussion. I would appreciate having your own views with regard to this question. [Welles.]
- Felipe A. Espil.↩