Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)18

Mr. Welles: I understand that in the last two days you have discussed with the Argentine Ambassador and with Captain Spears of the Navy Department the results of the conversations between Argentine military and naval authorities and those of this Government. The Ambassador has also spoken with me and Captain Spears has permitted me to review hastily the documents which have been drawn up for signature.

I am impressed by the nonpolitical and cordial atmosphere in which these discussions have taken place. The Argentine Commission made a point in starting the conversations that it was their desire to exclude political conversations in an attempt to arrive at an understanding on a purely technical level of the mutual assistance that each country might lend to the other in the event that it became involved in the war. I am also impressed by the importance of the Argentine fleet which, under the arrangements worked out and in the event Argentina were to enter the war, would prove useful.

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In order to maintain as a basis of future operation the plans worked out jointly as well as the cordiality apparently existing particularly between the Navies of the two countries, the following recommendation is submitted:

That the American Commission be permitted to sign the report.
That the President, or if he cannot afford the time, yourself explain to the Argentine Ambassador, Admiral Saba Sueyro, and General Lapez jointly the considerations which make it impossible for the United States Government to give its assent to the technical recommendation. It seems to me that the President could point out that the joint recommendation is premised upon the assumption that Argentina is going to enter the war as an ally of the United States. That assumption appears totally unwarranted. Argentina not only has not broken off diplomatic relations but the President of Argentina has disclaimed any intention of doing so. Under the circumstances it would be illogical for the United States to approve an agreement that is based on a premise which the Argentine Government has not shown the slightest intention of fulfilling. Therefore, the signature by the technical commission must not be taken to mean that this country is prepared to go ahead with the Lend-Lease Agreement and provide armament.

I believe that in this way the Argentine military and naval authorities would not feel rebuffed. They came here at our invitation and in good faith entered into discussions on the basis of broad directives which subsequent events have shown the political arm of the Argentine Government had no intention of living up to. Were such a course to be followed as that suggested, I believe that our displeasure would be understood, that the Argentine military and naval officers would not feel personally let down, and that they might, at least with respect to certain persons in Argentina, use this influence in favor of a change in Argentine policy.

Laurence Duggan
  1. Mr. Welles made the following notation on this memorandum: “I have spoken with you about this—S. W.”