825.248/223: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State

136. I must respectfully submit that the material listed in the Department’s No. 80, January 21, 10 p.m. is not responsive to my telegrams referred to therein. The Chilean Air Force and Army would be delighted to get this training and other equipment, of course, but it in no way meets the immediate danger of a Japanese hit-and-run air attack. If you could give assurances of the immediate (repeat immediate) delivery of the material specified in my No. 120 of January 21, 2 a.m. I believe it would decisively clinch full Chilean cooperation. The view here is Japan will not wait until Chile actually breaks off relations. One airplane could now wipe out the Potrerillos Power Plant, utterly unprotected by combat planes or anti-aircraft guns, thus stopping production for months of an important source of our supply of copper.

Our Air Corps Command has apparently not been able to grasp the military and political significance of South America and particularly the utter vulnerability of Chile. If something should happen now to Chile in her present defenseless situation it is going to throw our whole policy out of gear and our relations will be adversely affected for a very long time to come since it will be said that we urged Chile to take a step which it felt was unwise. My impression is that the allocation authority of the Air Corps Command apparently still thinks we are back in 1940 when they were shipping everything to England. I think it will be found that there are bomber and pursuit units in the interior of the United States for which no combat use is anticipated in the near future.

I believe the matter should be taken up directly with General Arnold15 in all its seriousness, its political ramifications, and special [apparent omission.]

  1. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Forces.