800.24/7–1845: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State 28

49. On July 5 the President signed a directive stating that henceforth approval for issue of munitions and military and naval equipment would be given only for that which is to be used in war against Japan. In opinion War and Navy Departments this stops immediately all Lend-Lease approvals for other American republics (excepting small amounts for token forces participating in Japanese war) regardless of commitments already made by this Government.

Among these commitments are: transportation back to Brazil of Brazilian Expeditionary Force from Italy; completion of small artillery ammunition plant now about three-fourths completed in Mexico; completion of airplane engine factory now more than half completed in Brazil; transportation home of military personnel from other American republics now receiving training in this country; and other smaller items. Navy programs affected by this directive involve equipment of South American naval forces which will take over patrol work in Pacific and air-sea rescue work in South Atlantic, thereby releasing American forces for Japanese war. Other American republics are paying an agreed percentage of cost of all these and other Lend-Lease transfers.

Department had previously just approved policy calling for rapid termination of Lend-Lease to other American republics but allowing for present commitments. Failure by this Government to honor these commitments would of course cause highly unfavorable political reaction in other countries.

Consider it highly important you discuss matter with Clayton,29 who has been informed of problem, and obtain interpretation from [Page 246] President preferably that directive July 5 should not prevent this Government from making good on its commitments assumed before that date. Moreover, directive came to Department through War and Navy Departments marked restricted classification. In view of inquiries being received from governments of other American republics request authority to inform them of President’s policy subject to interpretation requested herein.

  1. Addressed to Secretary Byrnes at Babelsberg, Germany, headquarters (July 15–August 2) of the American delegation at the Conference of Berlin.
  2. William L. Clayton, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, attending the Conference of Berlin.