The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Patterson)

My Dear Mr. Secretary: As the period of the war emergency draws to a close, it is apparent that political unrest is mounting in a number of the other American republics. Economic and other dislocations caused by the war, together with the fact that in a number of countries populations are showing resistance to the continued utilization of special war powers, have developed conditions of tension in several republics, with analogous conditions apparently developing in several [Page 258] of the others. An additional complication is the series of elections in many of these countries which will take place during the next few months and which often involve an unsettled period.

In these circumstances I raise for your consideration the desirability of curtailing visits by Army officers of general rank, whether these be formal or informal, until the desirability of each proposed visit can be examined by this Department in the light of the situation existing in the country concerned. Whereas during the war such visits were explainable in terms of the joint war effort, visits by high-ranking Army officers are now in some cases subject to misunderstanding or even on occasion to misrepresentation. It is my suggestion therefore that proposals for visits by officers of general rank be taken up through the established liaison channel and cleared with the Office of American Republic Affairs of this Department, and that that Office be informed sufficiently in advance of a proposed visit to enable the Department to communicate by telegraph with the American Ambassador concerned, in order to obtain his views.

A similar letter is being transmitted to the Secretary of the Navy with respect to visits by naval personnel.56

Sincerely yours,

James F. Byrnes
  1. In their replies of November 13 and 23, respectively, the Secretaries of War and the Navy expressed general approval of this plan, subject to unqualified access by authorized personnel to bases or installations where United States military or naval units were stationed (810.20111/11–1345, /11–2345).