710 Consultation 4/8–2547: Telegram

The United States Military Adviser to the United States Delegation to the Conference ( Ridgway )2 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff


Unnumbered. Mexico has proposed that the signatory states agree that for the purposes of the treaty an armed attack shall be understood [Page 60] to be any military operation which a state undertakes against the territory or against the land, air or naval forces of an American state, whenever these forces are located within the geographical zone delimited by the “Declaration of Panama” of October 3, 19393 or in any place which, though outside said zone, is an integral part of the territory of an American state. Because of this issue and of world-wide US commitments, Senator Vandenberg has raised the question as to whether we should, within the terms of this treaty and a spirit of reciprocal fairness, seek to bind all Latin American countries to assist US immediately regardless of the locale in which we are attacked, and whether if we did seek such a commitment, from Latin American countries, there is any reasonable expectation of securing their agreement to so obligate themselves.

Under the premise that a decision should be taken to delineate a region, the US Military Advisers are recommending that the zone delimited by the Panama Declaration of October 3, 1939 be modified and roughly extended to ensure the inclusion of the remainder of the North American continent, Greenland, Iceland and the area from approximately 15 degrees west longitude west to 170 degrees west longitude and north to the pole. Opposition to inclusion of Iceland may be anticipated, in which event its exclusion may be necessary.3a Under this arrangement all Latin American countries would be bound by those provisions of the treaty relating to armed attack, in case such an attack were to occur within above delineated region, but would assume only the lesser obligation to consult immediately as to measures to be taken in case our forces should be attacked or other act or threat of aggression, as provided in the treaty, were to occur outside the delineated region. Acceptance by US of Mexican concept of the region being definitely limited by boundaries would be dependent upon Mexico accepting new text of draft substituting for the Mexican proposal to define armed attack, our idea to describe the region.

Senator Austin of opinion such substitution would remove implications inconsistent with United Nations Charter. Situation developing rapidly and decision may be reached momentarily. Further reports will be made as circumstances warrant and time permits.

US Delegation familiar with this message.

  1. Lt. Gen. M. B. Ridgway, U.S.A., who was also United States Delegate to the Inter-American Defense Board, sent this message to the Department of State for the JCS.
  2. Department of State, Report of the Delegate of the United States of America to the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the American Republics, Held at Panama, September 23–October 3, 1939 (Washington, 1940), p. 62.
  3. In telegram 112, August 27, 6 p.m., the Department commented on possible complications if Iceland were to be included (710 Consultation 4/8–2747).