The Ambassador in Sweden (Matthews) to the Secretary of State
287. I have read with much interest Ambassador Smith’s telegram No. 394 to Department.1 I would certainly agree that if any steps can be taken to assure Finnish rejection of Soviet treaty and those steps are successful, the effect would be one of great world-wide encouragement to the free nations. I am frankly skeptical however that the chances of success are worth the risk of the consequences of failure. I defer naturally to Smith’s judgment as to the possibilities of a Russian retreat but I should think with the personal prestige of Stalin’s letter involved and the presumed inability or unwillingness of the west to render the Finns military aid, there is not much likelihood that Finnish resistance to Soviet heat will be adequate. Looked at from this [Page 770] small corner I can only say that failure of any determined and much publicized western efforts to save Finland would have a profoundly discouraging effect in Sweden and merely deepen Swedish determination to remain neutral. Most Swedes are well aware of “the futility of counting on any reasonable action from the Soviets” and most of them are aware that Finland is lost if the Soviets so decide. A failure of western efforts to save Finland would, I believe, seriously shake confidence here both in the seriousness and the potentialities of the west when it comes to action not words.
Moscow telegram, I fully concur with last two paragraphs.
Sent Department, repeated Paris 90, London 100, Moscow 28, Helsinki 15.