Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 322

Memorandum by Richard V. Hennes to the Head of the United States Delegation (Smith)


General Smith: The London Times article directly charges the Secretary with accusing Mr. Eden of going back on his agreement prior to the Geneva Conference. The fact that this article was sent to you in one copy and that another copy was then given our messenger delivering the text of the Secretary’s speech, indicates a considerable degree of British concern. Although about one-third of the article is devoted to the Secretary’s reference to Stimson,1 which was the burden [Page 1129] of Mr. Eden’s complaint, it seems likely that Eden’s real concern is at his being publicly charged with breaking faith.

The Stimson argument has been going on for years. Most reputable diplomatic historians in the US and UK have concluded that neither the US nor Great Britain was willing to stop the Japanese in Manchuria in 1931–32. This conclusion is closer to the British position than to the one expressed by the Secretary. The latter has had some currency in journalistic circles in the US.

With regard to the section impugning Eden’s reliability, which was changed by the Secretary at your request, I would guess that the British had intercepted somewhere along the line the original text and were positive of the meaning and therefore reacted to it rather than to the modified language. A comparison of the two versions is attached.

I suggest that you might tell Mr. Eden that we too have a public opinion problem, that considerable segments of our population are firmly convinced that we were duped into two world wars by evil foreigners, and that collective security may be made more acceptable to these isolationist elements if it is presented with a made-in-America tag. By depicting the foreigner as reluctant and, in particular, by “twisting the lion’s tail,” we have a far better chance of bringing our isolationists along in a united action.

You might wish to refer to your personal knowledge of mid-Western sentiment if you use this rationalization.



Original Text

The British and French governments said that they were ready to take part with the other countries principally concerned in an examination of the possibilities of establishing a collective defense. But the British government subsequently concluded that any such examination should await the results of the Geneva conference. The French also were still hesitant on “internationalization”.

Delivered Text

I went to Europe in this mission and it seemed that there was agreement on our proposal. But when we moved to translate that proposal into reality, some of the parties held back because they had concluded that any steps to create a united defense should await the results of the Geneva conference.

Original Text

The morale of the French and national forces is strained under the impact of mounting enemy power on their front and political vacillation at their rear.

[Page 1130]

Delivered Text

The French and national forces feel the strain of mounting enemy power on their front and of political uncertainty at their rear.

  1. Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of State, 1929–1933.