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Great Britain. However, since as far as we can foresee now, there is no such hope, the avoidance of a meeting appears important, as its only result will probably be to embitter the relations of the two countries.
The decision, as far as I can ascertain, practically rests with Germany, the sole League member now urging a meeting and doing so for the purposes of internal politics, and with the Government of Italy. As a nonmember of the League the United States obviously cannot take any initiative, but no similar objection prevents action by the British Government, who in this matter have interests similar to our own. I venture to suggest, in view of the importance of the issues involved, the possibility of placing the entire question frankly before the British, explaining the reluctance of the United States toward a meeting which in all probability will be utilized for the stirring up of dissension between the two countries, and inquiring if the British feel justified in a serious discussion of the matter at Berlin, with a view to convincing the Germans that since no hope of accomplishing anything exists at the present time, they are not warranted in holding out for a meeting distasteful to most of the other governments; and that Germany will assist the movement toward disarmament better in the long run by letting the Secretary General know her preference that the adjournment be extended, in the belief that no reasonable hope of progress lies in an early meeting. There is little doubt that, if this course is followed, the Secretary General would be able to canvass Council members and secure the authority of the Council for a generous breathing spell as in previous cases.
500.A15/835a : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Wilson)
WASHINGTON, December 15, 1928–4 p. m. 107. New York Times article by Carlyle Macdonald under Lugano date-line December 8, states that French and League officials were informed by an American Minister to a European country “that it was the view of the present administration at Washington that the grave subject of naval disarmament must be postponed until President-elect Hoover and his advisers should have had an opportunity of studying it or in other words after the inauguration.
After a careful discussion and some exchanges with Washington it is understood the American Minister requested, and the others agreed, that the meeting of the preliminary commission should be postponed for one or two months, pending which time the projected direct conversations between Great Britain and the United States might have borne results."
Also that suggestion “that M. Loudon be instructed to call a 'consultative parley of five naval powers' was turned down by the American Minister as being of no value in the face of the present complete disaccord between the British and the Americans." Later article of similar tenor of December 13 quotes you as the Minister concerned. In his press conference yesterday the President said that he had noticed a press report to the effect that there was some suggestion that this administration did not desire to take any further part in the disarmament question which is being discussed under the leadership of the League. He stated that this movement is under the League and would of course have to be carried on by them irrespective of the attitude of this Government. He added that this Government has never indicated that it desired postponement of the discussions and that it is always ready to cooperate with the League Committee.
[Paraphrase.] The Department knows, of course, that you did not make the remarks which have been attributed to you, but it wished you to have President's statement immediately.
I am told by Assistant Secretary of State Castle that he has answered questions of both British and French officials by saying that it would be unfortunate in the general interest of cause of limitation of armaments for meeting of the Preparatory Commission to be held in the immediate future unless there was some prospect of accomplishment, and that cause would be served better by frankly postponing such meeting until there could be at least some measure of agreement. Without doubt this is true. It is clear, also, that attempts will be made to put blame for delay on this Government, and that we cannot, as a nonmember of the League, ask for a postponement. While I should be glad, therefore, if view expressed by Loudon to Gibson in favor of a postponement of meeting of the Preparatory Commission should prevail, I feel that attitude expressed by President Coolidge should be adhered to firmly. Repeat to Gibson. [End paraphrase.]
500.A15/834 : Telegram The Minister in Switzerland (Wilson) to the Secretary of State
BERNE, December 17, 1928—noon.
[Received December 17–11:30 a. m.] 123. Drummond telephoned this morning that during Lugano session the three powers mostly interested, namely Great Britain, France and Germany, agreed to advise Loudon to call meeting of the Preparatory Commission between the 8th and 15th of April (the latest date to which Stresemann 80 would agree). Drummond stated that the date was not made definite since they recognized that the mem
* Gustav Stresemann, German Minister of Foreign Affairs.
bers of the American delegation coming from the United States might desire to remain home over Easter which occurs March 31. He asked me to obtain an unofficial expression of opinion from you as to which time would be most convenient for the opening of the session between these dates. Copy to Gibson.
500.A15/834 : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Wilson)
WASHINGTON, December 17, 1928–4 p. m. 109. Your 123, December 17, noon. You can tell Drummond that this Government is prepared to send delegates at any time. The dates mentioned are satisfactory but we should also be satisfied with an earlier date.
The Minister in Switzerland (Wilson) to the Secretary of State No. 693
BERNE, December 28, 1928. L. of N. No. 1253
[Received January 30, 1929.] SIR: Referring to my telegram No. 132, of December 28, 9 a. m.,91 I have the honor to transmit herewith eight copies of the communication received from the League of Nations 81 stating that Mr. Loudon had convened the next session of the Preparatory Commission for April 15, at 11 a. m. A copy has been forwarded to Mr. Gibson at Brussels. I have [etc.]
(For the Minister)
Secretary of Legation
REJECTION BY THE UNITED STATES OF THE FRANCO-BRITISH
COMPROMISE PLAN FOR NAVAL LIMITATION"
The British Chargé (Chilton) to the Secretary of State No. 358
BEVERLY FARMS, Mass., July 31, 1928.
[Received August 1.] SIR: I have the honour to inform you, under instructions from His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that preliminary conversations have proceeded between His Majesty's Government and the French Government in the hope of finding a basis for naval limitation which might prove generally acceptable and thus render fruitful the resumption of discussions in the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference 83 whose failure to record any progress during the last eighteen months has been the source of universal disappointment. To this end the two Governments have agreed substantially to modify the positions which they held respectively at the meeting of the Commission in March 1927, and have worked out proposals on the following lines, which they are themselves ready to accept and which they hope will serve to promote general agreement.
* For records of negotiations, including those with the Italian and Japanese Governments, published by the French and British Governments, see France, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Limitation des armements navals; Trente-cing pièces relatives aux travaux préparatoires du désarmement, etc. (Paris, Imprimerie des Journaux Officiels, 1928), and Great Britain Cmd. 3211, Miscellaneous No. 6 (1928), Papers Regarding the Limitation of Naval Armaments.
The limitations which the Disarmament Conference will have to determine will deal with four classes of men-of-war:
(1) Capital ships, i. e. ships of over 10,000 tons or with guns of more than 8 inch calibre.
(2) Aircraft carriers of over 10,000 tons.
3) Surface vessels of or below 10,000 tons armed with guns of more than 6 inch and up to 8 inch calibre.
(4) Ocean going submarines over 600 tons. The Washington Treaty 34 regulates limitations in classes (1) and (2) and the Disarmament Conference will only have to consider the method of extending these limitations to Powers non-signatory to this Treaty,
As regards Classes (3) and (4), the final Disarmament Conference will fix the maximum tonnage applicable to all Powers, which no Power would be allowed to exceed for the total of vessels in each of these respective categories during the period covered by the Convention. Within this maximum limit, each Power will indicate at the final Conference for each of these categories, the tonnage they propose to reach and which they undertake not to exceed during the period covered by the Convention.
I am instructed to inform you of the terms of the above cornpromise between hitherto divergent views and to express the earnest hope of His Majesty's Government that it may prove acceptable to the United States Government.
His Majesty's Government believe it to offer the best, if not the only, prospect of making an advance from the present position, and they are confident that the Governments of other principal Naval Powers will examine it with the utmost sympathy.
His Majesty's Government will be grateful to receive a reply as soon as possible and at all events before the meeting assembles on September 3rd. I have [etc.]
H. G. CHILTON
* See pp. 235 ff.
* Treaty of February 6, 1922, for the limitation of naval armament, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. I, p. 247.
The Secretary of State to the British Chargé (Chilton)
WASHINGTON, August 2, 1928. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of July 31, 1928, in which you inform me of the result of the preliminary conversations which have proceeded between His Majesty's Government and the French Government, with the aim of finding a basis for naval limitation.
I thank you for informing me concerning the agreements reached, which agreements you suggest should be adopted by the Preparatory Conference as a basis for limitation.
In the note above referred to there are certain points which I do not fully understand. These points are as follows:
1. One of the categories of war vessels is stated to be as follows: “(3) Surface vessels of or below ten thousand tons armed with guns of more than 6 inch and up to 8 inch calibre."
I should be grateful if you would inform me whether this means that there is to be no limitation on any surface vessel armed with guns of 6 inch calibre or less. If this is the case, it appears that all destroyers might be built in unlimited numbers and that the same would be true of cruisers armed with 6 inch guns or less.
2. The fourth class is defined in your note as follows: “(4) Ocean going submarines over six hundred tons."
I should be glad to know whether this means that all submarines of 600 tons or less may be built free of any limitation.
3. The note further provides: “As regards Class (3) and Class (4) the final Disarmament Conference will fix the maximum tonnage applicable to all powers which no power will be allowed to exceed for the total of vessels in each of these respective categories during the period covered by the Convention. Within this maximum limit, each power will indicate at the final Conference through each of these categories the tonnage they propose to reach and which they undertake not to exceed during the period covered by the Convention.
I do not understand what the above provision means. If there is no limitation on destroyers or cruisers armed with six inch guns or less, there would be but one class limited, and that is cruisers armed with guns of more than six inches and up to eight inches. If, however, there is to be a limitation on destroyers and cruisers armed with guns of six inches or less, I do not understand why each power should be expected to indicate the tonnage it desires to build in these categories since the provision does not say that each nation must indicate the tonnage of each class in the category, and ap