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maintained by the several Powers in the classes of vessels not covered by the Washington Treaty.

In order to ensure the success of the proposed negotiations, it seems highly important that in the matter of these conditions of the limitation of armament, all parties to the negotiations should approach the subject with an open mind, being always guided by the spirit of mutual accommodation and helpfulness consistently with the defensive requirements of each nation.

The Japanese Government confidently hope that an adjustment will be reached in a manner fair and satisfactory to each of the participating Powers and conducive to the general peace and security of the world.

[WASHINGTON,] February 19, 1927.

500.A15 a 1/41 : Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Fletcher) to the Secretary of State


Rome, February 21, 1927-1 p. m.

[Received February 21–11:42 a. m.] 24. At noon today reply of Italian Government, stating that to its regret it cannot accede to proposal contained in our memorandum of February 10, was handed to me. Text will be given press here 10 p. m. today. Italian Ambassador in Washington has been instructed to give verbal explanation of reasons which underlie Italy's action.

I was told that if the President could arrange to have the great powers agree in advance that French-Italian parity established at Washington Conference on Limitation of Armament should be accepted and if provision were made that the minor Mediterranean powers and Russia should not disturb balance of naval power in Mediterranean, Italy would be disposed to reconsider her decision and to agree to attend Conference. I understand that the Ambassador is being instructed to explain this suggestion also.


500.A15 a 1/43 : Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Fletcher) to the Secretary of State

Rome, February 21, 1927—3 p. m.

[Received 6 p. m.] 25. The following is a translation of the reply of the Italian Government to my memorandum of February 10th:

"The Italian Government has submitted to serious examination the memorandum handed on February 10th instant by the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The said memorandum explains the principles which have inspired the Washington Government in proposing that, before the contemplated International Conference for the Reduction and the Limitation of Armaments, negotiations be initiated between the five powers signatory to the treaty of Washington of 1922 for the purpose of studying the limitation of certain categories of naval armaments not covered by said treaty.

The Italian Government appreciates fully the high spirit which has guided the President of the United States of America in addressing his message to Congress on the same day in which the memorandum of the American Government was handed to the Governments of the great powers interested. The appreciation of the Italian Government has all the greater value since Italy has always associated herself with every international activity tending to estabằish upon a solid base the tranquillity and peace of the world.

That spirit which has guided Mr. Coolidge is, so to say, the heritage of the Italian Government and people.

Italy in fact has not only adhered to the Washington Conference but has concluded during the past 5 years more treaties of friendship and arbitration than those stipulated by any other European state. Her actual military expenses and, above all, her naval budget in which there is appropriated 300 million lire annually equal to about 13 millions of dollars for new naval construction, demonstrate clearly that the 'far-reaching building programs' alleged in the message certainly cannot refer to Italy.

The American Government proposes in its memorandum that the Italian Government empower its representative on the Preparatory Disarmament Commission to initiate negotiations at Geneva with a view to concluding agreements which, in anticipation of a global limitation of naval, land and air armaments, shall regulate naval armaments, by limiting the construction of those lesser vessels which were not contemplated in the accords of 1922.

As regards such a proposal the Government of His Majesty must above all state that, in principle and as far as concerns the continent of Europe, its point of view is that there exists an undeniable interdependence of every type of armament of every single power, and furthermore that it is not possible to adopt partial measures between only the five large naval powers.

The Italian Government thinks that the limitation of armaments, to be efficacious to the ends referred to by Mr. Coolidge, should be universal and recalls in this connection that the example of Washington was not accepted by the minor naval powers and that the Conference held at Rome in February 1924 for the extension of the principles of the Washington treaty to the powers not signatory thereto was a failure.

Then, as concerns Italy more specifically, the Italian Government believes it can invoke the same geographical reasons referred to in the message of President Coolidge. If the United States, by reason of their geographical position ('our favored geographical position') has been able to reduce land armament to the minimum, Italy by reason of its unfavorable geographical position cannot expose itself without

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grave risks to a binding limitation of its maritime armaments, which are already insufficient to the needs of its defense.

Italy has, in fact, only three lines of communication with the rest of the world, three obligatory routes, through Suez, Gibraltar, and the Dardanelles, for provisioning itself.

Italy has an enormous coast development with populous cities and vital centers on the coast or a short distance from it, with two large islands, besides the Dodecanese, all of which are linked to the peninsula by lines of vital traffic.

Italy has four important colonies to protect, two of which are beyond the Suez Canal.

In fact, Italy must also consider the other nations which face on or can appear in the Mediterranean, particularly favored by their geographical position amid essential lines of communication, and which have under construction many units of various types or are elaborating naval programs of great strength.

For the reasons above stated the Government of His Majesty feels confident that the Government of the United States will take into account the reason why Italy cannot, to its regret, accede to the proposal contained in the memorandum of February 10th."


500.A15 a 1/44 : Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Fletcher) to the Secretary of State


ROME, February 21, 1927–5 p.m.

[Received 11:10 p. m.] 26. My 24, February 21. In handing me the Italian reply this morning and speaking for Mussolini, Under Secretary Grandi sought to impress upon me that Italo-French relations are extremely delicate. This was also referred to by Mussolini when I presented our memorandum, as I telegraphed. Unless and until Italo-French relations improve, it is evident that no effective steps can be taken in the Mediterranean toward limiting naval armaments.

Italy, according to Grandi, believes France will agree to extension to lesser craft of the Italo-French parity established at Washington and Italy, therefore, does not wish to risk the loss, at a new Conference, of the moral prestige and advantage gained at Washington. This explains the naive suggestion which the Italian Ambassador at Washington has been instructed to make to you.12



See memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs, February 22, p. 17.

500.A15 a 1/41 : Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain



WASHINGTON, February 21, 1927–6 p. m. 39. The following telegram has just been received from Rome: [Here follows the text of telegram No. 24, printed on page 14.] Sir Esme Howard advised the Department today that British reply would be delayed several days by reason of necessity of consulting Dominions, but that our proposal was being given most sympathetic consideration.

The press reports from London indicate that both Baldwin and Chamberlain 13 favor acceptance but that Bridgeman 14 favors a flat rejection. If through any misunderstanding the British Government should decline to participate in the suggested discussions, it would be most unfortunate. Only reason for a British refusal would appear to be fear that this Government would fail, in the forthcoming discussions, to take into full consideration special position of British Navy in regard to the French and Italian naval building programs. Unless you deem the action unwise, I should like you to find immediate opportunity to talk matter over with Chamberlain personally. If you do, you should point out to the Foreign Secretary that the President has no idea of making rigid proposals or of failing to take into consideration special interests of any country. Primary object of his suggestion is to endeavor in consultation with other great naval powers to find some means for removing danger of competitive naval building. You will recall that there was no reference to reduction of naval armament in either the memorandum or the President's message to Congress. Limitation is what is sought. Should reductions in any class prove to be possible they would be welcome, but reduction would not be essential to success of type of agreement which President hopes can be formulated after full discussions among the representatives of the naval powers.


500.A15 a 1/56

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European

Affairs (Castle)

(WASHINGTON,] February 22, 1927. THE SECRETARY: The Italian Ambassador came to my house this afternoon to read me two telegrams from Mussolini with regard to the Italian answer to the Memorandum on naval limitation. In these telegrams Mussolini instructed the Ambassador to see to it that the Italian answer did not create any talk in this country as to Italian militarism. He said that the whole world should understand that Italy was the most peaceful and peace-loving of nations. He said that the only reason that it was impossible to give an affirmative answer was that, although the situation between France and Italy was better than it had been it was still delicate and that Italy feared the bad feeling which might be aroused by a discussion between the two countries on the question of a parity between the two navies. Mussolini wanted us to understand, therefore, that if Italy could be assured in advance that this question would not be discussed, that the parity established at the Washington Conference would certainly be extended to the smaller ships, he would be very glad to re-examine the invitation of the United States in a most friendly spirit.

** Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin, British Prime Minister; and Sir Austen Chamberlain, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

* Rt. Hon. W. C. Bridgeman, First Lord of the British Admiralty.

I told the Ambassador that it seemed to me that it was exactly this kind of question that must be examined by the Conference, that the United States alone could not determine it any more than we could say that the other ratios of the Washington Conference must be considered final when applied to a smaller type of vessel. I said that you perfectly understood that particular nations had particular necessities and that for this very reason the invitation had been made very general. I told him that the insistence of Italy in the note that she, at least, had no extensive naval program was naturally accepted but that the later statement that other nations had such programs was the best reason in the world why Italy should have accepted the invitation. The Ambassador said that the reference was to France and Jugoslavia. I answered that I took this for granted, that the conference would have restrained any too great zeal on the part of France, in that it would have put an end to competition; that so far as Jugoslavia was concerned I did not think the country was in any condition financially to proceed with any large naval program but that there would certainly be no incentive to push such a program if Italy had obligated itself to build no gigantic fleet. He said that this was possible but that if, in spite of an agreement between Italy and France and the others the Jugoslavs still persisted it would be very disagreeable. I told him that we knew as well as anyone that circumstances change with the years and that no agreement was so fixed that the powers making it could not get together again for reconsideration, that in the meantime the result would certainly be the cessation of a silly and costly competition.

It is perfectly clear to me that the Ambassador agrees with us and not with his Government. He took notes of what I said and will

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