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cable Rome. He said the papers today had been inclined to blame the Italian stand and agreed with me that this was to have been expected. He said as he left that he hoped our answer might enable Rome to reconsider the question.
W[ILLIAM] R. C[ASTLE]
500.A15 a 1/45 : Telegram
The Chargé in Argentina (Cable) to the Secretary of State
BUENOS AIRES, February 22, 1927–1 p. m.
[Received 7 p. m.] 20. Your telegram number 6, February 7, 1 p. m.15 Note from Argentine Government received this morning reads as follows:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has considered with the greatest interest the memorandum transmitted on the 9th instant by the Embassy of the United States and in reply it begs to state that the Argentine Government considers it preferable to await the resolution of the Commission that is studying the disarmament question in the League of Nations in whose preparatory deliberations it has collaborated and continues to collaborate by means of diplomatic delegates and of experts.
In case the said initiative should fail, the moment will then have arrived to consider whether it be convenient to study a solution of a less general character which might perhaps prove of easier realization.
On the other hand the present armaments of the Argentine Republic are of small importance and the renovations being made will not notably augment its military and raval power since it is only a matter of modernization destined (to] replace the antiquated material that has become obsolete. The expenditure needed for this modernization is moderate in comparison with the general resources of the country and the necessary funds have already been set apart for the purpose so that it does not constitute an excessive outlay or a preparation for the Argentine Government.
At the Fifth Pan American Conference at Santiago, Argentina insistently expressed her desire to celebrate agreements which would limit bellicose acquisitions in order to avert the danger of an armament contest in South America in a manner such as was achieved by the pacts of May of the year 1902 celebrated between the Argentine Republic and Chile.16
Although no favorable results were attained in practice either at the Conference of Santiago or by steps taken subsequently by the Argentine Government, the latter maintain the same favorable disposition to consider any reasonable limitation in military expenditure provided that it be compatible with the requirements of its internal and external security as by this means it will be able to dedicate a larger part of its resources to the development of the country without forgetting at the same time that the development of these resources and the great interests which they even now signify demand in their turn adequate protection."
15 See footnote 9, p. 9.
See Foreign Relations, 1902, pp. 18 fr.
500.A15 a 1/45 : Telegram
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Chile (Collier)
WASHINGTON, February 24, 1927-noon. 7. Reference Department's No. 5, February 7,1 p. m. The Department has received with surprise a “reply" from the Government of Argentina regarding the memorandum which the American Chargé delivered to it on February 10. The purpose of furnishing copies to the Governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile was, as you know, merely to keep them informed of events as a courtesy and no replies were expected.
If you deem it expedient and if a suitable occasion should present itself, you may advise the Minister for Foreign Affairs that Argentine reply appears to have been occasioned by some misunderstanding either on part of American Embassy or of Government of Argentina, and that the Government of the United States is not expecting replies from the Governments of either Brazil or Chile unless these Governments particularly wish to make comments.
You will not discuss this matter with any representatives of the press.
500.A15 a 1/49 : Telegram
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Houghton) to the Secretary
LONDON, February 24, 1927—4 p. m.
[Received February 24—1:40 p. m.] 46. Department's No. 39, February 21, 6 p. m. This morning I happened to meet Bridgeman and told him that the American press, in part at least, had stated that he was against acceptance of our invitation to Naval Conference. He replied that it was a "damned lie” and hoped that I would take occasion to have that fact known at home. He then went on to say that he had all along been in favor of a conference; in fact, if the President had not called one, he, Bridgeman, was preparing to have one called.
108 Sent also, mutatis mutandis, to the Embassy in Brazil as Department's No. 7. The Embassy in Argentina was informed to the same effect by telegram No. 7, Feb. 23, 7 p. m.; not printed.
He asked me if I thought that the President had in mind a conference open for free discussion and I replied that that was my belief. He then said that it was essential. He concluded our talk by saying that I must be aware that the delay in the British reply arose from the necessity of consulting the Dominions; while he did not commit himself he indicated that a favorable reply was assured.
500.A15 a 1/56
Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Grew)
[WASHINGTON,] February 24, 1927. The Italian Ambassador referred to the Italian note 17 declining to accept our proposal for a discussion at Geneva of naval armament limitation and read to me portions of two telegrams which he had received from Mussolini to the effect that if this Government would agree to "appuyer" the thesis of parity between Italy and France he, Mussolini, would re-examine our proposal. I said to the Ambassador that it was obviously out of the question for us to do anything of this kind, as we had very carefully abstained in our note from making any concrete suggestions concerning the relative positions of Italy and France which might give offense to one or the other and for that very reason we had left the matter entirely open and unprejudiced for discussion at the conference table. I said that we recognized Italy's particular geographic situation and that this was another reason for our avoiding any concrete proposals which might prejudice the case in advance. The Ambassador then asked me to comment on the phrase "far-reaching building programs" and asserted that this could not be taken to apply to Italy which had embarked on no such program. I replied that the phrase was not intended to apply to any individual country, but was used in a general
The Ambassador then said that he had been instructed by Mussolini to endeavor to avoid any comment in the American press concerning Italian militarism and he asked me if I could not say a word to the press correspondents to the effect that Italy was not a militaristic nation. I replied that I thought that any statement of this kind would come better from the Ambassador than from the Department. The Ambassador then asked me if I had any comment to make in connection with Mussolini's statement to Mr. Fletcher when he handed him the note. I said that I had no comment to make as it appeared to be similar to the instructions received by the Ambassador.
J[OSEPH] C. G[REW]
See telegram No. 25, Feb. 21, 3 p. m., from the Ambassador in Italy, p. 14.
500.A15 a 1/52: Telegram
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Houghton) to the Secretary
LONDON, February 25, 1927—5 p. m.
[Received February 25–4:55 p. m.] 48. Department's No. 39, February 21, 6 p. m. In pursuance of your instructions I saw Chamberlain this afternoon and repeated the substance of your message to him. He then asked whether I would object to asking. him if the British reply were ready. I said that I would not and made the inquiry. He then handed me the draft of the British reply, as follows: 18
"His Majesty's Government in Great Britain received with cordial sympathy the invitation of the Government of the United States of America to take part in a conversation at Geneva on the further limitation of naval armament.
The view of His Majesty's Government upon the special geographical position of the British Empire, the length of interimperial communications, and the necessity for the protection of its food supplies are well known and together with the special conditions and requirements of the other countries invited to participate in the conversation must be taken into account.
His Majesty's Government are nevertheless prepared to consider to what extent the principles adopted at Washington can be carried further either as regards the ratio in different classes of ships between the various powers or in other important ways. They therefore accept the invitation of the Government of the United States of America and will do their best to further the success of the proposed conversation.
They would, however, observe that the relationship of such a conversation to the proceedings of the Preparatory Commission at Geneva would require careful adjustment.
Chamberlain then said that this reply could not be made public here until February 28, 4 p. m. The delay was occasioned by delay in receiving answers from two of the Dominions, which, however, would be favorable. He wishes, therefore, that the reply be withheld from publication until the above-mentioned date. I assured him that his wishes in that regard would be strictly respected.
He then remarked that he had received communications from the British Ambassador at Washington to the effect that Italy's reply might be subject to reconsideration. It was Chamberlain's opinion that the Italian Government would not like to permit a great conference of the sort proposed to be carried on without having Italy represented on it, provided that special consideration of Italy's geographical position was assured. He thinks that if this point were emphasized it might be possible again to approach the Italian Government and to obtain favorable reply, at least to extent of having an observer at the Conference. He said that it was in this way that Italy gradually pushed her way in at Locarno, and that it was only after the treaties were definitely framed that Italy desired to become a party.18 He thinks that in present instance a similar result might follow.
18 Draft text not paraphrased.
500.A15 a 1/85
[WASHINGTON,] March 5, 1927. The British and Japanese Ambassadors called separately at my request and I said to them, after discussing the matter with the President, that in spite of the refusal of France and Italy to take part in the proposed naval limitation discussions at Geneva we hoped that these conversations could at least be held by Great Britain, Japan and the United States and I inquired whether this procedure was satisfactory to their respective Governments. Both Ambassadors intimated that in their private opinion such procedure would be agreeable to their Governments, but that they would telegraph to ascertain and would let me know in due course. I said that we proposed to reply to the French and Italian notes expressing regrets that they had found it impossible to participate and expressing also the hope that they might find it possible at least to be represented by observers at the proposed conference. Both Ambassadors thought well of this procedure. Mr. Matsudaira asked me whether we had any reason to believe that either France or Italy would reconsider its refusal. I said that we have no official grounds for such a belief, but as the subject was one of vital importance I hoped that those two Powers would at least find it desirable to send observers to follow the discussions.
In informal conversation I spoke of Italy's desire for some concrete assurances in advance of the conference that Franco-Italian parity would be maintained and that also that some of the smaller naval Powers, such as Jugoslavia, Greece, et cetera, would be included in the conference. I said it was obviously impossible for us to say in advance that we would support any particular thesis in the conference and that our whole purpose has been to leave the matter absolutely open and unprejudiced for free and friendly discussion at the conference table. As regards the smaller Powers it seems to me that
15 See Great Britain, Cmd. 2764, Treaty Series No. 28 (1926), Treaty of Mutual Guarantee between the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, Locarno, October 16, 1925.