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force between China and Russia. Communism internally is a domestic Chinese problem.
(d) Cultural relations. China to propose establishment of a SinoJapanese joint commission to utilize Japanese share of Boxer funds.
(e) Claims for damages to be put before a Sino-Japanese mixed claims commission, neutrals participating.
I hope that the Department will appreciate that the program described above is merely a proposal of certain individuals and that it would be highly undesirable to betray knowledge of it as a complete program lest responsibility for it be ascribed to us. Sent to the Department, repeated to Tokyo, Peiping.
Conversation With the British Ambassador (Lindsay)
[WASHINGTON,] November 13, 1937. The British Ambassador called to see me this morning and said that he had been spending the past few days in going over his files and instructions with regard to the Far Eastern situation and, specifically, with regard to the negotiations of the Brussels Conference. He stated that he felt it would be very helpful to both Governments to have a clarification as to our joint understanding of the principal features of the interchanges between both Governments.
The Ambassador then mentioned the following points which he considered fundamental:
1. That there had been a satisfactory and close cooperation between both Governments.
2. That neither Government should attempt to get the other Government to take the lead nor inveigle it "out on the end of a limb”. In this connection the Ambassador referred to the Stimson-Simon 68 controversy and went on to his third point, namely, that when the present chapter was terminated, nothing should be permitted to arise which would give reason for recriminations between the two Governments.
4. [sic] The Ambassador said that in his conversations with Mr. Eden in Brussels, Mr. Davis had mentioned a great many possibilities, namely, the possible repeal by the President of the Neutrality Act insofar as it applied to the present Far Eastern situation; the possibility of the application of sanctions of one kind or another, including
Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of State, and Sir John Simon, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during the 1931–33 Manchurian crisis.
an agreement on the part of the signatories to the Nine Power Treaty providing for nonrecognition of any acquisition of territory which Japan might make by force; of the refusal on the part of the signatories to extend any credits to Japan in the future for the development of territory so acquired; of the refusal to make purchases from Japan, etc. Mr. Davis had likewise discussed a possible fleet movement in the Pacific on the part of the United States, Great Britain and France. Sir Ronald Lindsay stated that his records disclosed no conversation envisaging any military sanctions.
With regard to the latter point, the Ambassador stated that it was, of course, evident that the British Government was tied by the leg to Europe and was not in a position to undertake any possible hostilities in the Pacific unless it were possible to be assured in advance that it would receive military and naval support from the other signatories of the Nine Power Treaty. He said that the present situation was one which was frequently seen in private life and that was that you could not attain anything unless you were willing to pay for it. By this he implied, he stated, that if Great Britain, the United States and other signatories to the Nine Power Treaty decided to prevent Japan from continuing upon her present venture in China, the powers determined to take such preventive action must be prepared to pay for it by force. With regard to the application of sanctions of one kind or another, the Ambassador said that the British Government had had its bitter experience in that regard only two years ago during the conquest of Ethiopia by Italy and that it had been forced to the conclusion that the application of sanctions of an economic character merely inflamed the nation against which they were applied without having any deterrent effect and that the failure of such measures had a vast prejudicial effect upon any form of collective security.
When the Ambassador had concluded this exposition, I said I should be very glad to comment briefly upon the statements he had made. I said, in the first place, that our feeling was that throughout the course of recent events there had been a very close and satisfactory cooperation between the two Governments and that while at times we felt that our cooperation had been asked after, rather than before, certain steps had been taken by the British Government, yet I did not wish to attribute any excessive importance to these points which had been discussed between us in the past. I remarked that while such cooperation existed both here and at Brussels, there would seem to me no possibility for either Government to push the other one out on the end of a limb nor for any cause to be created which could give rise to further recriminations.
With specific regard to Mr. Norman Davis' conversations with Mr. Eden at Brussels, I said that I had no doubt that Mr. Davis had ex
plored the whole field in a thorough manner with Mr. Eden and that it was for that reason that the topics mentioned by Sir Ronald Lindsay had been discussed. I stated that obviously Mr. Davis would wish to have an accurate estimate of the opinions of the representatives of all of the signatories to the Nine Power Treaty as to the objectives and methods of reaching those objectives which should be considered by the Conference, but that, of course, his mention of some of these topics could in no sense be construed as implying that this Government was prepared to take the action which had been discussed.
With regard to the possibility that the President would request the repeal of the Neutrality Act insofar as it applied to the Far Eastern situation, I said it was my understanding that a great majority of the Congress would support the President in his nonapplication of the Act at the present time and that so long as this situation continued, I doubted whether the President would consider requesting a limited repeal of the Act.
Insofar as any consideration by the Conference of the imposition of economic sanctions was concerned, this Government did not believe that the Conference under present conditions was the proper agency for the determination of any such policy and most decidedly not at the present time. With regard to nonrecognition commitments, or an agreement not to extend credits for the development of territory acquired by force, etc., Mr. Davis had had it made clear to him that this Government was not favorably disposed to consider participation in such agreements and that Mr. Davis had been requested to submit any proposals of this character which might come up to Washington for decision before making any commitments whatever with regard thereto. I reminded the Ambassador that, of course, he was well aware of the fact that there existed no legislation which would authorize the President to take part in any economic sanctions or in any of the other measures mentioned and that, lacking such authority from the Congress, this Government could obviously enter into no commitments with regard thereto.
In general, I said to the Ambassador that it was our hope that whatever action the Conference might decide to take, it would be premised on these requisites:
1. Unanimous determination of the signatories that the Nine Power Treaty remain in life and in vigor and no relinquishment of any of the principles embodied therein.
2. No admission of failure on the part of the Conference.
3. The Conference itself, even though possibly recessed, to remain subject to the call of the President of the Conference at the request of any of the signatories so that it might be available at any moment, should a more favorable opportunity arise for the furtherance of a pacific solution of the Far Eastern dispute.
4. Every effort to be made to rally moral opinion in every other country of the world in favor of the principles embodied in the Nine Power Treaty and the effort to make perfectly clear to public opinion everywhere the attitude which the Government of Japan had assumed in connection therewith.
I said in view of this it seemed to me unnecessary to do more than to touch very lightly upon the question of fleet movements or the question of actual hostilities. I said that it seemed to me that those contingencies were remote and should not be considered at this time. I said the whole premise of this Government in going to the Brussels Conference was the keeping alive of the principles of the Nine Power Treaty and of international law and morality and, in a more practical sense, the making of every effort to promote a pacific solution by agreement. It seemed to me that until we were all convinced that there was no hope left, there was no need to consider any of the further possibilities the Ambassador had mentioned.
The Ambassador expressed his personal entire satisfaction with what I had said and stated that it entirely conformed to his own estimate and judgment of the situation. Before leaving he referred to the immeasurably difficult situation with which his own Government was confronted in almost every quarter and that the one gleam of hope he saw was for the reaching of a prompt agreement between Great Britain and the United States for the trade agreement. I said that I was optimistic in this regard and that I believed it probable that the Secretary of State himself would wish to talk with the Ambassador on this problem early next week.
Chapter III: The Conference at Brussels, November 3–24, 1937
793.94 Conference/177 : Telegram
The Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis) to the Secretary
BRUSSELS, November 3, 1937–9 p. m.
[Received November 3—9 p. m.] 15. At the public session today only seven powers elected to speak.69 The substance of Eden's and Delbos' speeches followed closely that of mine. The Italian spoke in a defeatist tone saying that it was useless to hope for results in the Conference beyond possibly facilitating direct negotiations between Japan and China. Litvinov warned us of the temptation to make conferences successful by granting aggressors many of their desiderata and persuading victims to accept
For texts of speeches, see The Conference of Brussels, pp. 24-45.
such a solution. Wellington Koo presented China's case at length. He gave an account of Japan's “aggressions” in China, said that all of the powers except Japan had given up the older policy of exploiting China, and that China wanted to cooperate with Japan and also with the other powers. Portugal offered general cooperation.
Tomorrow morning the British, French, Dutch, Russian, Italian and American heads of delegations will meet informally with Spaak to work out procedure for tomorrow afternoon's private session.
793.94 Conference/186 : Telegram The Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis) to the Secretary
BRUSSELS, November 4, 1937–7 p.m.
[Received November 4-3:03 p. m.] 16. Your 34, November 3, 1 p. m. Plans for persuading the Germans to return to the Conference have somewhat altered since my 11, November 3, 1 p. m. [a. m.] The idea now being advocated by the British and French which seems to be meeting with general approval is that small subcommittee which will probably be set up by Conference to deal with Japan and China should also inquire of Germany whether she would be willing to cooperate in its work. This would avoid the possibility of a second rejection by Germany of an invitation from the Conference and yet might secure her cooperation where it would be useful.
In the circumstances I suggest that you delay any approach to Dieckhoff.70
793.94 Conference/187 : Telegram The Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis) to the Secretary
BRUSSELS, November 4, 1937—midnight.
[Received November 4-11:15 p. m.] 17. At meeting at Belgian Foreign Office this morning there were present M. Spaak and delegates of United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Soviet Union.
M. Spaak proposed that the Conference should at its next meeting examine the Japanese and the German replies to Belgian Government's invitation. Delegates of United States, United Kingdom,
Hans Heinrich Dieckhoff, German Ambassador in the United States.