No. 511 NAI DFA 11/3

Letter from Michael MacWhite to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)1
(1008-4-31) (Confidential)

Washington DC, 22 January 1931

On receipt of your cable of today's date,2 referring to the nomination of a United States citizen to the Chairmanship of the Disarmament Conference, I called at the State Department and conveyed your views to the Secretary of State, who expressed his deep appreciation of your initiative in the matter. He said no American could be insensible to the honour, and asked me to convey his thanks to the Saorstát Government and to the Minister for External Affairs.

The position of the United States on the question of disarmament was generally known, and they were looking forward to the forthcoming Conference with a great deal of anxiety and no little hope. The preliminary conversations between the parties principally concerned had not made sufficient progress to justify the United States in agreeing to the nomination of one of their citizens to the Presidency of the Conference.3 In the circumstances, they were unwilling to accept the leading role and the leading responsibility, in view of the fact that other parties were far more concerned. Besides, they did not wish to do anything, at this stage, that might bind their hands or limit their means of action during the sitting of the Conference.

Mr. Stimson said he could speak to me with greater frankness on this question than to any of my Colleagues, as my experience at Geneva enabled me to appreciate more clearly the difficulties with which they will have to contend. They are hoping ardently for the success of the Conference, but they must have their hands free so that at the opportune moment they may be able to use all their influence, and bring all the pressure they command to bear on the hesitating States. In fact he said to 'whip them up and make them toe the line'. He continued by saying that if the Disarmament Conference does not achieve its purpose, it will be useless to expect Germany to restrict her Army to 100,000 men. Any steps to increase that Army will, however, be regarded as a breach of the Treaty of Versailles, and will be resented notwithstanding the fact that the other parties have not carried out their side of the contract as defined by Article 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The situation thus created could not be envisaged with equanimity by any person interested in World Peace. The United States was vitally interested in the maintenance of World Peace and will use all their resources consistent with their National policy towards that end.

The State Department was already invited by Mr. Henderson to consent to the nomination of an American citizen as Vice President of the Conference, but for the reasons here explained the Secretary of State was obliged to decline the honour.

On leaving the State Department, Mr. Stimson again thanked me and said that there was no person who entered that room for whom there was a more cordial welcome than for the Representative of the Irish Free State.

[signed] M. MacWhite

1 Handwritten marginal note: 'Seen by Minister and Secretary'.

2 See No. 510.

3 This sentence has been highlighted in the original by hand.

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