No. 367 NAI DFA 26/119

Letter from Michael Rynne to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Geneva, 29 September 1936

Further to my minute of the 25th September, I have to state that there is still nothing of outstanding interest to report in connection with the proceedings of the seventeenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly.

Since the Assembly's decision to permit an Ethiopian Delegation to attend the Session, the League, having passed through a temporary state of mild elation, relapsed into a condition which can be best described as the doldrums. Even assiduous admirers of the League have been complaining of the monotony of the last few days. Yesterday, however, Mr. Litvinoff spoke on the Secretary-General's report with the result that the boredom of delegates rapidly gave place to nervousness.

No doubt, you have read most of the Soviet delegate's speech in the Irish papers, which may have given it good publicity for the sake of attacking the 'Reds' or, maybe, of adverting to our own position in the League. In case you have not had an opportunity of perusing the full text, I am enclosing a copy herewith, having marked those passages which seem most noteworthy or which provoked most comment here. From conversations yesterday evening (Mr. Cremins and I attended the dinner of the President of the Assembly last night) and at this morning's plenary meeting, one gathers that nobody approves of M. Litvinoff's remarks, while many Delegates view them with genuine consternation.

So greatly were Delegates disturbed by the Russian thunderbolt that the view is now being expressed that a good League policy may be a bad peace policy. M. Litvinoff's speech, which was redolent of the spirit of the Covenant, should not have been delivered, they say, to the present Assembly, whose main function it is to subordinate the League's activities to a future great Power Conference. Paradoxical as it may seem, the members of the League are now almost unanimous in pinning their last remaining hopes for European peace on the London Conference, even to the extent of fearing the results of their own activities at Geneva. This sudden realisation of the League's 'threat to peace' in certain circumstances may well be the only outcome of M. Litvinoff's speech. It is thought, however, by a number of people here, that the speech may react to a positive degree on the forthcoming conference. This opinion is all the more popular because of the conjecture that the Soviets' unnatural alliance with the Western Powers is doomed to founder at the Conference. Be that as it may, the 'Locarno atmosphere' certainly appears to be somewhat vitiated by Litvinoff's speech and, unless the British and/or French hasten to placate the Germans before they have time to reply, the prospects of a successful Five-Power meeting may be entirely destroyed.

Another speech which may be of some interest to the Minister because of its reflection of most of his own ideas on League reform, was that of Mr. Mackenzie King this morning. It will be observed that the Canadian Prime Minister has left nothing unsaid. His general attitude is frankly and uncompromisingly 'isolationist'.

[signed] Michael Rynne

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