No. 115 NAI DFA ES Box 27 File 158

Harry Boland1 to President Warren Harding (Washington)


25 October 1921

I am directed by the Government of the Republic of Ireland, which I have the honor to represent, to request that you accord to its delegates an opportunity to participate in the deliberations of the forthcoming conference on limitation of armaments to be held in Washington on November 11th 1921.

You have intimated in your invitation of August 11th 1921 that the question of naval armament is to have first place in the discussions. Ireland is the 'Key to the Atlantic,' and in consequence has a peculiar interest in all discussions and agreements relating to naval policy. The Government of Ireland has definite views with reference to the limitation of naval armament and the effect of such limitation upon the future peace of the nations of the North Atlantic Ocean. These views, which are of the utmost consequence not only to the people of Ireland, but also, we believe, to the people of the United States, cannot be presented effectively except by the delegates of the Republic of Ireland.

I beg also to direct your attention to the vital interest of the Government of Ireland in the question of land and aerial armament. In the negotiations which have been proceeding during recent months between the Government of Great Britain and the Government of Ireland, the British Government has sought an agreement by which Ireland shall accord to the British navy and the Royal Air Force certain rights and privileges, and by which Ireland shall further bind herself to restrict her land forces in accordance with the international agreements upon limitation of armaments. These negotiations have not yet been concluded, but equity would seem to demand that Ireland should not be asked to be bound by the results of a conference in which she does not participate.

I venture further to suggest that the most profound and vital interest in the limitation of armaments is not among those Great Powers which are able to protect themselves from aggression by weight of arms, but among the smaller nations which are constantly menaced by superior force. It would seem to follow, therefore, that the forthcoming conference will be effective in bringing about the complete understanding among nations, so essential to the cause of peace, only if the mistakes made at the Versailles conference of 1919 be avoided and these smaller nations, which are so vitally concerned in the cause of international peace, be represented at the Washington conference. It is upon international good will and mutual understanding rather than upon huge armies and navies that the small nations must necessarily base their hope to live at peace with their more powerful and aggressive neighbors.

With assurance of my high respect and esteem, I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,

1 The letter was drafted by Boland but never sent because he did not receive the go-ahead from Dublin (No. 119).

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