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8-inch [-gun) cruisers would force them to readjust their tonnage levels upward; that they had already made considerable concessions to get down to tonnage levels which we could all discuss and that this had been conditioned upon elimination of 8-inch gun except on specified number of 10,000-ton cruisers.
I asked Bridgeman to look at this whole problem along the lines I had indicated; that the crux of the whole problem was whether they thought we were likely to dispose of 100,000 tons or less of cruisers tonnage in such a way as to threaten the security of the British Empire. If so, we ought to know it. If not, there should be no strong reason for contesting our right to build as we like.
I then reemphasized that in my opinion British insistence was based on fear of a situation which was not likely to arise, namely, a building program of 8-inch-gun vessels which would be source of apprehension to the British Empire, and I again suggested the possibility of some political clause in the treaty which would permit reexamination of the cruiser provision in the event that our construction of 8-inch-gun vessels was a cause of apprehension to either of the other contracting powers. Cecil took up this suggestion and we had a brief discussion as to the form which such an article might take and then adjourned until tomorrow when we will give the matter further consideration,
[Paraphrase.) A stipulation of this nature may conceivably afford an escape from the present difficulty and I shall today or tomorrow cable you a proposed solution in accordance with this idea. Additional instructions from his Government are awaited by Bridgeman and he is not urging an early decision on the matter of 8-inch guns. Sending copy to London. [End paraphrase.]
500.A15 a 1/457 : Telegram The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary
GENEVA, July 19, 1927—midnight.
[Received July 19—10:20 p. m.] 110. I was informed this evening by Bridgeman that Cecil and he had received instructions to proceed to London for consultations which would consume about a week's time, but that he trusted he would be able to return to Geneva by Monday to resume his duties. It seems to me that while Bridgeman and Cecil are discussing matters with the Cabinet in London it would be a most opportune time for a plain presentation of the American attitude as regards essentials to be placed before the British. My reason for suggesting this
is that from the commencement of the Conference both the Japanese and American delegations have felt that Bridgeman was loath to believe that the statements made by our two delegations were the real opinions of the American and Japanese Governments, and that we would eventually accede to the British proposals if some method could be found to disguise the main issues. We therefore undertake to suggest that you present to the British Ambassador or to Mr. Chilton a full statement of our views in the premises, or, if you do not consider this advisable, that you have Mr. Houghton transmit a résumé of our position to Chamberlain in London so that during their conferences with Bridgeman the Cabinet may have our opinions before them. It is further suggested that a plain statement be made that we consider the following points absolutely essential and that we have no intention of foregoing these, and that we do not consider it at all necessary to continue discussing other matters if the British are unwilling to have a discussion on this basis.
1. In order to negotiate a treaty which would be acceptable to us it would be necessary to fix a tonnage level which would represent real limitation, i. e., very slightly greater than tonnage now in use by the British plus the surface combatant vessels they now have under construction.
2. Under an amount to be determined upon, the United States cannot agree to a limitation of unit displacement of cruisers which would render impossible mounting what we consider efficient 8-inch
Definite announcement by the British regarding their stand on the above matters would make it possible for us to decide whether any advantage would be gained by proceeding further with our negotiations. Therefore, we entertain the hope that Mr. Bridgeman will, upon
his return from London, be able to give us definite replies. In my conversation with him this evening I said that I hoped the British would find it possible to meet us on some common ground and that he would not return with their old proposals under different guise.
500.A15 a 1/457 : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation
WASHINGTON, July 20, 1927–3 p. m. 57. Your No. 110, July 19, midnight. After my telegram to Houghton last week,73 it is somewhat embarrassing to take matter up
Quoted in telegram No. 50, July 16, 1 p. m., to the chairman of the American delegation, p. 108.
again with British Government. I am willing, however, to do anything that will be of assistance in bringing about an agreement.
In regard to your suggestions, the first seems to be taken care of by my telegram to Houghton; do not fully understand the second.
If I go no further than to say to the British that we cannot accept limitation of unit displacement of cruisers which would preclude armament of efficient battery of 8-inch guns, would not British assume that we are willing to make agreement to build cruisers below 10,000 tons with 8-inch guns?
500.A15 a 1/460 : Telegram The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary
GENEVA, July 20, 1927-4 p. m.
[Received July 20–1:40 p. m.] 111. Your No. 55, July 19, 4 p. m., points 2–3, states that we were to reserve the liberty, after agreement on total tonnage for cruisers, to construct within the agreed tonnage any type and number of vessels up to 10,000 tons with the right of placing thereon 8-inch guns or such armament as our requirements might call for.
This would constitute, and we feel it our duty to draw your attention to the fact, a more unbending attitude than was envisaged in the course of the conversations we had in Washington when it was determined that our rights should be upheld to the allocation in maximum size cruisers of 60 to 70 percent of our total cruiser tonnage. The statement under reference, further, runs counter to Admiral Jones' declarations in the technical committee and to my own statements in the plenary session and to those of the other chief delegates, to the effect that we would be willing to examine the subject of the percentage of largest size cruisers if desired. We feel quite certain, should we at the present time flatly declare our right to allocate our entire tonnage to 10,000-ton vessels, that the British would claim that we had gone back on our previous promises in the matter and would be quick to use this as an excuse for wrecking the Conference. In the event of a rupture, we should be most careful not to furnish them with a pretext. My telegram No. 106, July 18, contained a suggestion concerning the smaller class of cruiser which had been elaborated by the naval advisers of our delegation. They are now in receipt of the Navy Department's studies, transmitted in your telegram No. 56, of July 19,74 which show that our needs can be efficiently met by
* Not printed.
an 8,300-ton cruiser, and we therefore believe that it would be far more advisable not to depart from the attitude hitherto adopted of being willing to examine the possibility of a smaller category of cruiser, upon which 8-inch guns could be effectively mounted. Should the British then decline to entertain conversations on this basis our position would be a strong one.
A declaration of our insistence upon our power of allocating all the tonnage which we have available to 10,000-ton cruisers would be most unfortunate. Upon this point the entire delegation is agreed. We are equally agreed as to the essential necessity of avoiding any sacrifice whatever of primordial interests but we also wish to avoid / the possibility of being blamed for declining to examine the suggestions which are reasonable.
The other matters discussed in your telegram No. 55, of July 19, are receiving careful attention and our comment thereon will be telegraphed to you shortly.
500.A15 a 1/467e : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation
WASHINGTON, July 21, 1927—% p. m. 59. There is no intention to restrict you to more rigid stand than was thought of during discussions in Washington in regard to the use of about 70 percent of total tonnage in the construction of 10,000ton cruisers. Remaining cruiser tonnage would include 10 cruisers of the Omaha class and the class of efficient 8-inch-gun cruisers of an agreed tonnage. Department does not desire you, of course, to refuse to discuss any plan or proposal which you have agreed to discuss. Department feels, however, that recommendation made by naval advisers (see your No. 106, July 18, 11 p. m.) on right to arm all new cruisers with 8-inch guns should be adhered to.
500.A15 a 1/467c: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation
WASHINGTON, July 21, 1927—3 p.m. 60. Sir Esme Howard called on me today, primarily, so he said, to let me know that Mr. Chilton was returning to Washington, but that
Sir Esme himself was going back to Manchester, Massachusetts, but would come down any time I wished. He then remarked, incidentally, that he had observed in the press that the British and Japanese delegations had reached agreement on equality of submarine tonnage, and that he wished to deny truth of report. I said that I did not understand that the two delegations had come to such an agreement, although the British had proposed one which the Japanese had stated they did not desire. I thought it well that I should let him know I was aware of the British proposition. The Ambassador then discussed the Conference very generally, saying he was not very hopeful in regard to it and that he felt Great Britain had made great concessions but that the American delegation had not made any. I stated very emphatically that our delegation had made extensive concessions by suggesting we might agree to tonnage level much higher than we had originally proposed; that it was true that if the British demanded over 400,000 tons there would be no object to making a treaty, and that we did not believe that the Japanese would accept this. As far as concerns Great Britain's position in trying to force this Government to build the greater portion of its cruisers in small tonnage with 6-inch guns, the British Government might as well understand that the Government of the United States could not and would not accept it. I explained to him again the necessity for larger unit cruiser displacement and for 8-inch-gun armament, particularly in view of larger number of merchantmen which Great Britain has which she can arm with 6-inch guns. Howard said that British Navy denied this. I replied that I depended on our Navy for our opinion. I also took advantage of this occasion practically to comply with your No. 110, July 19, midnight, and to inform Howard that Great Britain must not only agree to a total tonnage, if any treaty was to be made, but must also agree to the mounting of 8-inch guns. I do not doubt that he will report immediately to his Government what I said.
500.A15 a 1/463: Telegram
The Ambassador in Japan (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State
TOKYO, July 21, 1927–6 p. m.
[Received July 21–10:20 a. m.] 102. A member of my staff who had an informal talk with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs today took the occasion to refer to the reported agreement on July 16th at Geneva by the Japanese delegation with the last British proposal. The Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs stated that Admiral Kobayashi had expressed the opinion to Admiral Field that the Japanese Government would accept these proposals.