DEAR MR. SECRETARY:
I have reported before, and the impression grows deeper as the days go by, that although Germany is not present at Geneva, none the less it is the concern regarding Germany which is decisively influencing the action of all the European member States today. The States of Europe, while fully realizing and apprehensive of the dangers inherent in Italy's present course, have no real fear of Italy; they are however profoundly afraid of Germany. Hence in their concerted action in the development of the collective idea on the Continent, in the application of sanctions and in their consideration of future eventualities, they are dominated by two thoughts: what will be the effect of such action on Germany and how will analogous action work against Germany when and if necessity calls for it? More than for a solution of the present problem, the setting into operation of the League machine seems to me a trial and test of strength for future possibilities. If I may so phrase it, we are attending a dress rehearsal in which the elements of the piece are carefully inspected for future production, and in which one of the most important props, the British navy in the Mediterranean, is also visible and under scrutiny.
Those who now believe that economic sanctions against Italy will be efficacious also believe, and rejoice thereat, that the machinery of Article 16 of the Covenant has been tried and not found wanting. They do not doubt that this action, if successful, will impress Hitler and that he will come to understand that while the States of Europe are reluctant to intervene in the internal affairs of any country, they will tolerate the existence of a dictator only while he keeps within his own boundaries and refrains from attempts to bully his neighbor. Thus, they contend, at the end of the Italian trouble Hitler should be in a frame of mind to negotiate Germany's international problems and negotiate them reasonably.
HUGH R. WILSON
Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 291-92
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