12th January, 1928


My dear P.M.,

I had an interesting talk at lunch yesterday to Colonel Piggott [1], who was Military Attache at Tokyo until a year ago and is now the second man in Military Intelligence at the War Office. He repeats what I have so often been told before, that the best opinion that exists on paper in brief form about the position and aspirations of Japan is contained in Sir Charles Eliot's 'farewell' despatch from Tokyo of January 1926. [2]

If you have time to look at it in your infrequent leisure, Henderson [3] has several copies in the External Affairs Department. It is Foreign Office print Section 3 (Japan) of March 19th, 1926. You need read only pages 6 and 7, and 14 to 17-these contain the useful generalisations-the remainder is too detailed.

Piggott knows the Far East very well, speaks Japanese and is one of the people with first-hand knowledge. He deplores the loss of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty and is one of those who think that, even if it cannot be revived, we should replace it with an unwritten entente with Japan, similar to our entente with France in the pre- war decade.

Captain Egerton (Director of Plans, Admiralty) always talks in this same tone. They regret the fact that our policy of appeasing the United States led us to break with Japan. The Pacific 'Four Power Pact' [4] is considered a poor and pale substitute for the Anglo-Japanese alliance. The Dominions are given the credit for having swayed H.M.G.'s policy towards the break with Japan, but, actually, Canada alone was for the break (owing to her United States complex), New Zealand being strongly for retaining the alliance, Australia also for the same policy and South Africa more or less indifferent.

Australia for some curious reason is nearly always saddled in people's minds with the responsibility for the break with Japan, but it was, of course, Canada and not us at all.

However, now that the step has been so irrevocably taken and H.M.G. are apparently so completely committed to a policy of not offending America in the smallest degree-it would not seem possible to make any friendly gesture towards Japan without arousing the immediate suspicions of the United States.

The American Department of the Foreign Office are getting some entertainment out of the fact that the Americans are being drawn into the use of force in Nicaragua [5]-combined with the fact that the Pan-American Conference at Havana [6] this year is to be made the occasion by the Americans of an attempt to eliminate the suspicion in the minds of Latin America that the United States are prone to bully them.

Will Rogers-one of America's few real humourists-has been in Mexico lately as the guest of Dwight Morrow, the new American Ambassador to Mexico, and he (Will Rogers) has made some characteristically laconic comments on the situation. He said that some real point had recently been given to the old saying 'Ask the Marines'-if you wanted to know how any Central American political elections were getting on, you had only to ask the American Marines who had the situation in hand. 'It's a wonderful good idea', said Will Rogers, 'this sending American marines to guarantee the purity of Central American elections. The only trouble is that we haven't enough enlisted marines in the States to guarantee the purity of our own elections.'

Will Rogers has been used as part of the stock in trade of Dwight Morrow in his spectacular bettering of United States-Mexican relations. Calles (President of Mexico), Morrow and Will Rogers have been on a tour of inspection together-Will Rogers to create bonhomie and Dwight Morrow to capitalise on it.

Vansittart [7] draws a good parallel between the Mexico-United States position and a fable of La Fontaine-'The Sun and the Wind'.

A man was once walking along a road with a big coat tightly drawn round himself. The sun and the wind had a wager as to who could induce the man to take his coat off. The wind started and tried by blowing harder to win his point, but the harder the wind blew the tighter the man drew his coat round him. Then the sun started to shine and, as it grew hotter, the man eventually flung off his coat!

Sheffield, the late United States Ambassador to Mexico, tried to win his point with Mexico by strong arm methods-Morrow by good fellowship and the radiance of his smile.

Dwight Morrow, by the way, was the legal partner in J.P. Morgan's of Wall Street until he was induced by the President to take this diplomatic appointment.

A memorandum by the War Office that I send you this week indicates that they think that Soviet Russia is making efforts to perfect her war organisation. 'Russian military policy is for the moment defensive, but the present mental attitude of the Soviet Government is such that it may precipitate a war which, so far as the British Empire is concerned, cannot be elsewhere than in Central Asia.'

The Foreign Office consider that the War Office are scaremongers with regard to Russia and that this and their several previous memoranda in the last two years on this subject are too highly coloured. The War Office are always (probably rightly) trying to discover an 'objective' to account for every country's military preparations. One is reminded of the fact that foreigners affect to think that the British Navy is directed against Japan, our Air Force against France and our Army against Russia! It is a little galling to H.M.G. that Canada has invited the President of the United States [8] to visit Ottawa, without any reference to the British Government at all. The first the Dominions Office knew of it was from the Press. The visit of the United States President anywhere is an event of importance.

This came just at the moment when the new Canadian Conservative leader [9] made the remarks about whether the economic future of Canada lay within or without the Empire-see 'Daily Mail' cutting attached. [10]

The Australian press people in London have been sitting on my doorstep trying to get some indication of the personnel of the Big Four [11], but so far I have found myself able to withstand them.

A favourite cliche of the Australian Press Association is that such and such an opinion is held in 'Diplomatic circles in London'. I am getting my wife to do a cartoon with this title showing Sir Austen [12] with a large eyeglass, Bill Bentinck [13] with large round horn-rimmed spectacles, both against a background of Wellesley [14]-who is almost completely circular.

You know that all diplomatic posts abroad are in the habit of reporting to their home Foreign Offices on the character, ability and habits of their foreign colleagues. It has become known that the French Embassy at Madrid in reporting on Sir Horace Rumbold, the British Ambassador, started the report-'Malgre son air idiot...'!

If you happen by chance to have read a book called 'The Great Delusion' by Neon, which was published about a year ago, you may be interested to know that I hear confidentially that it was by a Mrs. Acworth, who has a brother-in-law in the Admiralty who is suspected (by the Air people) of having loaded her gun. It was, as you may remember, a violent attack on the Air Service and an implied boost for the Admiralty. It created considerable stir at the time. [15]

I have written another letter to you by this mail about Aden. It has been transferred from the administration of the Bombay Presidency to that of the Colonial Office, and responsibility for the defence of the port has been transferred from the War Office to the Air Ministry. This is the first port that Sir Hugh Trenchard [16] has managed to get into his clutches and he is very jubilant about it.

Belligerent rights at sea. As I have written in another letter, the C.I.D. meeting yesterday on this subject took an unexpected turn. I don't know what has gone on between Chamberlain and Tyrrell [17] in the last few weeks, but the Foreign Office has apparently quite changed its mind. I really think that it has been Hankey's [18] influence that has swung the affair round.

Chamberlain came out with the statement that 'the economic weapon was essential in an unlimited war' and that he would have nothing to do with Freedom of the Seas.

The King has been most active in the matter and has had half the Cabinet come to see him individually on the subject, and talked to Hankey for an hour about it. He was, I believe, most vehement, and said that whatever they did they would not get him willingly to agree to giving up our rights at sea. He realised that constitutionally he had to take their advice but that if it came to the point, he would do so with the greatest unwillingness. No doubt this has had some influence on the attitude of Ministers.

Both Hankey and the Prime Minister [19] are most relieved by the smooth turn things have taken.

Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Colonel F. S. G. Piggott was described publicly as General Staff Officer at the War Office.

2 See Letter 68.

3 Dr Walter Henderson, Head of the External Affairs Branch.

4 Negotiated at the Washington Conference of 1921-22, the Treaty between the United States, France, Japan and the British Empire was designed to stabilise Pacific relations for a ten-year period.

Casey presumably did not know that the United States had used British war indebtedness as a lever with which to force Britain not to renew her alliance with Japan, despite British and Japanese inclinations to the contrary.

5 Nicaragua was virtually a United States protectorate from 1912 until 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt began a retreat from 'dollar diplomacy'. Except briefly in the mid-1920s, American marines were stationed in Nicaragua to maintain pro-Washington government in the interests of United States capital and Panama Canal security.

6 The sixth International Conference of American States was held in Havana in 1928. Despite Latin American resentment of United States employment of force at the time in Nicaragua and Haiti, treaties were signed dealing with aliens, asylum, aviation, consular rights and maritime neutrality.

7 Robert Vansittart, Counsellor at the Foreign Office.

8 Calvin Coolidge.

9 Richard Bennett.

10 Bennett was a keen advocate of high imperial preference, a notion not then popular in London.

11 See note 22 to Letter 85.

12 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

13 Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck, posted later in the year as Second Secretary at the Embassy in Paris.

14 Sir Victor Wellesley, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

15 Neon, The Great Delusion, A Study of Aircraft in Peace and War, Ernest Benn, London, 1927 'Neon' was Mrs M. W. Acworth, the sister-in-law of Captain Bernard Acworth, veteran submariner and a prolific writer in defence of the Royal Navy, against the theory of evolution and on nature.

16 Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff.

17 Sir William Tyrrell, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

18 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

19 Stanley Baldwin.