251 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 88 WASHINGTON, 17 May 1940

Events of last few days have shaken profoundly United States complacency. Whole country particularly Washington is extremely nervous and depressed at realisation of their own unpreparedness and that United States may be menaced by trend of events in Europe.

As anticipated in my telegram No. 85 [1] the President [2] today asked Congress for a billion dollars to expedite American preparedness. This is reflection of general belief United States defences are inadequate and must be strengthened without delay.

Whilst unity on need for additions to national defence, opinion is divided on attitude to struggle in Europe. Small section are pressing for intervention. Much larger section appreciates importance of giving the Allies all possible assistance and are beginning to talk of supplies on credit or gratuitously.

Isolationists laying emphasis on United States preparing to defend herself and ignore or deny importance to United States of helping the Allies by every means short of war or actual intervention in Europe.

We must neither exaggerate the strength of the move to aid us nor underrate Isolationists; former is growing and the Administration are fully aware of serious situation and I believe are considering every way of giving aid and encouragement to the Allies. But there is no sign that the United States will come into the war at an early date. We should not embarrass them by criticism in press or otherwise of their tardiness or give any indication that we consider they should rush to our assistance. One result of elections is fear on the part of so many candidates that to speak what he knows and believes is the truth regarding the necessity to aid the Allies may cost him Isolationist vote. [3]

1 Document 248.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 This cablegram was repeated as no. 19 to S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London.

[FA: A3195, 1.3350]