346 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Cablegram 19 LONDON, 6 June 1940, 12 noon

During the week since sending my telegram No. 366 [1] my view has hardened that suggestion therein of declaration by the President [2] not fantastic but as well as being of incalculable benefit to the Allies probably most advantageous line of action both from the point of view of American people and the President himself.

So far as can be judged from here, American opinion is swinging rapidly towards fullest support to the Allies. This swing will be intensified if Italy comes in and further accelerated if France collapses. As this position develops greater assistance progressively will be afforded Allies-more arms released, credit facilities, etc. Eventually, when the threat to America herself is dear, the public will recognise the dangers and the United States will come into the war.

As I see it hard facts are inexorably forcing America towards war.

Will America's best interests be served (1) by allowing the position to develop as indicated above or (2) by taking action now in anticipation of event.

In considering (1) the following possibilities here to be taken into account: (a) collapse of France; (b) entry of Italy into the war; (c) reduction of United Kingdom's power of defence owing to limitation of scope of assistance the United States can render so long as nonbelligerent, e.g. naval co-operation; (d) loss of faith in the President's power of leadership when the people of the United States find themselves brought into the war under most disadvantageous circumstances; (e) disadvantage of allowing to Hitler the advantage of putting forward peace proposals (my cable No. 366) as against President taking the initiative.

In considering (2) the following must be taken into account.

It would be unpropitious [sic] [3] to prevent (1) (a) and (b) and would have obvious advantages in regard to (1) (c) and (e).

With regard to (1) (d) the United States maximum effort will only be achieved by great leadership in which the people have absolute trust and confidence. I recognise if the President took course (2) he would not at the moment of taking action be supported by the whole nation.

Events however would justify his leadership and progressively he would receive the support of a united people. If however the President allows the United States to drift into war his leadership will be impugned and inspiration he could give to America's war effort win be lost.

If course (2) were adopted the President's statement, after stating that domination by any one power or group of powers could not be tolerated and America would fight to prevent it, would have to make clear that the time has arrived when the world, political, economic and social, has got to be reconstructed and that this can either be done now or after a long and bloody struggle involving untold loss and suffering.

As to what he meant by world reconstruction the President would have to give a lead on such questions as armaments, security against aggression, colonies, equality of opportunity of nations and social and economic reconstruction. I gave to Sumner Welles during recent visit two memoranda placing my views on all these points and if by any chance he still has them you could get copies. [4]

Many of the views expressed in these memoranda would be quite unacceptable to many people here as inevitably would be many parts of a statement by the President demanding world reconstruction.

These people however are of the diehard type and do not express the views of the great majority of people in the United Kingdom and certainly not of the Dominions.

I believe that the President's statement would evoke a response throughout the world such as has never previously been seen in history. If Germany accepted his lead which hardly appears conceivable I do not believe it is beyond the wit of man to find the way to give effect to it notwithstanding complications consequent upon the existing state of hostilities and occupation of so many countries by Germany. If Germans rejected lead, new resolution and determination would be engendered and every nation would know that we were fighting for something of vital interest and concern to it. [5]


1 Document 309.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 ? It would probably be unable to prevent.

4 For an account of Bruce's discussions with Welles see Document 102. Bruce's memorandum on economic and social reconstruction is printed as the enclosure to Document 62. It is probable that the other memorandum was based on material in Brute's letter to Menzies of 2 January 1940 (Document 16).

5 This message to Casey was preceded by cablegram 18 of 5 June 1940 (on file AA: A3300, 47), which read: 'The following telegram is an expression of my own personal views and has obviously no official character of any kind. I send it to you equally personally.' Bruce repeated the message to Menzies on 7 June, again indicating that it was purely personal and unofficial (see Bruce's cablegram 390 of 6 June, on file AA: M100, June 1940).

The text printed here is taken from Menzies's copy because the message sent to Casey was badly mutilated in transmission, but the cablegram number and the date and times of dispatch and receipt in the heading am taken from the Washington copy.

[AA: M1608, A41/1/5, ii]