136 Mr F.K. Officer, Australian Counsellor at U.K. Embassy in Washington, to Lt Col W.R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 33 WASHINGTON, 19 August 1939

PERSONAL FOR HODGSON

Your telegram No. 23. [1] Generally prevailing view and attitude is quite different to that of year ago when it was friendly but inclined to be critical of our policy. Now there is very general belief in our steadily increasing strength both of arms and of purpose. Provided we can maintain our present policy We will have the very friendly support of the great majority of public opinion here. But public feeling is still against active intervention although many believe that it will not be possible to avoid it ultimately. There is still a strong isolationist feeling and outbreak of hostilities would tend to stimulate it. On the whole the public view the world situation as one problem and on Atlantic side at all events do not regard the Far East as a distinct question. Except in certain interested circles in the West recent action regarding the Japanese Treaty has the support of public opinion but our difficulties are appreciated and there is little tendency to criticise us for not taking a stronger line.

Administration attitude is based on the above and is friendly and sympathetic and in case of hostilities will probably go as far as Neutrality Act permits but it will be cautious not to give strength to isolationists. Will try and augment this paragraph later.

1 On 18 August 1939, Hodgson cabled to Officer: 'In view of the present situation would appreciate by telegram indications available of views obtaining in official quarters on European and Far East developments as they occur including possible courses of action' (cablegram 23, on file AA: A981, Germany 67, i).

[FA: AA1975/5, 1939, PUBLIC OPINION (U.S.) WARTIME]