336 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister

Cablegram M3 LONDON, 5 March 1941, 1.33 p.m.

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Notice in press cables that Beasley [1] thinks that I have minimised the seriousness of the Pacific situation. Do not know how this impression arises. In reality my speech was primarily addressed to the Foreign Office which, though I am not to be quoted on this, seems to me to have adopted a fatalistic attitude towards our relations with Japan. [2] If a realistic attitude means that we are to drift inevitably into war with Japan, I cannot accept it. I am not suggesting a policy of retreat or appeasement but I do say that we must have a positive policy of thrashing out our differences and if necessary telling Japan just where the limits of tolerance are. In brief friendliness but firmness on everything that is really vital.

MENZIES

1 Leader of the Lang Labor Party in the House of Representatives and member of the Advisory War Council.

2 For the U.K. Foreign Office's reaction to the speech see PRO:FO 371/2774. M. E. Dening (Far Eastern Dept) commented: 'I cannot help feeling that Mr. Menzies' speech has undone much of what we had accomplished in our war of nerves against Japan in the past few weeks.' R. A. Butler (Parliamentary Under-Secretary) said: 'Mr Menzies will, in my view, find foreign policy a more delicate art than his lively intelligence has at present realised. He may be torpedoed at home.' Sir Alexander Cadogan (Permanent Under- Secretary), however, did not 'take too tragic a view' of the speech.

[AA:A3195, 1941, 1.3385]