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

Cablegram 328 WASHINGTON, 2 May 1941, 10.20 p.m.

SECRET

My telegram 321. [1]

You will have been consulted by the British Government on certain naval proposals made to them by the United States Government to move a large part of the United States Pacific fleet to the Atlantic. Possible consequences of such action if it were to come about will be clear to you. The Pacific would be left with what would be deemed by both American and Australian public as wholly inadequate naval forces with which to resist potential Japanese aggression.

(2) Subject no doubt to reactions of Australia and New Zealand, scheme may well be accepted or rejected in United States and in United Kingdom not on strategic grounds but on its anticipated political effect on Japan. Argument of those who favour large scale movement of United States naval forces to the Atlantic is that Japan will be so impressed with America's determination that Britain shall win and that these moves will be taken to mean that the United States is about to enter the war, that Japan will hesitate to take any action that will place her on the losing side. It is on this gamble on Japanese reactions that advocates of the proposal rely.

(3) 1 would draw your attention to a less drastic proposal (paragraph 2 of my telegram 321).

(4) I make no comment on the strategical aspect of all this but from a political point of view I have no hesitation in saying that the proposal for a transfer of a large proportion of United States Pacific fleet would leave British countries and interests in considerable peril. Smaller scheme is to my mind vastly preferable.

(5) Chief sponsors of more drastic proposal are Stimson, Secretary of War, and General Marshall, Chief of Staff of United States Army, who appears to take the attitude that risks have to be taken in the Pacific in order to make certain of things in North Atlantic and that when the war is won situation in the Pacific can be retrieved. As you will know, they seem already to have written off the Philippines in advance as indefensible.

CASEY

1 Document 438.

[AA: A981, FAR EAST 26A]