312 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 263 [1] CANBERRA, 10 October 1944


Your 263 [2], 264 [3], 265 [4] forwarding statements by Smuts and Mackenzie King on world organisation.

1. Dumbarton Oaks talks have resulted in a substantial measure of agreement and we agree that everything possible should be done to avoid jeopardising further progress. We have always regarded it as essential that the less powerful nations, especially the four British Dominions who have contributed and are contributing so much to the war effort, should have an adequate voice in the proposed world organisation.

At the same time, we have consistently approached the special problem of the place of the big powers on the Security Council along lines now emphasized by General Smuts. On 19th September, Australian Minister for External Affairs suggested to Australian representatives in London and Washington that much might be gained by reconsidering the dispute over voting on the Council and there was danger in rejecting Russian view out of hand. [5] These views were put before Eden and Cadogan. [6]

2. On that occasion, Evatt said: 'The overwhelming preponderance of the world's armed strength now lies in the hands of three powers Great Britain, United States and Soviet Union. The military power of each one of these powers is so great that any security system which did not have the full backing of all three would have little chance of success. Equally it is doubtful whether, if any one of these three were minded to commit an act of aggression, it could be checked by anything less than another world conflict which it is the primary purpose of any security organisation to avoid. It follows, firstly, that it is basic to the success of any world organisation that each of the three great powers must be ready to renounce war as an instrument of national policy and a means must be found for composing amicably any differences among the Big Three, and, secondly, that the three great powers must act unitedly against aggression or threats to peace on the part of any other nation.' 3. It would appear unlikely that in practice any ultimate question would be pressed to a decision on the Security Council against the will of the Soviet Union, at any rate for some considerable time to come. Even if a decision were reached by outvoting the Soviet Union, it is doubtful if it could be made fully effective over Soviet opposition. Despite disappointments and set-backs, we still believe that in the matter of the Security Council, we have to be prepared to trust Russia. Unless we can give that trust then the possibilities of obtaining collective security in the post-war years are indeed slight.

We can appreciate the distinction made by Mackenzie King between the transitional period during which the main task will be to prevent a further outbreak by Germany and Japan and the long-term measures for maintaining general world security, but as Evatt has previously suggested, provision might be made within the world organisation for progressive adjustments to meet changing conditions.

1 Repeated to the Canadian, N.Z. and South African Prime Ministers as nos 23, 222 and 91, and to the Legations in Washington and Moscow as nos 1550 and 215, respectively.

2 Dispatched 2 October. In AA:A3195, 1944, Folder, Inwards Most Secret and Top Secret Master Sheets, from Secdomin (Largely D Series and Australian Series), May-December, 1.35413.

3 Dispatched 2 October. On file AA:A5954, box 1821.

4 Dispatched 2 October. On the file cited in note 3.

5 Document 287.

6 Bruce notified Evatt in cablegram 532, dispatched 25 September (on file AA:M100, September 1944), that these views had been put to Eden. Similarly Dixon put these views to Cadogan (see cablegram 899, dispatched 21 September, on file AA:A816, 146/301/1).

[AA:A816, 146/301/3]