254 Evatt to Fraser

Cablegram 2 (extract) LONDON, 20 May 1946


[matter omitted] [1]

3. The recent Conference of the four Foreign Ministers has been disturbing with the constant jockeying for position by the Great Powers reflected in the attempted striking of bargains without much regard to justice or to the wishes of the peoples in the territories concerned and without regard to the views of other belligerents. There is great danger of getting back to straight power politics, especially if we accept the dangerous reasoning of some of the arguments put forward at the British Commonwealth Conference. I have pressed that the way to avoid the making of agreements on a basis of power politics, and the way to formulate peace treaties which because of their inherent fairness and justice have good prospects of leading to lasting stability and security, is to bring into conference at the earliest practicable stage all nations which by being active belligerents have proved their willingness to share the responsibilities for the maintenance of peace and security. When the Conference of belligerents meets it should not be faced with unalterable Big Power agreements but with a sort of 'annotated agenda'-a document which noted all alternative solutions which had been put forward for each important problem. The Conference could then consider all points of disagreement along with other agreed solutions until a final solution is recommended and adopted. People are worried and anxious that there is not yet a clear prospect of peace based on democratic ideals and democratic procedures. The present exclusive procedure is shaking confidence in the war aims that have been announced and also in the survival of democratic processes.

4. It has been difficult to decide on the best way of making sure that the Big Powers are kept to their agreement to call a full peace conference with real power. We must get a full conference, and if we do I feel confident that one power would not ruin itself publicly by standing out against the opinion of the overwhelming majority. Therefore I have confined myself to urging the early calling of a full Conference with real power. My personal feeling is that a conference will be held and none of the Great Powers will insist that it be a mere rubber stamp. The real stumbling block is not so much an unwillingness to let smaller powers participate as the present tendency to judge every issue in the light of its bearing on a coming war. We have tried hard to convince all concerned of the dangers of basing solutions on the assumption of a war against Russia, and have urged that issues be judged on the basis of principles of justice and of fair play and of United Nations action. Once the power politics way of thinking starts it spreads at the top to all levels, and increases the suspicion which is making agreement so difficult at the Foreign Ministers meeting.

5. I took the opportunity while in Paris of approaching the French informally (I saw Bidault and our officials saw French officials) to make sure that when we issue our joint invitation for a Conference to set up the Commission [2] the French will accept. It seems that they are not anxious that the Commission should consider political matters and in particular any plans for their native peoples to get self-government. I shall get our people in Canberra on to the job of preparation for the Conference at once.

It would be useful to have someone from New Zealand working with our people preparing the basic papers. Can this be arranged? I have also been wondering whether you would care to have a New Zealand officer attached to our representative on the Security Council; we would find it mutually useful. [3]

6. When I met Bidault we talked a little about Pacific Bases. He was quite definite that he wouldn't give base rights to any single country. Byrnes was not entirely unsympathetic to the idea of making some loose regional arrangements but we are to discuss matter again at Washington.

1 Paragraphs omitted cover the same ground, in very similar terms, as Document 259 Paragraphs 1, 2 and 6.

2 i.e. the South Seas Commission.

3 Fraser replied on 29 May that he appreciated Evatt's comments and shared his misgivings. He thought Evatt's progress towards a Pacific conference 'most satisfactory' and would arrange to have a New Zealand officer assist with preparations. 'Extreme staff difficulties', however, would prevent New Zealand accepting Evatt's offer regarding the Security Council.

[AA:A3317, 391/46]