206 Forde to Burton

Departmental Dispatch 8 OTTAWA, 11 February 1949


I refer to despatch No. D.D. 87/48 [1], telegrams Nos. 343 [2], 347 [3] and 349 [4] from this Office and, especially, to your telegram No. 17 [5] of 29th January to High Commissioner, London (repeated to Ottawa as No. 29) together with our telegrams in reply thereto, Nos. 42 [6] and 52 [7] -on the subject of the Canadian reaction to Dutch aggression in Indonesia.

2. As explained in my last telegram (No. 52), I had brought before both the Prime Minister and Mr. Pearson the matters contained in your telegram to London, No. 17, by hand-delivery letter, since it was impossible to obtain an interview with either on the Saturday morning on which your telegram arrived. This method was suggested by Mr. Pearson himself on the telephone when he indicated that he regretted being unable to see me at that moment but stated that he would consider the contents of your telegram over the weekend and would see me later. Both letters were forwarded on the same day as the arrival of your telegram and both were acknowledged in writing without comment.

3. I was not surprised that no comment was received, since the press had already reported, before the arrival of your telegram the fact that the United States resolution [8] had been passed, substantially in its original form, by the Security Council and the fact that Canada had supported the United States resolution.

4. In view, however, of your subsequent telegram No. 31 [9], I sought a further interview with Mr. Pearson and was able to obtain one after he had delivered his maiden speech in the House on the subject of the North Atlantic Security Pact.

5. Mr. Pearson was not anxious to comment on the contents of the Department's telegram to London since, as he stated, he presumed that he had been given a copy for information only. In the course of conversation, he stated that, if desired, he could give his personal reactions on the contents. Emphasizing that he was speaking personally only, he said that he felt sorry that it was considered necessary to send the cable to London. In his own words, he 'felt that British policy in respect of this very difficult problem had been constructive and that Canada had found itself in general agreement with the British approach to this problem. Furthermore, Canada had worked with the United Kingdom, the United States and others on the resolution before the Security Council and he felt that the resolution, as finally adopted, while it was American in its inception, had been discussed by the Americans with other delegations (including the Canadians) and its final form reflected the views of several members of the Council.

As the result of changes made in the resolution in the course of these discussions, it became possible to obtain the necessary agreement.' 6. Mr. Pearson added, 'Canada thinks that the resolution, as eventually passed, was the most effective action that the Security Council could have taken in all the circumstances of the case'.

7. Though the results of this interview were disappointing, I felt that the reaction was, in some respects, inevitable since, by the time the telegram to London arrived, Canada had committed itself to a line of action in the Council and it was unlikely that Mr.

Pearson would be in a position to make any statement of a kind other than that which he made to me.

8. The reasons behind the Canadian reaction on this matter will have been made clear to you from my despatch mentioned above and there is at the moment nothing which I can usefully add to that report. The Australian point of view was clearly and firmly put to the Canadian authorities in the earlier stages of the discussion before the Security Council. As you will see from earlier communications, it was received with courtesy but circumstances existing before the Indonesian problem, in its latest form, arose, made the Canadian reaction to it more or less inevitable. I cannot too strongly emphasize that in the present stage of negotiations directed towards the North Atlantic Security Pact, it is probable that the Canadian Government will regard almost any other international question as secondary to it. It appears that Dutch timing of the 'police action' was largely determined by that preoccupation of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada herself.

9. I shall follow up the matter in view of the Security Council's decision that certain action must be taken by 18th February and will endeavour to find what the Canadian reaction on this aspect will be.

10. I shall communicate on this later by telegram.

1 Dispatched on 31 December 1948. It discussed, inter alia, the reasons for the Canadian Government's pro-Dutch policy on Indonesia, instancing that Government's wish to secure the negotiation of the North Atlantic Security Pact and its concern lest the appearance of siding with a Communist power on important international issue damage Canada's internal unity.

2 Dispatched on 21 December 1948, it reported that the Canadian Cabinet had not yet met, that interim instructions had been sent to the Canadian delegates on the Security Council, and that the Canadian Government would appreciate the Australian Government's view on the Indonesian situation.

3 Document 460 in Volume XIII.

4 Dispatched on 27 December 1948, it reported that the High Commission in Ottawa had arranged to meet Pearson on the following day to discuss Indonesia.

5 Document 169.

6 Document 188.

7 Document 200.

8 Document 168.

9 See note 1 to Document 185.

[AA : A3100/1, G49/124]