123 Memorandum From Spender to Watt
Memorandum, Washington, 19 November 1951
NO. 3016/51. CONFIDENTIAL
Security Arrangements for the Pacific Area I refer to our memorandum No 2074/51 of 9th November in which attention was drawn to a public statement by Mr. Dean Rusk, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, concerning the sympathetic interest of the United States in a wider system of security for the Pacific area. I do not think that Rusk's remarks are at variance with the impression he gave me, and which I reported in my telegram No 1940 of 8th November, namely that the time is not yet ripe for a wider security arrangement for the Pacific area. You will recall that such words as 'sympathetic interest' were the stock response of the Department of State when the idea of a Pacific Pact was first put forward.
2. In recent memoranda (nos. 1937/51 and 2031/51 of 23rd October and 2nd November) I have reported press comment to the effect that the Administration was considering a security arrangement for the Pacific area along the lines of NATO. I also asked the Head of the Australian Joint Service Staff for any information he might be able to obtain through service channels on this matter. His understanding of American service opinion is as follows: Any moves to widen security arrangements for the Pacific area would be premature until the Tripartite Security Treaty and the United States-Philippines and the United States-Japanese Treaties had been ratified. The United States were reluctant to enter into any formal commitments in respect of the mainland of Asia and considered that the military assistance they were providing for Indo China and Thailand was the best they could do at this time. As for Malaya and Burma they regarded the first as Great Britain's responsibility and the second as falling within the defence interests of Great Britain or India. With regard to Indonesia American service opinion was opposed to either a bilateral pact between the United States and Indonesia or her inclusion in the Tripartite Security Treaty.
3. I would also draw your attention to a further statement that has been made about the possibility of a defence alliance between the United States and the non-Communist countries on the mainland of Asia. On 11th November Edgar Ansel Mowrer, a radio commentator, made the following statement:
'The United States Administration is ready to promote a defence alliance of non-Communist Asian states. Such an alliance will be a purely Asian defence link completing the Pacific Pacts recently signed at San Francisco. It will be, in a very literal sense, free Asia's contribution to the containment policy. It is, of course, not enough for the United States Administration merely to want an all-Asian defence bloc. It will have positively to support Philippines leaders in their efforts to convince the still undecided Asian governments that further hesitancy means suicide. In Washington, Secretary Acheson will put the political planning of Asian defence into the capable hands of his new special assistant, Myron Cowen'.
This I should think is mostly speculative based upon what Mowrer has read into Myron Cowen's appointment.