63 Cablegram From Menzies to Holland

Cablegram, Canberra, 16 March 1951

33. IMMEDIATE TOP SECRET

Pacific Pact I have just received a personal message[1] from Gordon Walker dated 14th March giving the United Kingdom Government's reaction to security arrangements in the Pacific along the lines discussed in Canberra with Dulles. Walker states that he is sending you a similar message.

2. As I interpret United Kingdom Government's attitude, they now accept, subject perhaps to some drafting changes or clarification, a tripartite arrangement between the United States, New Zealand and Australia. This is a notable step forward. On the other hand, they are apparently opposed to the inclusion of the Philippines in a quadripartite pact of a similar nature.

3. Australia and New Zealand have, of course, been agreed throughout that a tripartite arrangement is preferable and I assume that this would continue to remain our first objective. Our advices from Washington, however, make it clear that the United States will insist on inclusion of the Philippines. If we fail to secure our first objective, we in Australia will accept a quadripartite pact including the Philippines as a second objective. We would regard it as inconceivable that we should resist the inclusion of the Philippines to the point of losing or endangering completion of any security arrangement.

4. In expressing this view, we have not failed to take into account the objections raised by the United Kingdom. It seems clear to us that inclusion of the Philippines would not endanger the position of other Asian countries excluded from the pact because for many other reasons the Philippines is already known throughout the world to be part of the United States defence system. Sir Esler Dening, when he was in Canberra, told us that this was his view and that he had recommended to London acceptance, if necessary, or a quadripartite pact. The second argument used in Walker's message, namely that inclusion of the Philippines would make it appear that the United Kingdom 'was being unduly subservient to the United States in the Pacific', we simply do not understand. It is a new argument which was not used at all in Attlee's message[2] objecting to the original 'island chain' proposal of Dulles. It is well known that the United Kingdom, for understandable reasons, has been obliged by circumstances to regard the Pacific area as predominantly an American responsibility.

5. I understand that Spender has spoken to Doidge by telephone and has suggested that New Zealand and Australia should consult with one another before either replies to London. I think you will agree that this procedure is desirable.

6. To sum up, I feel that our objective must be, while fully considering United Kingdom representations and doing our utmost to protect United Kingdom interests, nevertheless to move at the earliest possible date towards completion of a Pacific security arrangement, preferably tripartite, but, if necessary, quadripartite. A second opportunity of this kind may well not recur in our time.

1 Document 61.

2 Presumably the letter dated 8 February conveyed by Williams to Fadden (Document 43) rather than a cablegram dated 24 February from Harrison that conveyed Attlee's letter to Menzies (Document 54).

[NAA : A1838, TS250/7/10]