9

5th February, 1925

CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Melbourne 7.3.25)

My dear P.M.,

SIR EYRE CROWE [1]

He is the great opponent of compulsory international arbitration.

Whilst listening to his forcibly expressed views, one might be hearing the views of one of the many opponents of industrial arbitration in Australia. Such arbitration as there has been in the international field, even with carefully chosen arbitrators, has resulted, so he says, in no clear-cut decisions but in findings framed to save the faces of both litigants, giving the one not all but part of what he seeks, and taking away from the other part only of what he seeks to conserve. He not unnaturally throws up his hands in horror of this system applied to momentous issues.

Crowe personally is a sick man. He is over 60 and very obviously in bad health, to such an extent that it is quite plain that he cannot for many more years stand the continuous strain that falls on the Permanent Head of the Foreign Office. Without knowing him more than casually, I should not give him much more than a year more of it. [2]

As to his successor, I should not think, from what I have seen and heard, that it would go to Sir William Tyrrell, his next in direct succession in the Foreign Office. [3] The latter is very clever, very agile-minded, well known for his ability at discovering 'formulae', but without the high principle and sound judgment and knowledge of Crowe. I have heard Sir Eric Drummond's name mentioned (Secretary-General to the League) with more certainty.

Crowe is very illuminating about the morality of the European nations. He says that Great Britain alone amongst European nations signs a Treaty with the full intention to carry it out. He says he has very good reason to suspect that France has a legal department at the Quai d'Orsay, whose main business is the word-by-word dissection and analysis of all Treaties she enters into, to find holes in them, which are filed with the Treaty for future possible use! He says that the smaller nations play fast and loose with us, knowing that it is not our custom to make use of their past misdeeds against us, in our present dealings with them; and also that they cannot by favouring us in small ways get other than just and impartial treatment from us in their troubles.

With regard to the 'Declaration' which (in the Protocol Sub- committee papers that I have sent you) is proposed between France, Belgium and Great Britain, he points out that the sanctity of the North Sea and Channel Ports was specified with intent, to draw attention away from the Eastern (Czecho, Polish, &c.) frontiers of France and her allies, which this country has no intention of committing herself to defend. [4] It might be said in consequence that Germany might declare a holy war in France with the express and limited object of recovering Alsace-Lorraine, and with the stated purpose of not even approaching the Channel ports. The answer to this is that the 'word' of a country already committed to arms is no guarantee, and we would have to assume, even in this case, that such aggression was the beginning of a menace to the Channel ports.

When Hankey [5] told me privately ten days ago of the proposed wording of the 'Declaration', I suggested to him that it would give the pact a nice warm Imperial flavour if he worded it 'Menace to Imperial Communications and the Channel Ports', and asked him if I might cable you explaining the proposal, and asking if you concurred in putting this forward. He liked this at first but, on subsequently discussing it at the Sub-committee meeting, they decided that if we put this in, then France would retaliate with some similar phrasing designed to protect her colonial possessions, and that it would get unwieldy, complicated, and full of pitfalls. I also talked to Crowe about cabling you in the above regard, and he said they wanted to keep this proposed 'key' Declaration simple and free from any implication other than a commitment that we would go to war again under circumstances similar to 1914. He said that there was nothing to stop similar and possibly more detailed Declarations being subsequently entered into, containing some such wording. I pointed out that the proposed Declaration as it stood contained, to put it at its worst, no 'bait' to attract Dominion enthusiasm, but was without adornment a local pact between Great Britain, France and Belgium.

His answer was that this was unavoidable; it was up to the Dominions to say whether they would bind themselves to come to the assistance of this country again in circumstances similar to those of 1914.

I am anxious to tell you of what I think is a very decided step forward in the 'liaison' work here. As I have told you, up till now I have been very careful to get Crowe's personal permission before sending any F.O. document to you. He has now given me the privilege of deciding myself what I send, relying, as he says, on my discretion in the matter not to abuse the privilege. This saves a lot of work, as I can now send F.O. documents themselves without the labour of copying or digesting them, or tramping across to the F.O. to get the royal assent. However, the privilege carries with it added responsibility with regard to the secrecy of these documents in Australia, about which I spoke in one of my letters by the last mail.

The above, of course, applies only to F.O. documents and not to the records of C.I.D. Meetings, which will always, I am afraid, remain sacrosanct as far as the printed proceedings go, although I am free, as before, to send you digests of what goes on.

CANADA

Geoffrey Dawson, Editor of 'The Times', seems very pleased at your having made the appointment that I am doing, and said to me that he was very interested to see what Canada would do on the same lines. He said that if she held off and did nothing, she would be cutting off her nose to spite her face. She would be letting

Australia get ahead of her in inside knowledge of what was going on, by persisting in her attitude that the day to day conduct of foreign affairs is no concern of hers. He holds that this appointment is really a move towards greater independence on the part of Australia, by giving us an opportunity to build up a Foreign Service of our own, based on the experience and knowledge of Great Britain. We have got to the inside and are looking out, rather than Canada's viewpoint from the outside looking in.

In conversation with Batterbee [6], lately at the Colonial Office, he said that in the past it has been at times the habit for Canada to open up a disputed question with the Consul-General in Canada of the foreign power concerned and through him carry the negotiations to such a point that if they succeeded, well and good, but if they looked like failing, they said that in any event this was only a preliminary airing of views and the matter must now be referred to the Colonial Office for settlement! This tendency to pass the responsibility on has apparently not been onesided. The Portuguese Charge d'Affaires said to me lately that the Dominions were of great diplomatic assistance to the Departments of State: 'when they get in a hole they say that whilst they themselves are perfectly reasonable on any point, it is very difficult to get the concurrence of the Dominions!' As to the attitude of Canada and Australia to the Empire, I think the position is well summed up by the tone of their respective replies to the invitation to Protocol Conference, contained in C.O. cables sent you on 15th January. [7]

Mackenzie King's [8] most recent pronouncements of any importance on the subject of Imperial relations are contained in the two extracts attached, marked 'A' and 'B'. His views in these two places are not really inconsistent, and (apart probably from political colouring to suit the needs of his position) not unusual, considering Canada's practically guaranteed immunity from aggression. Selfish no doubt, but understandable.

GENERAL

In any conversation with Foreign Office officials or with Press men, with regard to European countries, talk gets back almost inevitably to French security. By logical means -or by French diplomacy and pertinacity -it has been well drilled into everyone that there can be no new Heaven and new Earth until this question is settled to the satisfaction of the French. It has thoroughly permeated the Foreign Office: not to say that they are ready to dash into any onesided proposal -as the plus and minus of the position have been thoroughly thrashed out-but it is recognised that, although the danger is not immediate, they have to thoroughly explore all avenues until one is found that is fair and reasonable to both France and Great Britain, and is politically possible of achievement in both countries.

As to whether Australia would bind herself on paper to a 'Declaration' or Pact with France and Belgium, such as may be proposed as a result of the investigation of the Protocol Sub- Committee, I should think is very doubtful. Although Australia almost undoubtedly would assist Great Britain in the event of the channel ports being threatened by reason of aggression on the 1914 lines, she would, I imagine, want her Cabinet and Parliament to decide on the merits of the facts and circumstances of the moment whether she would send troops. [9] And it is difficult to imagine Canada taking any other attitude than this. Other Dominions don't matter much.

FRANCE

In order to get the views of people on the spot and to be in a position to read the telegrams and despatches from our Embassy in Paris with more intelligence, I have just returned from spending four or five days in Paris, where I met and had long conversations with Phipps [10] and KnatchbullHugessen (Counsellor and 1st Secretary) of the Embassy, and Hubert Walter, the Chief Correspondent of 'The Times'; and others. I also spent a day in the Chambre des Deputes under the guidance of a local personage who knew about it all.

The following rather elementary facts were made clear to me, which I repeat, with the risk that the gist of it may be already known to you.

The French Parliament (Chambre des Deputes) is elected for 7 years and almost invariably lasts out its full term, dissolution and appeal to the country being unpopular. The result of this is that at frequent intervals, regrouping of the many 'cartels' and factions in the Chamber cause the downfall of a Government and the immediate formation of its successor. It is said that the average 'life' of a French Government before the war was five months.

The shading of political opinion from 'left' to 'right' includes the group of Communists on the extreme left, through the 100-odd Socialists, the Radical-Socialists, the Centre, the Republicans, the Independents, as well as the many small and fluid associations of deputies.

The present Government under Herriot [11] is a Government of the Left, in that it has its support from the left centre rather than the right centre. It is supported and is dependent for its support on the 100-odd Socialists, of whom the leading member is Leon Blum [12], said by some authorities to be the ablest man in the Chamber.

The British Embassy regard the Herriot Government as a 'good' Government from the British point of view, in that it is a relief from the unbending Nationalism of Poincare [13], which was out to grind Germany to the ground and stick fast on the Rhine until the last penny was paid. Herriot is dependent on Blum and his 100-odd Socialists for his support, and this ensures a more lenient and conciliatory spirit towards Germany.

It is for this reason that the Embassy was so disturbed at Herriot's outburst in the Chamber on 28th and 29thJanuary, when he made a militant speech, specifying the urgent necessity for guarantees of French Security-it was spoken of in many French papers as a 'reversion to Poincareism'. Their explanation of it (in which Blum concurs) is that it is aimed at Great Britain, rather than for home consumption, as a cry to hearten this country at this period when they know that the Protocol (or something to take its place) is being considered.

In the ordinary course of events, it is not considered by expert British opinion in Paris that Herriot's Government can last more than (say) from one to four months more.

The Briand [14]-Loucheur [15] group seen to be watching events closely and it is thought that Briand will make a bid for power before long. This new regrouping is not thought to be as favourable to us as the present Government, as Briand is more to the 'right' than Herriot and if he succeeds in welding sufficient support to his banner, it will most probably not include the Socialists, whose modifying influence is thought to be no less than essential in France's dealings with Germany.

Herriot's 'Security' speech has started France off again on an orgy of self-pity and 'French Security' is again the paramount subject of the day.

It will be noted that I have not sent forward any information as to the day-to-day and voluminous negotiations with regard to the Commission of Control in Germany. This has been international on account of the impossibility of condensing the large amount of printed matter, and of its only very long-range interest to you in Australia. Should any 'situation' arise that is of sufficient importance, I would cable you information, but I do not think the semi-domestic negotiations warrant my reporting them.

I have also sent no information about the affair in Chile, as its importance is small.

The expulsion of the head of the Greek Church in Turkey has made some tension between Greece and Turkey, but it is not thought to be a matter of any great importance.

GENEVA PROTOCOL

I cabled briefly yesterday stating the fact that the Union of South Africa had notified the British Government of its refusal to accede to the Protocol. I understand that the full text of the South African cable is being posted to you by this mail.

Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

2 Sir Eyre Crowe died on 28 April 1925.

3 Crowe's successor was, in fact, Tyrrell.

4 In late 1924 and early 1925 the British Government, while agreeing that the Geneva Protocol should be rejected and that some gesture must be made to allay France's fears for her security, was undecided as to alternatives. Chamberlain, the Foreign Secretary, favoured a tripartite pact between France, Belgium and the United Kingdom guaranteeing the status quo in western Europe, and especially with respect to ports on the Channel and the North Sea;

some ministers agreed but urged delay so that increasing fear of Germany might make France more malleable; some opposed any British commitment on the Continent. It was only from March 1925 that the political need for the United Kingdom to balance her rejection of the Protocol with some constructive proposal led the Government to take up a German initiative in favour of a quadripartite pact involving Germany, the ultimate outcome being the Locarno treaties.

5 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

6 Harry Batterbee became Assistant Secretary at the Dominions Office in July 1925 on its separation from the Colonial Office.

7 Casey's point is not altogether clear. On 19 December 1924 the United Kingdom suggested to the Dominions that a special Imperial Conference be convened to discuss the Geneva Protocol. On 23 December Australia informed London of a preference for consultation by cable, and announced that the Commonwealth Government would closely consider the Protocol in the New Year.

The cables mentioned by Casey indicated a somewhat similar attitude in Ottawa; there was little interest in a conference, and Canada shortly was to take up the question of the Protocol in detail. Australia's response was perhaps the more constructive in that it suggested the need for cogent reasons for rejecting the Protocol and for a policy acceptable to the United States. See Correspondence with His Majesty's Government concerning the Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers, 1925 Session, Vol. 2, PP. 1235- 46.

8 William Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister.

9 In the event, Australia was prepared to associate herself with the British guarantee given at Locarno (though Bruce had misgivings), but it was made evident at the 1926 Imperial Conference that Canada would not follow suit. In the cause of imperial unity, therefore, the Dominions simply recorded their approval of Locarno.

10 Eric Phipps, in fact Minister at the Embassy in Paris.

11 Edouard Herriot, French Prime Minister.

12 Socialist leader in the Chamber.

13 Raymond Poincare had just concluded a term as Prime Minister (1922-24) and was soon to return for another (1926-29).

14 Aristide Briand, Prime Minister from November 1925 Until July 1926.

15 Louis Loucheur, mining magnate and frequently a French delegate at international conferences.