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15 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Circular cablegram M179 LONDON, 25 July 1941, 12.10 a.m.


We have considered our conclusions further in the light of the
views expressed by the Canadian, Commonwealth and New Zealand
Governments. We fully appreciate the vital importance, to which
all three Governments have called attention, of securing the
clearest possible indication that the active armed support of the
United States will be immediately available if the Japanese force
the issue to the point of war. The only question to our mind is
how can this best be secured.

2. Having regard to constitutional difficulties in the United
States, we feel quite certain that to ask the United States
Government in terms now to give us such an assurance would be most
unwise. Any attempt to attach such a condition to our taking
action similar to that which the United States are prepared to
take might well discourage the United States from taking action at
all and in any case would not, in our view, produce the desired

3. We have considered whether it would be possible to inform the
United States Government that we are prepared to take action
with theirs and at the same time to make it clear that we are
assuming that if, in consequence, an attack on the Netherland East
Indies or ourselves results, they will be prepared to give us
armed support. We feel, however, that the United States Government
would have no alternative but to make reservations which would
seriously embarrass us.

4. In our view the United States Government will in fact be
compelled to support us if need arises. It is clear that if the
Japanese are provoked to extreme measures, it will be as a result
of the drastic effect of the action taken by the United States and
not of our co-operation therein. Both by reason of the general war
policy of the United States towards us and their special interest
in the Far East, we do not believe that they would find it
possible not to give us their full support.

5. With these considerations in mind, we feel convinced that the
proper course is to follow the United States lead boldly and
without attaching reservation. If this should lead to a tense
situation and Japanese threats of hostile action, then will be the
time to raise with the United States, with the best prospect of
success, the question of a guarantee of mutual support.

6. We earnestly trust that His Majesty's Governments in the
Dominions will feel able to agree to our taking this line with the
United States Government. We feel it essential to make known to
the United States Government, forthwith, our willingness to take
parallel action with them and should be grateful therefore for a
reply by Most Immediate Telegram.

[AA : A981, FAR EAST 20B, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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