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197 Evatt to Curtin

Cablegram E104 (extracts) WASHINGTON, 22 May 1943, 8.45 a.m.


Reference to your PW.109. [1] Your telegram PW.106 [2] asking for
some account of discussions crossed my E.101 promising further
telegram this week-end.

1. What follows is derived from statements made by the President
and the Prime Minister either in private conference or at the
meeting of the Pacific War Council, or at the meeting of the
British Commonwealth Representatives.

2. Compared with 12 months ago, public opinion in the United
States favours the maximum possible concentration against Japan.

This is reflected in Congress and in administrative circles where
the presidential election of 1944 is already important. Mrs.

Roosevelt proposes to visit Australia and New Zealand about
September next. Willkie [3] and a number of prominent editors have
a similar desire. General Marshall and Admiral King speak of
visiting Australia in the near future.

3. Yesterday, by way of illustration, the President's son, Colonel
Roosevelt, returned from the South Pacific. He said that the
United States Forces were fretting under tedious delays, that
Japan's policy might well be to refrain from expanding her
conquests further, to hold what she had and wait until European
battles had tired out the contestants. He said this would be
disastrous because Japan was a deadly foe of the United States.

4. A similar tendency is evident even in quarters which up until
recently were repeating the 'Beat Hitler First' slogan as though
that in itself was an infallible guide. Those quarters include
columnists like Walter Lippmann who are in close touch with Army
Headquarters. Yesterday he was critical of Senator Chandler [4]
who advocated a complete reversal of the present 'Beat Hitler
First' strategy. But Lippmann himself adds the following
significant passage-

'The trouble with the kind of argument that Chandler has started
is that to expose its fallacies may in itself lead to a false
conclusion. It would be a very false conclusion, for example, to
suppose that the alternative to the Chandler argument is to do
nothing. Quite the contrary. Our power is growing so rapidly on
the sea and in the air that there is no good reason why the
important Pacific theatres cannot be heavily reinforced, and
certainly no reason why plans cannot be drawn and the preparations
advanced and the directing Commanders chosen for the great
converging offensives which will be undertaken.'

5. The Senate debate which preceded Churchill's speech showed the
same trend. In his speech, Churchill's primary object was to make
it clear that at the proper time Japan would be opposed by all the
resources of Britain. It is certain that he made this emphasis by
arrangement with the President.

6. The point to remember is that some Senators, including
Chandler, were asking that the effort which had been concentrated
in Africa should be at once switched over against Japan. This was,
of course, going much further than Australia, under your
leadership, was even prepared to advocate. All this has been
useful because it has made more reasonable our main contention,
viz. for ever-increasing pressure against Japan to prevent
consolidation and to pursuing limited Pacific offensives wherever

7. Both the President and Churchill have indicated that the
general directive in relation to the war against Japan will now be
to apply such increased pressure in all quarters of the Pacific.

The attack on Attu in the Aleutians is only one instalment.

8. I have been given to understand that at a later period it is
proposed to assign to General MacArthur's command all the forces
now under Admiral Halsey, including very large Naval forces for
the purpose of important operations of immediate concern in the
South Pacific and the South-West Pacific.

9. More than this I cannot say for I have adopted your advice not
to probe too deeply into operational matters. Admiral King is most
secretive and the President himself tells me he hears of King's
operational plans only when it is impossible to alter them. Last
year Churchill complained to me that although Admiral King made
commitments in relation to the Atlantic, his invariable practice
was to concentrate his attention on the Pacific. Churchill has
said the same on this occasion, not so much as a complaint, but as
a fact which had to be accepted. I should add that Admiral Leahy,
who is very close to the President, and is Chairman of the Chiefs
of Staff, is an outspoken admirer of General MacArthur and a
strong advocate for greatly increased activity against Japan.

10. It has been agreed that a full scale offensive in Burma
against the Japanese will commence at the end of the monsoon
period, i.e. about October next. The extent to which this will be
actually supported by the Eastern fleet has not yet been
determined-Wavell and Admiral Somerville are here to discuss such
operations. General Stilwell is also present.

[matter omitted]

14. The President and Mr. Churchill are agreed that Russia should
not, as yet, be asked to permit its Far Eastern bases to be used
at a later stage in the war in order to attack Japan. They are
both certain that if the request were now made, Stalin would
reject it-but they both seemed equally satisfied that, at a later
stage, and probably as part of a territorial bargain, it will be
possible to secure the Russian armies in Siberia and suitable air
bases for the war against Japan.

15. On the whole, Churchill is far keener on Pacific activities
than during last year, when our position was much worse. This is
partly because he is radiating confidence. Although he undoubtedly
sticks to his plan of primary concentration against Germany, he
does not talk in the old slogans and he is really anxious to join
with Roosevelt and push against Japan whenever it is practicable
to do so. He and the President are much concerned at the apparent
worsening in the internal position in China as a result of which
the pressure for immediate air aid to China is irresistible. But
the Chinese representative says that air support of itself will be
inadequate. Chiang Kai-shek [5] seems to have little confidence in
Wavell's leadership.

16. Churchill has spoken to me several times of General MacArthur
always in the highest terms.

17. I should add that nothing could possibly exceed the cordiality
and friendliness both of the President and the Prime Minister. For
the time being I would strongly counsel your striking a note of
restrained optimism in relation to the Pacific war. That, I
believe, would fit in not only with their own plans, but also with
the spirit in which the Australian people can do its utmost. These
personal friendships are, as you know, an asset to us. I have
never intervened gratuitously, though whenever the opportunity was
offered me, I stated our case to the very utmost of my strength.

Please tell Shedden that I shall have, for personal report upon my
return, much of the detailed matter in which he is specially

[matter omitted]

1 Dispatched 22 May (FA:A3196/A3831, 1942-43, folder, personal
outwards cables file copies, spares and master sheets, 0.13935).

This cablegram acknowledged Evatt's cablegram E101 of 21 May,
which had advised Curtin that a comprehensive report of the
Churchill-Roosevelt discussions taking place in Washington was
being prepared and commented: 'although no reversal of major
strategy is in contemplation, the Pacific war will obtain greatly
increased attention from now on. In my view the fight which under
your leadership the Government has put up during the last twelve
months and more will have greatly contributed to this result.'
Cablegram E101 is on file AA:A4764, 4.

2 This is presumably an incorrect reference to cablegram PW105,
which requested Evatt to send an account of the progress of his
discussions and of current trends in Washington affecting
Australia. Cablegram PW106 dealt with personal and domestic
political matters. Both cablegrams were dispatched on 21 May (see
0.13780 and 0.13807 in the folder cited in note 1).

3 Republican candidate at the 1940 U.S. presidential election.

4 U.S. Democrat Senator for Kentucky.

5 Chinese Prime Minister.

[AA:A4764, 3]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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