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56 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 161A LONDON, 8 October 1942, 5.30 p.m.


D.O. telegrams 396 and 397 of October 2nd [1]-in my telegram S.92
of August 28th [2], I indicated that in my view we would be well
advised to determine our own policy with a view to taking
advantage of opportunity presented by Hull's conversation with
Halifax to arrive at an understanding with United States of
America, and thus avoid obvious danger of this question impairing
British-American relations.

Since sending you my telegram I have been doing what I can here to
get this issue faced and our policy determined, but with little
success. [3] My view of urgency of this problem was strengthened
as a result of a report by Law, Under Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, of conversations he had in Washington during a
visit there in September, particularly with Sumner Welles, who
expressed the strongest views as to necessity of an understanding
being arrived at. This necessity is now further emphasised by
Clark Kerr's report of his conversation with Willkie-D.O. telegram

I suggest for your consideration that, in view of dangers to
British-American relations if an understanding is not arrived at
on this matter, you should cable urging the necessity of our
clearing our minds as to our post-war attitude with regard to
Colonies and Dependencies not ripe for self-government.

Whether you would add in telegram any indication of your views
depends of course upon what your Government's attitude is. My own
opinion is that in post-war period doctrine of international
responsibility in respect to dependent peoples will have to be
accepted; and old conception of complete national sovereignty and
control will have to be substantially modified.

If this view is shared by you and your Government, there would be
advantages in your indicating it, even if only in most general
way, as one of the strongest arguments of die-hard reactionaries
of old Imperial school against this question being faced is that
it would cause trouble with the Dominions. [4]


1 On file AA:A2937, Post War colonial policy. They reported a
conversation between the U.K. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and
Wendell L. Willkie, who had been the Republican candidate at the
1940 U.S. presidential election and who was then visiting the
Soviet Union as a representative of President Roosevelt. Willkie
had spoken of the widespread dislike among Americans for the
traditional British attitudes towards imperial and colonial policy
and urged that in order to prevent the 'disaster' of the United
States returning to isolationism after the war Churchill should
publicly state that 'the "old imperialism" was ... dead ... and
that subject races could look to the future with new confidence'.

2 On file AA:M100, August 1942. It reported that Cordell Hull had
suggested that the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands and
China combine to make 'some general statement in which we might
all assert broad purposes making plain that attainment of freedom
involved mutual responsibility of what he called parent states and
of those who aspired to it'. Halifax had agreed in principle, but
expressed concern that (a) China might use the statement as an
excuse to tell the British how to run the Empire and (b) it would
prove difficult to formulate principles which would be equally
applicable to all the wide range of British colonies.

3 See Bruce's note of conversation with Cranborne on 28 August on
the file cited in note 2.

4 Evatt replied on 13 October by sending Bruce the text of a
statement which he had made in the House of Representatives on 3
September, in the course of which he had said 'our post-war order
in the Pacific cannot be for the sole benefit of one power or
group of powers. Its dominant purpose must be that of benefiting
the peoples everywhere ... In short, we must found future Pacific
policy on the doctrine of trusteeship for the benefit of all the
Pacific peoples'. See cablegram 333 on file AA:A989, 43/735/1021.

[AA:A1608, A41/1/5, iv]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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