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326 Beasley to Chifley

Cablegram 173 (extract), LONDON, 19 October 1948, 8.20 p.m.


Bevin outlined the European phase of British Government policy, stressing mainly the German situation in relation to Berlin and establishment of Western German Government.

The debate that followed was by far the best yet at the Conference.[1]

Canada, opening the discussion, took the course of general support for Bevin's policy, linking his remarks with their collaboration with the United States.

Evatt followed and in my view made the best contribution. His survey dealt with fundamental questions that have given rise to much of the world tension to-day. Starting with veto and clearly proving that the dangers envisaged by Australian Delegation at San Francisco on this matter had now been fully borne out, he next dealt very succinctly with Australia's attitude at the Paris Peace Conference and here again established proof that what we had forecasted was causing much of the difficulties in the way of peace. Trieste was cited as a glaring example, and he went on to show that piece-by-piece questions which should have been disposed of in Peace Treaties were of necessity being brought by great Powers to the United Nations in a way that caused more and more friction with Russia and her satellites. From this point he showed how Australia's criticism of the Big Powers alone being entrusted with the work of Peace Treaties has not produced the peace the world expected. Virtually he claimed that they had now become impotent and here again proof was established in the Big Powers themselves having to take both Berlin and Korea to the Security Council. He dealt with Greece and here again showed that the Australian Government's attitude of pursuing through the Balkans Commission a balanced approach had kept the influence of the Commission alive for if it ceased to exist he claimed that the position would be much worse than it is to-day. He maintained a firm and definite line for the United Nations and pointed out that it had been burdened by a greater task than it had been designed for because of the failure of the Great Powers to agree on peace, but here again if it was not for this body, just what a chaotic position there would be. All through these observations he maintained a balanced approach by continually drawing attention to Bevin's difficulties and how, over and over again,[2] that he, Bevin, had to undertake, in order to safeguard Britain's and the Commonwealth's interest. For all this effort he was always mindful, but he felt it would help all our thinking for the future to recast the stages through which we have passed since the war ended.

[1] British Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, London 11-22 October 1948.

[2] A sign and a gap in the text here indicates 'mutilated'.

[AA : A3195, 1948, I.16743]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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