126 Cablegram From Spender to Casey
Cablegram, Washington, 14 March 1952
Tripartite Security Treaty.
At Cowen's request the New Zealand Ambassador and I saw him at State Department this afternoon. Melby, Foster and Shullaw were also present but no one from Defence or Service Departments. Cowen explained that Nash had been tied up with other N.A.T.O. preoccupations and was still not clear of them. However, he said within two weeks arrangements would be made for us to meet with Defence Department Representatives. Although Cowen emphasised his desire to push Pacific Council Project along, his remarks confirmed my feeling reported in cable 339, that attempts may, and probably will be made at service levels to whittle away the functions and importance of the Council.
Cowen said that their preliminary discussions in Defense Department had run into difficulties primarily on two questions:
(a) How would Pacific Council tie in with existing arrangements for Commonwealth Defence and Consultation? United States would not desire to cause impediments to this process.
(b) What actual matters would be discussed by Council and how far these matters were not susceptible of being dealt with through existing channels.
I expressed strong concern at possibility of any attempt being made to water down our proposal to make Council a going concern giving us a direct voice in determination both of Pacific as well as of Global Policy which was non-existent at the moment. I explained that point (a) was illusory as demonstrated by United Kingdom, Canadian membership of N.A.T.O. I also countered Cowen's suggestion that in absence of Dulles from Washington there was no one available in United States administration who really knew what was in mind during discussions leading up to signing of treaty. I pointed out that we had always attached the greatest importance to effective functioning of Council and this point of view had been accepted by United States and specific provision made in the Treaty going much beyond mere agreement to co-operate in resisting armed attack. In referring to stresses laid upon council's activities in your second reading speech in House during debate on ratification, I thought it advisable to draw attention to embarrassment of Australian Government if it now transpired that our acceptance of a Japanese Peace Treaty we did not like, was not to be counter-balanced by fullest implementation of Tripartite Treaty in manner contemplated at time of negotiations.
New Zealand Ambassador had not received instructions and was consequently unaware of precise nature of his Government's thinking. He nevertheless supported my position and drew attention to relevant articles of Treaty which would contradict any proposals to weaken concept of Council.
I told Cowen that the real issue to be determined was: Were there problems to be solved in the Pacific or were there not? If there were, then it should be easy for the United States Service Authorities to visualise what matters the Council might discuss. Without purporting to provide more than bare indication, I mentioned several matters such as United States expense arrangements, relationship and liaison with N.A.T.O. and, on the military side, such matters as exchanges of personnel and intelligence data, allocations of military supplies and logistical support of Australian and New Zealand Forces in war time.
I pointed out that although we wished to give real body to the Council this did not involve elaborate organisation as United States Service Authorities might fear. The tentative plan I had outlined last October in discussion with Perkins and had since discussed with Cowen on several occasions clearly was not too elaborate but it did provide some standing machinery to analyse problems and prepare documentation in between Council meetings. We could then develop as circumstances suggested.
Cowen asked whether we would include Indo-China in the Pacific Area. I replied no, but clearly discussions in the Council could not exclude situations of danger existing in other parts of the World.
Cowen assured us that he would see that our views were passed on to the Defence Authorities in their further talks.
The New Zealand Ambassador and I had conferred prior to the above discussion and maintained a firm front during the whole meeting.
Cowen did not raise the question of widening the Security Pact to include other countries but I have no doubt the matter is still in his mind.
[NAA : A1838, 250/7/10, i]