20 Note By Officer
Notes on Talk Concerning a Pacific Pact
1. Mr. Spender lunched on Thursday the 12th at Lake Success with Mr. Hickerson and Mr. Allen of the U.S. State Department. Sir Keith Officer was with Mr. Spender.
2. Mr. Hickerson opened the discussion at lunch by saying that he wanted to ask very frankly certain questions regarding Mr. Spender's ideas concerning a Pacific Pact. Firstly, what exactly had he in mind as to the purpose of the Pact, and, secondly, who did he think should join it.
3. Mr. Spender explained as regards the first that what he wanted was something on the lines particularly of Article 5 of the Atlantic Pact but otherwise a rather simpler instrument; shortly, that an attack on any of the parties or an aggression inside certain areas would affect all the other parties to the Pact. As regards who should join it, for reasons of policy it would be advisable to try and have as parties all the Asian members of the British Commonwealth even though they were hardly in the Pacific area. The probability was, however, that India would not want to join and this would make the position of Pakistan and Ceylon very doubtful. The essential members were: United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom on account of their interests in the Pacific, and the Philippines as an Asian power. It might be better not to bring in the French and the Dutch because their interests in the Pacific would feed the fever of anti-colonialism. The Indochinese states were still far too doubtful factors to be thought of as members, and Siam was rather too weak so it would bring no strength but increase the obligations. It was accordingly probably inadvisable that the areas covered by the Pact should extend further North than Malaya. As regards China itself and Japan, it would be necessary to await events before deciding one way or the other.
4. In reply to Mr. Hickerson's obvious doubts whether the United Sates would be interested in such a Pact or see the reason for it, Mr. Spender explained the paramount need for it from the Australian and New Zealand point of view. They were expected in the interests of global strategy to send forces to other areas of the world, e.g., the Middle East, in the event of a war in the European theatre. But how could they justify it to their people if seemingly they were leaving Australia and New Zealand divested of troops. One answer would be a Pacific Pact which would mean that in the event of any attack they could depend on the United States coming immediately to their aid. Secondly, it would have Australian policy with regard to a treaty with Japan less difficult. There was a real fear in Australia of a reconstructed Japan ready again to be an aggressor, but if Australia could rely on America the risk, if any, would be much reduced and the public would possibly be reassured. Australia was not prepared to see a resurgent Japan which could again threaten it.
5. Finally, there was the question of consultation. Australia and New Zealand saw the membership of the Atlantic Pact continuously increased. The latest was the addition of Turkey and Greece as associates. Australia and New Zealand could not contemplate joining in such a capacity. On the other hand, it must be appreciated in the State Department that there was liable at any time to be strong popular irritation if important decisions regarding the Atlantic and Western Europe, which might mean a greater or less risk of war, were being taken without Australian participation although Australia was liable to be vitally affected by the decisions or their results. Indeed it was impossible to deal with questions affecting the Atlantic and Western Europe without consideration of global questions affecting other parts of the world, e.g., the Pacific and Asia. There was no organic body of nations dealing with global strategy or similar questions in which Australia was a party. If there was a Pacific Pact then Australia, as a member of it, could be brought into these consultations and there could be a complete answer.
6. Mr. Hickerson explained that he had to hurry back to Washington and would like to resume the conversation at a later date. It seemed that he had been impressed by the arguments put before him but was still non-committal and cautious in his approach to the project.
[NAA : A1838, 532/11, i]