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Historical documents

45 Minute From Watt to Spender

Minute, [Canberra], 9 February 1951


Security Arrangements with the United States
Attached herewith are the following documents:-

(a) Draft Cabinet Submission prepared by Mr. McIntyre.[1]

(b) Some comments on (a) prepared by Mr. Tange.[2]

(c) Analysis of certain aspects of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which may be relevant in considering a Pacific Pact.[3]

2. The immediate purpose of the abovementioned documents is to bring out problems and points of view which you may wish to consider prior to discussions with Mr. Doidge. As soon as your views on these documents are known, the Cabinet Submission can be re-written and shortened in the process.

3. My own views regarding the problems arising out of Dulles' visit are as follows:-

(a) Japanese Peace Treaty -
I think that Australia must go on record as opposing unlimited Japanese re-armament. In addition, I think that, as a matter of tactics, Australia should oppose any form of re-armament of Japan apart from police forces to maintain internal order and perhaps a very limited army (that is to say, we should oppose development of Japanese Navy and Air Force). At the same time, it seems clear from the London Prime Ministers' talks and the recent statements by Mr. Holland in the press that Australia will not be successful in preventing a considerable degree of Japanese re-armament.[4] Throughout the discussions, however, we should do our best to limit the extent of Japanese re-armament, to secure whatever controls we can upon a resurgence of Japanese militarism and press strongly for guarantees of Australian security. If we have to agree in the long run to a form of peace treaty with Japan which we dislike, we should at least refuse to assent to such a treaty unless we secure some substantial guarantee of our security.

(b) Security Arrangements with the United States -
It is already clear that this will be a most complicated problem. Questions will arise as to -
(i) the parties;

(ii) the geographical area covered;

(iii) the extent of the obligations undertaken;

(iv) the machinery involved; and
(v) the form of the guarantee.

(i) PARTIES. A decision regarding the desirable parties to any such arrangement will, of course, be linked with the decision as to the geographical area to be covered. If no areas on the mainland of Asia are included, this would automatically tend to exclude countries whose interests are solely on the mainland. There may, however, be a special case for including the United Kingdom in an 'off-shore' arrangement, both because of her sea power and her island territories in the Pacific. The inclusion of the United Kingdom would, however, make it difficult to exclude France, and might raise the question of the inclusion of the Netherlands and even Portugal.

From Australia's point of view, I assume that a direct American guarantee of the security of Australia and New Zealand would be preferable to any other form of arrangement. I suggest we should make every effort to secure such a guarantee, even if it is likely that we will fail. The American interest in guaranteeing Australia and New Zealand appears to be linked with their desire to ensure that Japan and the island chain between Australia and Japan is protected against Communist aggression. For that reason, we will probably be under strong pressure to accept Japan as a party to any such arrangement. Unfortunately, New Zealand already appears to have committed herself on the public record as accepting such a condition. Tactically, I feel that we should at first oppose the inclusion of Japan. If we fail on this, then we should examine with the utmost care the kind of obligation we ourselves undertake in relation to Japan. I should have hoped it would not be necessary for Australia to undertake a wide and perhaps indefinite obligation to assist Japan.

(ii) AREA COVERED. The American argument for concluding an 'off-shore' arrangement seems very strong. If mainland areas were included and these were attacked, the United States would presumably be obliged to enter into a land warfare which, on the advice of the British Chiefs of Staff themselves, would probably be disastrous. Hong Kong is generally admitted to be indefensible in any event. The British argument, however, that an off-shore arrangement would endanger their mainland interests is important enough to be examined with some care. I myself do not accept the argument as valid, but it may be necessary to give considerable thought to the form of any arrangement so as to avoid the impression that mainland areas are to be left to the Communists.

It is notorious that, irrespective of any arrangements with the United States of the kind contemplated, Hong Kong, Indo-China and Malaya are in a precarious position. This position will not be produced by any Pacific Pact - it already exists. It has not been argued that the inclusion of Turkey and Greece as associate members of N.A.T.O. prejudiced the position of, say, Iran because Iran was not included. An off-shore arrangement could, by its terms, make it clear to all the world that it was a special arrangement limited to a particular area for particular purposes - it was not to be interpreted as showing any slackening of interest by the United States in mainland areas or any lack of readiness to support the machinery of the United Nations in dealing with disturbances to the peace in mainland areas.

(iii) EXTENT OF THE OBLIGATIONS UNDERTAKEN. It is difficult to deal with this aspect of the problem in the absence of precise proposals. There seems every reason for Australia resisting as far as possible any suggestion that Australia should automatically bind itself to give all forms of assistance to Japan if Japan is attacked from any quarter. Again, as Mr. Tange points out, Australia wants a guarantee against attack from Japan itself. It may be, of course, that a formal obligation to assist could be cut down in practice by making it clear that the extent of the assistance was a matter entirely for each country covered by the arrangement. Various possibilities arise - from the formulation of a new Monroe doctrine for these off-shore islands to a Pacific version of the Atlantic Pact. Presumably these will have to be carefully considered during the discussions with Dulles.

(iv) MACHINERY. United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff have criticised severely the proposed machinery of a Defence Council with provision for meetings on a ministerial level, meetings of Deputies and military staff consultation. This criticism seems too strong and would appear to reflect European fears that the creation of a Pacific Defence Council might draw away resources from Europe and the Middle East. The Chiefs of Staff suggestion that some 'consultative' council might be brought into existence in the long run is completely vague and indefinite. The Americans have already indicated that they have no intention of guaranteeing the integrity of all non-communist countries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. If we are to wait upon Indian participation in a Pacific or Pacific-Indian Ocean pact, we may well wait for ever.

At the same time, there are certain practical difficulties involved in the American proposal. For instance, it seems to me quite impracticable to suggest that the Japanese shall sit down for joint military staff talks with the other off-shore countries. Argument along this line might help us either exclude Japan as a party or modify the extent of our obligation towards Japan.

(v) FORM OF GUARNATEE. Dulles has said that he does not have in mind a formal arrangement like N.A.T.O. I should think, however, that Australia should be on its guard against any very loose or uncertain arrangement, particularly an arrangement which is not approved by the United States Senate. It is true that even a declaration by the United States regarding Australian security has great value, and the Prime Minister has expressed the view that it may be undesirable to press the United States for a formal guarantee. I assume, however, that we should try to get the tightest guarantee which we can.

4. It is most unfortunate that New Zealand has gone on the public record already in regard to possible parties to a Pacific pact, the possible inclusion of Japan itself, and the nature of the obligations undertaken by those adhering to the pact. This seems to me to make joint talks between Australia and New Zealand next week somewhat artificial. The Americans will already know how far New Zealand is prepared to go and this can only make Australia's task in relation to the Japanese aspects of such an arrangement more difficult. However, even if Australia has to take up the cudgels alone on these issues, I see no reason why she should not do so.

5. As soon as your reactions to the various views submitted herewith are known, a short redraft will be made of the submission for Cabinet.

1 Not published.

2 Document 44.

3 Not published.

4 Cablegram 38 (8 February) from Wellington stated that Holland had been reported as saying at a press conference in Washington that New Zealand 'favoured Pacific Pact with Japan as signatory and was not opposed to limited rearmament of Japan Department was surprised by reported statement and is seeking confirmation'.

[NAA : A6768, EATS 77, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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