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64 Cablegram from Menzies to Harrison

Cablegram, Canberra, 16 March 1951


Pacific Pact.

Thanks for your telegram 1439.[1] We are giving fullest consideration to the United Kingdom views expressed in Gordon Walker's message.[2] Our first objective has throughout been to secure a tripartite arrangement including only United States, New Zealand and Australia. This will continue to be our first objective.

2. The question of the inclusion of the Philippines has been raised by the United States, not by Australia or New Zealand and we have good reason from advice received from Washington to believe that this represents considered American policy. It is likely we will be faced with the position that, if we fail to secure a tripartite pact and refuse to accept a quadripartite pact, we will be left without any security arrangements whatever with the United States. To my mind, it is inconceivable that we should allow ourselves to be placed in such a position.

3. I do not share the United Kingdom view that inclusion of the Philippines may endanger certain Asian territories excluded from the pact. The Philippines is known to all the world as an area included within the American defence perimeter. Even without a pact, any attack upon the Philippines would now involve war with the United States because of the American forces stationed there. Secondly, I am puzzled by the reference in your telegram and in Walker's message to the argument that, if the Philippines is included in the pact, the impression may be given that the United Kingdom is unduly subservient to the United States in the Pacific. This is a new argument which the United Kingdom has now raised for the first time, although, if it had any real validity, one would have thought it would have been used long before. It was not used when the 'island chain' proposal was criticised by the United Kingdom in Attlee's letter[3] to me. If it has any force and I do not think it has any, I should have thought the argument also applied if a tripartite pact were entered into instead of a quadripartite pact. Again, it is well known that, for understandable reasons the United Kingdom has reduced its interests in the Pacific and in the Indian Ocean and indeed regards the Pacific as predominantly an American responsibility from the strategical point of view.

4. I should be glad if you could give me any background information regarding the last sentence in paragraph 2 of your telegram under reference. I have discussed this matter with Spender and he informs me that he has never at any time heard it suggested by anyone that Dulles was antagonistic to the British Commonwealth or regarded it as out-moded and of no future value in world affairs. On the contrary, the discussions with Dulles in Canberra showed him to be most sympathetic to certain Commonwealth problems, for instance the possible use of Australian forces in the Middle East, and most anxious to maintain the best possible relationships between the United Kingdom and the United States. If this view has been put to you in any particular quarter, I should be glad if you would let me know the source.

5. We are in close touch with New Zealand regarding the United Kingdom Government's message and will reply to the message when these consultations are concluded.

1 Document 59.

2 Document 61.

3 Presumably the letter dated 8 February conveyed by Williams to Fadden (Document 43) rather than Attlee's letter to Menzies conveyed in a cablegram dated 24 February from Harrison (Document 54).

[NAA : A1838, TS250/7/10]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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