Document: Minister for External
Affairs Percy Spender's account of negotiating the ANZUS Treaty with
United States special envoy John Foster Dulles and New Zealand Minster
for External Affairs Frederick Doidge in Canberra, 14-18 February 1951
Source [link within this page]:
Sir Percy Spender, Exercises in Diplomacy:
The ANZUS Treaty and the Colombo Plan (Sydney, Sydney University
Press, 1969), pp. 116-17.
There are discrepancies between different accounts of the
February 1951 negotiations with respect to the sequence of meetings.
The date of the meeting referred to by Spender in this extract is not
clear; and it is not clear whether this is the same meeting referred
to in Document 3 below. The Dulles arguments mentioned at the beginning
of this document are those relating to the American view – opposed
by Australia and New Zealand – that Japan should be rebuilt as
a counter to communist power in Northeast Asia, and that the peace treaty
that would formalise the conclusion of World War II in the Pacific should
therefore treat Japan leniently. Spender’s account of this meeting
reflects his belief that US policymakers were reluctant to agree to
any kind of Pacific security arrangement, and that British opposition
to an “offshore island pact” (including Japan, the Philippines
and perhaps Indonesia as well as the United States, Australia and New
Zealand) could well spell the end of Australia’s prospects of
achieving a security agreement with the United States.
In the main I found Dulles' arguments rather
convincing though it would have been unwise for me to have said so.
At the conclusion of his remarks and before we adjourned, I stated that
his arguments had in a number of places reinforced our fears of Japanese
re¬armament. To permit her to rearm would permit her to adopt, as
circumstances permitted her, or were opportune, a bargaining position
to extract continuing concessions. It would also enable her, if she
were so minded, to conclude at some time, an alliance with Communist
China which would present even far greater dangers to us all, but particularly
to us in the Pacific, than had Japan, fighting alone, in the war recently
terminated. Moreover, there was always the danger that Japan, in the
event of some global conflict, would seek to ride the storm just as
Soviet Russia had believed she might do before Hitler attacked her.
In such circumstances it was con¬ceivable that she could emerge
relatively more powerful than ever before.
Nothing which he had said, I replied, removed the fundamental objections
which Australia had to a peace treaty which could increase the possibility
of these things happening and as we for all time dwelt in this area
of the world we could not afford to take any short views of immediate
expediency. I said that I hoped to hear some¬thing specific in the
context of the problem we had discussed; a security pact in the Pacific.
We had heard about the necessity of giving aid to Japan but none of
giving any security to Australia except in the general context of world
security-which from our point of view was not enough. In short we were
being asked to agree to a peace treaty which imposed no limitations
on Japanese re-armament and to do this without any regional security
arrangements in the Pacific. I stated that this was quite unacceptable
to the Australian govern¬ment and Australian public opinion.
Doidge said that it would prove impossible for New Zealand to approve
of any such peace settlement as Dulles had in mind without some guarantee
to New Zealand from the U.S.A. against future aggression. He asked whether
it was possible for a declaration to be made by the U.S.A,-possibly
by the President-indicating that an attack upon New Zealand would call
in aid the U.S. armed assistance. I interpolated that Dulles knew the
Australian attitude on the need for a Pacific security treaty, that
Doidge would of course speak for his own government but that I wanted
to make it quite clear that a declaration was quite insufficient for
our purposes. I said I saw no reason why a three-cornered pact between
the U.S.A., New Zealand, and Australia could not be worked out in which
each mutually agreed to assist the others in the event of attack on
any of them.
Dulles evaded giving any reply beyond saying he was desirous of examining
all aspects of security in the Pacific generally, in the interest of
every nation, including Japan. He said, however, that there were great
difficulties in the way apart from how Japan could fit in to Pacific
security. The Philippines presented a problem and would object, he thought,
to any arrangement which appeared to give Australia and New Zealand
a tighter guarantee than the Philippines then had.
And so ended the first day.
Dulles revealed high ability in the manner of his presentation. It
will be remembered that before he left Washington a preliminary sounding,
or intimation had been made through Allison on the possibilities of
an `offshore' or `island chain' security arrangement.
Dulles, having learnt while in Japan on his way to Australia of the
U.K.'s strong exception to the `island chain' proposal, fashioned his
presentation to us accordingly.
From the first day of the Canberra discussions it appeared to us ¬as
no doubt he wanted it to appear to us-that he had discarded these proposals-with
none further in their stead.
On his journey through the Philippines Dulles had, we conjec¬tured,
run into heavy winds there with the 'offshore' idea. Our conjecture
was, I think, wrong. I feel confident now that the pro¬posals were
not raised in the Philippines. Whether or not they were, he had played
a skilful hand. In effect he had handed over the whole problem of security
to us. By stressing the inability of his country to accept any restrictive
conditions against Japan re-arming, while passing over my proposal for
a three-party security treaty by referring to all the `difficulties'
in the way of any security pact, he had played the ball into our court.
Looking at the matter objectively at the end of the day, our delegation
was somewhat discouraged. Watt gave me a note which, in part, read:
`As the position stands at present, Dulles has made a case for reducing
our fears of a resurgence of Japanese militarism, while at the same
time he has given no real indication that a tri¬partite arrangement
can be procured. In these circumstances, it is clear that the hardest
of fighting is necessary if we are really to secure a guarantee from
the United States.