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ANZUS and the Early Cold War

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Andrew Kelly

Part one: origins

1. Defence Problems in the Pacific

Texte intégral

  • 1 C. W. Braddick, “Britain, the Commonwealth, and the Post-war Japanese Revival, 1945–70”, The Round (...)

1While the origins of the Australian-New Zealand-American relationship can be traced as far back as the arrival of the US Great White Fleet in Sydney and Auckland in 1908, the pragmatic foundations of ANZUS lie in the aftermath of World War II. This war—which ended officially in September 1945—was the deadliest the world had ever seen, and the threat that the Japanese had posed to Australia and New Zealand during this conflict prompted diplomats in these countries to reconsider how they would safeguard their own security in the post-war world. The Tasman countries were too small to protect themselves, and war-torn Britain was no longer able to provide adequate military support in the Pacific. As Historian C. W. Braddick colourfully described, Britain’s wartime experience “cruelly exposed its threadbare imperial clothes”, subtly referencing Britain’s inability to safeguard Australian and New Zealand interests while it fought against the Axis powers.1 The only practical solution was pursuing a closer relationship with the United States, the world’s most powerful nation that had defeated the Japanese almost single-handedly.

  • 2 David Day, “27th December 1941: Prime Minister Curtin’s New Year Message, Australia Looks to Ameri (...)
  • 3 Fraser Statement, 17 April 1944, in New Zealand Foreign Policy: Statements and Documents, 1943-195 (...)
  • 4 Forrestal Diary Entry, 17 April 1945, in The Forrestal Diaries, Walter Mills ed. (New York: The Vi (...)

2Indeed, this reality was well known to Australians and New Zealanders even before they entered the war against Japan. Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, Australian Prime Minister John Curtin had already signalled the future of Australian diplomacy and strategy. “Without any inhibitions of any kind”, he declared, “I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.”2 While not going as far as suggesting a closer US relationship would come at the expense of relations with Britain, New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser made similar comments about the importance of the United States to the future conduct of his country’s diplomacy. “New Zealand realises”, he said, “that the security and future development of the Pacific can only be satisfactorily achieved in cooperation with the United States.”3 In short, Britain’s self-ruling Dominions in the South Pacific had come to the understanding that the United States had replaced Britain as the predominant power in the Pacific, and US officials certainly agreed. The Pearl Harbor attack had utterly discredited the pre-war isolationist movement, and had set the United States on a path toward becoming a global superpower. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Pacific, where the United States maintained an almost complete monopoly of power. As US Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal put it in April 1945, “all discussions of world peace” rested on the assumption that “the United States [would] have the major responsibility for the Pacific.”4

Figure 1. US General Douglas MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander for the formal surrender of Japan during WWII, September 1945. Photo by US Navy (1945), US National Archives Catalog, https://catalog.archives.gov/​id/​520694, unrestricted use.

  • 5 Meeting between Nimitz and Forrestal, 31 August 1946, in Walter Mills ed. The Forrestal Diaries (N (...)

3To that end, the United States moved ahead swiftly with its postwar plans for the Pacific without any serious thought of cooperating closely with Britain or any of the Commonwealth countries. Based on US Joint War Committee plans drafted a year earlier, US Chief of Naval Operations Chester Nimitz and Chief of the Army Dwight Eisenhower agreed that the United States must set up a Pacific Command (stretching from the main Japanese islands through to the Philippines) and a Western Command (covering the “rest of the Pacific”) solely under the leadership of American naval officers.5

  • 6 McCloy and Forrestal Meeting, 5 November 1945, in Mills ed. The Forrestal Diaries, 105-106.

4At that time, the United States had no major strategic interest in Australia or New Zealand. As the world’s most powerful nation, initial US post-war foreign and defence policies were global in nature. Moreover, all policies (including those in the Pacific) were considered in relation to their impact on the Soviet Union and the global balance of power. As part of these global post-war strategies, relations with Australia and New Zealand were low on the list of US priorities. As US Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy told Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in November 1945, the “post-war problems are global; that is, the conditions of anarchy, unrest, malnutrition, unemployment […] the economic dislocations are profound and far-reaching.” For the Departments of War and the Navy, the US had to devise and develop broad defence policies to meet these challenges and prepare for war against the most likely post-war enemy, the Soviet Union. The United States had to respond to the “universal fear of the Russian colossus, both in terms of the size of that country and the locust-like effect of their occupation wherever they may be”, McCloy reasoned.6

5Reflecting McCloy’s global outlook, the US Joint Post-War Committee concluded that in the Pacific, the United States must take a global perspective. This meant the United States must consider Pacific strategy and defence policy in relation to its effect on the Soviet Union and other regions of primary US interest, such as Europe and the Middle East. A report produced by the Committee in July 1945 outlined that in the Pacific theatre, the United States should maintain an island barrier of bases stretching from Japan’s northern islands down to the Philippines and the Southwest Pacific. These defence plans aimed to safeguard US territory from again being attacked from Asia, but also to prepare for a global fight against the Soviet Union. Further reports for US global defence policy were drawn up by the Committee in May 1946. These plans were code-named “Pincher.” Based on the assumption of war with the Soviet Union, the Pincher Series assessed defence capabilities for the United States and its allies. The plans concluded that the United States must prepare for potential war with Moscow.

  • 7 Patton to Byrnes, 15 October 1945, United States National Archives and Records Administration (her (...)
  • 8 Johnson Memorandum, 3 February 1945, NARA, RG 59, 711.47/2-345.

6In assessing Allied post-war defence capabilities, Australia and New Zealand did not feature in US plans for a future war with the Soviet Union. This was largely due to Australia and New Zealand’s respective geographic isolation and limited military potential, but also because Washington thought that their defence plans were largely shaped by British defence priorities. In late 1945, US Envoy in Wellington Kenneth Patton told US Secretary of State James Byrnes that New Zealand was still “strongly inflicted with the Mother Country complex.”7 Similarly, US Ambassador to Canberra Nelson Johnson asserted that “Washington [dealt] with Australia as part of the Empire.” Before the war ended, he even went as far as suggesting that post-war discussions between Australia and the United States “would not be settled in Canberra but in consultation at 10 Downing Street.”8

  • 9 Corner to McIntosh, 27 May 1946, in Unofficial Channels, 44-54.
  • 10 Chifley Address to Parliament, 19 June 1946, National Archives of Australia (hereafter NAA), A816, (...)

7Unsurprisingly, Australia and New Zealand did look back towards their traditional ally in Europe. The problem these diplomats faced when visiting London, however, was the complete lack of any meaningful Commonwealth regional defence system in the post-war world. During the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in May 1946, Frank Corner, the political affairs officer in the NZ Department of External Affairs, described this dire situation to his colleagues back in Wellington. “What do we do now?” Corner asked rhetorically in a lengthy letter to New Zealand External Affairs Secretary Alister McIntosh during the Conference; “the British stated quite frankly that they are no longer able to defend the whole Commonwealth. Britain is resigning her leadership in the Pacific out of weakness”, Corner conceded, and the only “logical development of this trend was to push Australia and New Zealand steadily towards the US.”9 Reporting back from the Prime Ministers’ Conference, the Australians made similar observations. In an address to the Australian Parliament on 19 June, Prime Minister Ben Chifley stressed that Australia’s post-war relationship with the United States would now form “a cornerstone of our foreign policy.”10

Figure 2. Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley (middle), Australian External Affairs Minister Herbert Evatt (left) and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee (right) meet at the 1946 Commonwealth Conference. Photo by unknown (1946), Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/​photos/​chifleyresearch/​14483884882, CC BY 2.0.

  • 11 George Peden, “Recognising and Responding to Relative Decline: The Case of Post-War Britain”, Dipl (...)

8The Britons were indeed in dire straits. The Second World War had financially crippled the British economy, so much so that London was the world’s greatest debtor by the end of the war and had to borrow over three billion dollars from the US to give it breathing space in which to balance its overseas payments.11 Even before the war ended officially, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden predicted that such severe economic difficulties would limit the influence of its foreign policy and force Whitehall to reassess which foreign strategic interests should be prioritised. At the top of Britain’s list of strategic priorities was the post-war reconstruction of Europe and the German occupation, while it simultaneously looked to withdraw from any onerous commitments in the Asia and the Middle East. For instance, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee argued for a withdrawal of British forces in the Middle East, granting independence to India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Pakistan, and later approved plans for Australia to lead the Commonwealth on the advisory Allied Council for Japan during the post-war occupation. These actions all signalled a retreat of British influence in the Asia-Pacific region. It was no longer a major world power, and had to abandon any non-critical commitments lest it further damage its economy or international prestige.

  • 12 Ibid.

9Unlike the United States or even Britain, neither Australia nor New Zealand was a global power and did not possess a sizeable military force or industrialised economy. Much to Australian External Affairs Minister Herbert Evatt’s frustration, the United States did not give “countries like Australia and New Zealand” the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the post-war defence of the Pacific.12 As far as Australia’s defence capabilities were concerned, Australian military personnel were still returning from overseas deployments throughout late 1945. This delayed finalising more concrete objectives for Australian post-war defence policy. As Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley outlined in November 1945, early defence policy considerations were also affected by:

  • 13 Chifley Memorandum on Australian Defence Policy, 27 November 1945, NAA, A5954, 2226/6.

The delay in establishing an effective world security organisation, the international difficulties that have arisen in establishing cooperation in the immediate post-war world, [and because] any present estimated strength of post-war forces would be very provisional while demobilisation at present leaves a doubt as to the ultimate strengths to which forces can be reduced.13

  • 14 McIntyre, Background to the ANZUS Pact, 173.

10Once Australian personnel returned from overseas and better estimations could be made about Australian military strength, defence policy was first outlined publicly in November 1946. Its rationale revolved around the concept of imperial cooperation. In an address to the Australian Parliament on 2 November, Duke of Gloucester Prince Henry suggested that Australian forces be used in three roles: for UN peace-keeping forces, under old British Empire arrangements and in national defence. It was also announced that Australia would make a larger contribution to Commonwealth defence in the Pacific. This outline was then built upon by Australian military planners in a 1946 proposal titled the “Nature and Function of Post-War Defence Forces”, which suggested that the “basic ingredient” of the defence of Australia was “Empire Cooperation.”14 In short, despite the clear decline in British power in the Pacific over the preceding decade, Australia was committed to retaining defence ties with Britain due to personal networks and loyalty to empire.

  • 15 Notes on the Defence Council Meeting, 6 March 1947, in W. J. Hudson and Wendy Way ed. Documents on (...)
  • 16 Joint Intelligence Committee Appreciation, 27 March 1947, DAFP 1947 Vol. XII, 277.

11Australian defence policy did not begin to take a clearer shape until 1947. On 6 March, the Australian Council of Defence (consisting of the Defence Minister, Defence Secretary the Chief of the Australian Defence Forces and other service chiefs) summarised that the post-war security of Australia rested on “cooperation with Empire Defence and the development of regional security with the United States.” Australian cooperation with larger powers was crucial, as the Australian Chiefs of Staff concluded that Australia was “an isolated smaller power with limited manpower and resources […] it is not able to defend itself.”15 Later that month, the Joint Intelligence Committee (a sub-organisation of the Department of Defence) approved the Defence Council conclusions and planned for potential war scenarios that might involve Australian troops. As the Committee could see no immediate threat to Australia “in its own theatre”, the most likely threats to Australian security would be in either the Middle East or the Far East. These areas were determined to be the most likely to threaten vital British interests and result in Australia becoming involved because of its ties with the United Kingdom.16 From these initial reports, it appeared that Australian post-war defence policy was to set to take a similar shape to previous wartime policies insofar as it centred on British cooperation and fighting for Commonwealth interests rather than depending completely on US policy.

  • 17 The Strategic Position of Australia, September 1947, NAA, 5954, 1628/3.

12Six months later, the Australian Defence Committee (a sub-organisation that advised the Defence Minister on matters relating to defence policy) agreed with these recommendations and produced the “Strategic Position of Australia” report. In it, the Australian Chiefs of Staff insisted on preparing Australian troops to be deployed in either the Middle East or the Far East, depending on how desperately British forces needed Australian support and whether such support would serve Australian interests. In each scenario, it was suggested that Australian defence preparations should be orchestrated in cooperation with the British Commonwealth.17 Again, the Australians appeared to prioritise British cooperation over and above potential cooperation with the United States.

  • 18 Isitt to Chiefs of Staff, 30 October 1945, Archives New Zealand (hereafter Archives NZ), Registere (...)

13Across the Tasman, New Zealand post-war defence policy rested on two pillars. Firstly, like Australia, New Zealand defence planners recognised that the country was too small to defend itself and wherever possible it would have to coordinate its defence policy with Britain and the United States. The New Zealand Chiefs of Staff explained on 30 October 1945 that local defence would be linked to a system of forward island bases in the Pacific. In short, the Chiefs concluded that the United States would probably take responsibility for the island bases in Northeast Asia, so New Zealand should contribute to the defence of the Southwest Pacific through coordination with British-occupied bases in the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, and Fiji.18

  • 19 Patton to Byrnes, 15 October 1945, NARA, RG 59, 711.47H/10-1545.
  • 20 Ibid.

14The major problem with adopting this strategy was that Wellington had very little information regarding American post-war policies in the Pacific. Without these plans, New Zealand could not properly coordinate its own defence plans with the United States. As New Zealand Minister in the United States Carl Berendsen told US Representative for the Allied Commission on Japanese Reparations Isador Lubin on 15 October 1945, New Zealand could not support US foreign policy in the Pacific unless the New Zealand Government “knew what American policy was.”19 In response to this lack of information exchange, US Envoy in Wellington Kenneth Patton suggested that New Zealand should be informed of US defence plans. Even while New Zealand generally followed the lead of the United Kingdom, Patton’s interpretation of New Zealand’s defence policy suggested that New Zealand objectives in the Pacific were “nearly identical” to the United States and that Wellington would support US plans “if they were communicated to the New Zealand Government.”20

  • 21 Chiefs of Staff Minutes, 24 September 1948, Archives NZ, EA, 85/1/1 Part 3.

15At this stage, however, Washington was not seeking a closer consultative arrangement with Wellington. That being the case, New Zealand Chiefs of Staff concluded that while there was no immediate threat to New Zealand in the Pacific theatre, the second pillar of New Zealand’s initial post-war defence policy should be to assist in an Allied victory in the event of war in the Middle East. Under this plan, New Zealand was prepared to send its largest military contribution to the Middle East so that its limited military potential would make the greatest contribution to the outcome of a future war. However, as with the Australians, New Zealand defence policy was tied to British defence planning. It was on the advice of the British Chiefs of Staff that New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser and his Defence Chiefs agreed that New Zealand should make its primary military contribution to the defence of the Middle East. Such a contribution was outlined clearly and with a specific time frame: an army expeditionary force would be deployed within ninety days after the decision to do so was made, and air squadrons within seventy days.21

Control in the Pacific Islands

  • 22 Minter to Secretary of State, 26 January 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 1.

16American dominance in the Pacific first became a problem for Australia and New Zealand during the post-war settlement of the Pacific Islands. For Australia, New Zealand and the United States, each island held a different strategic value for each country and was considered for different purposes. John Minter, the US chargé in Canberra, relayed to the State Department early in January 1946 that Australian External Affairs Minister Herbert Evatt was “directly interested in security and welfare arrangements in the whole Pacific area” and that the “Australian government [felt] that both countries should participate in any talks which are held on this subject.”22

  • 23 David Goldsworthy, Losing the Blanket: Australia and the End of Britain’s Empire (Melbourne: Melbo (...)

17Evatt’s thoughts were based in part on the Canberra Pact, an Australian-New Zealand agreement reached in January 1944 that formally declared that the two countries have common interests in the South Pacific and that they should have a voice in the settlement of island bases. Evatt’s demands reflected his frustration at being left out of the 1943 Cairo Conference (where Allied powers had determined the post-war fate of territories that had been seized by the Japanese in case of Allied victory). Evatt’s comments also reflected his determination that Australia’s viewpoint should be considered more seriously in Washington. In truth, Australia’s realistic Pacific ambitions lay in only a select number of islands. Australia negotiated with Britain the postwar control of Nauru, the Cocos Islands, Christmas Island, the New Hebrides and the British Solomons, all of which have been dealt with extensively elsewhere.23

  • 24 State Department to Australian Legation, 14 March 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 16-17.

18As far as the Australians were concerned, the key island was Manus, the largest island in the Australian-mandated Admiralty Island group just north of modern day Papua New Guinea. In early 1946, the State Department approached Australia to enter discussions over joint-base rights on Manus and the Admiralty Islands. As part of the US proposal, Australia would remain the administering authority of the trust territory and have full legislative control. The United States made it clear that it wanted no obligations or military costs: in a draft agreement sent to the Australian Legation, it proposed that the US was “not hereby committed to maintain military forces or facilities in the Admiralty Islands when it judged that military forces or facilities are unnecessary.” The US only wanted rights to be able to “import, station, store in or remove from the Islands, personnel, material and supplies.”24 To Australian eyes, it looked as though the United States wanted the right to do whatever it wanted on Manus but without obligating itself to do anything.

  • 25 Minter to Byrnes, 13 April 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 27-28; Gallman to Byrnes, 25 April 1946, FRUS 1 (...)
  • 26 Acheson to Truman, 7 May 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 41-42; Byrnes Memorandum, 28 February 1946, FRUS (...)

19Evatt took this approach to pursue his own goals: establish a regional defence arrangement with the United States and strengthen Australia-US defence relations. He was prepared to allow the US Navy to establish a base on the island but in return wanted reciprocal base rights for the Royal Australian Navy in American ports. He also demanded that an agreement over Manus should be concluded as part of a broader settlement over the Pacific Islands and that the US should “develop a regional defence arrangement which would include New Zealand” rather than “discuss individual bases such as the Admiralty Islands.” Joint agreement on bases, at least as far as Evatt was concerned, could be reached “more easily” if it was “developed within [a] framework [of] an overall arrangement for the defence of Australia and New Zealand as well as the United States” and give strength in numbers to the defence of the Pacific.25 US President Harry Truman, in fact, got word that Evatt “refused” to consider a joint-base solution unless it was part of an overall defence arrangement. Evatt was also “very keen”, according to US Secretary of State James Byrnes, for an international conference on the settlement of the Pacific Islands rather than pursuing these negotiations privately.26

  • 27 Berendsen to McIntosh, 4 June 1946, in Ian McGibbon ed. Undiplomatic Dialogue: Letters Between Car (...)

20The United States strongly opposed Evatt’s counter-terms. According to Byrnes, the only reason the United States was interested in Manus was because they had spent 156 million US dollars on the Manus Island base during the war and did not want to do “anything more than is absolutely essential for defence purposes.” As Manus was not a high US priority, Byrnes thought that it was better not to have a formal meeting because “it would only serve to create a lot of talk.” For its part, New Zealand was likewise uninterested in partaking in Manus Island discussions or a formal conference over the settlement of islands in the South Pacific. “This question of bases has to be dealt with very discreetly”, New Zealand Minister in the United States Carl Berendsen told New Zealand External Affairs Secretary Alister McIntosh on 4 June 1946, “the worst possible thing we could do […] would be to embark on a course of public polemics.”27

  • 28 Dennison to Hickerson, 22 April 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 32; Acheson to Harriman, 27 April 1946, FR (...)
  • 29 Lincoln to Byrnes, 1 May 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 35-36.
  • 30 Lovett to Truman, 7 October 1947, NARA, RG 59, 711.47/10-747.

21A formal conference also proved unnecessary because the State Department rejected categorically Evatt’s suggestion that the settlement of the Pacific Islands should be undertaken as part of broader discussions toward a regional defence arrangement. On 25 April 1946, Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson advised that any regional defence arrangement was “premature” and “inadvisable.” The US military agreed wholeheartedly with Acheson. Assistant Chief of Naval Operations Robert Dennison thought that since the United States was “not discussing the larger question of reciprocal use of bases”, the “present negotiations have no relation whatsoever to a mutual defence arrangement or a regional security pact. Such a plan would be artificial and impossible under present conditions.”28 George Lincoln, US Military Adviser to the Secretary of State, added that Evatt’s Pacific plan was “strategically unsound and contrary to the accepted military concept of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” to avoid binding military obligations in the Pacific.29 Instead of pursuing a joint base on Manus further, the US preferred ultimately to abandon the project and leave the island in Australian hands. “At the suggestion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff”, US Under Secretary of State Robert Lovett later advised President Truman, the United States “has no further interest in having bases in territory under Australian jurisdiction.”30

  • 31 Lovett to Forrestal, 23 September 1948, NARA, RG 59, 811.014/9-2048. See also Hickerson Memorandum (...)

22The reality was that the United States had little interest in the entire Southwest Pacific. While there was “undoubtedly some strategic interest” in the Southwest Pacific for defensive purposes and civil aviation, the United States only made serious claims for exclusive rights to three islands: Canton, Christmas and Funafuti. The United States staked a claim to twenty-five islands, but Washington was prepared to abandon these claims if it could acquire exclusive rights over these three islands.31 The US Joint Chiefs of Staff thought that “these islands were somewhat more important from a purely strategic and military standpoint than the others.” Outside of these islands, the United States pursued joint rights for territory under the administrative authority of other countries.

  • 32 Hickerson to Acheson, 11 July 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 47.

23At the same time the United States approached Australia for joint-base rights to Manus, the State Department was in advanced negotiations with New Zealand over a joint trusteeship for Western Samoa. These negotiations progressed more smoothly than with the Australians over Manus, but were not without their share of disagreement. Like Manus, Western Samoa was a New Zealand mandate and the only New Zealand territory to which the United States wanted rights. The United States had built an airfield there during the war and spent several million dollars on defence installations. The US Joint Chiefs of Staff asked for joint operating rights but wanted New Zealand to cover airfield operation at its own expense and demanded that any defence installations fall under a “strategic area trusteeship.”32

  • 33 Hickerson Memorandum, 27 February 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 8-10.

24New Zealand did not respond favourably to this US proposal. Prime Minister Peter Fraser was “not too happy” about the proposal for Western Samoa to become a US “strategic area”, nor did External Affairs Secretary Alister McIntosh agree that the settlement of a United Nations Trusteeship Agreement should go ahead before negotiations for military bases were settled. “While it was perfectly apparent that we all wanted to achieve the same ends”, McIntosh told Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs John Hickerson, “[I] do not feel that we were in agreement.” McIntosh suggested that a military base agreement should be settled before a trusteeship was put into effect in Western Samoa because he was concerned about what might happen if the joint US-NZ trusteeship failed to be approved by the UN.33 McIntosh, in other words, was concerned that New Zealand’s views would be ignored.

  • 34 Warren to Acheson, 24 July 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 48-49.
  • 35 Australian Government to Fraser, 26 August 1946, NAA 1838/238, 306/1/1 part II.

25After raising these concerns with Hickerson, McIntosh and Fraser were eventually able to work out an acceptable solution and the UN approved the New Zealand-Western Samoa Trusteeship Agreement on 13 December 1946. The Australians, for their part, were “extremely angry” with New Zealand for not reaching the Western Samoa trusteeship solution jointly with their Manus Island problem.34 Before the General Assembly, the Australian government cabled New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser on 26 August, stating that Australia was “anxious to ensure mutual full support at the next General Assembly.” The cablegram continued to stress that it was “desirable to [Australia] to attempt to attempt to remove without delay any point of substantial difference between us” over the settlement of trusteeships in the Pacific Islands, and hoped for an “early expression of [New Zealand] views.”35

  • 36 Berendsen to McIntosh, 2 April 1946, in Undiplomatic Dialogue, 106-107.
  • 37 Hugh Templeton ed. Mr. Ambassador: Memoirs of Carl Berendsen (Wellington: Victoria University Pres (...)

26No reply from New Zealand was sent to Australia. Although this lack of a response was unusual and difficult to explain, it is plausible that at least part of New Zealand’s unwillingness to cooperate with Australia in the UN was its recent frustration that Australia appeared only to cooperate with New Zealand when it suited Australian interests. “I am getting very fed up with Australia”, Minister in the United States Carl Berendsen told McIntosh in April 1946 after supporting Australia’s bid for a UN Security Council seat. “I don’t remember any single instance where Australia has supported any action that I have taken […] I am bound to say that [Australia-New Zealand consultation] appears to be a validity [sic] only when it involves the support of Australian policy, and I am getting a little tired of it.”36 Berendsen—who, incidentally, was Australian by birth—recorded similar comments about this abrasive and non-consultative style of Australian diplomacy in his memoirs.37

  • 38 Berendsen to McIntosh, 21 May 1947, in Undiplomatic Dialogue, 125.

27McIntosh shared Berendsen’s frustrations with Australian diplomacy toward settling the post-war control of South Pacific islands. In this instance, New Zealand’s unwillingness to cooperate undercut Evatt’s diplomatic efforts to work towards a broader regional defence arrangement. It also highlighted that Australia and New Zealand were not working together in the Southwest Pacific but at cross-purposes. “I get more and more fed up with Australia”, McIntosh replied to Berendsen later in May 1947 over Australian diplomacy in the UN and the Pacific Islands, “you simply don’t know where they are except that they will be following their own interests in every case.”38

  • 39 Acheson Memorandum, 11 July 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 48.

28Irrespective of differences between Australia and New Zealand, the latter was eventually able to come to an agreement with the United States over Western Samoa, even though many politicians in the Fraser Cabinet were uneasy about US activity in the South Pacific. The New Zealand government “strongly opposed” the transfer of sovereignty of Canton, Christmas and Funafuti to the United States for exclusive rights, believing that this was “unnecessary” for the strategic and civil aviation reasons the State Department offered.39 In the end, there was clearly no mutually acceptable solution to all Australian, New Zealand and American ambitions in the Southwest Pacific. Each country’s primary interests lay in different islands, and when these interests overlapped, agreement was not easy to come by. Although Evatt tried desperately to secure a broader American commitment through the settlement of Manus, the island remained in Australian hands. New Zealand was eventually able to conclude UN trusteeship agreement concerning Western Samoa. The US ultimately secured access to the three islands (Canton, Christmas and Funafuti) it considered to be most valuable for strategic purposes through negotiations with Britain.

29Even though control over these island bases had been largely settled by 1946-1947, tensions simmered during negotiations between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. This friction only increased throughout the remainder of the 1940s. Occupation policies in Japan and greater trans-Tasman involvement in British defence plans were set to divide these powers further.

Notes

1 C. W. Braddick, “Britain, the Commonwealth, and the Post-war Japanese Revival, 1945–70”, The Round Table 99, no. 409 (2010), 372, https://doi.org/10.1080/00358533.2010.498975

2 David Day, “27th December 1941: Prime Minister Curtin’s New Year Message, Australia Looks to America”, in Turning Points in Australian History, Martin Crotty and David Andrew Roberts eds. (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2009), 129-142.

3 Fraser Statement, 17 April 1944, in New Zealand Foreign Policy: Statements and Documents, 1943-1957 (hereafter NZFP: SD) (Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1972), 65-67.

4 Forrestal Diary Entry, 17 April 1945, in The Forrestal Diaries, Walter Mills ed. (New York: The Viking Press, 1951), 45. See also the discussion of forward defence in Melvvn Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1994).

5 Meeting between Nimitz and Forrestal, 31 August 1946, in Walter Mills ed. The Forrestal Diaries (New York: The Viking Press, 1951), 195.

6 McCloy and Forrestal Meeting, 5 November 1945, in Mills ed. The Forrestal Diaries, 105-106.

7 Patton to Byrnes, 15 October 1945, United States National Archives and Records Administration (hereafter NARA), Record Group (hereafter RG) 59, 711.47H/10-1545.

8 Johnson Memorandum, 3 February 1945, NARA, RG 59, 711.47/2-345.

9 Corner to McIntosh, 27 May 1946, in Unofficial Channels, 44-54.

10 Chifley Address to Parliament, 19 June 1946, National Archives of Australia (hereafter NAA), A816, 11/301/586.

11 George Peden, “Recognising and Responding to Relative Decline: The Case of Post-War Britain”, Diplomacy and Statecraft 24, no. 1 (2013), 61, https://doi.org/10.1080/09592296.2013.762883

12 Ibid.

13 Chifley Memorandum on Australian Defence Policy, 27 November 1945, NAA, A5954, 2226/6.

14 McIntyre, Background to the ANZUS Pact, 173.

15 Notes on the Defence Council Meeting, 6 March 1947, in W. J. Hudson and Wendy Way ed. Documents on Australian Foreign Policy, 1947-1949 Volume XII 1947 (hereafter DAFP) (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995), 299-302; Chiefs of Staff Committee Meeting Minutes, 28 October 1947, DAFP 1947 Vol. XII, 290.

16 Joint Intelligence Committee Appreciation, 27 March 1947, DAFP 1947 Vol. XII, 277.

17 The Strategic Position of Australia, September 1947, NAA, 5954, 1628/3.

18 Isitt to Chiefs of Staff, 30 October 1945, Archives New Zealand (hereafter Archives NZ), Registered Secret Subject Files (hereafter RSSF), 022/4/32.

19 Patton to Byrnes, 15 October 1945, NARA, RG 59, 711.47H/10-1545.

20 Ibid.

21 Chiefs of Staff Minutes, 24 September 1948, Archives NZ, EA, 85/1/1 Part 3.

22 Minter to Secretary of State, 26 January 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 1.

23 David Goldsworthy, Losing the Blanket: Australia and the End of Britain’s Empire (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002), 51-72.

24 State Department to Australian Legation, 14 March 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 16-17.

25 Minter to Byrnes, 13 April 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 27-28; Gallman to Byrnes, 25 April 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 33.

26 Acheson to Truman, 7 May 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 41-42; Byrnes Memorandum, 28 February 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 6-8.

27 Berendsen to McIntosh, 4 June 1946, in Ian McGibbon ed. Undiplomatic Dialogue: Letters Between Carl Berendsen and Alister McIntosh, 1943-1952 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1993), 109.

28 Dennison to Hickerson, 22 April 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 32; Acheson to Harriman, 27 April 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 34.

29 Lincoln to Byrnes, 1 May 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 35-36.

30 Lovett to Truman, 7 October 1947, NARA, RG 59, 711.47/10-747.

31 Lovett to Forrestal, 23 September 1948, NARA, RG 59, 811.014/9-2048. See also Hickerson Memorandum, 19 March 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 15; Furber Memorandum, 22 March 1946, NARA, RG 59, 811.24590/3-2246.

32 Hickerson to Acheson, 11 July 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 47.

33 Hickerson Memorandum, 27 February 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 8-10.

34 Warren to Acheson, 24 July 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 48-49.

35 Australian Government to Fraser, 26 August 1946, NAA 1838/238, 306/1/1 part II.

36 Berendsen to McIntosh, 2 April 1946, in Undiplomatic Dialogue, 106-107.

37 Hugh Templeton ed. Mr. Ambassador: Memoirs of Carl Berendsen (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2009), 152-153, 171-183.

38 Berendsen to McIntosh, 21 May 1947, in Undiplomatic Dialogue, 125.

39 Acheson Memorandum, 11 July 1946, FRUS 1946 Vol. V, 48.

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 1. US General Douglas MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander for the formal surrender of Japan during WWII, September 1945. Photo by US Navy (1945), US National Archives Catalog, https://catalog.archives.gov/​id/​520694, unrestricted use.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7087/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 176k
Légende Figure 2. Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley (middle), Australian External Affairs Minister Herbert Evatt (left) and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee (right) meet at the 1946 Commonwealth Conference. Photo by unknown (1946), Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/​photos/​chifleyresearch/​14483884882, CC BY 2.0.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7087/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 180k

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