Memorandum by the Secretary of State
The British Ambassador came in to present Mr. Keith Officer, the new Australian Commissioner attached to the British Embassy. I welcomed him as an addition to the British Embassy staff and expressed every disposition to work whole-heartedly with his government in matters of mutual concern.
The British Ambassador remarked that it was well to have Mr. Keith Officer associated with the British Embassy here in order that the Ambassador might more accurately interpret, understand and represent, the situation in and the true interests of Australia. I expressed my hearty concurrence and satisfaction.
I then added that as an illustration of the difficulty of understanding each shade of meaning or significance attached to a given condition or policy in another country, I recalled that some of the important officials in the British Foreign Office until recently had not at all understood [Page 29] the true nature or significance of the liberal commercial program being pursued by this government. I then remarked that in the first place we sought mutually profitable trade relationships with other countries; that a one-sided trade would in the end be hurtful to both countries alike; that a second point—the corner stone of American commercial policy—was the substitution of the principle of equality of treatment for the principle of discriminations; that this broad policy was even more important to the British Empire than to my own country, from the long viewpoint; that we proposed to stand for it and to fight for it indefinitely in the future as offering the only practical course towards permanent conditions of both economic wellbeing and military peace.
I then said that some years ago my country was seeking to pursue the narrowest isolationist, embargo commercial policy; that in doing so it had assumed a part of the major leadership of the world still further towards extreme economic self-containment; that this was a colossal blunder which played its full part in bringing on the present dislocated and chaotic conditions, both economic and political, in international relations and in world affairs; that this country since 1933 had been strenuously striving to undo its injurious action and to aid in leadership back towards economic liberalism. I then added that nothing had been more clearly demonstrated during recent years than that it was impossible to organize unemployed, distressed people behind any stable structure, either of government, or peace, or economic well-being; that this fact had stood out after 18 years of effort, by European statesmen for example, to rehabilitate normal international relationships with the result that we could see nothing except high tension—due to the narrowest, cut-throat, trouble-breeding, trade methods and a wild, run-away race in military armaments. A distinction was made between arming by peace-loving and peace-seeking countries like the English-speaking countries when heavily armed international desperadoes were at large, and, on the other hand, arming for purposes of aggression.
The British Ambassador spoke approvingly of what I said. The Australian Commissioner nodded his head from time to time in apparent approval or acquiescence.