Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)

Reference, memorandum of conversation between the Under Secretary and the Australian Minister on December 10.

The Australian Minister came to me also, on December 10, and showed me the two telegrams the contents of which he had made known to Mr. Welles. He expressed to me also as his personal view the view that Australia (or any country that is not powerful) is not in position to pursue with the same impunity as can the United States a policy of economic sanctions against Japan.

I made the comment that, in my opinion, Australia is for the present less open to possible attack by Japan than is even the United States; I said that in the long run Australia’s security depends on what happens first between Japan and several other countries or regions, including the United States; I said that Australia’s first line of defense is an arc stretching from China on the west through Singapore, Java, Borneo, the Philippines and to Hawaii on the east; Australia has no reason to fear that she will be attacked before that line has been broken by an acquisition by Japan of a base at Singapore or in adjoining regions (the Netherlands East Indies); and that to make any policy of economic pressures effective it is essential that all parties which have a common interest and concern should cooperate, for, as long as any parties refuse to do so, the difficulty of getting any others to do so is greatly increased. I said in conclusion that it would seem to me that Australia herself, if not already in need of her whole available supply of some of the commodities which his Government had mentioned, would soon be in need of them all, and that the Australian Government, if it chose to withhold those commodities from Japan, could do so on the score of its own needs for national and empire defense. I finally asked whether, if each and all of the parties concerned would do its individual utmost in the field of general “preparedness,” there would really be need for much in the nature of consultations looking to commitments.70

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Notation by the Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Atherton) about December 18: “May I say I agree 100%.”