Captain Robert L. Dennison, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, Politico-Military Affairs, to the Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)

Dear Mr. Hickerson: I should like to give you my personal views on SWNCC 292/134 for what they are worth. I do not believe this paper is fully responsive to the points raised in the telegram35 from Canberra which outlines the probable Australian position with respect to our prospective negotiations for base rights in the Southwest Pacific.

It is noted that probably Australia and possibly New Zealand desire to use base negotiations as an excuse for conversations regarding a regional security arrangement for the Southwest Pacific into which the United States will be drawn. You will of course recall that in our conversations with the British, and with the New Zealanders, this point was raised by them. Our answer conformed to the following: [Page 31]

Our base negotiations have to do only with the continuation of rights and privileges which we now enjoy in Southwest Pacific positions.
We are willing to share these rights and privileges with the sovereign upon whose territory we wish base rights.
None of our negotiations will deal with a general exchange of base rights. This should of course exclude any discussion of reciprocal rights in Singapore, Pearl Harbor, Sidney, Philippines, etc.
Since we are not discussing the larger question of reciprocal use of bases, our present negotiations have no relation whatsoever to a mutual defense arrangement or a regional security pact.

It appears to me that we should attempt to allay Australian apprehensions that a strategic area designation in a trusteeship will prejudice or limit their administration of the trust territory. Their belief that it will do so is entirely fallacious. We should reassert the position we have taken in preliminary negotiations that we should prefer that the states directly concerned in any trusteeship agreement in the Southwest Pacific should be limited to the United States and the ex-mandatory power. I believe the State Department has informally stated in this connection that if the ex-mandatory powers so desire, we should have no objection to Great Britain (and Australia in the case of New Zealand mandate), (also of New Zealand in the case of Australian mandate), being included as states directly concerned in Southwest Pacific trusteeships.

As you will also recall, in our conversations with the British, and the New Zealanders, we have said that in any of the bases under discussion where we are asking for joint rights we would have no objection whatever to permitting these joint rights to include use by all British Empire forces. We have stated that although our negotiating documents have expressed joint rights only for New Zealand, Great Britain, and Australia, where relevant, it was so expressed simply to allow these countries to broaden their part of the joint use to include other forces of the British Empire as they saw fit.

There is no possible parallel to be drawn between a joint United States-Canada defense plan, and a United States-Australia-New Zealand regional plan. In the first case, the plan is based upon geographical propinquity. In the second case such a plan would be artificial and impossible under present conditions to justify.

The important points, it seems to me, are in summary:

We should divorce discussions for base rights completely from any regional security arrangements to which we are asked to become a party.
We should have no objection to use of joint bases by British-Empire forces, rather than to individual commonwealth forces.
A discussion of any regional defense plan in the Southwest Pacific which includes the United States is inopportune.

Very sincerely,

R. L. Dennison
  1. Not printed, but see footnote 39, p. 34.
  2. See telegram 52, April 13, 1946, p. 27.