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

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Dear Mr. Hickerson: My discussions with the British delegation appointed for the base negotiations concerning “the right of control” have been entirely inconclusive. I have been advised by them that they are awaiting advice from London which probably cannot be expressed until after the Prime Ministers’ conference.36

Our position as stated is that we wish the option to exercise “right of control” in these joint base areas, when in our view, such control is necessary. We have carefully explained to the British that this right would not be exercised irresponsibly, and that we expect the duration of such control to be only temporary. It was also explained that we expected to exercise control only when we had large forces in any given base, and that we do not intend any prejudice to their use under joint privilege.

The British representatives have explained without commitment as to their official position that they felt the granting of the option of “right of control” would be unwarranted infringement on their basic sovereign rights. They stated that they would prefer that the “right of control” should be established by prior agreement in each instance. It was further explained to them that the “right of control” was an administrative matter, which in the event of large scale joint use would be decided by some such agency as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or at least by some understanding as to area command responsibility such as existed in the past war.

I have the impression that the British view is somewhat detached from reality since it is apparent that, at least in the foreseeable future, they will not have military forces in the Pacific comparable in size to those of the United States.

Very sincerely,

R. L. Dennison
  1. Meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers held in London, April–May 1946. For formula agreed upon relating to future status and use of bases in Pacific, see enclosure to message to Mr. Hickerson from Mr. Maclean of the British Embassy, May 2, p. 37.