Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs (Satterthwaite) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Thompson)

top secret

Subject: Assessment and Appraisal of U.S. Objectives, Commitments, and Risks in Relation to Military Power.

The general objectives in relation to military power in the countries of the British Commonwealth and Northern Europe are (1) keep them strong, and (2) keep them friendly. The commitments and corresponding risks and relation of each are, of course, different.

South Africa. We have no commitments and no risks. This is largely due to geography and the fact that South Africa is not in danger of attack.

Australia1 and New Zealand. While as yet we have no commitments in the case of Australia and New Zealand, if developments in the Far East continue to deterioriate, we undoubtedly will wish to [Page 144] strengthen these two dominions and will then have to undertake commitments with attendant risks. The timing, of course, depends on Russia’s efforts and the degree of success in Asia.

Canada.3 Our commitments and risks are so extensive and important that Canada in a military sense must be considered as if it were an integral part of the United States. It is as important to our security to protect Canada as it is to protect California. Canada is the most logical avenue for a large scale attack on the United States. Even if it were not for the commitments in the Atlantic Pact and the extension of the Monroe Doctrine to Canada, it would be necessary to protect Canada instantly from any threat.

United Kingdom. The British are our strongest and most reliable ally. This fact when considered together with our undertakings in the North Atlantic Pact, Military Assistance Agreements, and our arrangements for facilities, leads to the conclusion that we are committed to the immediate protection of the British Isles in the event of an attack. Even without commitments, the British Isles are an essential base for a successful counter-attack on the continent and their control of areas all over the world which are necessary to us in a global war, make it a primary objective to protect them.

Sweden. We have no legal commitments to protect Sweden. Nevertheless, should it be overrun by a hostile power, the security of Norway and Denmark would be gravely threatened. What we would do if Sweden were attacked would, of course, depend on circumstances at the time and what other moves Russia made.

Norway and Denmark. If these countries are attacked, the obligations of the Atlantic Pact apply. While the consequences of their being overrun are not nearly as serious as in the case of the United Kingdom, their falling into hostile hands will make it exceedingly difficult to defend the British Isles. We are, therefore, pretty close to being committed to protect them.

Greenland and Iceland. For strategic reasons brought about by geography, it is clear that we would have to repel immediately any attack on Greenland or Iceland.

South Africa is the only British Dominion the overrunning of which would not be an immediate threat to our security. The British Commonwealth taken together form the strongest and most reliable of all our actual or potential allies. Our commitments and risks to them are great, the benefits to be derived in having them for our allies equally great.

  1. For documentation on United States relations with Australia, see vol. vi, pp. 189 ff.
  2. For documentation on United States relations with Canada, see vol. ii, pp. 583 ff.