Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Merchant)


Subject: Visit from Australian Ambassador

Participants: The Australian Ambassador1
Mr. David McNicol, Australian Embassy2
Mr. Shullaw, BNA3
Mr. Merchant, FE

In Mr. Rusk’s absence, I saw this afternoon the Australian Ambassador who had requested an appointment. At the outset he said that he desired to communicate informally a message from his Government. He stated that it was concerned over the apparent lack of coordination between political policy and military action in Korea and most anxious to state its view that no political commitment be entered into without consultation. The Ambassador elaborated by expressing his Government’s apprehension over the possibility that General MacArthur might involve the Australian Government by his actions. I replied that there were grounds for apprehension in the situation but that these arose from massive and overt Chinese Communist intervention and not from any lack of coordination in the past nor by the entrance through his action into any political involvements by General MacArthur. I referred to the restraint General MacArthur had exercised in not retaliating against aircraft operating from across the Manchurian border and referred to disciplinary action taken in isolated incidents where, contrary to orders, American pilots violated the border.

The Ambassador went on to say that his Government felt that General MacArthur’s communiqués should be factual. I asked him what particular communiqué or passages in them gave rise to this fear, and [Page 1258]the Ambassador cited the final paragraph of the General’s last communiqué into which he said other governments than his own had read an implicit request for expanded authority.4 I replied that this communiqué like his others, insofar as I was aware, was factual in character and that the gravity of the situation arose from Chinese intervention which General MacArthur properly characterized as a new factor.

The Ambassador went on to say that Australia was prepared to continue to play its full part and carry its full share of responsibility hut that they did desire to be consulted before political decisions were made and, to the extent possible, be kept currently informed of developments in the theater. I told the Ambassador that we were glad that he had spoken frankly, however unjustified we felt his apprehensions to be; that we recognized the special position Australia occupied as one of those nations supplying combat forces and that we would continue to consult closely with them.

  1. Norman J. O. Makin.
  2. Second Secretary.
  3. J. Harold Shullaw, Acting Assistant Chief of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs.
  4. See footnote 1 to the memorandum by Mr. Emmons, November 28, p. 1239.