Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 115

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)1


My Dear Mr. Secretary: The ratification of the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States which was signed at San Francisco on September 1, 1951, obliges us to give urgent consideration to the problem of implementation of the Treaty. Both the Australian and New Zealand Governments have indicated to the Department their strong interest in proceeding at once with the organization of the Council provided for in Article VII of the Treaty.

It is apparent from informal conversations between officers of the Department of State and the Department of Defense and from Mr. Nash’s letter of November 5, 1951,2 to Assistant Secretary Perkins, that a divergence of opinion exists as to how the Treaty should be implemented. The Department of State is aware that the Department of Defense is opposed to the inclusion of any military organization in connection with the Pacific Council and that it regards Article VII of the Treaty as political in character and not requiring military organization or planning.

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Australia and New Zealand, however, while agreeing that the organization of the Council should be kept as simple as possible, nevertheless, have consistently maintained that the Council should provide a mechanism for consultation between the three Governments consistent with Article II of the Treaty which states as an objective of the Treaty that the parties separately and jointly by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. Australia and New Zealand consider that the Treaty would be meaningless if military organization and military functions were excluded from the Council organization. They believe that attached to the Council of Foreign Ministers there should be a military committee which would meet at regular and stated intervals. They have not urged, however, that there need be any permanent military organization or secretariat.

As you know, Australia and New Zealand expressed serious misgivings about the Japanese Peace Treaty and were persuaded to accept it only because of the assurances extended to them in the Security Treaty negotiated with them by Mr. Dulles as the Special Representative of the President. At all times Australia has emphasized that through the Security Treaty it expected to obtain not only a formal security commitment but also a means of participating with the United States in planning which might later involve the disposition of Australian forces or resources. A treaty which did not meet both objectives would not have been acceptable to Australia and would not have ensured Australian support for the Japanese Peace Treaty. Neither Australia nor New Zealand, however, had any reason to believe that the Treaty in its final form did not provide for both a security guaranty and an effective consultative relationship with the United States. Indeed the President’s statement of April 18, 1951, regarding the negotiation of a security treaty with Australia and New Zealand specifically recognized that the two countries were seeking a treaty pursuant to Articles 51 and 52 of the United Nations Charter, “… which would establish consultation to strengthen security on the basis of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid.”3

Any action on our part in connection with the implementation of the Security Treaty which could be interpreted by Australia and New Zealand as an attempt to detract from the effectiveness of the consultative machinery to be set up pursuant to the Treaty would be regarded by them as a breach of faith on the part of the United States. The Security Treaty, it is fair to say, has become the focal point in our relations with Australia and New Zealand. In view of [Page 77] this fact, failure on our part to provide effective implementation of the Treaty would have the most serious consequences for our relations with both countries.

In order to meet this situation I would like to propose for your urgent consideration the following plans: There should at once be established the Council of Foreign Ministers, or their Deputies, to hold its inaugural session in the very near future. I would suggest that if possible and feasible, the first session be held in Australia the first week of May during the Coral Sea celebrations which are an occasion of great importance to Australia and New Zealand. Meetings of the Council could rotate between the three capitals concerned. I would further propose that to the Council there be attached a military committee on which the CINCPAC4 would be the American representative and which would meet every three or four months at Pearl Harbor or rotate between Pearl Harbor, Melbourne and Auckland, if that seemed preferable. I would further propose that in order to assure proper liaison, one or two Australian and New Zealand officers of field grade rank be stationed at Pearl Harbor in a purely liaison capacity.

The United States has had full cooperation from Australia and New Zealand in support of the United Nations effort in Korea. Both countries through their membership in the Colombo Plan are making a contribution to economic measures in South and Southeast Asia which are designed to ameliorate conditions favoring the spread of Communism. Both countries are prepared in time of war to contribute to the defense of the Middle East, and Australia is sending two air squadrons to the Middle East to strengthen the British peacetime garrison there. The value of continued and increased Australian and New Zealand support for United States policies based on confidence and mutually cooperative relations is such that we should not jeopardize it by exposing ourselves to charges of bad faith in the matter of this Treaty, charges which would have obvious repercussions beyond Australia and New Zealand.

I am confident you will agree with me that under all these circumstances we are bound to proceed with the implementation of the Security Treaty in a manner which will fulfill the legitimate expectations of our Australian and New Zealand allies.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson
  1. Filed as an attachment to a memorandum of Apr. 11, from Ambassador Myron Melvin Cowen, consultant to the Secretary, to Acheson, not printed.
  2. Printed in Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 1, p. 252.
  3. For complete text, see Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 30, 1951, p. 699.
  4. Adm. Arthur W. Radford.