10. Telegram From the Ambassador at Large (Harriman) to President Johnson and Secretary Rusk1

For the President and the Secretary from Gov. Harriman.

In call on Menzies at his request Tuesday afternoon,2 we had an hourʼs reappraisal of talks with cabinet in office and at Elinner. Although recognizing it is impractical to bring U.K. into ANZUS Treaty, he emphasized the need for regular consultations on four-power basis. He considered it of prime importance that UK continue global responsibilities and it was not good for the U.S. to be only global power. He hopes we will make this plain to Healey in upcoming talks in Washington and not accept a British policy of gradual pull-out of the Far East.

In reply to my comment that he had a bunch of hawks in the cabinet urging escalation of North Vietnam bombing, he said he and the majority would urge caution and approved 100 percent present U.S. policies not to take dangerous action in North Vietnam but urged maximum pressure to break up and weaken the Viet Cong in the South even at the cost of more casualties. The Australian people are prepared for losses and fully support the government. He approves of the pause and hopes that it will be played to get maximum benefit of world opinion, and that it will be continued until after Tet with resumption if possible after some sort of provocation.

On the question of increased Australian troops in Vietnam, he asked me to report to the President that “we are moving towards a greater contribution but commitment must await talks with Healey in Canberra at the end of January. We are not walking out on Vietnam. The Australian public is with us although a few left wingers will try to make it a campaign issue.” He maintains Vietnam is today central to global conflict with Communism not a regional matter and hopes that more European countries will recognize this and make a greater contribution in material assistance if not troops. De Gaulle should be ignored. In his opinion Red China is the greatest danger to Communist expansion and peace. He opposes admittance of Peking to UN as long as possible but we must act soon enough in promoting two China policy with Formosa membership assured. He wants continuing consultation with us on this subject.

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Menzies decries attempt of African countries to use Commonwealth to tell U.K. what to do in Rhodesia and fears it might become an issue with Australia in New Guinea. When Nkrumah expounded one man one vote, Menzies had pointed out that the Ghanaians did not even have a choice since there was only one slate with opposition safely in jail. Although he himself will encounter difficulties he is confident of victory of coalition over labor in election.

He expressed appreciation to the President for my visit saying it was timely, useful and handled just right. He also very much appreciated the confidential information I had given him personally. All told he feels U.S.-Australian close understanding is certainly to the advantage of both but wants to bring in U.K., also Canada, if it wants. He visualizes development of responsibility of Japan, India and other Asian countries slowly as they grow in strength and stability.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. VIII. Secret;Exdis; Pinta. Text is from telegram 508 from Canberra, January 12. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/HARRIMAN) Harriman was one of the high-level administration officials sent by the President to seek support for U.S. policy in Vietnam and seek a negotiated settlement. Harriman left Washington on December 29, 1965, visiting Yugoslavia, India, Pakistan, Iran, United Arab Republic, Thailand, Japan, Australia, South Vietnam, and the Philippines. He returned to Washington on January 18.
  2. January 11.