Volume #18 - 1007.|
REGIONAL SECURITY PACT
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
March 20th, 1952|
FAR EASTERN REGIONAL SECURITY PACT|
At the present time there is in the Pacific no regional security arrangement comparable to the North Atlantic Treaty. There are, however, three separate security agreements - one between the United States, Australia and New Zealand, another between the United States and the Philippines, and a third between the United States and Japan. The ratification of these three treaties was recommended by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 5, 1952, and together with the Japanese peace treaty they were brought to the floor of the Senate on March, 14. It is likely that their ratification will be achieved within the. next few weeks without much opposition. There is, in addition, an understanding on security between the United States and the Philippines which is effective.
2. The possibility of an over-all Pacific security treaty analogous to the North Atlantic Treaty has been discussed from time to time since the., middle...of 1948, but no substantial progress has been made because of difficulties such as: (a) the basic problem of which states should be members; (b) the difficulty of getting the various countries which might participate in a Pacific security arrangement to agree to team up with other potential members; and (c) the lack of a community of interest among potential members.
3. The United States Government is not actively seeking to arrange an overall Pacific security treaty at the present time. In November of last year Mr. Wrong reported: "I would not wish to suggest that thinking here on the matter of a broad Pacific pact has reached a blue-print stage or has even progressed much further than towards the desirability of such a pact." He emphasized however that there was no opposition to a Pacific pact among United States officials but merely a desire not to rush the matter. In the first week of March Mr. Raynor, the Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs in the State Department, informed our Embassy in confidence that an approach had been made recently to the State Department on the possibility of bringing about an interlocking of the present security pacts in the Pacific, including Indonesia and Thailand. Mr. Raynor indicated that the State Department had given a cool reception to this proposal which, we assume, was made by the Philippines Government.
4. Australia has hitherto been the chief exponent of a comprehensive security treaty, but has shown signs of caution recently. We were informed in December in the strictest confidence that Mr. Casey received instructions from Mr. Menzies not to take the initiative in this matter with the United States Government. Apparently it was the view of the Australian Government that the main objective should be ratification of the tri-partite United States-Australia-New Zealand security agreement, and that it should be left to others to take the initiative towards any broadening of that agreement.
5. At various times in the past the governments of the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and Nationalist China have also expressed interest in a broad Pacific security treaty.
6. A comprehensive security treaty might have the advantage of clarifying United States commitments in the Far East. It might also provide machinery for co-ordinating and fitting together the various defensive efforts of the potential signatories of the treaty and, by uniting their efforts, achieve greater effect at less cost. It is possible, but not probable, also that such a treaty and the machinery set up under it might have a salutary influence on several of the reactionary regimes in the area.
7. While the advantages of a Pacific security arrangement are prospective, the difficulties are present. The greatest difficulty of all concerns membership. If the treaty were looked upon as a purely anti-communist instrument, the following might be considered for participation: Japan, Formosa, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and possibly Canada. Several countries on the list, notably Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, would probably object to entering into partnership with Japan. A number of the Asiatic states, and especially Burma, could not be expected to enter into an alliance including the Nationalist Government of China. Neither India nor Pakistan would wish to be involved at the present time in view of their stated desire to remain neutral in the East-West struggle. The inclusion of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands would raise the complicated question of the role of the metropolitan powers. One of the most immediate problems in this respect would be that of Dutch-Indonesian relations. Mr. Dulles himself has pointed out to the Senate Committee that the problem faced by the United States in the negotiation of a Pacific pact centers on the reluctance of some nations in the area to associate themselves with the United States.
8. Another possible arrangement would be to confine membership in the pact to off-shore states. This still involves the difficulty of getting Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines to work together. It seems likely that the United States would find it difficult to accept a security arrangement of this sort without Japan. The other argument which has been advanced against such an off-shore arrangement is that it would suggest that the free world was prepared to envisage communist expansion on the mainland.
9. A further principal difficulty would arise from the tremendous differences in resources and internal security of the potential members. Burma, Malaya, Vietnam and the Philippines are in a state of civil war or serious disorder. The situation in Korea needs no description. The Thais are notorious opportunists and it is questionable whether any Thai government could be trusted implicitly to stand by its allies if convenience appeared to indicate the value of defection.
10. If a Pacific security treaty is ever negotiated, it will be the result of difficult negotiations or of some tremendous crisis. With the latter eventuality we are not concerned at present, as it is an unpredictable factor. If a serious attempt is made to negotiate a treaty, however, the question arises whether Canada should be a party. In the past you have taken the line that Canada could undertake in the Pacific no commitment in addition to the already heavy commitments it has in Europe and in Korea. This is still a valid approach. A Pacific security organization would involve not only military commitments but, inevitably, economic commitments to bolster the shaky economics of several of the potential members and to meet their argument that they cannot be expected to fight so long as their standard of living is not worth fighting for.
11. I recommend, therefore, on the grounds of Canada's commitments elsewhere, that you continue to deprecate the idea of negotiating a comprehensive Pacific security treaty at the present time. The network of treaties centered on the United States meets the needs of the situation as well as they can be met in present circumstances. In a comprehensive treaty the United States would still have the controlling voice, but this reality would be obscured by elaborate and expensive machinery. I suggest, however, that Canadian policy towards a Pacific security treaty be re-examined periodically in order that no practical opportunity for contributing to the stability of the Pacific area be missed.
12. Your most recent statements in the House on Pacific security arrangements were made on October 22 and 23 last. You made reference to the three security pacts mentioned above and stated: "None of these arrangements . . . constitutes anything like a Pacific pact." You suggested that "any attempt to negotiate that kind of general Pacific agreement at this stage would not strengthen but weaken security in the Pacific." You assured the House that the Canadian Government was vitally interested in security in the Pacific and that it desired to play a proper part in political, economic and diplomatic matters affecting the area. You pointed out that Canada had net been invited to become a member of the Tripartite Security Treaty. You stated further: "The addition of one country may lead to requests from other countries to join that arrangement [Tripartite Security Treaty] and I believe that it is not desired at this time by the three countries concerned. . . . In the course of time as the situation in the Pacific develops and becomes more stabilized, we hope, it may be possible to use this tripartite agreement, as indeed was indicated by the President of the United States, as a basis on which a general Pacific security arrangement might be worked out."1