125 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr J. McEwen, Minister for External Affairs, and to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 268 WASHINGTON, 19 September 1940

SECRET FOR MINISTER AND PRIME MINISTER ONLY

I am told under conditions of absolute secrecy by good authority that it is possible that Willkie [1] will announce in near future that he is in favour of some form of mutual defensive arrangement with Australia.

I believe present Administration is moving in this general direction and probably Republican candidate is trying to get in first. It will be particularly useful if Willkie does make such a declaration as my hope is that it would remove the matter from the controversial political field. My fear has lately been that Willkie would charge the President [2] publicly with working underground towards some such long distance obligation in the Pacific unconnected with Hemisphere defence and that President would have to deny any such intention.

There is of course obvious other danger that President will think himself obliged to take opposite line of policy to any declaration by Willkie but I have less fear of this.

If and when Willkie does make abovementioned declaration I strongly suggest that no Government or Ministerial comment be made in Australia although please do not inform other Ministers in advance of possibility of such a statement. Grateful if utmost secrecy maintained.

1 Republican candidate for the 1940 U.S. Presidential election.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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