168 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 312 WASHINGTON, 9 October 1940,11.22 a.m.

MOST SECRET

Repeated to London 97.

I accompanied British Ambassador [1] to-day to see Secretary of State [2] and Welles. [3]

Conflicting attitude various senior members administration in last twenty-four hours is evident. Some think United States has gone too far in respect Japan. I believe action regarding evacuation of American nationals from Far East has frightened a good many people and has probably caused many enquiries from Congress leaders as to what it is all about. Willkie [4] in public speech yesterday asked President [5], 'Are there international understandings to put America into war that public do not know about?' New York Times to-day also urged caution in Far Eastern matters.

The Secretary of State who until two days ago had enthusiastically urged Staff Conversations proposal was to-day much more cautious.

He now says he believes anything approaching conference here would be impossible to conceal and would encourage opponents of administration to suggest that some commitment was being hatched.

He laid some stress on point that Congress leaders had to be nursed along, that perhaps we had been going a little too fast, and that after all we had to remember that before many months we had to face Congress with question of credits for British Empire for which Congress approval was necessary.

He then reverted to proposal that quite private talks should take place in London, particularly between Admiralty and American naval officers now in London. He said no doubt Australia, New Zealand and Dutch forces dispositions and plans were known in London.

I said I believed that no worthwhile discussion of problems that co-operation would entail could come about so far as Australia was concerned except by face to face meetings between the service officers concerned and that even if staff conversations between all countries originally proposed did not eventuate, I suggested that appropriate Australian service representatives should fly here for confidential discussion with American services. I explained that by leaving in a few days they could get here by October 21st. I suggested that they could, if necessary, be called naval, military and Air Attaches to this Legation. Secretary of State said that as it was principally a naval problem he would discuss this with chief of operations and let me know in a day or so.

Knox, Secretary of Navy, who is very well disposed to us, told the British Ambassador yesterday that he was keen to send heavy cruiser squadron on trip to Singapore but that President is being very cautious on this.

T. V. Soong [6] who arranged twenty-five million dollar loan to China told me yesterday that he was hopeful of getting more.

CASEY

1 Lord Lothian.

2 Cordell Hull.

3 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

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

5 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

6 Chiang Kai-shek's personal representative in the United States.

[AA:A981, FAR EAST 26A]