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

Cablegram 379 WASHINGTON, 15 November 1940, 11.49 p.m.


Repeated to London 114.

I called on Berle [1] today. I started by advancing argument in the penultimate paragraph of my telegram No. 358 repeated to London 109. [2]

After referring appreciatively to the economic and other action taken by the Administration before the election and to the understandable pre-election reluctance to pursue Staff Conversations proposal, I said for our part we were now most anxious to revive the Staff Conversations proposal originally made by the Secretary of State [3] and also to pursue any lines designed to deter Japanese from further attempt to expand.

In latter regard it would seem that preventive dispositions of available forces presented most useful line. I repeated without quoting the Secretary of the Navy substance of his 'preventive' view reported in my telegram 358. [4]

I reminded him also that it was the President [5] who had first suggested the visit of United States fleet units to Australia, Singapore etc. and said that we looked forward to the moment when this proposal should be revived. Such a visit would be warmly prized in Australia by the Government and the people.

As regards Staff Conversations I said Ghormley's [6] talks in London, Singapore meeting and Burrell's [7] visit here appeared to me to be nibbling at separate bites of the main problem which was that of all embracing discussions between sufficiently senior and informed Service officers on how to apply armed strength and resources so as to avoid war in the Far East and win the war in Europe.

Berle received all this with understanding and said that he found little in what I had said with which he disagreed. In the absence of the President and the Secretary of State he would discuss the battle cruiser squadron with Welles [8] at once. He agreed that these matters might turn out to have some urgency following on the recent Russian-German meeting.


1 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State.

2 Dispatched 4 November. See file AA:A3300, 11. The paragraph read: 'I thought it wise to feed the flames by saying that our advice was that the predominant Japanese view now appeared to be that America might well enter a Far Eastern conflict but that they would come in hesitatingly and too late. This meant that if Japan acted it would be with speed and decision so that both we and America would be faced with a fait accompli.' 3 Cordell Hull.

4 Colonel Franklin Knox's 'preventive' strategy was the deployment of U.S., U.K., Netherlands and Australian warships in the Pacific to deter Japan from going to war. In particular he wanted a substantial U.S. naval force to visit Singapore.

5 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

6 U. S. special naval observer in London.

7 Director of Plans, R.A.N.

8 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

[AA:A981, FAR EAST 26A]