192 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, and to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs

Cablegram 1145 WASHINCTON, 14 December 1941, 12.08 a.m.


I have had discussions with Harry Hopkins [2], Sumner Welles [3] and with the British Ambassador [4] and heads of the British Naval [5] Military [6] and Air [7] Staff Missions here in the last 24 hours.

2. Until today efforts by heads of the British Staff Missions to enter into staff conversations with the American Chiefs of Staff [8] regarding the Pacific situation have not been successful.

However, the President had conference this morning with American Chief[s] of Staff and with Secretary of State [9], Secretary of War [10] and Under Secretary of Navy [11] and has given instructions directed towards starting staff discussions immediately. Sumner Welles told me this afternoon that President wanted to achieve 'unification of command' in Pacific as well as 'a considered and generally acceptable strategic plan for conduct of war in Pacific and Far East'. The President has nominated Secretary of War to discuss above with British Ambassador this afternoon in order to get staff discussions started here.

3. You will wonder why above was not started before this. Answer is that American services have been greatly preoccupied with local situations in Hawaii and Philippines and until President's conference this morning British Staff officers here could not get them to discuss the matter on a wide basis. However prospects now appear brighter.

4. It is not yet known if term 'unification of command' is meant to be taken literally. This may be clearer after the Halifax, Stimson discussion result of which I will inform you.

5. Great importance of active Russian co-operation against Japan (see Prime Minister's Department 149 [12]) is fully realized here.

First direct approach by America (see last para. of my telegram 1126 [13]) has met with negative reply by Stalin. Russian Ambassador here [14] in bringing this negative reply to Secretary of State on December 12th proceeded to ask in delicate but unmistakable fashion what offers might be made by America and Britain. He left definite impression on the mind of the Secretary of State that Russian co-operation against Japan might be obtained for adequate consideration.

6. Sumner Welles told me today that obviously one of the first matters that British and American staffs should discuss would be this matter of Russian co-operation.

7. Following points occurred to me as relevant to question of how far we should all go in attempting to induce Russia to co-operate actively against Japan:

(a) Russia will be unaffected by sentimental considerations and will act solely in her own interests.

(b) Russia knows that the situation means that she (Russia) holds a very strong card.

(c) Russia may very well have circulated stories about German peace feelers to her in order to stimulate better support and offers from U.S. and Great Britain.

(d) Russia will certainly regard her war with Germany as her first consideration and the Siberian end as secondary.

(e) Russia has already withdrawn very appreciable number of troops from Siberia and war with Japan would probably mean reversing this. (f) Apart from continuance of military supplies all that British and Americans could offer Russia would be promises of territorial concessions at expense of Japan and others after the Axis is defeated.

(g) No doubt Sakhalin Island, recognition of Russian claims to Baltic, and possibly part or whole Manchoukuo are among the territorial areas that Russia has in mind.

(h) It would seem doubtful whether Russia has in mind areas that are not contiguous to her present border.

8. I would suggest when all aspects have been considered and if decision is to make offer to Russia that such offer be not parsimonious or cheeseparing. Russian support was given to Germany and not to Britain in July, 1939, by reason of Germany making a better and more clear-cut bid than Britain.

9. One of the first matters to be considered by joint staffs here (apart from Russia) will be various methods whereby war can be brought to the mainland of Japan.

10. On other subject. Telegram that I have seen from Chungking [15] indicates that Chiang Kai-shek [16] is most anxious to co- operate fully and to be regarded as a full partner with Britain, United States, Dutch, Australia, and if possible, Russia, and says that such partnership would greatly increase Chinese morale. I have reported this viewpoint on earlier occasions and it has even greater point in today's circumstances. Today China can offer positive help (see second last paragraph of my telegram 1126) and I suggest that it is worth while treating her with greater consideration than has been done in the past.

11. All above references to Russia's participation are being treated with great secrecy here and confined to a minimum of individuals.

12. In the event of your telegraphing London on any of the above, I think better you do not refer to Washington as source.


1 Inserted from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 100.

2 Adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

4 Lord Halifax.

5 Admiral Sir Charles Little.

6 Field Marshal Sir John Dill.

7 Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris.

8 General G. C. Marshall and Admiral Harold R. Stark.

9 Cordell Hull.

10 H. L. Stimson.

11 James V. Forrestal.

12 See Document 179, note 1.

13 Dispatched 11 December. On file AA:A981, War 49, i.

14 M. M. Litvinov.

15 It is not clear whether Casey here referred to an Australian, U.K. or U.S. cablegram.

16 Chinese Prime Minister.

[AA:A981, WAR 54]