56 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 161A LONDON, 8 October 1942, 5.30 p.m.


D.O. telegrams 396 and 397 of October 2nd [1]-in my telegram S.92 of August 28th [2], I indicated that in my view we would be well advised to determine our own policy with a view to taking advantage of opportunity presented by Hull's conversation with Halifax to arrive at an understanding with United States of America, and thus avoid obvious danger of this question impairing British-American relations.

Since sending you my telegram I have been doing what I can here to get this issue faced and our policy determined, but with little success. [3] My view of urgency of this problem was strengthened as a result of a report by Law, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, of conversations he had in Washington during a visit there in September, particularly with Sumner Welles, who expressed the strongest views as to necessity of an understanding being arrived at. This necessity is now further emphasised by Clark Kerr's report of his conversation with Willkie-D.O. telegram 396.

I suggest for your consideration that, in view of dangers to British-American relations if an understanding is not arrived at on this matter, you should cable urging the necessity of our clearing our minds as to our post-war attitude with regard to Colonies and Dependencies not ripe for self-government.

Whether you would add in telegram any indication of your views depends of course upon what your Government's attitude is. My own opinion is that in post-war period doctrine of international responsibility in respect to dependent peoples will have to be accepted; and old conception of complete national sovereignty and control will have to be substantially modified.

If this view is shared by you and your Government, there would be advantages in your indicating it, even if only in most general way, as one of the strongest arguments of die-hard reactionaries of old Imperial school against this question being faced is that it would cause trouble with the Dominions. [4]


1 On file AA:A2937, Post War colonial policy. They reported a conversation between the U.K. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Wendell L. Willkie, who had been the Republican candidate at the 1940 U.S. presidential election and who was then visiting the Soviet Union as a representative of President Roosevelt. Willkie had spoken of the widespread dislike among Americans for the traditional British attitudes towards imperial and colonial policy and urged that in order to prevent the 'disaster' of the United States returning to isolationism after the war Churchill should publicly state that 'the "old imperialism" was ... dead ... and that subject races could look to the future with new confidence'.

2 On file AA:M100, August 1942. It reported that Cordell Hull had suggested that the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands and China combine to make 'some general statement in which we might all assert broad purposes making plain that attainment of freedom involved mutual responsibility of what he called parent states and of those who aspired to it'. Halifax had agreed in principle, but expressed concern that (a) China might use the statement as an excuse to tell the British how to run the Empire and (b) it would prove difficult to formulate principles which would be equally applicable to all the wide range of British colonies.

3 See Bruce's note of conversation with Cranborne on 28 August on the file cited in note 2.

4 Evatt replied on 13 October by sending Bruce the text of a statement which he had made in the House of Representatives on 3 September, in the course of which he had said 'our post-war order in the Pacific cannot be for the sole benefit of one power or group of powers. Its dominant purpose must be that of benefiting the peoples everywhere ... In short, we must found future Pacific policy on the doctrine of trusteeship for the benefit of all the Pacific peoples'. See cablegram 333 on file AA:A989, 43/735/1021.

[AA:A1608, A41/1/5, iv]