223 Burton to Evatt

Cablegram E14 CANBERRA, 18 September 1947


1. The following are some comments on broader tactics, looking ahead a bit to Australia's position in world affairs, which may be useful to you:-

2. Reference Marshall's speech. [1] You will recall that, when Watt saw Vyshinski we based our attitude on the Balkans Commission report which found at least some fault on both sides. It would seem to me that, if we were to support the United States 'finding of responsibility' unreservedly, we would lay ourselves open to an accusation of bad faith which might, in the future, close the door to Australia's effective participation in any future situation in which we might be able to help breach of gap between the great powers. In spite of the tremendous provocation at this present time, it would seem to me a great pity for you personally not to leave yourself in a position from which, at the appropriate time, you might be able to breach this ever-widening gap. I have not yet dismissed the possibility contemplated a year ago of a visit by you, under favourable circumstances, to Moscow. The possibility on the Greek issue is that you could join with the United States, provided they undertook that the form of economic assistance by them to Greece and to other countries in the future should not be the sale of munitions of war. A move along these lines would, I think be most acceptable here and appeal to other countries as being the effective compromise.

3. Marshall's approach on conventional armaments is identical with the United Kingdom which we previously opposed and identical with attempts twenty years ago, i.e. no steps can be taken until conditions of confidence prevail. Understand that neither United States nor United Kingdom wish to agree to any reduction in armaments regardless of what Soviet might do and that they merely wish to keep talks alive without coming to any conclusions. Way may be open for United Kingdom, because of financial and manpower reasons, without giving that reason, to make a gesture of reduction on the basis that someone must be prepared to start before confidence can be restored. While United States and United Kingdom fears are understandable, their attitude seems to be one of utter despair' 4. Marshall's proposal for Committee as means of avoiding veto would seem to me to play into your hands to regain initiative. [2] He is just side-stepping issue in an unpractical way, whereas your approach has been more direct and designed to obtain limitation of veto by agreement. You will recall that, after the last Assembly, when we raised this matter, the veto was sparingly used. This was the result of free expression of public opinion, and the same method seems to be more effective than a decision by a majority vote which will not be observed. The truth of the matter is the veto supported by America and all other Great Powers was wrong in principle, as you stated at San Francisco, and that, far from bringing unanimity, it has tended to destroy it. Attempts to abolish it now must be frustrated by its further use and therefore cause further disunity. The French veto in the Indonesian case indicates that other powers will use it if vital interests are touched, and the next move might easily be for the Soviet to raise issues which would force a United States veto.

United States cannot always assume that she will have with her a majority. It would seem from here that your original line adopted last Assembly is the better procedure and one which at the appropriate time you might be able, with good effect, to introduce after the United States resolution has given an opportunity to test fully the general opinion.

1 Marshall addressed the UN General Assembly on a range of issues On 17 September, giving notice of a US resolution which would convict Bulgaria, Albania and Yugoslavia of aggression against Greece.

2 The reference is to the so-called Interim Committee of the General Assembly established in 1947 at the behest of the United States to provide continuous Assembly machinery for coping with political disputes.

[AA : A9420/1, 2]