83

29th December, 1927

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

My dear P.M.,

Everything has been closed since I last wrote and there is nothing much to say this week. Hankey [1] and all Ministers have been and are still away.

I have several matters in hand but none sufficiently advanced to tell you about.

There is a good historical conspectus and a reasonable summing up of the present position in an article in the January number of the American 'Foreign Affairs' called 'Imperial policies of Great Britain'. [2]

Hankey has just put up to the C.I.D. a novel idea for increasing the security of frontiers. He proposes to have adjoining countries plant a forest belt from 5 to 20 miles wide along their frontiers with the idea of blanking as much as possible of the frontier so as to make mutually more difficult the sudden descent of large bodies of troops of the one country against the other. It sounds fantastic and childish at first sight, as Hankey admits, but it has been seriously discussed and the W.O. are looking into it carefully to see if there is enough in it to make it worth while submitting either to the League or to the French. Various arguments for and against have been raised which I will not bother you with, unless the proposal gets to the stage when it looks like business, which I rather doubt.

There has been a good deal of correspondence and telegrams through the F.O. lately with regard to American 'thought' and opinion on the blockade and belligerent rights at sea, and on co-operation with us in China. Nothing worth telling you about, except the American attitude-the press and public attitude rather than that of the State Department. It is summed up, I think, by saying that they are unreasoningly and blindly suspicious of us-everything we say and do is taken to be an attempt to 'put something over' on the great-hearted and simple-minded American public. It will probably pass, but this seems to be the attitude of the moment.

Sir Hugh Denison [3] will be in London for a 'short time' (I can't find out how long) arriving about 20th January.

I will not speak about the Egyptian Treaty negotiations [4] or Italian Flag Discrimination [5] as you will get telegrams on these subjects when there is anything to say.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 M. H. Long, 'Imperial Policies of Great Britain', Foreign Affairs 6, 2, 1928, pp. 245-68.

3 Australian Commissioner in the United States.

4 See note 5 to Letter 77.

5 The Italian Government under Mussolini had for some time sought to discriminate against foreign ships in the carriage of, for example, Italian migrants to Australia. In 1925 Italy had reduced the number of foreign vessels licensed to carry migrants from three to two, thereby excluding the Orient Line. At the 1926 Imperial Conference the President of the Board of Trade, Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, reported that, with Australian agreement, Britain had threatened Italy with Australian insistence on Italian vessels complying with an Australian survey before entering Australian ports. Anglo-Italian negotiations continued for several years until finally Italy gave way.