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228 McDougall to Bruce

Letter (extract) WASHINGTON, 23 June 1943

I wrote to you at some length on June 20th [1] but having no copy I may repeat some of the points I then made. McCarthy's secretary is on leave and the typing staff of the Legation are very fully employed.

I heard today that Mr. Winant had reported his talk with you and said that you had asked how long the Americans wanted me to stay here. [2] I hope you realize that the whole idea of my remaining here, for the moment, comes from the Americans. As I see it the position is as follows:

(i) The Food Conference recommendations went a good deal further than I expected. Practically all the points I made in my preliminary paper [3] were endorsed but the idea of the nations reporting to one another through the Permanent Organization arose as a result of discussions between Coombs and myself Australia was therefore responsible for the most significant of the recommendations made by the Conference. The Conference recommendations, if adopted by Governments, should secure almost all the things we have been fighting for since 1935.

(ii) The Interim Commission has a heavy responsibility. It has three major tasks. Firstly, to draft the formal declaration or agreement under which Governments are to be asked to accept definite obligations to their own peoples and to one another;

secondly, to produce a specific plan for the Permanent Organization; and thirdly, to commence to do certain work to carry out the recommendations of the Conference. The first two duties are precise; the third is rather indeterminate.

(iii) It was felt that it was important that I should be available here for discussions with the Americans as to how the work of the Interim Commission should be carried out. The State Department and the Department of Agriculture were convinced that this was desirable. Coombs and McCarthy shared this view.

(iv) It is not yet clear how the Americans will envisage the work of the Interim Commission. They have set up a joint committee of State and Agriculture to clear their own minds. This committee has met a couple of times and expects to finish its work this week. it is then expected that talks will occur with some five or six other countries.

(v) There seem to be two alternatives. They may decide in favour of a plan somewhat along the lines of my note, sent to you about ten days ago (I am enclosing a second copy with a further note attached). [4] They may, however, come to the conclusion that this is too ambitious and decide upon a more leisurely procedure, i.e.

the appointment of a small staff and for the Commission to meet from time to time to review the work done by the staff.

(vi) If the decision is to establish a Working Committee and to press vigorously ahead with the task of preparing plans for the Organization it would seem worth while for the Commonwealth Government to consider appointing me temporarily to the Interim Commission and for me to remain here for two or three months until the back of the work is broken. If the less vigorous method is adopted then I think it would be a mistake for me to remain here and I should recommend returning as soon as the decision about methods has been reached. McCarthy could well represent Australia on the Interim Commission under the second method of procedure;

under the first he would not have time.

Unless there is to be a most vigorous prosecution of the work and unless I was asked to act as a member of the wholetime Working Committee, I should greatly prefer to return to London. From a personal standpoint I should much rather return but from the point of view of the work and the whole cause of post-war economic relations I should be willing to stay provided there is to be a real drive to achieve results in a few months time.

Unfortunately, I have no idea about your own point of view. I hope that the American move to get me to stay for the moment has not proved embarrassing to you.

Dr. Evatt may feel that it is undesirable for Australia to play any major role in pushing forward with the recommendations of the Conference and his view may be shared by the Cabinet. If so, I ought not to be appointed, even temporarily, to the Interim Commission for I could not go slow on these issues.

My impressions about the general attitude towards the vigour with which the work of the Interim Commission should be pressed forward is as follows. Most of the delegations, including Canada, New Zealand, the European Allies, the Latin Americans and most of the Americans, are anxious for quick progress. I fancy that some of the U.K. people will be in favour of slower methods and I expect this will be the final view of Acheson although he now expresses a keenness for quick work. It is doubtful whether Acheson is a convinced believer in the standard of living approach and he is readily influenced by U.K. opinion. Wallace and I expect Sumner Welles are for vigorous action. I don't think the President has any time in which to consider the issue.

[matter omitted]


1 The letter is on file AA:M104, 11 (4).

2 See Bruce's note of 19 June on file AA:M100, June 1943.

3 Published as an attachment to Document 78.

4 Neither copy has been found.

[AA:M104, 11 (4)]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History