Building for the Future


By HERBERT V. EVATT, Australian Attorney General and Minister of State for External Affairs

Delivered at the New York Herald-Tribune Forum, New York City, October 29, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, pp. 119-121.

"The Pacific"

I REGARD the invitation to speak on the Pacific at this important forum as an honor to Australia. It also shows an encouraging awareness of the need of a continuation during the peace-making period of the co-operation between our two peoples which was so notable a feature of the Pacific war. Co-operation is not merely a concern of governments, it is a concern of peoples. The almost desperate struggles of 1942 and 1943 against the Japanese land forces ended in success because comradeship was tested and proved. Such comradeship must be maintained and extended if there is to be a just and lasting settlement in the southwest Pacific and in the Far East.

A Second Chance

After the first world war the victorious democracies had the ball at their feet. But they missed their great opportunity. Between the two world wars poverty and unemployment were allowed to afflict our peoples. Because the nations failed to work together, Fascism became a menace, first to a few countries and then to the peace of the whole world. Today our enemies are still carrying on underground activities, in Japan and Germany, and they will certainly repeat the machinations which between 1931 and 1939 nearly succeeded in the establishment of a Fascist world dictatorship. Indeed, but for the tenacity of a few determined nations and a few great leaders, the war might have ended in irreparable disaster. The great question now is—will all this be allowed to happen again? That depends upon whether the victorious nations can retain or regain the spirit of comradeship without which this war could not have been won and without which this peace will certainly be lost. Unless there is the will to co-operate successfully, to give as well as to take, in a word, to be altruistic, our objectives cannot be carried into effect.

Far Eastern Commission

So far as the Pacific is concerned, the establishment of the Far Eastern Commission at Washington is an important step forward. The commission will provide one practical test of

the possibilities of future international co-operation in the Pacific. There will be assembled together for the purposes of recommending a just policy for Japan, representatives of all nations which have been active belligerents in the Pacific theater of war. The conference will thus provide a democratic approach to one of the vital problems of peace. Can the commission, based as it is, succeed? I believe it can, subject to one condition. The commission will be a success provided we hold fast to the spirit of comradeship and co-operation which alone enabled us to recover after the disasters of Pearl Harbor and Singapore. If this spirit is evident, the machinery can be made to work. Without it, even perfect international machinery must break down.

Democratic Method of Peace-Making

Australia has consistently maintained that there should be full participation in the peace-making by the active belligerent powers, including the middle and lesser powers, as well as the greater powers. The participation in the Far Eastern Commission's deliberations of all belligerents in the Pacific theater is a further recognition of the principle for which we have striven. If in relation to the Pacific we can make a success of the Washington experiment, we shall also be showing a way for the peace-making in Europe. I am convinced that a democratic method of reaching policy decisions with a view to the ultimate peace settlement is as important as the settlement itself. All nations which have contributed to victory by a notable record of sustained effort have the right to make a proportionate contribution to the peace. Even the lesser belligerent powers may have an important and even decisive influence in certain regions and in special circumstances. This is of the very essence of justice, and we are pleased that the principle is now being almost universally accepted.

United States Pacific Leadership

Here I desire, on behalf of Australia, to pay a special tribute to the great and decisive war-time leadership of the United States in the Pacific war. The plain fact is that, after the great advantages seized initially by the enemy as a resultof his preparedness, the handling by the United States of the Pacific War was something of an epic in its brilliance of conception and its ruthless efficiency in execution. MacArthur's exploits, especially in the New Guinea campaigns—perhaps the most difficult land campaigns in military history—were paralleled by those of the United States Navy under the leadership of men like King, Nimitz and Halsey, and equally great army and air leaders like Marshall and Kenney. To them all and to the gallant service men of this country, I pay homage.

Efforts of British Commonwealth of Nations

I am sure, too, that you will never forget that other Pacific nations played a notable part, without which the Pacific war might have drifted toward utter disaster. General Mac-Arthur has recently said that he knew no country in the world which had so fine a record in using its war potential as Australia. He hoped the Australian people realized fully how admirable was their soldiers' achievement in combat, and their own achievement on the home front. It was only their due (he said) that the world should know. So far as the home front is concerned, I may mention that the true value of reciprocal lend-lease aid expenditures by Australia in aid of the United States forces far exceeded 1,000 million dollars. Australia's own war effort was total in character, but it is only typical of the great contribution made from 1939 to 1945—nearly six years—by Britain and all other members of the British Commonwealth, including India.

Elimination of Menace of Japanese Imperialist Militarism

In our considered view the complete elimination of Japanese imperialistic militarism is a basic condition of Pacific security. This elimination will necessarily involve great changes in Japan's social, political and economic structure. The roots of Japanese militarism are embedded in the totalitarian, political, social and economic system which has been built up by Japan's ruling classes for the last seventy years. Superficial changes in governmental machinery and the control of external trade will not be sufficient. Further, the imposition of controls during a relatively short period of foreign occupation may only provoke a resurgence of nationalistic reaction without removing anything of the influences which have been chiefly responsible for Japan's imperialistic policy. The occupation of Japan must be maintained with determination and must be sustained until a really democratic and popular regime is fully established. This may involve a lengthy occupation period, but against this must be weighed the danger of a revival of Japanese chauvinism and aggression if we have too short an occupation. The adoption of a correct policy in the treatment of Japan will prevent the Pacific from ever again becoming the scene of ferocious and brutal conflict as the world has just witnessed. I must emphasize that in the Pacific war American and Australian service men suffered cruel ill-treatment at the hands of the Japanese. For all these atrocities and criminal conduct Australia seeking to call to full account all those who are found responsible, no one being granted special immunity. Any discrimination in favor of Japanese as distinct from German war criminals will only tend to cause a resurgence of Japanese militarism.

Pacific Conditions Are Special in Character

What are the special problems of the Pacific settlement? Conditions there are very different from those of central Europe. The peoples of Europe are developed both politically and industrially. The Pacific is a huge oceanic area—the distances are vast. Numerous islands are inhabited by primitive peoples, and most of the peoples are not sufficiently developed to protect themselves if there is to be another contest for power. Apart from Japan, the crowded populations of East Asia have old civilizations, and they have not built up the industrial equipment of a modern community. Because Japan was equipped industrially, she carried on war for years and nearly accomplished her purpose.

Pacific Security and World Security

Pacific security is vital to us, but such security will have to be patterned within the supreme objective of world security. At the same time there is full scope for a regional as well as global attack on the problem of security. So much is expressly; recognized in the San Francisco Charter.

A just and lasting system of Pacific security depends upon its adequacy to take care of the growing and changing needs of all the Pacific peoples. They ought to be assured of a full opportunity to live in freedom from want as well as in freedom from external aggression. If peoples of southeast Asia and the Pacific, who are now submerged in the direst poverty, or who are living the life of primitive tribes, getting a bare subsistence, could be raised to a higher level of human well-being, if the human and economic potentialities of these peoples and the countries in which they live could be developed, American, Australian and all other Pacific nations would also derive very great benefit. But these benefits will not accrue unless we can banish the specter of war from the Pacific. We cannot expect an improvement of human welfare, a development of industry, or an increase of trade, if a contest for supremacy in power is being fought over the area. Nor, on the other hand, can we avoid political unrest unless human wants are satisfied to a greater degree than at present, while political instability will invite military movements and engender the contest for power.

International Co-Operation is the Method of Solution

There is no satisfactory means of solving these problems except by setting ourselves to organize internationally. That is precisely what we all agreed to do at San Francisco when we signed the United Nations Charter. So far as the Pacific is concerned, the crucial provisions of the Charter are threefold —the security provisions, the provisions for economic advancement including the pledge for promoting full employment and the provisions for trusteeships of dependent and non-self-governing peoples. The security provisions can serve the purpose of preserving the safety of the region; the economic provisions will help to build up economic potentialities and raise standards of living, and the trusteeship provisions should help all peoples to take their part, to make an appropriate and ever-increasing contribution to the good government of the particular area, thus removing some of the chief causes of political instability.

Security Provisions

The security provisions of the Charter contemplate the signing of agreements by each of the members, by which each agrees to contribute certain forces and to make facilities available to the organization to enable it to use force against any aggressor. It also provides for the supply of readily available air forces to act quickly. These military agreements are to be negotiated on the initiative of the Security Council and must be made in pursuance of a security scheme in which the means of checking aggression are worked out and the bases from which it shall operate and the strategic areas involved will be determined. It is not sufficiently recognized that the security scheme will depend on the speedy negotiation of these agreements, and it is hoped that nothing will be done in the mean time inconsistent with these over-riding obligations.

Economic Provisions

The economic provisions of the Charter should tend to divert the destructive and negative tendencies toward war into the constructive and positive area of economic and social advancement. These provisions are based on the idea that if our minds and activities are bent on these positive developments, aspirations and interests will be developed in which we shall not tolerate the thought of war and will determine not to allow it to frustrate our hopes for human welfare everywhere in the world. The only war that will be waged by all peace-loving nations will be the war against unemployment and poverty.

Trusteeship Provisions

Finally, there are the important trusteeship provisions: there are communities in the area which are at present unable to play their proper part in Pacific development. They have not the capital, and they cannot protect themselves in a jungle world. The provisions of the Charter declare that whether a territory is placed formally under trusteeship or not, the parent state is under a solemn duty to regard the interests of the native peoples as of paramount importance and to assist in their political as well as in their educational and social development.

War-Time Comradeship Still Essential

These are not merely aspirations—they are solemn obligations made part and parcel of the San Francisco Charter. True, they depend upon co-operation and comradeship between all members of the United Nations. But why cannot the war-time co-operation and comradeship be continued throughout the post-war period? We all realize that the postwar problems which now confront our peoples will be most difficult to solve. At the same time they can hardly provide as formidable an obstacle as the problems of life and death which confronted us after Pearl Harbor when, for a long time, we had so little with which to meet Japan's tremendous effort to establish her new economic empire in southeast Asia, in Indonesia and in Melanesia. In the Pacific the greater problems were solved. If we are resolute, we shall also solve the lesser.