No. 44 NAI DFA 205/122
Dublin, 28 September 1926
NOTE ON ATTACHED MEMORANDUM
This Memorandum should be considered in conjunction with that on 'Defence Policy' submitted by the Defence Council to the Executive Council in 1925,1 and also in connection with the recent General Memorandum on Coast Defence,2 and the supplementary Memorandum on the 'Sea Aspect'3 of that question.
While adhering to the policy of 'Independence in the Defence of Ireland,' as suggested in the Memorandum of July, 1925, a closer study of the Defence Reservations in the Treaty, of the strategical relation of the Saorstát to Great Britain and of the further complications introduced by the Six County question as well as a consideration of the whole position with regard to Defence in the Commonwealth, has made it apparent that the Saorstát cannot in its present state of development adopt a policy of isolation. It will, however, be noted that while proposals for an understanding and co-operation with Britain on certain lines are made, they are in consonance with the 'Policy of Independence in Defence' as far as our present position makes it feasible and they do not in any way approach to the position outlined in Para 30 of the Memorandum on Defence Policy dealing with our defence as part of the Defence Scheme of the British Empire. After further consideration of the question it has been decided that co-operation with Britain on certain matters will not entail the unity of administration and control suggested in that paragraph.
The Imperial General Staff would, of course, be anxious to have uniform organisation, training, and equipment but absolute executive and administrative control would still be vested in the Saorstát Government and such proposals need not be considered.
It might also be noted that, in the absence of detailed information as to the Executive's opinion on the merits of the three alternatives proposed in the 'Defence Memorandum' the proposal for 'Independence in the Defence of Ireland' has formed the basis of the policy suggested for adoption at the Imperial Conference.
A very important feature of this question is the prevailing misconception and lack of appreciation of our position in the event of the situation dealt with materialising as it will eventually. It is felt, owing to the lack of appreciation referred to, that if such proposals were put before the public, many who are otherwise believers in and supporters of the state of affairs brought about by the establishment of Saorstát Éireann would strongly object. Consideration of such a matter is, of course, primarily a political concern, but as modern war is essentially a national effort it is felt that attention should be directed to the fact that no National Defence Policy can be successful unless it has the support of the people. It is accordingly considered imperative to direct the Executive's attention to the necessity for the education of the public to some extent on the reasons for the suggested policy or in fact any other policy adopted.
IMPERIAL CONFERENCE, 1926
POLICY ON DEFENCE AND COGNATE QUESTIONS
Our Position at 1923 Conference
1. At the Imperial Conference in 1923, it would appear that it was generally accepted that as Saorstát Éireann had only recently become a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and because of the conditions of civil strife then existing in the Saorstát, its representatives were not in a position to have formed any definite views or adopted any particular attitude to the Defence questions raised.
Change since 1923
In view, however, of the now altered circumstances in the Saorstát, it will be hardly feasible at the forthcoming Conference to again plead that so far no consideration has been given to these questions and that, therefore, we cannot commit ourselves to any definite policy. In drafting this Memorandum, it is, of course, fully appreciated that the Conference has no constitutional basis and that its decisions are in no way binding. As opposed to this point of view, however, it must be remembered that it is practically only in the sphere of Defence that the policy of Imperial Co-operation has succeeded to any considerable extent, and that in addition, the Saorstát position is still further complicated by the proximity to Great Britain, by the Six-County Question, by the Defence reservations in the Treaty, and, apart from its proximity to Great Britain, by its location in Western Europe.
Probable attitude of Dominions
Due appreciation must be also given to the consideration that Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland will strongly support any propositions for cooperation in Defence, and, while Canada and South Africa may receive such propositions coldly, that there is a definite understanding as to their complete responsibility normally for the Defence of their own territory. An understanding also exists as to how far in time of war they would co-operate with the British Fleet which must be accepted as the first line of Defence of all the Nations comprising the British Commonwealth, at least in so far as they wish to avail of it.
Special Position of Canada and South Africa
It is also necessary to remember that if Canada does not take much interest in British Defence schemes, it is because no defence would be of any use to her in the event of trouble with the U.S.A., and that otherwise she regards herself as much protected by the Monroe Doctrine as by the British Fleet. Similarly, the Great War and the resultant conquering by the Union of South Africa of the adjoining German Colonies has left the Union without any adjoining possible enemies except the negligible Portuguese, and the interest in Defence matters has possibly declined, but, notwithstanding this, General Hertzog, has, in some of his speeches, taken care to imply that he is satisfied that if South Africa were absolutely independent she would not be able in her present state of development to defend herself. The Saorstát attitude to defence questions will have to be based more closely on the considerations affecting the attitudes of Australia and New Zealand, than those of Canada and South Africa, because its position in the Atlantic will automatically bring it into the sphere of operations in any War Great Britain may have with any other maritime power or combination of Powers in practically any portion of the World as the Australasian States will automatically be included in any maritime war in the Pacific.
In this and the other Memoranda on special subjects4 it is proposed to consider some of the effects on the Saorstát of the more important Wars in which Great Britain may be engaged and to suggest the attitude that should be adopted to them by us, bearing in mind the fact that such a decision will be of the utmost importance, not merely because on it will be based our position in the British Commonwealth, but our future National policy for a considerable period.
2. PRESENT POSITION
General lack of appreciation of Present Position
So far, little consideration has been devoted to this subject and the commonly accepted ideas would seem to be based largely on the fact that Clause 49 in the Constitution states that save in case of invasion, the Saorstát cannot be committed to participation in War without the assent of the Oireachtas. Little attention would, however, seem to be paid to the fact that in front of the word participation occurs the word 'active', presumably a tacit recognition of the legal position as generally accepted internationally that once Great Britain is formally involved inWar so are all the Nations comprising theCommonwealth, and that what the Oireachtas would really have to decide is the extent to which the Saorstát would or would not co-operate with and assist Great Britain in the Wars that will occur sooner or later.
Canada's exceptional Position
It is, of course, granted that Canada, because of the peculiar factors involved in her ultimate defence, could possibly in time of war declare herself neutral without Great Britain taking means to prevent her, but this would mean that she was definitely leaving the British Commonwealth and becoming a Small Power in North America depending on the Monroe doctrine to protect her.
Saorstát Neutrality not feasible
No other Dominion is likely to adopt that attitude and it is submitted that it is not possible for us even to consider it unless we are prepared to enter into an armed struggle with Britain because firstly, our defence status and position is very much inferior to that of the Dominions, and secondly, because of our extraordinarily close strategical relation to Britain.
3. POSSIBLE POLICIES
Non-recognition of questions of Commonwealth Defence
This leaves two alternatives, namely, either a policy of ignoring all proposals in connection with Commonwealth or larger issues of Defence or one of cooperation on certain definite lines. The effect of the adoption of the first line of policy would be to confirm the suspicion with which certain persons closely connected with the more important aspects of Defence in Great Britain regard the Saorstát Defence Forces and to confirm generally the opinion expressed in the Prise Naval Essay for 1925 of the Royal United Services Institute, that in the event of a future European War (with France) our attitude would be at the best doubtful if not actually hostile.
Largely entails abandonment of Saorstát Defence to Britain
It is suggested, after careful consideration, that for the reasons dealt with hereunder, this policy would not be in keeping either with the general policy of 'Independence in the defence of the Saorstát' or with the best interests of National Policy even from the point of view of those who wished to develop our position to one of absolute National Independence at the most rapid rate. This statement may seem paradoxical, but it must be remembered that at present we are by no means in a position to adopt an attitude of independence in defence matters because of the reservations and clauses governing the subject in the Treaty; and further that if we adopt an attitude of indifference, Britain will continue to treat us with suspicion, and, when the time for further conference as provided for in Clause 6 arises, will take good care that she retains an absolute hold on this country in any agreements made.
Circumstances might compel Britain to interfere in administration of portions of Saorstát.
This would mean that in the event of War, Britain would be entitled by Clause 7(b) of the Treaty to take control of most of the important Harbours and Ports of the Saorstát and such facilities as she required in their neighbourhood for aviation or other defence purposes. It might possibly also mean that under certain military exigencies she would demand to have at least some of those areas administered largely by her military machine. In fact our position under such circumstances would tend to approximate to that of Egypt during the recent war, when, though for [a] portion of the period normally an independent State, she was really controlled in all her more important relations by British Martial Law. This statement may seem exaggerated, but when one considers the number of services and matters referred to in Para. 5, of which Britain would, for her own defence, have to take control in War, if we do not arrange to do so, it may not seem so exaggerated.
In para. 6 dealing with the advantages of the Suggested Line of Policy, a number of further disadvantages of the policy of non-co-operation with the British will be referred to when attention is drawn to the advantages of the opposite course.
4. SUGGESTED POLICY
Necessity for more definite understanding with Britain re our Position
Having indicated that a position of 'neutrality' is for many reasons out of the question, and that one of the non-recognition of questions of Commonwealth Defence and proposals in connection therewith made by the British Government is inadvisable, tending under present circumstances to weaken and not strengthen the National Defence position, the only alternative is that of bringing about an understanding as to the part we are to play in the Commonwealth Scheme of Defence, and co-operate on certain lines with the British, the general lines of course being based on proposals made by the Saorstát and not the British Government.
Proposals for co-operation in wartime
It is not suggested that we should proceed at this Conference to at once bring about a complete understanding as to our exact position in the Commonwealth Scheme of Defence, or make arrangements with Britain for co-operation in connection with all matters likely to arise in War, but certainly some attempt should be made to break the ground. It is likewise equally appreciated that this is a question of exceptional importance on which a final decision cannot hurriedly be made but a start must be made sometime in the discussion of it. The position at this Conference will be further complicated by the impending Conference on Coast Defence,5 and, in fact, it will be impossible for us to define our future attitude without touching on this question to which further reference will be made (See Para. 7).
5. QUESTIONS ON WHICH A COMMON POLICY MUST BE DECIDED OR UNDERSTANDINGS COME TO
Apart from our general position in the Commonwealth Scheme of Defence which would be largely based on constitutional development, a much closer understanding would want to be arrived at on a number of questions because of our strategical relation to Great Britain and the Six Counties. The following is a list of at least some of the questions which it would be suicidal to leave undecided until a war had actually broken out. A number of these questions will be dealt with in more detail in the separate Memoranda6 submitted on various questions on which Memoranda were prepared by the Committee of Imperial Defence and circulated by the Colonial Office.
|(a)||Arising out of British Memoranda E. 95 on Empire Naval Policy and Co- Operation:- Control of Shipping in Irish Ports and Territorial Waters. Instructions re Convoys, Navigational Routes, Avoidance of Enemy Craft and Activities. Laying of Minefields off Irish Coast and other such defensive or offensive measures. Provision of Naval Authorities in Ports. Questions re Contraband and other matters arising out of enemy blockade. The whole question is of very great importance because of the enormous amount of traffic not merely passing off our North and South Coasts but actually at various points passing through our territorial waters. (See separate Memorandum).|
|(b)||AIR POLICY (E. 97). Control of Civil Aviation, also questions arising from the Defence of the Seas adjoining our coasts such as the provision of Aerial Patrols for Reconnaissance, etc. (See Separate Memorandum).|
Communication in War
|(c)||(E. 98.) Long Distance Wireless Telephony. This question has no special interest for us, but is only a new phase of the larger question of Imperial Communications in connection with which the British Government have arranged with the Dominions for the provision of and operation of Wireless Stations throughout the Dominions in Wartime as well as arrangements for the censorship and control of all Wireless and cable Stations. (It is understood that the British Government have already raised this question). (See separate Memo.)|
Armament and Supplies
|(d)||(E. 99.) This Memorandum raises a problem which must be solved at home and not at the Imperial Conference. It, however, raises the question of our absolute dependence on Great Britain for warlike supplies with the result that Britain can in wartime bring an undesirable pressure to bear on our capacity to adopt a policy of our own which would not suit her.|
General organisation for War
|(e)||(E. 100.) The discussion on Part 1 (policy portion) of this Memorandum would afford a suitable opportunity at which to have the question raised of a more definite understanding as to the present vague position of our responsibilities in connection with external aggression. (See separate Memorandum,7 also Para. 7 on advisability of raising Coast Defence Question at Conference.)|
Reduction and Limitation of Armaments
|(f)||(E. 103.) A question of enormous importance because no matter what decision is come to as the solution of the problem for the British Commonwealth it will tend to bring about a state of affairs in which we would either have to give up the possession of practically all national armament with consequent loss of prestige or else come to a definite agreement to use at all times of serious crisis our national armament to the full in the defence of the British Commonwealth.7 also Para. 7 on advisability of raising Coast Defence Question at Conference.)|
Censorship and Espionage
|(g)||In addition to the specific questions raised above, unless the Saorstát takes measures in time to enforce regulations governing control of aliens, censorship of Press, control of information dealing with commercial and naval shipping activities, aviation activities, and, in fact, an unlimited number of questions of this nature that will arise, as soon as a war in which Great Britain is involved starts in Europe, Britain will have no option but to take measures to control such matters herself in all our important ports and at other points around the Irish Coast. As it is understood that the Executive Council have already given a certain amount of consideration to the question of Censorship in time of war, they can form some idea of the importance and magnitude of the various questions raised in this paragraph, of which censorship after all, only forms a very small portion.|
6. ADVANTAGES OF SUGGESTED POLICY
Effect on Six-County Question
(a) As it is naturally assumed that one of the first considerations in a National Policy is the necessity of providing for the ultimate inclusion of the Six Counties in the Saorstát, the tendency of this Policy in that direction must be considered. As opposed to this, there can be no question but that proposals based on the neutrality or non-recognition of Commonwealth Defence questions will drive the Six Counties into the hands of Great Britain and from us. This is probably a question which does not concern the Department of Defence, but no consideration can be given to the problem of the Defence of the Saorstát without the complications introduced by the Six County problem immediately arising.
Ireland a Defence Unit
Similarly, some consideration might be given to the enormous influence the Defence problem had in bringing about the unity of various provinces of enormously diverse outlook and attitudes to one another in both Canada, Australia and South Africa. Ireland is hardly more essentially a unit for any purpose than that of defence and sooner or later a common threat will need a common policy of defence. In the event of the adoption of the policy suggested in this Memorandum one can hardly visualise the military authorities (British) in the Six Counties in a time of War refusing the use of the Six County Railways to reinforcements proceeding from the Saorstát to deal with a threatened raid on some point of the Donegal Coast. Similarly, in the use of Aerial or Naval Arms little attention could be paid either on land or sea to political boundaries that are impossible for purposes of strategical defence. In fact, in time of war, it is highly probable that unless political factors interfered the bulk of the British Troops at present in the Six Counties would be withdrawn at least in the event of the proposal to co-operate with Britain being adopted and that the Coasts of Ulster would, like the rest of Ireland, depend for reinforcements, in the not improbable event of raids, on one large reserve which would naturally be in the Saorstát and under the proposed circumstances composed of Saorstát Troops.
(b) As far as the Saorstát is concerned, reference has been already made in another Memorandum (Coast Defence Sea Aspect)8 to the probable effect on the Saorstát of the outbreak of the next war on a large scale in which Britain is involved, and the following comments made:-
War contingencies considered
'Any person who has given consideration to the question must certainly have come to the conclusion that the outbreak of the next War on a large scale in which Britain will be involved will produce a very important crisis in this country's history, which will, of course, be caused by political factors whose considerations are outside the sphere of the General Staff. It can be taken as certain, however, that there will probably be three policies suggested by different sections of the population, firstly a whole-hearted support of Great Britain, secondly, an attitude of neutrality based on the clause on the subject in the Constitution, and, thirdly, a policy of hostility to Great Britain based on the old dictum of England's difficulty being Ireland's opportunity. Any executive will probably experience great difficulty in making any decision on this question because of the divergent views which will undoubtedly be held and will probably be hard pushed to prevent the question becoming the subject of internal strife in the country. Added to this, the Executive will also have to deal with the position in the British Commonwealth generally, which will in all probability be one of actual material support of Great Britain and with the particular influences which Britain will exercise on this Country because of our proximity to her. The nett result of all those influences will probably be that it will be considered that our maintaining of the Irish Coast Defences will not be a sufficient contribution to the defence of the Commonwealth to which we belong in a time of exceptional crisis, and very great influences will be brought to bear to have this country prepare an Expeditionary Force for use with the British Army abroad, as was done by the Dominions during the recent War.'
It was then urged that the best policy to adopt in view of the undoubted divergent views that will be held was one of assuming responsibility for a portion of our naval defence because it would assist in Commonwealth Defence and to some extent at least satisfy the views of those who desired whole-hearted support of Great Britain, while, from the point of view of those who did not desire this attitude it would strengthen the national prestige and defence position and tend to kill Expeditionary Force proposals.
British occupation of essential Defence Positions in Saorstát
Having decided that a policy based on any hopes of a neutrality position is not feasible, some effect on the Saorstát of the policy of non-recognition of larger questions of Defence referred to in para. 3 when the British Military and Naval Authorities would have taken the facilities which they are not merely entitled to, but would have to assume for their own effective defence.9 Naval and Aviation bases for operation purposes would be established on a pretty large scale at various points on the Coasts and some kind of Naval Representatives would be located in all the more important ports in connection with the control and protection of shipping, navigation, etc. In addition to the regular Naval and Aerial Operation Bases, the British Authorities would probably consider it necessary to set up some kind of a general coast watching service, more for the purpose of assisting their aerial and naval activities off the Coast than for Coast Defence. In addition, the problem of control of cable and wireless stations and the question of the preventing of enemy submarines and such craft entering our harbours and estuaries, which would be more or less constantly used by British Craft, would arise, entailing the placing of mine fields at certain points as well as the possible changing of navigation marks and lights.
Irish Intrigues with Britain's enemies
The proper carrying out of all those defensive operations would mean that Units of British Naval and Military Personnel would be located at various points round the Coast and in addition would have extensive depots at central points for their supply and administration. Both Units and Depots would need guards and, in view of the strategical importance of the Coast, would probably desire to take special precautions for the control of the areas where they were located, as well as requiring pretty severe regulations to be enforced at all points round the Coast with a view to lessening the probability of information of their activities or activities on the shipping lines off the Coast getting to the enemy. It should be remembered that all Atlantic trade converges either at the Fastnet Light House off Cork or at a point off the Donegal Coast and that in time of war the importance of those two points, from the point of view of trade, control and commerce protection, is enormous. All this work would, as previously stated, have resulted in the location on the Irish Coast of a large number of British Naval and Military Personnel who would naturally have a considerable amount of dealings with the public. At the same time, some party whose principles will be a combination of hostility to Great Britain and desire for immediate and complete independence of Ireland without having particular reference to the probability of the success of their methods, will undoubtedly exist and find in the presence here of a large number of British Military and Naval personnel an undoubtedly suitable pretext on which to base an amount of National and Anti-British propaganda. Added to this, Britain's most probable enemy on the Continent is France, a country that in time of War would, for historical and geographical reasons, find it much easier to intrigue with disaffected elements in Ireland than Germany did during the last War. The result of developments of this kind is hard to forecast, but any student of the history of the intrigues of Great Britain's enemies on the Continent with elements in Ireland would be inclined to forecast that they would be of a more serious nature than those that took place with the Germans during the recent War. Due importance will also be attached to the rather awkward effect on our relations with Great Britain if there were any foundations for an impression that various persons in this country were intriguing with the forces of her enemy in a period of exceptional crisis.
Effect of our assumption of Coast Defence
Allowance must be made in those calculations for the effect of the resumption by the Saorstát of its Coast Defence and possibly of a limited development of its sea defence in future years, but it must be understood that Britain's attitude to both those questions will depend on our general line of policy. Even the manning of certain Coast Defences by us will not do away with the necessity for certain British activities in our ports and on our Coast unless a common war plan is to some extent worked out. The advantage of this policy lies in the fact that our defence efforts in a time of war will be largely national and local and such as will increase national prestige and strength and not of the Expeditionary Force type and, as such, very much against the wishes of a large number of the population.
No British Forces in Saorstát
It would, of course, also reduce to a bare minimum the necessity for British interference here and reduce reasons for disaffection amongst certain sections of the population, remembering, in connection with this, that certain sections of the population who would be quite prepared to see the SaorstÃ¡t assuming certain of the duties referred to, would, in the event of the British being responsible for them, probably take sides with the section whose policy would be primarily Anti-British. The Executive will probably also appreciate the immense difference there would be in the attitude of the population if interference with services such as Wireless, Cable, External Postal, Shipping etc., were made by Officials in any way acting under British instead of Saorstát control.
(c) Some persons have already urged when discussing certain aspects of our defence position, that it is financially unwise for the Saorstát to take over responsibility for various defence services while it is possible to get Great Britain to continue to maintain them. Some consideration may be given to this argument at the moment, but it will hardly be urged seriously by any one that Britain is in the habit of giving services to other States free of charge indefinitely. The really important consideration is, however, that those services are actually only of importance in time of war and it is submitted that very substantial arguments are put forward in this Memorandum for our taking measures to be in a position to control as many as possible of them under such circumstances. Similarly, reasons are adduced in Para. 7 to show that the taking of such measures is a matter that cannot be indefinitely postponed, and even those who may urge as possible that Britain will maintain those services at her own expense in peace time will hardly believe that in time of war, if we have left ourselves absolutely dependant on her for defence, that she will not use our position for her economic advantage and our detriment.
Financial and economic considerations
To summarise, it is suggested that the policy to adopt is one of getting all British Forces and Civil Officials out of the country and taking measures to ensure that the Saorstát's effort in time of war is directed to providing services that, if maintained by it, will not entail the presence of British Naval, Military and possibly civil authorities. To do this, it, of course, is necessary to have some understanding with the British as to the nature of those services as well as means for the co-operation that would be needed in wartime. It is also suggested that it is only by the adoption of this policy for a period that we will be able to develop to a state at which we can hope to take a more independent attitude. If this line is adopted, it will also be feasible if Britain does not agree to it to urge when a time of crisis does arrive that as proposals submitted by us for the complete undertaking of our defence were not agreed to, and that until they are, there can be no suggestion of us helping in the defence of the Commonwealth elsewhere. It can also be tactfully pointed out that if our proposals are not agreed to that evidence is to some extent already available of the interest taken in this country by Britain's potential enemy on the Continent and no elaboration will be needed to indicate to her the dangers of a hostile Ireland in a time of crisis.
Whatever attitude is adopted or likely to be adopted by Britain, it is, however, certain that it is only by going into those questions now and formulating a policy that the Saorstát's interests will be safeguarded as it can be taken as certain (in fact, indications are already to hand in one case) that Britain has her plans prepared and unless we have ours also ready they (the British ones) will be enforced in time of war with resultant neglect of the Saorstát's special interests.
7. COAST DEFENCE: CONFERENCE WITH BRITISH
Relation of General Defence Problem to Coast Defence
References have already been made in this Memorandum (Paras. 6 etc) to the fact that no policy in connection with Defence either National or Commonwealth can be even considered without consideration of the results of the Conference provided for in Clause 6 of the Treaty arising. This has been recognised in the consideration of National Defence questions and efforts latterly have been directed principally with a view to obtaining as far as possible a desirable result from the National point of view from this Conference. It is now, however, suggested that as far as the Saorstát is concerned practically nothing can be done with a view to having our position in connection with the various questions that will be raised at the conference decided, unless our attitude to this matter is to some extent defined. It is also probable that it would be better for the Saorstát to have its general Defence relations and position in the Commonwealth defined (at least to some extent) in a Conference at which delegates from the Dominions (in particular possibly Canada and South Africa) were present than in an independent Conference with the British Government. This, of course, is really a proposal that the Coast Defence question should be raised at the Conference (as it can during the discussion of several of the Defence questions). It is, however, not made because of the Coast Defence question alone, but for the following reasons. It has been indicated in this Memorandum that numerous questions of very great importance have to be gone into and a policy formulated in connection with them as to this country's position and attitude when Britain is next involved in a serious war. If the line of policy suggested in this Memorandum is adopted, those questions will, in cases, have to be to a greater or lesser extent the subject of agreement or at least understanding with Britain. The normal method and place for the raising of all such questions has been at an Imperial Conference. In 1909, during the German Naval crisis, a special Defence Conference was called. If the Coast Defence question is not touched on at the present Conference, it will, of course, have to be dealt with at a special conference in three months time, and of course reference will have to be made to a number of the problems referred to in this Memorandum as outstanding and to some extent subsidiary to the Coast defence question.
Problem should not be deferred
It is, however, probable that those questions will not be dealt with in sufficient detail and under circumstances as suitable to the Saorstát at an independent Conference as at an Imperial one. The result will be that if the Coast Defence question is not touched on at this Conference, the tendency will be to let most of the subsidiary questions of Defence lie until the Imperial Conference in 1929-30. This would probably mean that, except for some incomplete and rather artificial arrangement over Coast Defence, all the important outstanding questions in connection with Defence would be left undecided until then. It is submitted that for two very important reasons this is undesirable. Firstly, the reason for going into those questions at all is that our own position and our position with relation to Great Britain may be marked out and defined before the next important war in which she is involved (in particular in Europe). In connection with this, it must be remembered that after the European War, the British Defence Authorities decided that it was not likely there would be another serious war for ten years and made their plans accordingly. This period will, however, end in another three or four years, and as far as can be seen at present no European Nation would be justified in hoping that it will be prolonged and accordingly postponing the consideration of their position in the event of War. This question may be serious enough for nations who were engaged in or had to maintain a position of neutrality during the recent European War, but, it is infinitely more serious for a Nation who has had no previous experiences of this kind at all. It will certainly take three or four years to work out in detail a policy and plans for such an eventuality and, if we do not start at this conference, we will be able to do very little until the next one, when it may be too late. The second reason is that if Imperial Conference Memorandum (Corrected) No. E. 103 on the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments is studied, it will be seen that there is a possibility that under a scheme for Limitation of Armaments we might be asked in the next few years to put up a case showing the Defence Armaments and Reserves we needed. It is well recognised that our present forces are not of the type that will be ultimately required when our defence policy is worked out in detail, and based on a scheme for the maintenance of the National position in connection with its external relations, and not for purposes of internal order, but if an immediate start is not made in the working out of our needs, as they will be under altered circumstances, we may in time find ourselves left with permission to retain forces and arms entirely unsuited to and possibly insufficient for our needs.
It should be added that there seems little prospect of such a scheme materialising in the present position of international affairs, but then the British Government have raised the very important question as to whether the Commonwealth under such a scheme should be one Unit or seven. For these reasons, it is further submitted that unless the Executive Council consider that those questions could be gone into under as favourable circumstances at an Independent Conference, as at the Imperial, that the Coast Defence problem should be touched on and an attempt made to start consideration of them all at this Conference.
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