Courtesy Reuters

Australia's Defense Problem

BECAUSE Australia and New Zealand belong to the British Empire they must always risk being involved in any disturbance of the international peace almost as much as England herself. And because numerically speaking they are small countries -- New Zealand has only a million and one half population, and although Australia calls itself a continent it has less than seven millions -- they must find difficulty in defending themselves against a determined major Power without very substantial help from the British Navy and British wealth. Both the spirit and the letter of the Covenant of the League of Nations suited Australia and New Zealand. They liked the ingenious scheme of the "C" Mandates, the prospect of disarmament, the faint hope for freer markets in which to sell their produce, and the comforting thought that any threat to their security would be a matter of international concern. They were on the receiving end of the benefits of the League of Nations. But the events of each recent year made the League shield less and less real.

Whether Australia and New Zealand have all the attributes of nationality is a point as hotly disputed as is the precise nature of their legal statehood under the Statute of Westminster of December 1931. Some persons resent the suggestion of nationality separate from "Home" as sharply as others defend it. Early this summer there was little public sentiment for joining forces, as in 1914, with Britain and sending several hundred thousands of troops to Europe; there was a notable absence of the famous "Anzac" enthusiasm which displayed itself so bravely at Gallipoli. Some of the older people predicted that if war should come there would be a revival of the old spirit. A statement by Prime Minister Menzies in the press of August 23 seemed to indicate that public sentiment was already turning in that direction. But the most that Australia and New Zealand had been contemplating, so far as one could judge from the official statements, was defense

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