IT is by no means pleasant to
have to open this column week by week with critical references to the political and diplomatic activity of our Russian Allies. No one who has paused for a single moment to consider the post-war strength of the Soviet Union could possibly take any pleasure in underlining the differences between Russia and the Western world. This particular
paper. which has never been ashamed of its defence of appeasement with Germans; before the war and which, more than most, has expressed its anxiety about the effects on civilisation of the present war even after victory, must surely be.the last journal to wish to do anything that might promote further conflicts. There may be people who secretly hope for a military showdown one day between the Christian West and the Atheist U.S.S.R. If so, we are certainly not of that number. AS Catholics our political concern is solely to help to create conditions which will strengthen the spiritual and moral defences of countries which once made up Christendom, spiritual defences which,' with God's help. will in course of time have their effect on the great Eastern Empire which, for better or worse, must play a decisive part in the world's future.
And just as before the war we never construed appeasement as a negative yielding to Hitler's blustering. but as a positive effort to shape European order, both in the political and economic fields. which would remove many of Germany's logitimate grievances, so to-day we believe that everything reasonable and just should be done to meet Russia's legitimate claims arising from her position as a great Power. . That Russia should be accorded a preponderant position in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe seems to us obvious. But it is equally obvious that that preponderant position cannot properly take the form of the annexation by force (however well diplomatically disguised) of independent countries nor even (in our view) of slices of Germany. Such crudities, besides being unjust in the case of Allies and neutrals, can only lead either to a new and unlimited totalitarian empire no better than the Hitlerian or to a new war.
Tiresome as it may seem from the point of view of the war effort, what is needed to-day is a' roundetable conference between British, American and Russian leaders, together with observers and advisers from neutral countries, commissioned to study together the problem of Europe as a whole.. In such a conference all would honestly lay their cards on the table, yet all would be moved solely by the desire to achieve an understanding for the good of all and which for the future could remove the present suspicions. We believed before the war that a conference of this type could have saved Europe from the blood and slaughter of these unhappy years: we still believe to-day that the future peace can be saved by statesmen courageous enough to defy ignorant and ill-informed public
view before the war was that Hitler would have been ready to play a cooperative part in such a conference; we cannot believe that Stalin would do less to-day.
BEFORE these notes are published there may be more definite news about the rumoured Finnish-Soviet peace proposals. Finland is a country which has enjoyed traditionally very friendly relations with Britain and America, and the RussoFinnish war raised feelings in these countries comparable to the feelings created by Hitler's aggressions. From the Catholic point of view, the news that the Holy See has agreed to send a nuncio to Finland indicates the sympathy for that country felt at the Vatican. After the Russo-Finnish war it was to be expected that Finland should have sided with the Axis. The strong democratic character of Finland which is one of the causes of our admiration for the country in any case rendered this inevitable. Just as the people here would not have stood any further attempt to negotiate with Hitler in September, 1939, so the people. of Finland would not have stood any attempt to avoid "the holy war" in June, 1941—a war, in fact, unanimously supported by the members of the Finnish Parliament.
Recourse to war, however justifiable and inevitable, must always bring its own sanction. It is in the end a blind bet on the winner. If you lose you pay the penalty. Finland, having heroically lost when she was the victim of aggression, has lost again when after taking the chance of reversing her fortunes. It is not to be expected that Russia will prove softhearted. But the maintenance of a free and independent Finland as the bridge between Russia and the Scandinavian peninsula between the Baltic and the North Sea is a European interest. We trust that Britain and America in this question, as in the question of Poland and the Baltic States, will stand firm for the smaller countries pending the opportunity for a reasoned settlement in the interests of all.
DOES ISOLATION STILL PAY?
IT is no uncommon thing to find nations as well as individuals rushing from one extreme to the
other. This seems to be what is happening in America. From isulationism the United States is passing rapidly to a policy which gives it an interest in the affairs of peoples in every part of the world.
An instance of this is given by a resolution introduced in both Houses of Congress pledging the Government to support the establishment in Palestine—still under the British mandate—of a National Home for the Jews. The Government is urged to "take appropriate measures to the end that the doors of Palestine shall be opened for the free entry of Jews into that country. and that there shall be full opportunity for colonisation. so that the Jewish people may ultimately reconstitute Palestine as a free and democratic Jewish Commonwealth."
Simultaneously there is announced
the proposal of the U.S. to construct an oil pipeline from the Persian Gulf refineries to the Mediterranean and the fact that negotiations with this in view have been conducted with the Petroleum Reserves Corporation. In announcing this project, Mr. Harold Ickes. Secretary of the Interior, said that the companies concerned would not sell petroleum "to the Government or the nationals of any country where in the opinion of the State Department such sales would be unwise in the light of United States foreign policy and the requirements of collective security:" He also declared that the programme will " greatly help to assure an adequate supply of petroleum for the military and naval needs of the United States in view of the obligations which this country must 'assume for the maintenance of collective security in the post-war world."
Amusingly, a Sunday newspaper editorial answers the suggestion that America may be " muscling in " on the Middle East by observing that "this kind of agreement is familiar enough to Pritish oil men "I Elsewhere, it is suggested that this COMmercial venture has had its effect on the new American friendliness towards de Gaulle.
In Willkie's " one world" isolation may no longer seem to be such a paying proposition.
THE glowing accounts given by the diplomatists returning from the series of conferences at Moscow, Teheran and Cairo as to the establishment of cordial relations and planned co-operation have not been confirmed by subsequent events, and the jubilation thereon seems now a little foolish. Now the Turkish cordiality is beginning to show signs of cooling.
According to a dispatch from an Ankara Correspondent published simultaneously in the Times and the Manchester Guardian and having qvcry appearance of being " inspired," a hitch has occurred in our negotiations with that country. From this it appears Turkey Is apprehensive as to the possibility that too hasty action might provoke Germany into taking measures highly dangerous to the ill-equipped Ankara Government, whose cities arc fully exposed to bombing reprisals. " Some Allied quarters," it is reported, " have lately begun to suspect that Turkey. while paying lip service to the Anglo-Turkish alliance. has no intention of executing her obligations arising from it, and that Turkish arguments and demands are mere subterfuges put forward to evade that issue."
If that suggestion is correct, the question arises as to Mb reason for this change of attitude. The explanations given are insufficient, for the arguments used by Turkey had .as much cConference fe rfeonr cc force as a t they time atveofnotwhe. Cairo y it not he that the diplomatic disappointment in this case has some connection with the disappointment which has followed the other conferences? Moscow has now revealed clearly its present intentions. It is to surround itself by a cordon of subject and semi-subject States. To the fulfilment of this purpose a wholly independent Turkey might prove—especially as regards the Straits—a serious obstacle. Turkey. it might he suggested, is conscious of this and is afraid of implementing an alliance which might weaken that independence and lay it open to Muscovite influences the object of which are now suspect. This is only another sign of the foolishness of seeking any unilateral solution of problems affecting us all.
THE recurring and complicated
a wage disputes in the coal-mining industry, coinciding as they do at present with an acute shortage of this basic ' munition of war, are deeply disturbing to the country. On the one hand there is a very well founded feeling that coal-mining is a hard, dirty and dangerous job into which few people would voluntarily enter unless it was their local and family tradition. The compulsory recruitment of Adolescents picked by lot for this form of war service has, of course, greatly increased the idea that mining is among the most unpleasant of callings. On the other hand, there is a real impatience with the apparent readiness of many miners to put their own interests so far ahead of the country's, especially at a time when millions are engaged in dangerous military undertakings for a pittance. And it is remembered in this connection that the coalminer's present wages compare very favourably with other industrial wages. And behind these two points of view, there is a widely felt sense that the whole organisation of the industry, based on an outdated and in many cases unjust capitalist system and patched up to meet the worst grievances and most important needs should be given a radical overhaul. A majority would probably stand for " the nationalisation of the mines " without perhaps realising the difficulties and complexities behind this simple formula.
These considerations surely suggest that the time has come for the Government to make the question a high-priority one so far as the postwar order is concerned. We who are suffering from a highly contentious Education Bill, despite the Government's pledge, will not be greatly disposed to listen to excuses for delaying the radical replanning of an industry more vital to the country to-day and to-morrow than any other after agriculture.
opinion and resolved to treat the