THE condition of Europe cannot
be allowed to continue as it it. We may agree that the present unspeakable conditions are in part due to the destruction effected by the war itself, as well as to the negative policy of unconditional surrender which wss the logical conclusion to the absurdity of denying all valid distinction between the tyrants in Germany and the tyrannised whom we should have been liberating. This paper has persisted in its complaint both of waging ear at any price in destruction wrought on Europe and of the failure to appeal from the start to the better elements in Germany that a situation enabling a real armistice to be negotiated might be created.
Even so, the intensity of the misery in Europe to-day is not primarily due to a mistaken policy in war and peace. It is primarily due, first, to the behaviour of Soviet Russia and, secend. to the failure of Britain and America to make it clear to Russia from the beginning that there were limits of immorality which they could not tolerate. A stand along these lines was fully justified, apart from any other reason, in that the United Nations had pledged themselves again and again to destroy all tyranny, inhumanity and persecution and to create conditions within which democracy and liberty could be established. Russia herself more than once declared herself a participant in the spirit of such pledges, Indeed they were the main morel justification for the war.
Instead of this, there has been up to the recent Foreign Ministets' Conference in London a continuous appeasement of Soviet Russia's insistence on dominating Eastern Europe, ' with its corollaries of instituting puppet Communist regimes and expelling or persecuting potentially critical or inconvenient elements in their millions, as well as to Soviet Russia's insistence nn rigid divisions of occupied territories with their consequence of economic and social .chaos at the heart of Europe. Because of this the serious emblems caused by mistaken policies during the war itself have grown to gigantic proportion and what must in any event have been hard times for Europe have become misery and cruelty on an unn ecedented scale Comparison with Laval
IT has been argued that it is absurd
to compare Russia's behaviour today with Nazi Germany's before the war. Nazi Germany, it is said,. was plainly an aggressive and bellicose Power. whereas Soviet Russia's one interest to-day and for many years to come is stability and peace. Her policy is therefore to be construed as building a /security zone for peace as compared with Germany's determination to acquire stepping stones for world war. There may be some validity in this argument, though there is no precedent in history for an enduring peace policy based on self-aggrandisement and security precautions based on aggression. Whatever Russia's intentions for to-day and to-morrow, we have to remember also the day aftet to-morrow.
But the argument. whether valid or not. it largely beside the point. A London evening newspepet this week commenting on the death of Laval stated that Laval', end was not due to any mere fautty political guessing ; it was
due to a fallute of faith in the right in the days when de Gaulle and others held on to ideals, no matter how desperate the conditions. That was grandly put even if the application to the impossibly difficult position of France in 1940 may not be co very obvious. But how well and obviously the moral applies to us to-day I Though, of course, it .would be far far better for the whole world if a working and effective unity between all the big Powers were possible, the failure to achieve it through the intransigence of one partner does not mean the end of everything. We have not, like a Laval, to make a choice between stnrender to evil or acceptance perhaps for many years of national disaster. The rest of the World (for it is a case of the rest of the world but for infiltrating minorities of discontented and adventurers) need not perish or be occupied and enslaved because Soviet Russia won't play ball. The moral choice for Britain and America and France and the other free Powers is between standing firm for rights, more basic and elementary than those which Laval traded or being content to remain accessories during and after the crime lest Soviet Russia be offended. And the only real weight behind the latter choice is, first, a deluded notion that Soviet Russia somehow stands for social progress (why?) and. second, R fear that a firm stand will entail war. Yet to-day there is scarcely a person in this country who would not hold that the war with Germany came in 1939 because of the international failure to stand up to Hitler from the start.
What Have We Gained?
onc to-day wants to deprive Rus A sin of a single possession. a single defence, a single trade or commercial adventage to which she can make a claim consistent with the moral pledges and purposes of the victors. Everyone is eager (as they never were in the case of Nazi Germany) to create understandings for the common good, understandings which alone can remove legitimate grievances and so strengthen peace. Few even want to see Russia's internal regime changed (except for Catholics who, however, contine their campaign in this regard to prayer). The conditions leg the continued improvement of relitions between Russia and the rest of the world are to hand, the moment Russia begins to behave like a civilised Power, and there is not a responsible politician or publicist from the extreme Right downwards who is not prepared to further the work with all his heart.
Everyone in his senses wants to avoid another war--one that may well be more terrifying and devastating than the last with its bottomless legacy of misery. But can war be avoided by collusion in the grossest crimes at the expense of others? Having sold Poland and South-Eastern Europe, having kept silent about the rape of the Baltic Suites, having remained partners with a regime which drives human peoples like cattle and treats those that remain worse than serfs, having agreed to the mad zoning of Germany and Austria, what have we gained? Can anyone name a single advantage? Are we closer friends and better partners with Ruseia to-day than we were at Teheran and Yalta? Above all, is Russia in het policy and propaganda a whit better disposed towards us? The Russia which has swallowed half a Continent and sealed it from the outer world
scleams with indignation when any Westem statesman or journalist so much as hints that some understanding between the Western Newels may be desirable. The situation has deteriorated into a macabre farce.
The Right Policy
TS there any possible alternative? Ot A course there is, though it is now far too late to repair much of the damage. Britain, supported by the Dominions, America, France and China, together with any other Power wishing to associate itself with a question which is essentially moral and therefore of universal import, must first make utterly plain to the Kremlin that the foreign policy of Soviet Russia is totally and basically inconsistent with common principles of civilised life as these have become established through the course of human history. It must be explained that for centuries now civilisation has come to regard the wholesale seizure of free countries (however ingeniously effected), the deportation 'without notice or compensation of millions of human beings, the refusal to share in a statesmanlike way in the task of relieving and maintaining fellow human beings threatened with economic disaster on the grand scale, as gross crimes against humanity itself, as a reversion to primitive barbarism but on a scale which the most vicious tyrants could not have contemplated. It must be explaiped that other peoples have imperilled their very souls in peisisting far longer than could possibly be justified in remaining formal partners in such crimes so that everything thinkable might be done to maintain a working unity and break down Russia's traditional suspicion of others. But now the time has come when Soviet Russia must at least open the lands she occupies to foreign observers. that these may observe for themselves the promotion of measures which shall restore freedom and establish genuine autonomies which can be perfectly consistent with the Russian economic zone for the common good. The time has come when ordinary decent citizens, no matter what their race or nationality. must be left in peace. The time has come when Germany and Austria must be administered as a whole by an instrument of Government representing the Occupying Powers whose decisions will be established by normal methods of voting when agreement cannot be otherwise secured. The time has. come when the first call on•that Instrument is the restoration mid building up, rather than the further destruction, and spoilation of the life of the people within whatever political framework is agreed to.
Should Soviet Russia find herself unable to agree to such a change, then the self-same work must be carried on wherever it is possible by the United Nations minus one Power which has voluntarily cut itself off the common effort ot civilisation through a refusal to abide by the conditions of civilisation. Of such a joint policy we may at least be certain that if it does not prevent a third war then that war could. nevet have been prevented, for it is far better calculated to do so than the present dribble of appeasement and stand which must infallibly lead sooner or later to a clash. For our part we have no doubt whatever that Russia will in good time find it highly politic to return on reasonable terms to the civilised family.
CREDITOR AND DEBTOR
THE joint delegation in Washington, including, on the British side, Lords Halifax and Keynes, has virtually agreed, it is now stated, on a proposal, which will be submitted to Congress early next month, that the U.S. should lend Britain five thousand million dollars..
Unfortunately the press discussion of financial relations between the two countries has been distorted by a false conception of the problem which these concerned have had to consider. The appeal of our representatives has not been to America's good nature but to its good sense. Accusations of ingratitude or stinginess are as much out of place as emotional tributes to Washington's "generosity.'' What is undo consideration is a matter of business, and the question is as to whether this will be dealt with in accordance with the narrow views of self-interest which prevailed in the past or whether the creditor nation can be prevailed upon to accept the more enlightened view of such matters.
American economists have learned something from their experience after the last war when they raised tariffs against their debtors, hoarded their gold, of which they had accumulated 69 per cent. of the world's supply, and charged a usurious interest, amounting in some cases to 10 per cent. per annum. only to find as a consequence that their country suffered the worst slump in its history.
Lord Keynes also has learned lessons and has frankly confessed to a change of mind. This confession is of interest for more than one reason. " I was brought up to believe that the attitude of the Medieval Church to the rate of interest," he wrote in The General Theory of Employment. Money and interest. " was inherently absurd, and that the subtle discussions aimed at distinguishing the return on money-loans from the return on active investment were merely jesuitical attempts to find a practical escape from a foolish theory." He then goes on to say that these medieval economics represented '' an honest intellectual effort."
In both cases the conclusion has been that what some might call good nature in international finance is just good sense, and that generosity pays.