AT no period of the long war,
perhaps, has it been more difficult to gauge the true state of affairs in the two belligerent camps. Everywhere there is certainly a tremendous desire that the war should be brought somehow to an early conclusion. This desire must be even stronger among the Germans than among ourselves Even without the Second Front (at present still a weapon in the war of nerves) The continued Russian pressure and the Allied bombing offensive by night and day should be straining the German morale to the utmost as well as notably damaging their war pro duction. Yet extraordinarily little sign of such effects is to be observed. Londoners have had renewed experience of bombing on a comparatively tiny scale, and they do not pretend that they like it. What of the
people of Germany? Unless our reports are quite absurdly exaggerated, they at least must he ready for peace at almost any price.
The Russians have never pretended to like the war. They have been all-out for a quick decision, and many times given the impression of an all or nothing policy. In the most extraordinary way they have held out, delivering increasingly heavy blows. Still we cannot be certain that their strained economy will not suddenly reach a cracking point. Britain and especially America have. on the whole. much less reason to be anxious. Yet even on this side there are rumours which seem to indicate a desire to smooth. as it
were. the way to a finish. Many Americans who feel more and more puzzled about the future of Europe would be glad enough to see the European war settled so that they could get down to the lob they understand better. the defeat of Japan How far American difficulties are a factor to be taken into, consideration by the British Governthent is unknown. But taken all in all we may well be approaching a time when certain specific efforts may he made to modify the unconditional surrender policy and to attempt to find a formula which will be consistent with our general war resolutions and vet make it easier for the German people to get out of it all while the going is good. That certainly seems to have been the Russian idea for a long time. and it is a policy which we should do well to imitate. One hopes that the part which the Holy Se might play both in affording further knowledge of conditions and feelings in Europe and in promoting changes that would hells towards peace is not being overlooked in I ondon and Washington.
TITO AND ROLA THE Soviet has gained a considerable diplomatic victory with Mao' Tito. Mr. Churchill, confining himself almost wholly to immediate military considerations. has given his blessing to the Russian nominee, and rsing Omer, the Yugoslav Government and the official
resistance movement, despite their great contribution to the Allied cause, have had to fit in as best they can. The ultimate consequences to the Balkans of these decisions arc yet to be faced.
For the moment one result of this success has been the encouragement of the twin movement in Poland. For a long time now 0 ground for the coming climax has been prepared. Ever since December. 1941, Communist agents have been at work in Poland, and though the Polish patriots were prepared' to work in with these people on condition they collaborated in the planned sabotage against Germany, the offer was refused and the Communists worked on their own to promote a rising against the Poles as much as against the Germans. They adopted the names of Polish underground papers and organisations in order to
confuse the issue, and worked with Soviet sponsored " Polish " movements in Moscow, London and
Washington. Appal zntly the time has now come for more open activity, and the change is illustrated by the latest protest coming from the Polish Underground Movement itself against " the alien Communist group operating on Polish territory under the name of the Polish Workers' Party.' "The Communist group," the protest continues. • has formed a kind of National Council, appointed a C.1.C. of the People's Army and announced that it will set up a Provisional Government." The parallel between Yugoslavia's Marshal Tito and Poland's General Rola is obvious and instructive. In Poland. however. conditions for playing the game are by no means so favourable. The racial and religious differences among the Yugoslays played into the hands of the organisers and it was possible to work up a picture of the patriotic Partisans against the defeatist or compromising Chetniks. This is a caricature. but a caricature with a sufficient foundation in fact to deter
mine the policy of the Allies. in Poland no such adventitious help is forthcoming. The Poles are not divided against themselves, nor could anyone accuse them of compromising with the common enemy. still less perhaps of any defeatism. Because of this the future adventures of General Rola will he extremely
significant. If he is sponsored as openly as Tito it will be hard to avoid the conclusion that Poland and Poland's contribution count for little indeed as against the by no means happy policies of the great Powers. Nor will such a development fail to throw a reflected light on the Yugloslav business.
.PUCHEU'S TRIAL THE trial of Pticheu, former Minister of the Interior in P‘tain's Government, strongly suggests that it may prove to be something of a boomerang. The evidence of Giraud and Bethouard (which incidentally bears out much that in this country was almost exclusively said by this paper) was the most im pressive' oast. In the heated political atmosphere of Algiers with considerable tension between the Assembly and the National Committee the trial of a person so unpopular in the eyes of Communists and other extremists was inevitable. And it may well be proved that Pucheu as an individual was guilty of some actions which the majority of French public opinion would regard as criminal and treasonable. In the critical state of French politics even radically sound men might make culpable misjudgments or succumb to unusual temptations to hedge against the varying possible results of the war.
But far more important in the long run than the conscience of any individual is the establishing of the truth that patriotism and honesty were compatible with differing political views. Only if Frenchmen in general come to see this and only if some reasonable demarcation between loyalty and disloyalty to France, as opposed to loyalty or disloyalty to a leader or a party, can be established, will there be any hope of removing present suspicions and achieving a genuine unity. The staging of a political trial under equitable conditions—even though there may be doubts about the legitimacy of any tribunal established before the recovery of France—will afford the opportunity of hearing all sides and points of view that otherwise are scarcely allowed a hearing in either camp. The politicians may exploit the occasion, but the ordinary French observer will have his own thoughts, and in the long run these will count. We underestimate General de Gaulle if we think that he will not see the advantage of all this. In regard to.the present trial, his, we understand, has been a moderating influence and one insistent on fairness.
INFLATION PROBE EMS LAST week's debates in the Commons on an increase in Army pay and on the raising of State servants' pensions give rise to rather curious reflections on the general handling of public finance.
Financial reformers have certainly established their case that in normal times when production can be indefinitely increased a sane monetary policy would at one and the same time create and distribute
wealth. Looking back, we know that criminal stupidity was the cause of.the return to gold, the bankruptcy scare of 1931, the retrenchment programme, the vast unemployment and the refusal to take action over the distressed areas. During this period there was little demand by Parliament for such increase of wages and services as would have alleviated distress and semi-starvation and at the same time have furnished the purchasing power needed to stimulate a production of goods for the money to buy. Some inflation there might have been, but a fraction of the control taken for granted in war would have sufficed to keep it in check and to direct production into the channels of genuine demand.
To-day conditions are very different. The greater part of our productive effort is directed to the production of war supplies and the payment of war services. Though the ultimate economic importance' of these is not to be minimised (they must save us after the war) for the moment they do not increase the goods available
for distribution and purchase. On the contrary this productive effort cannot be maintained unless goods for home consumption are severely rationed. In these conditions important increases in purchasing power must cause inflation. If it is Spent on uncontrolled goods, their price soars; if it is' spent on con trolled goods, there is pressure to increase production and the need for subsidies tends to increase; if it is invested it raises the price of stocks and increases the national debt.
These considerations do not mean that blatant anomalies as between different types of pay Or wages or pensions should not be adjusted. but they do mean that any substantial increase in money issued and spent cannot be of lasting benefit and will create very serious financial difficulties. It is a tragedy that our social conscience does not trouble us when the remedy is at hand, but only begins to do SO when it is not. Redistribution of wealth through taxation has gone a long way in this country, and sooner or later we Must face the fact that the carrying into effect of the
social reforms now contemplated
will depend upon our capacity to
exchange internationally and in
crease production at home. And this in turn will depend on very clear thinking about economic and financial questions. Before the war there was no sign of this because retrenchment was the policy. And now it is the same ighorance which calls for unlimited expansion under opposite conditions.
THE REFUGEE PROBLEM IT is difficult to imagine a more
complicati„d task than that which awaits the Inter-Governmental Committee on whose behalf Mr. Law appealed to the Commons for a supplemcntary vote. The amount, sufficient. as he hoped, for twelve months. for which he asked was L50,000—not a large sum as such items are now reckoned. But it is beheted that the resettlement of the 20.000,000 refugees with whom the Committee will have to deal with amount in the aggregate to much more than this. The financial aspect of the matter, however. is the least of the difficulties. Nor is the question of shipping insuperable. But whet one thinks of the numbers whose former homes have been destroyed and families scattered and of the changes which the fresh drawing of frontiers will introduce, the problem becomes bewilderingly complex The most difficult of all will be the resettlement of Jewish refugees. This introduces questions which affect the relations of those engaged in the task. Already there have been protests on the part of the Egyptian Government against the American proposal to set up a National Home for the Jews in Palestine. And this has suggested to The New York `Post the possibility that the protest has been inspired by Britain, which. it says, " is concerned with building a Moslem federation in the Near East to be controlled by England." If the United States and this country are going to take sides with Jews and Arabs in their rival.. claims to Palestine. there is trouble ahead for all concerned. The critical character of the situation is increased by the fact that the five years foreseen in the British White Paper of 1939. after which no more Jewish immigrants were to be admitted except with the Arabs' consent, expire on March 31.
The movement towards Arab unity is bearing fruit already. The Egyptian protest is being backed by Iraq and the newly-formed Lebanon Government, so that, if the American propos.,1 is taken seriously and pressed forward, the whole of the Middle East will be aflame.
Granted that the Jewish question is exceptional, it does nevertheless illustrate the sort of complication which the resettlement of 20,000,000 people in impoverished countries may bring about.