If Ve Seek the 11/loral Realities
Cant About Moslem World, Albania, Russia
T is not the least of contemporary evils that open diplomacy breeds / is and humbug till all public thinking is corrupted at the source.
It was sad enough to have to realise, over the Spanish crisis, that to the British Press the Moors in Morocco were little better than savages : that their favourite pastime was the massacre of women and children, and that their reputed dislike of sacrilege was a piece of cynical propaganda. But it was sadder still to realise on Easter Sunday that although the British Press has said these things about the Moors for three long years, they had not believed a word of it., and that., in fact., the view of the British Press is that the Moors are a civilised and God-fearing people, so keenly sensitive to the precepts of their Faith and the dictates of international law that they were horrified, almost to the point of war, at, the invasion of Albania. The Moslem world is up in armsl It is indeed, but it happens to be up in arms against Great Britain, and this fact happens to dominate the Near-Eastern situation.
MISLEADING THE PEOPLE
I T is indeed true that there is unrest in French Morocco, but that unrest is the repercussion of the unrest in Palestine, of the long and evil history of the dealings of the British with the Arabs in the hinterland of Aden, and of the attempts made by Russian and other Popular Front protagonists to stir up a Moorish revolt in Spanish Morocco in order to save the atheist government of Barcelona from the armies of Christian Spain.
There is no need whatever to approve the Italian coup in Albania. Not one shred of evidence has been pnblished to justify Italy's claim that public order and security were menaced by King Zog's activities. It is, however, quite intolerably dangerous to mislead the British people as to Moslem feelings in regard to Great Britain at the present time. There is the gravest possible danger of a widespread Moslem revolt against British imperialism in the Near East, conducted, as it has been, in defiance of so many obligations.
But for that danger, the Italian coup hi Albania might not have been possible, and no sympathy for King Zog among the Moslems in Morocco will alter the Moslem attitude to this country by one iota. Seldom can any propaganda department, not even that of the egregious Dr. Goebbels, have put out a stupider story, or one which will do more. to make us look ridiculous throughout the East.
Yet the circulation of this rubbish, dangerous as it is, is a venial offence by comparison with the effort to mislead the British people over Russia. The Russian Press has openly and repeatedly made it clear that, in the view of the Russian Government, the hour of world revolution is at hand.
" Stalin, the great helmsman.," said Commissar Meklilin, the political chief of the Red Army, only last week, " will guide the mighty invincible Soviet ship to the lost decisive battle, to the storming of Capitalism, to the World Commune."
This speech, reported in small type in an insignificant position in The Times of April 10, is only one of many to the same effect transmitted by the very reliable Times correspondent at Warsaw during the recent weeks of crisis. It is a pity that the genius of Fleet Street is displayed in burying these dear statements of Russian policy instead of in publicising them.
The Russian aim is not to defeat National Socialism, but to destroy Capitalist civilisation, and for a very good reason. The destruction of property is the necessary condition of the destruction of liberty. The abuse of property can gravely impair liberty, but as long as property remains, freedom, and therefore dignity, is possible to man. Once it is destroyed, freedom becomes insepareble from power, and thus becomes the perquisite of politicians ; the struggle for power becomes the sole remunerative activity, and free civilisation perishes under the rule of the gangsters.
Is it impossible for the British Press and people to realise that the destruction of freedom, as they understand and cherish it., is the sole objective of Russian policy?
Whatever the theoretic merits of the new world order which the Soviet plans to bring into being, two things are certain. The first is that it. can only be built on the ruins of Christian civilisation, and the second is that when it is built it will be a slave and not a free society.'
WE are ourselves gravely corrupted in our thought by the infection of Popular-Front polities. We are even told that if, by Christian civilisation, we mean a world in which such an action as Italy's invasion of Albania is possible, it is not worth preserving. We ourselves have said the same thing about the democratic principle in relation to the government: of Barcelona.
What is the difference between the two arguments'?
Simply this. In Albania, a politician has lost. a job. The structure of society will remain. The lives of simple people will remain their own. (Albania, we hasten to point out, has never enjoyed political liberty, and cannot therefore he worse off in this respect than before). Moslem and Christian will continue to practise their religion in freedom and honour. The shepherd-farmers of the Albanian mountains will continue to live as they do at present.
In Barcelona, on the contrary, there was a complete denial of the elementary rights of private security and freedom or eonseience. Public order was not maintained. Justice was denied. The lives of simple people were deprived of everything which had made them worth living. Admittedly Barcelona was a politicians' paradise, and Albania will cease to be one, but man was not made to be the tool of politicians, but to know, love and serve God. That was the one thing they could not do in Barcelona, and will be able to do in Albania.
The difference is fundamental, and it is a betrayal of the cause of Christianity to forget it, and an insult to the dignity of human reason to try to minimise it.
It may well be that the Albanians were happier under King Zog than they will be under King Stork. We have no means of judging. We do know, however, because we have every possible material necessary to form a sound judgment, that they and their neighbours would be immeasurably worse off after a European war than they are to-day, however such a war ended, and we also know that such a. war is the most likely path to the establishment of the " world eommune " which is the declared aim of Russian poliey. We are bound. to take account of these realities, if we are considering, in our policy, the interests of Christian civilisation. We can certainly—if we are at once forceful and prudent—bring about a peaceful settlement which will be more conducive to the prosperity and more consonant with the dignity of the Balkan States than the Axis Powers will enforce if We stand aside. We should do this.
We must remember, however, what the whole of the English Press to-day, with the exception of The Times, firgets, that our only valid objective is asettlement, not a war. A war will ruin neither France nor Germany, but it will certainly ruin the. Balkan States, Italy, and Great Britain. The residuary legatees in Europe will be Russia and Spain, and in England, the extremists of the Right and Left., while in the Near East we can easily foresee that, in the event of a defeat of the Axis Powers, the fight for Christian democracy would re-establish Turkish suzerainty over the Near and Middle East.
THE RUSSIAN ALLIANCE
MR VERNON BARTLETT and Mr Garvin are united in demanding a Franco-British-Russian alliance. They are convinced, it appears, that such an alliance would win the enthusiastic support of the Balkan States.
That is possible, but unlikely. What it would almost certainly involve would be the defection of Poland to Germany. But neither of these considerations should determine our judgment. As Mr Garvin would say, of two things, one. Either we are realists, and let our judgment be determined exclusively by Russia's military strength and the immediate results we can expect from her co-operation, or we are disinterested champions of Christian .democracy and let our judgment be guided by the ultimate results to religion and liberty to be expected from a policy which, if it succeeds, will make Russia, dominant in Eastern Europe. Even on the realist assumption, are we satisfied that Russia will in fact intervene with vigour in a war against the Axis Powers in such a manner and with such promptitude as to make Liberal finance-capitalism (which she detests) once more the dominant force in Western and Central Europe?
I agree wholly with my much more distinguished fellow-writers that Russia could do that if she would. If she would set her own house in order, banish political corruption and incompetence, restore liberty and foster her national unity, she could play a decisive part on the European stage. But can she take the necessary preliminary steps, and if she can and does, will she use her new-found strength to defend her declared enemy" I confess frankly that I am unable to answer either of these questions with the quiet confidence of Mr Garvin. Russia in 1914 was assailed neither by Japan nor by Italy, yet she was quite unable to save either Rumania or her Polish territory, or to effect a division against Turkey during the Dardanelles campaign. To-day her navy is negligible and her army untested : her economic organisation is better, but still weak, and her people evidently and admittedly discontented.
Only on the assumption that. the full-blooded and ruthless dictatorship of Stalin is more powerful than that of the. Tsar, which is probably true, could we expect any different military results to-day, but in so far as we are justified in relying on Communist, efficiency, we must take account of Communist policy. The Communist policy will be to watch and wait and intervene decisively when all her neighbours are. exhausted and their peoples seething with discontent. Then her object will be not appeasement., but Revolution.
Our own immediate object should not be an Anglo-Russian military alliance but the opening of the Dardanelles to the British Fleet. Such a, change in the Mediterranean status quo. unless agreed to by Italy, would be, of course, a direct breach of the Anglo-Italian agreement, which we may therefore have to denounce. It. would have been better, in view of our high claims in these matters, if discussion on this allimportant question had not preceded but followed the Albanian coup. Be that as it may, the only effective weapon we have against German and Italian aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean is our Fleet, and only if our Fleet can come and go at will through the Straits shall we be strong enough to contribute to the pacification of Europe. Any fool can make war : it requires resolution, force, candour and a sense of justice to promote peace. Every hour makes appeasement. more difficult, but it is still possible, if we have the will.