MANY people, we think, will feel a loss of general security in the change-over from Sir Winston Churchill to Sir Anthony Eden.
One of Sir Winston's greatest qualities was his ability to "negotiate from strength " in a moral as well as a physical sense. Because of that, many of us felt that a high-level international meeting arranged by Sir Winston, while it might prove a failure, could not make the situ
ation any worse. Behind his sane and generous will to discover a modus vivendi between the two halves of the world there was always a far stronger innate determination never to yield anything vital to liberty, as well as a mountain of experience in both peace and war as to what constituted the stuff of liberty.
No doubt, as a back-bencher, Churchill will still exercise great moral influence both in the nation and in his own party, but if it came to any serious difference of view with the policy of his own party, he would no longer he in Et position to affect that policy decisively.
Yet a time may well soon be coming when a clear vision of what is vital to the West will be moremecessary than ever before.
Mr. Dulles has just reminded us that if the United States stands firm on matters of growing unpopularity in Europe, it is because that stand is vital to all that we hold dear.
Unfortunately, the ver y strength which the United States possesses makes many people suspicious of her intentions. History has.very few records of the wise and unselfish use of great strength and power. Moreover, America's blunt " plain man" way of conducting diplomacy tends to offend our inherited conception of the ways of international negotiation.
Hence the special need for Britain's long experience of the diplomatic arts which serve, not so much to change a basic situation, but to prevent words and actions being misunderstood bythe different parties involved. The loss of SirWinston Churchill to carry out this precise task may well prove the most serious consequence of his resignation. sIR ANTHONY EDEN is, of course, a professional diplomat of even greater technical experience than his predecessor. But where it is a question of the deepest convictions and the safeguarding of basic principles, his record is far from comparing with that, of Sir Winston Churchill. '
At the moment the Communists, despite their policy over the alliances, which, no doubt, they felt obliged to reject once their bluff over the Paris Agreements was called, are mounting an unprecedented campaign of reasonableness bac ked by cleverly disposed threats of what may happen in the future if we do not take advantage of their will for " peace " and co-existence.
The threat of a nuclear world war inevitably strengthens their position and their power of clever blackmail, the more so in that they can protest with a show of honesty that it is they, not us, who wish to exclude such weapons from world armaments.
Such conditions call for immense firmness in the free world —and we may be certain that the United States will not fail in showing such firmness. But it also calls for the diplomatic experience which can steer the world away from wars, great or small, and into a phase when both sides realise that they must make the best of the balance of power as it is.
We need not doubt that Moscow will watch with special care for the signs of Britain's mind and will, now that Sir Winston Churchill has retired from office. If it thinks it can detect the smallest sign of basic weakness in the attitude of Sir Anthony Eden, it will press for all its worth to divide still further this country from America. If it realises that the new British Government has inherited Churchill's fundamental determination, then we can reasonably hope for some not too unsatisfactory settlement —at any rate for a period.
Very much depends on the new Prime Minister—and, without entering into the field of normal party politics, one cannot but fear that, with Mr. Attlee as Labour leader, a Conservative defeat at an early General Election would not prove helpful.