Page 4, 15th March 1940

15th March 1940
Page 4
Page 4, 15th March 1940 — The Lesson of Finland

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People: Chamberlain


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The Lesson of Finland

THE Allies cannot contemplate with any satisfaction their record in relation to the Finnish-Soviet war.

The net result of that dreadful conflict, in which the blood of Finnish heroes was poured out as much for the benefit of civilisation and the moral cause we have at heart as for the defence of their country, has been the yielding under pressure to worse terms than the Russians demanded in the first instance. How truly M. Erkko recently said: " It is a cruel thought that a small country should bleed to death for a cause which concerns all mankind."

It is true that the resistance which amazed the world has preserved a a semblance of independence under Nazi-Soviet tutelage and proved to the world—if proof were needed— how hollow was the Soviet pretence to be fighting on behalf of the socalled Finnish People's Government of Kuusinen—an independence which would have been swept away by a quick Soviet victory. And which of us to-day can blame the unfortunate Finns for sparing their land further useless horrors and accepting what peace they can?

Our recent offers of full assistance carried no weight. How should they have done? That assistance should have been made available long ago, while Finland was more than holding the fort. To-day it is doubtful whether we could have saved Finland.

And if we could afford such assistance to-day, why could we not afford it yesterday in far more favourable circumstances ?

Immediately after the outbreak of war we pleaded in these columns for the sending of immediate help to the extent that this Was physically posaible. That the sending of such help was possible is proved by the offers of Messrs. Chamberlain and Daladier. But we loved Russia too much—and our own skins—to do anything until it was too late.

Such a mistake on the part of our leaders is as grave as a mistake can be; it is a mistake which in an earlier age would have led to the impeachment of those responsible.

Not less astounding was the veiled threat made by M. Daladier to the effect that we should wash our hands of Finland if she did not avail herself of this last-minute help. The remark—to put it at its mildest— was in execrable taste.

It may be that the peace—on which under the circumstances we congratulate the Finns—has now saved us also from considerable trouble, for the Allied offers, preceding the armistice, and when the cause was lost, bore all the marks of someone having lost his head and making insane attempts to save a desperately bad situation.

What follows from this dreadful mismanagement is the imperative need for the Allies to reconsider their aims and re-fit their actions to suit them.

Are we going to admit that as far as aggression and barbarism are concerned we propose to measure the deeds of Germany and those of Russia by different standards? Are we going to admit that we have not got the power to save the oppressed neutrals for whom we are fighting, except by ultimate victory over Germany alone ? Are we going to allow ourselves to be thrown on the defensive, saving only the British and French Empires, neither of which was directly threatened by Germany ? Or are we still fully resolved to risk everything to save the world from " domination by fear of force "? If the latter, we must understand what the words mean, and frankly make up our minds about what is practicable and what Ls not.

We cannot continue much longer t,o say one thing and do another. The ;onsequence of such a contradiction ;an only be a scramble to save what we can from the unnecessary wreck.

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