Page 5, 17th October 1941

17th October 1941
Page 5
Page 5, 17th October 1941 — Notes and Comments

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Notes and Comments

Keywords: Violence, War, Politics


TT seems to us to be a pity that the front " page of a widely circulating morning paper should carry a story emphasising the disagreement of Cardinals in regard to the war and the peace. The reaction of the public is either that the highest Catholic dignitaries are unable to agree on vital moral questions or that their views on moral questions are determined by political and national considerations rather than religious ones. The public does not, of course, realise that in the application of the Church's moral teaching to concrete events there is room for great divergence of view—a divergence based upon different interpretations of the real significance of concrete events. Cardinal MacRory has once again expressed his view that it will not be possible to obtain a just peace if the war is fought to a finish. The general Catholic view in this country, on the contrary, is that the Nazi record precludes any possibility. of confidence, first, in Nazi interest in a just peace and, second, in Nazi willingness to abide by the terms of a peace nego

tiated under present conditions. The difference between the two views has nothing to do with moral teaching, but with the practical judgment as to the moral quality of the belligerents. We should indeed he inclined to add yet a third view—and this is that the justice or otherwise of any peace will be determined less by the question of when and under what circumstances it will be signed than by the willingness of the Powers to take advice, when the time comes, from the only truly impartial and super-national figure in the world. At present it seems unlikely that either side, whether after victory or stalemate, will remember this.


THE House of Commons displayed in

usual restiveness on Tuesday when Mr. Peake, Mr. Morrison's Under-Secretary, attempted to answer Mr. Maxton's complaint about the refusal to Mr. McGovern of a permit to visit Ireland. Mr. Peake first surprised the House by saying that Members of Parliament were treated in this respect exactly like other citizens. and then made matters worse by suggesting that Mr. McGovern would not like the reasons for his application to be msfide public, but, if necessary, he (Mr. Peake) would make them public. Whereupon Mr. Maxton jumped up to proclaim the reason, which was to investigate the circumstances in which Mr. Cahir Healy had been imprisoned. The House was even more surprised to learn that this was an unsuitable ground for allowing a permit and that if M.P.s were allowed permits for this object, other people would have a right to expect permits for the same purpose.. In the end a Conservative member exclaimed with a gesture of despair: " We may as well shut up! "

The country realises the vital need for the Government to be able to govern in wartime without undue or captious interference, and the House of Commons has shown remarkable patience in this respect. But Members have not wholly forgotten that they have a constitutional duty even in wartime, and it is extremely risky on the part of the Government to strain that patience unduly. The House clearly felt that on this occasion the Home Office had gone too far. It is well to remember that even in wartime the Executive obtains its authority fram Parliament.


CRITICISM of the Russian conduct of

the war is no more allowable in this country to-day than was criticism of the French last year. Certainly no one wishes to start the game of recrimination now that Russia is being so hard pressed, nor will it ever be possible to say that the Russian soldier has not fought heroically. But the conduct of a war on this scale and with such tremendous issues at stake demands realism and forbids the romantic extravagances of the admirers of the Soviet who would have it that the Bol sheviks can do no wrong. Our own present and future plans must depend upon the degree of confidence which we can put in Russian leadership, military and political. General Fuller, as good a military authority as we possess, has Severely criticised the way in which the Russian generals have conducted operaduns, It would appear that the Russians were ready for the German attack, that the forces at their disposal were equivalent or greater than the forces at the disposal of the Germans, and yet that at no time have these immense forces been so marshalled as to seriously interfere with the German plan of campaign. The Germans indeed have met stronger resistance than they expected, but that has been due to the weight of armaments opposed to them and the desperate fighting qualities of the Russian soldiers.

We do not presume to be able to criticise military matters, but it is evident that every aeroplane, tank, and gun which we and America despatch to Russia will be properly utilised or wasted according to the ability of the Russian generals and political leaders to conduct the grim campaign intelligently and flexibly. We certainly cannot afford to see them wasted, and the country has yet to discover whether the policy of all aid for Russia is as wise in the long run as our earlier Caution that such help could never be given in sufficient quantities and in time to make it a decisive factor. Yet every aeroplane, tank and gun defending this country, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean is decisive, and decisive for the ultimate fate of Russia itself.


pFCENTLY we had Mr. Bevin

claim itig to he a theological expert, declaring that he had " studied all the theology." And now we have " fifty tool-makers and tool-setters" advising the Prime Minister on military strategy. Their assertion that " a second front in the west is an urgent necessity " and their " demand" that " this be done " springs from a laudable desire to relieve the pressure on the Russian front. But this desire does not in itself necessarily imply that the method suggested is the best way of assisting themause for which both this country and Russia arc fighting. Fortunately the army is not under democratic control in the sense that it is subject to the changing winds of irresponsible and uninformed popular clamour. The fact may be regretted but it is nevertheless a fact that in the present case the situation is so complicated and the need of secrecy as to the plans of the General Staff is so great that it is idle for laymen .to advise on such a point. For good or ill, we are at the mercy of the experts, and counsels of the kind quoted can only increase their difficulty.


THE correspondence which has been

going on in The Times regarding the effect on the publishing business of the paper-shortage i$ eliciting a variety of suggestions. But there was one aspect of the matter which was not mentioned until attention was drawn to it by Mr. J. H. Blackwood. " Government action," he wrote, " shows how rapidly we are moving down the Gadarene slope to the left. The process is often referred to as

Our genius for compromises. What is happening in the world of books, as no doubt in other trades with which I am unfamiliar, lights the red warning."

This warning is very much to the point. The fierce ideologies contending for the mastery of the world at the present and infecting this country make the continuance of an attitude of indifference to what is published extremely dangerous. Rightly 'or wrongly, Christians have scrupulously respected the freedom of the books as of papers and periodicals, and their own literature has always been marked by courtesy, respect, and a sense of fair play. The representatives of the materialistic outlook have been less scrupulous and have taken advantage of Christian passivity to exploit the country's traditions of freedom in their own favour. In this way they have got the ear of the public, and the very necessity of sales forces publishers to accept " advanced" literature. The process has been rapidly increasing since the Russian alliance, and the time is coming when the government itself will be shocked and even weakened by the avalanche of I.eft propagandist literature which eit has, no doubt, to tolerate, but which its war policy has undoubtedly encouraged. It will do well to give some kind of support to literature that will maintain rather than endanger the popular morale.


pRESIDENT Arias' abdication of his

office as • Head of the Panama Government and the speedy nomination of a successor less favourable to Germany in the person of Seaor Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia may have been due to the pressure of the United States.

Nevertheless. the attitude of the exPresident is not without its significance. It would be a gross mistake to imagine that the Latin republics of the South are whole-heartedly and unanimously with us. For some while before the war both Germany and Italy busied themselves in cultivating commercial, political and cul

tural relations with these powers. As long ago as 1939, the warning was given in a well-informed book by a Mr. Carleton Beals on what he called The Coming Struggle for Latin America. in this he declared that the " good neighbour' policy of the United States had failed and that the much-advertised Lima Conference was conducted " in a setting of espionage, censorship and terrorism ' and was " little more than a New World Munich." And he expressed the conviction that the Totalitarian Powers of Europe were rapidly gaining strength in South America where they would constitute. in time of war, a serious menace to the democracies. Washington has enemies nearer its own door-step than Germany. One of the remedies is without doubt greater evidence among the democracies of order and discipline based upon Christian traditions. It may seem strange to some of us that some in Latin America should look to Germany for this, but they believe that the overthrow of Bolshevism, Masonry, and the' irresponsibility of plutocracy will pave the way for a sounder future. Our present commitments are not helping-us.

waged. Heads of Church and State and municipalities expressed the universal sorrow.

One recalled what was, perhaps, the most poignant moment in the Legate's sojourn among us nine years ago. That was at the end of his stay, when he went North to visit the Cardinal Primate at Armagh, before leaving Ireland. A procession of cars crossed the Border and sped through Newry, where the Catholic population went wild with delight in welcome to the Papal representative.

HOW HE CAME TO ARMAGH The road over the hills to Armagh city was guarded at every few hundred yards by Royal Ulster Constabulary, and tenders car

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