Questions of the w eek
by Michael de In Redo yere
MR. Churchill, in his week-end broadcast, had the, tor him, simple task of bringing to its Climax the warning policy which he first gave to the world in his Fulton speech in 1946 and which he has stepped op since then on various important occasions.
Though history will not forgive hint the heavy mistakes which he allowed himself to make when he sacrificed every other aspect of the future to the immediate need of physically destroying the Nazis, it must els° acknowledge how very far ahead of all other Western political leaders he has been in seeking to repair the consequences of an error for which the responsibility was almost univer sally shared. It is quite ludicrous to think today of the reception which his Fulton speech met at the bands of those who today are in charge of Our military defences and our defensive policies.
The essence of the Churchill warning has lain in the point that an equal or superior force is needed if there is to be any hope of useful negotiation with a potential enemy. Such a policy does not, as his critics have foolishly averred, involve endangering the peace and provoking those who might he moved to sane measures by gentler handling. On the contrary. in this world much the best chance of a common understanding in terms of reason and fairness depends on that mutual respect which in large measure at least derives from the mutual realisation that both sides are in a position to insist that bluff and fraud wilt not win through. Though there are some earnest Christians who hate to believe this and who preach that in love alone lies the hope of any peace and any justice, they really take this stand in the face of Christian tradition and philosophy. In reality they are confusing two very different things, spiritual conversion to the counsels of perfection and the daily human battle against evil.
'Resisting evil TE' a man is prepared to sell all and -I follow Christ — in other words, and putting it into wider terms, to direct his life wholly in terms of eternal and supernatural values deriving from the contemplation of the Divine—then he may personally exclude all but love. But to achieve this involves a life's struggle at the highest possible plane of living, prayer and action. It is nothing but hypocrisy or gioss self-deceit to suppose that men generally, and still less societies of men organised for temporal purposes such as States. live in accordance with such ideals. On the contrary. the power of evil is a constant and too often winning element in the lives of the vast majority of us. :sett still more in States whose precise function consists in defending certain temporal values at any cost to the higher ideals in other directions.
Survival on this normal plane of life depends on the honest recognition of the existence of evil and the evil consequences of ignorance; and consequently on the honest acceptance of the prudent countermeasures for at least limiting the effects which would follow from a triumph in any one direction of that evil. It is our Christian call to rise above this plane, but in so far as we do not attempt this or do not succeed in achieving this we must take the measures which safeguard an island, so to speak. of relative decency as against the tides of evil and ignorance from which we—and most of all we as a society—may yet rise to better things.
Force is secondary
I-I,_seems important to emphasise this, not only because of the wide misconceptions of men whose goodwill is often more conspicuous than their intelligence, but because it serves as a key to the whole highly confused international situation. The Christian tradition here is surely that the use of force as a sanction against evil — whether the force be used in the end as the means of actual direct resistance to evil, or, as we hope and pray, as the indirect support of policies aiming at peace and sanity — is always secondary. The primary effort and task must always be to resist evil by good—in other words. to seek to set in motion those constructive policies, those higher ideals of living, which by th*ir very goodness will in the end convert evil into good, ignorance into wisdom. The function of force is to arm the good in a world where evil automatically arms itself and expects to triumph by force of arms.
And in a way Communism itself in its own perverted fashion is teaching us the secondary nature of force in evil's struggle to triumph. For it seems clear that the first pre-occupation of Moscow at the present
moment is to work assiduously towards its ends without involving the whole world in open war. It is doing everything it dares to do within the limits of the fiction at any rate of world peace, In pursuing this policy it at least reminds us that force is always double-edged. It may not win in the end ; and even if it does. it can only do so through setting in motion uncontrollable forces which in the long run may destroy the aims of controlled force.
If Communism itself realises this. how much more ought we to be absolutely clear in our minds about two things. The first is that we must speak, act and carry through constructive policies from a basis of force sufficient to counter-balance the force opposed to us. The second is that we must never allow such force to be the effective dictator of our own policy—in other words, to forget our ideal and constructive aims because we possess the means of getting ahead by force or the threat of force.
Need for finesse
SUCH warnings are -by no means unnecessary at the present hour. On the contrary they are of the very first importance. It is clear that in the last war we did allow force. to control us, and with the appalling consequences to ourselves and the whole world which we now appreciate only too well. Mr. Churchill, we repeat, proved to he one of the major and most responsible victims of this tragic error. He might become so again. and this fear is the one possible justification for the suspicion of the great warleader which is so widely felt within the Labour party.
But for the moment we need not worry about the Conservative leader who is not in office and consequently is most valuably engaged in reminding the nation and the world that adequate force at least is necessary. There is enough to worry about elsewhere.
For there is clearly the great danger that the sudden conversion of appeasing or heedless men to the need for force will drive from their
heads the far more important need for ideal and constructive measures to counter the evil of Communism and even the age-old need for some commonsense and finesse in conducting international diplomacy at so critical and difficult a moment in history.
AMERICA is at the moment L bearing the main burden of the collusion defence of a free world against a major act of aggression. and it is not fitting that we should lightly or irresponsibly criticise her.
But thoughtful people cannot he unaware of the danger that anger and impatience and a great sense of national pride in a mighty people may lead America into the quite fantastic position of becoming bellicose (i.e. giving force the first role) while actually without a force remotely adequate to sustain even a non-bellicose policy.
Such a danger would seem to be involved in the attitude of General MacArthur and the Republicans in America. flappilv President Truman has once again shown his prompt good sense in repudiating the General's military mystique.
It is worth rioting in this connection that it is not a question of comparing the military values of different policies in regard to For mosa, but a questitm of balancing the resource of the present hopelessly
inadequate military forces with the resources of an intelligent diplomacy fighting a delaying diplomatic action until military resources become more nearly adequate. And the success of such a diplomatic action would largely depend on what the West is prepared to do to counter Communism on the spiritual. cultural, political and
economic planes. •
European confusion ANY consideration of the situation
in Europe must powerfully reinforce the argument for fighting first and foremost a delaying diplomatic action, since in Europe we are at the moment in a position of almost utter confusion,
While the Communists are undoubtedly making intensive preparations for a variety a possible initiatives, short of open war, whether in Germany, on the borders 'of Yugoslavia, or within the Communist fifth-columns (note here the ,significant change of policy in the 'British Communist Party). we have not come near resolving a single one of the many problems which stand in the way either of effective military defence or of effective diplomatic action.
Many admirable and interesting subjects were debated at Strasbourg. and many of them obtained a paper assent. But when an enemy is actively 'engaged in surrounding seii. house with traps and snares, it is small comfort to know that the family has enjoyed an interesting conversation on what might one day be done. if father consented, to offset his guile. To date, we have no policy regarding Western Germany and its means of countering, whether by force or policy, the preparations being made in Eastern Germany under Communist tyranny to undermine the position of the West.
The position of Berlin, still less of Austria, is not even a matter of desultory conversation and debate.
The gap between the acceptance of the idea of a European Army, to include German contingents, and the effective formation of such an Army is large enough to swallow up a teem turning point of history—the actual threatened turning point which that Army is supposed to prevent.
No one has attempted to face the critical problem presentednot only by the very real defeatism in Europe but by the existence of immense potential fifth-columns which as things are would wreck any effort of effective resistance.
Indecision and silence govern the future of Spain with its relatively strong military force in its relations with the rest of Europe. No one has said a word about the large numbers of unsettled men in Europe who have been driven from their Eastern homes and who might well become the toughest nucleus of any European force. Has anyone considered the role to be played by the millions of oppressed and discontented among the satellite States ?
A subtler menace
I N listing these obvious problems in Europe, we have only touched on the many questions which insistently demand study and solution all over the world before we possess even the material on which the bans of a constructive policy on resistance to Communism can he shaped. Even so, one would have left out the vital spiritual factors which in the long run really offer the one solid hope of the victory of free man over the danger evil h terrible e Communism. er
ng is that •
ng is that •
the force which we are trying somehow In build up and which must in any case cripple us financially will come to take the place of the real effort above all needed : the effort to meet the Communist threat by art over-all constructive, social programme and the effort to meet by intelligence and clever policy the various concrete threats which Communism is making all over the world, and not least in Europe. An adequate force we must have. That is certain—and it is certainly Christian. But it would be fatal to let ourselves drift again into the illusion that force is sufficient, or even primary. We may have defeated Nazism that way, but with what disastrous by-produCts of the victory ! We have not even the ghost of a chance of thus defeating the far subtler menace of militant Communism.