THE twisting sequence of diplomatic events is beginning at last to drive home to some important circles in this country that the fate of Britain is closely linked with the fate of Europe. It has been too easily assumed that the Commonwealth alone enables Britain to line-up with America and Russia as one of the three big and equal Powers. This is by no means the case. America and Russia are more like continents than nations, and their geographical position, as well as their compact strength. enables them to feel relatively independent, militarily as well as
economically, from other countries.
This fact inevitably influences their international policy in the long run, whatever ideological plans they may wish to pursue. in our case the Dominions and Colonies do of course add an immense strength, but it is at any given time a potential strength whose actualisation depends upon the strength and influence of the mother-country. In the past that strength derived from seapower, tradition, commercial relations and wealth. Britain was the hub ol a free-trading, economically-pioneering world which she largely financed. Those days are over, and though we retain important advantages, it will be hard to exploit these unless we can assume and retain a moral leadership of the European Continent. Everything at the moment points to Britain assuming such a position, except the refusal of an ignorant public opinion, flattered by politicians uncertain of themselves, to understand the moral conditions necessary for playing the role. The first thing to understand is that Europe will not be content to be a mere field of experiment for Marxism or Anglo-Saxon liberalism. We shall of course always find on the Continent plenty of careerist politicians, as well as genuine idealists, ready to respond to our liberal invitations, but they are not the real Europe, and their revolutions and reforms will bring no more content to the Continent in future years than they brought in the past. On the contrary, the tragic experiences which the Continent has been through will call for a firm leadership and a sense of discipline within each country with leaders arising out of each couto try's moral, political and social traditions. So true is this that if Europe is not helped to find the right ones, slw will find the wrong ones in a new Bolshevik or Fascist tyranny. Britain's job is surely to make herself trusted in the long run through getting to know each country for what it is and What it wants and to give it the help it needs to re-establish itself naturally.
Britain's Service to Europe 0NE has but to put this in words In order to realise that we are at present pursuing an almost opposite course. There arc two reasons for this. The first is that we narrow the issues of the war to the gaining of a military victory at any cost. This involves us in tightening the blockade, in bullying neutrals and in threatening the enemy with the purely negative policy of unconditional surrender. But much more serious is the fact that it makes us the junior partner in the alliance of the Big Three and leaves us in the unenviable position of sanctioning the offers of Marxism from the East and Protestant Liberalism from the West. Europe wants neither. The second reason is the fear the Government has of our home Socialists. These people only understand progress in one sense, a secularist-materialist sense. Under the guise of popular appeals and trusting the people, they want to impose Marxist theory, and they are not at all reluctant to see a preliminary period of chaos which they can utilise for their own purposes. And the absurd part of the whole business is that neither Russia nor the United States has the remotest intention of allowing any ideological considerations to interfere with political and economic needs. We have to hold their baby. While we go on insisting that no decent person can have anything to do with a Quisling. our Allies are perfectly ready, if policy dictates, to deal, at least temporarily, with Darlans. Badoglios and Antonescus.
Somewhere between this amoral political expediency and the abstract supermoral Marxism and liberalism of the Socialists and Liberals lies the true course for this country, The only hope is to see Europe as it is, a Continent with deep spiritual roots, but politically and socially unstable, a Continent whose every pelt is a rule unto itself, Catholic or Protestant or free-thinking, democratic, authoritarian or monarchic, Latin or Teutonic or Slav—to respect and understand these differences, to work within them, patiently solidifying and helping without preconceived ideas, and slowly to create the conditions of stability which will enable Europe to
emerge again and to progress. If Britain could render this service to Europe. she would have forged the strongest links with the most important of the Continents and she could take her place after the war as a Great Power. But it all needs a revolution of ideas both among the politicians and the public.
Policy Towards Neutrals wE said above that a too narrow conception of military needs is forcing us to take actions that will diminish confidence in us in many parts of Europe. But it is important to notice that this action can be of two kinds. There is all the difference in the world between putting all our money on Tito or failing to stand loyally behind Poland and the Baltic States. and the latest security measure, the cancelling of diplomatic privileges. The first suggests that we do not care what happens to the spiritual, moral and traditional values of Europe, so long as we win. No one can have any confidence in a country which believes that, for the policy involves the betrayal of the very people we claim to be helping and liberating The cancelling of diplomatic privileges is, no doubt, unprecedented and technically illegal: moreover it unpleasantly emphasises once again the totalitarianism of modern war; but it is an act of force which does not affect the being of the countries affected. Though there are bound to be protests, the most likely reaction is one of admiration and respect for a Power which feels strong enough to take such measures. We tend greatly to underestimate the realism of the Continental mind. The European knows perfectly well the desperate nature of the war, and he is not so stupid as to imagine that you can apply abstract codes to any situation. He was probably nothing like so shocked as we were at the German disregard of international conventions. But it is a very different matter when Great Powers, whether Germany. Russia or Britain, pursue courses which destroy his spiritual and moral inde
pendence, as distinct from his legal one.
The same distinction applies to bombing and trade. Accurate strategic bombing he will accept as inevitable, but we ourselves know well enough how different bombing seems to the recipient and to the bomber. The mass killing of civilians, the destruction of churches and works of art, the laying waste of shopping and residential districts of towns, however unintended, seems like the vandalism and waste which it in fact is.
In regard to trade, the European understands perfectly well the belligerent need to prevent export of valuable war material and he respects the bargaining and pressure needed to effect this. He does not, however, understand the imposition of blockade and sanctions whose ultimate effect can only be to weaken neutral health and morale. to throw the country into the hands of the other belligerent and to prevent trade which, if it helps one belligerent in one respect, also helps the other in other respects.
RUSSIA AND THE CHURCH HAT W dS evidently the polite Russian view about Poland was described in a couple of columns by the Moscow correspondent of the Times. on Monday. By the simple process of raising a body of Poles in Russia to the status of the Polish people and Wanda Wassilwewska and her friends to the status of Polish patriots, thc impression was given that past differences, like the forced transfer of millions of Poles to Russia, the broken diplomatic relations, the withdrawal of General Anders' army and the Katyn incident, were being magnificently overcome. Meanwhile a glowing picture of what Russia was doing for Poles in Russia was painted. The worth of the article may be gauged by the fact that no reference was made to the Russian intention of slicing Poland in half nor to the religious feelings of the Poles, whether in Russia or elsewhere. We read of schools, orphanages, homes, sanatoriums, but the wool church, priest or chaplain did not occur. Though we do not pretend that all Poles are good practising Catholics, anyone who knows Poland and the Poles realises what Catholicity means to them nationally and traditionally. A popular Irish movement divorced from religion would make as much sense as this particular picture of Poland resingent under Soviet auspices. The previous day the Observer ran a story of the Soviet-sponsored Orthodox section. under Sergei going out of its way to attack the Church. As the Observer pointed out, " It shows that there is no likely divergence of views between the Synod and the Soviet Government. . . The policy of the Orthodox Church is now, as in prerevolutionary times, the same as the State policy of Russia ; and the problem of Catholic Poland has added to the old tension between Moscow and the Vatican City." We need not look very much further for the ultimate source of the increasing attacks on the Papacy, attacks that are directly contrary to British interests if we are right in our estimate that the fortunes of this country are intimately linked with the restoration of a healthy and traditional Europe which is so closely associated, historically and morally, with the Holy See.
LABOUR TURNS A CORNER THAT the delegates' conference of the Mineworkers' Federation should have authorised the executive committee to sign the fouryear wage agreement, subject to the adjustment of certain anomalies, marks a stage in the progress of Labour towards the goal of self-government. The choice for the miners lay between obeying their own leaders or having to submit to Government action taken ova the heads of those leaders and thus seeing the whole trade union structure, so painfully built up, destroyed. It was evident that the insubordination shown, unless it could be ended by the men's acceptance of the Award as approved by the executive committee of the Federation, meant not only the undoing for British Labour as a whole of the progress achieved, but the establishment of a system of industrial control differing scarcely at all from that set up in totalitarian countries. Through the indiscipline manifested we have come perilously near establishing Fascism in our midst. A victory over the external enemy would be fruitless if achieved only by the acceptance in our own social and economic order of the principles against which we are fighting. Labour appears to have turned a difficult corner in its history. The fact has been Nought home to all concerned that anarchy inevitably provokes tyranny. and that. paradoxically. freedom can be won only by submission to legitimate authority, We may even hope that Lord Wootton was right when he said a few days ago that " there is a new spirit abroad in industry and among industrial leaders." There was need of it. As he remarked on the same occasion, we failed after the last war because "materialism was in the saddle . . . we did not put spiritual values first."