IN the rococo ballroom of tne Spiridonovskaya mansion in Moscow under an oil painting of the signing of the Anglo-Soviet Pact of 1941, we are told, the Foreign Secretaries of Britain and America and the Foreign Commissar of the U.S.S.R. are conwferrirtitnegn. as these notes are Except in the most general terms that is all we are told. We know that discussion of the control of " atomic energy " and problems of " interns"tonal magnitude " are on the agenda. But no news of the findings of each meeting is at the disposal of the British and American peoples So the age of universal democracy is ushered in. Mr Bevin and Me Byrnes will place their cards on the table hut these will only be seen by Mr. Molotov. What all these cards are we do 'not knew but we do know the stakes and the players. The former amount to nothing less than international peace and the reconstruction of international life and order. They are the prize to bc taken by the nations: they represent the prize needed by all players, for neither Britain or the Soviet can afford another war and the faith of the Americas renders war abhorrent to them. So the stakes are peace and justice. What of the players?
Anglo-American Restrictions BRITAIN'S cards are on the table. We went to this conference with definite moral assets and great, if at present largely unrealised, material resources behind us. With France we hold co-equally the moral and cultural leadership of Western Europe; with our Empire, rooted in the culture and faith of the West, we hold a great reservoir of material wealth which an bc tapped for the enrichment of the Empire, the homeland. and the West. And with this imperial wealth there exists a moral and spiritual unity which, as Mr. Hollis wisely reminded us last week, brought hurrying to our aid, in 1939. assistance prudently denied us by others. Our equal partner France and our brothers of the Empire. Here is our strength, moral and material. What is our purpose?
Our Foreign Secretary has placed our cards on the table We desire, and will have, the protection of the proper interests of ourselves and of our friends. These don't clash with the legitimate aspirations of any other nation. We wish to establish a just order in the countries which come within the Empire and we wish to help establish a unity of nations based on mutual trust. Rut we know that such a trust must be based on principles held mutually And herc comes the rub.
With America we hold mutual principles; with America we recognise the Law of Nations; and with America we have certain commitments which restrict us in our bargaining in Moscow, No decision affecting Germany or Western Europe can be made at this conference since our equal partner in the West, France. is not represented. No effective far-reaching agreement on the Eastern Hemisphere can be made without the agreement of America's first Ally, China. Russia holds the strategic position on the roof of the world ; hut the Anglo-Saxon Powers by tradition and intlination are faced with the task of rebuilding and strengthening the foundations of civilisation. East and West they cannot effectively decide without the assent of Chungking and Paris.
Anglo-American Aim wHAT call they do? They can make the voice of the law heard. They can refuse to allow this to be another moral Munich. The situations to he faced suggests that Russia may once again have come to this conference after having placed herself in a position for bargaining; that she wishes to make of it a legalising organ for hcr more -recent adventures in Foreign Policy. On the one hand the incoming British and American representatives are faced with apparent concessions in Hungary and Rumania and on the other with the establishment of yet another " democratic government," this time in Azerbaiian, in Northern Persia. What do these events mean?
First of all Rumania and Hungary. Apperently 'Russia is standing by her free election promises in both of these countries while, at the same time, she is " rigging " elections in the Baltic Republics and in Poland by permitting Russian soldiers to vote in these countries and at the same time drafting in thousands of Russian guinea-pigs. What does the apparent freedom of the polls in Hungary and Rumania mean? Look at the map Rumania and Hungary lie strategically well within the Russian military zone. Concessions made in these,countries can be revoked to-morrow The Red Army is in occupation. The Communists have no political or moral strength in either country: but they have demonstrated their material strength. which rests on the Red Army.
The only effective guarantee the Supreme Soviet could give here is to evacuate their forces Paper concessions at this stage in the European
game mean nothing Munich. 1941. Teheran. Yalta and Potsdam are on the record. The Soviet, Britain and America can only be judged now on the ultimate basis of their actions. Let the Supreme Soviet withdraw the Red Army from its zones of occupation in the East. Is there any doubt that Britain and America will also withdraw? And lei the German and the Pacific problems be brought to a conference when both Europe and the East can legitimately be discussed in equal partnership with France and China This conference has the opportunity of establishing the law. And here we face the Soviet on a point which demands resolution.
The Persian Test Case ON Sunday a new " democratic government " was set up within the Russian zone of occupation in Northern Persia. lt issued a manifesto claiming loyalty to -the Persian State but, in effect, dissociating itself from the Persian Government. It also stated its intention of forming a " popular guard," • in effect its own army. We know this rising could have been put down by the Persian Government if the Soviet had not, as it put it, in the interests of order, stopped Persian forces 1 !torn entering Azerbaijan. Two
order arise in the first place? Either the Soviet Government could not maintain civil discipline in Azerbaijan or it Li:Aerated it for its own purposes. Secondly, who armed the rebels? Those questions must be asked and they must be answered.
The Law of Nations applies to small nations as well as great porrs. And if this is flouted? It was flouted once ou the Rhine; we now face the result. Azerbaijan lies on the borders of the U.S.S.R. and Turkey. Russia has already interfered in the internal affairs of the Turks. comparatively a most democratic people. And Turkey is on the straits which command the crossroads to the Empire Azerbaijan may be the Rhineland or Manchuria, Let us invoke the moral law now when we can. in peace, lest we have to invoke the fundamental natural law in the future The lip-service of 1938 brought 1939 when the desperation of politicians dissolved in the sacrificial courage of ordinary men. The gateway to peace lies in Moscow. but the pit of destruction is also within the ballroom.
SPAIN IN NEW EUROPE IN view of the necessity for Western unity we confess that we find the note issued last week by the French Government to Washington and London on the question of relations with General Franco mote than a little puzzling. From a generally reliable source the information has gone out that France is prepared to break with the Spanish Government and that Britain and America had hoped General Franco by this time " would have disappeared from the scene." to use the chaste expression of the Times correspondent. France it seems is prepared to admit Individual members of the exiled Spanish Cortes and Government to make " whatever contact they can with
the opposition inside Spain," Just which individuals the French consider worthy of using their country as a base for underground action against a ruling Government is not stated, Nor are the wishes of the Spanish people apparently considered.
The whole future of Spain, the wellbeing or its people and their proper aspirations are apparently being decided on a basis of political dislike for the Government which maintained order and neutrality on what might have been a deciding sector of the European warfront, covering as it does the gateway to the Mediterranean. Which is not to say that French political dislike for Franco is less legitimate than the dislike a Spaniard might feel for that distinguished French patriot and leader. M. Maurice Thorez. Surely the facts are these. There is no unified, legitimate political opposition to Franco out side of Spain. Inside it le equally (anvil:ills I hat Franco wants to hand over the reins of office IO a proper successor. Who that successor will be is a matter tor the Spaniards to decide, not the French, or the British or the Americans. Their task is to co-operate with Spain to preserve the unity of Western Europe. It is Spain's right to demand such co-operation It is our duty to give it. For only in a Spain whose national aspirations are being legitimately fulfilled will the fine fruit of democracy which we all admire so much, in Western Europe, emerge. And without Franco's Spain the road to Malta might have been much more perilous.
DE-CONTROLLED LABOUR THE announcement in the Com mons by the Minister of Labour that a large body of labour now controlled under the Essential Works Order and similar Orders would be. from the beginning of April next year, decontrolled. means that the majority of those whose labour is now directed will be released. Add to these the number of men and women set free from the forces to take their place in industry and it will be seen that the system of conscripted labour, made necessary by the war, is passing: the fear expressed in some quarters that it was to be continued indefinitely is now shown to have been groundless
This will be welcome news to those who, in order to serve the nation's need, were obliged to abandon callings in which they had been trained and to take up work to which they were unaccustomed: they can now go back to the sphere in which they arc most at home: Some, having formed fresh associations during the war, may elect to remain where they are; it does not follow that, in every case, they will avail themselves of the liberty granted There is another motive which might play a part in determining their decision. They may have been rendering services which are as essential in peace as in war. Indeed, the present outlook suggests that the right direction of labour, whether voluntary or under coercion, will be an important factor in
enabling the nation to emerge successfully from its present perilous situation The exclusion of certain industries from the operation of the new arrangement shows the Government's consciousness of this. But there still remains room for the exercise of individual discretion in choosing such work as is best cella]. lated to serve the community's essential needs in the crucial days before us. Here is the opportunity for such as covet the privilege of knowing that theirs is no mere bread-and-butter job or has been selected by reason of the social status it confers, or even because sititLe in accordance with their tastes, but is related to the nation's urgent neces ies