Page 2, 21st October 1938

21st October 1938
Page 2
Page 2, 21st October 1938 — CATHOLICS AND WORLD AFFAIRS-VI

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Locations: Geneva, Munich, Moscow, Barcelona


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urche roadc • st To h Americans


LAST Sunday Mr. Winston Churchill addressed an eloquent and powerful plea to t he people of the United States for "a swift and resolute gathering of forces to confront not only military but moral aggression."

Anticipating criticism he described his request not as " an invitation to war " but as " the sole guarantee of peace." Proclaiming Czechoslovakia the model democratic State, he attributes to the dictatorships all the evils of the modern world and notably the blame for the re-arming of Europe. The dictators, he complains, are surrounded with bayonets.

Who reading this castigation would infer that the trained military strength of France alone on mobilization is greater than that of Germany while the strength of Russia is more than twice as great? Who would infer, further, that it was France and Russia who had set the pace in re-armament after 1918 and who had built up vast forces while Germany was still completely disarmed? As for the monstrous weapon of air bon bardment, which Power opposed its II ill abolition at Geneva? Who but our selves? Which of the great Powers offered disarmament in the air? Who but Herr Hitler?

These facts are forgotten today in this country. The only possible foundation of peace lies in remembering them and admitting them. If the post war policies of the Allies are examined, it is crystal clear that the Allies, and particularly France and Czechoslovakia, are partly responsible for the vile and sinister philosophy which threatens to dominate Central Europe. That fact does not make the philosophy of force, the methods and morals of the police state, any less vile. It does, however, point the road to the correct antidote. It is not only silly but monstrously irrational to ask Germany today to turn her back on her present rulers in a passionate ecstasy of trust in the superior generosity of the armed democracies which surround her.

VAST COALITION— For Christianity ?

But Mr. Churchill's error is not only, nor even mainly, in charging the present rulers of Germany with the moral responsibility for the burden of armaments. This responsibility in fact lies upon us. But Germany remains guilty, albeit under great provocation and for reasons which are easy enough to understand, of perpetuating and intensifying the mad race in armaments and of sacrificing the liberties and conscience of her people on the altar of military efficiency.

Mr. Churchill, however, is not content with indicting Germany. He wishes to form a vast armed coalition to confront and threaten (for it is folly to pretend that he wishes to confront his enemies with bouquets) not only Germany but Italy and National Spain, and he implies that in all these countries religious liberty is denied and civic rights infringed in one stupendous act of moral aggression against Christian civilisation.

And he implies with equal clarity that the forces which he wishes to organise against these moral assassins are forces not merely adequate but ordained by Divine Providence to act as messengers of

The time is long overdue for saying that the world has had enough of this foolery.

We in this country have already had a great deal too much. It is this mental obliquity which cuts away from under the feet of the suffering peoples of Europe the only possible foundation of peace, which is truth.

There was nothing democratic or idealistic about the coalition between Russia, Czechoslovakia and France which Germany has now destroyed. It stood for no single principle fruitful of enduring concord among peoples or of honour among men.

The purpose of the French Foreign Office was to surround the German people with a ring of bayonets. This purpose was conceived and executed before Herr Hitler had ever made a political speech, while Germany was still a democracy.

The adherence of Russia to the Western system of alliances was due to the desire to promote disorder in the interests of world revolution. To pretend that she was interested in preserving parliamentary government and the blessings of ordered liberty in France and in restoring them to Germany, is no more honest than to pre tend that Czechoslovakia was a model democracy.

A state whose internal cohesion can only be maintained at the point of the bayonet may have many virtues, but it can never provide a model for any free peoples.

It would be as honest to call the Act of Union a model essay in democracy.

COMPARED WITH 1914 Our Present Strength

And even when this has been said, we are not at the end of the untruths implied in Mr. Winston Churchill's analysis. The gravest of all these false suggestions has yet to be mentioned. It is the suggestion that England and France are confronted by a terrible danger so immediately threatening that we can only hope to avert it by the desperate organisation of both our peoples for war.

Who could imagine, reading Mr. Churchill's passionate and moving appeal, that Germany today is less in population by more than 30 million than she was in 1914: that her economic resources have been immensely depleted both in the East and the West : that British armaments are incomparably more powerful and the French frontier far better fortified than in 1914, and. in addition, that the French have received since that date immense accretions of strength both in mineral resources and in man power?

What has been lost at Munich is not the capacity for defence against aggression, which remains still overwhelmingly powerful, but the imagined possibility of an easily successful war of aggression against Germany, and the more practical possibility of engaging effectively in threats of war for diplomatic ends.

believe that the possibility of a successful war of aggression never in fact existed, and I believe still more confidently that neither the French nor the British peoples would ever have supported a government wicked enough to enter on such a war.

But I fear that the hope existed in the minds of a few politicians and of power. fui racial and political propagandists in many lands, that there would be such a war.

Be this as it may, the use of the Czechoslovakian bastion as a lever in the dangerous business of a diplomacy based on threats was certainly envisaged, and not only by professional revolutionaries but by responsible statesmen both here and in France. These threats were aimed at the economic if not the military subjugation of Germany. and that possibility is now gone. But they did not aim at this subjugation in any fever of anxiety over the sufferings of the German people. The aim was confessed and practised long before the sufferings began, and it was inspired by a fever of rather ignoble anxiety for our own security.

AIR MENACE Fright on Both Sides

That anxiety was not only rather ignoble (for we had no shadow of right to limit the economic liberties and therefore the happiness of eighty million people in order to put ourselves at our ease, and we had even less right to insist on unilateral disarmament), but it was singularly foolish.

The only new menace to which the English and French peoples are exposed today is the menace of bombardment from the air.

This menace can be removed only by disarmament, to which we refused to agree, and which we are still, apparently, unwilling to discuss. Here, clear for all to see, and ready to our hand, lies the first step towards peace. Yet it cannot be taken until truth has been re-established as the currency of international diplomacy. England and France today are not trusted anywhere in Europe. Mr. Neville Chamberlain is trusted, but that is all. The Cierman Government believes, rightly or wrongly, that the Franco-Russian alliance was intended not as a defensive but as an aggressive weapon, designed to keep Germany in economic dependence or, alternately, to force her to disarm. They do not believe that Germany disarmed would be safe from aggressive and punitive policies. They point to 1918 and the succeeding ten years.

They believe that even today we are trying quite cynically to detach Italy from Germany, with a view to restoring the circle of bayonets by which Germany was constrained and surrounded by the Treaty of Versailles. When we say in reply that we are so very frightened. Germany does not believe it. She believes that we wish to destroy the Nazi regime, but she does not believe that we wish to do this out of love for liberty, because she sees France allied with Russia and both England and France flirting with the abominable Government at Barcelona. Nor did Germany recognise in our new friend the atheist dictator of Turkey a champion of enlightened Christian democracy.

We have got, if we want peace, to stop talking rubbish and say quite plainly what we mean. It is easier said than done, for we do not, as a people, know in the least what we mean. The truth is that we are frightened and frightened men seldom act rationally. But if we are frightened, how much more frightened must Germany be, with England and France piling up armaments, and when she realises the man power, the material resources and the military power (for we can command the seas of the world if we will) ranged against her?

Both countries have some reason to be frightened and in both cases the reason is the same. Neither of us trusts the other, because neither of us has in the recent past told the truth.

We must begin to work for peace by speaking the truth among ourselves, in Our Press, from our pulpits, on our platforms.

It is futile to go on saying " Thus far and no farther " to Germany. 'net was the policy of Canute, but it was Nelson, not Canute, who taught us to rule the waves. Germany can never be allowed to challenge our sea supremacy. If she does, we shall fight her as we have fought every other great Power who made that challenge. We should say so. But we have no shadow of moral right to limit Germany's access to trading facilities and raw materials so long as she seeks to gain this access through the ordinary channels of peaceful diplomacy. That also we should say, and at the same time. We cannot allow Germany to embark on the forcible conquest of nonGerman nationalities which possess and desire to retain their own independence. That we should say. But we have no case either in law or morality for preserving at the cost of British lives the frontiers of the tyrannical empire of Russia, should that empire fall a victim to internal disorder. We are not interested, and we have no right to be.

INTERNAL GERMANY Who Really Cares About Persecution ?

have left to the last the most important question of all. Have we the right, or even the duty, to attempt to modify Germany's

internal policy? Here again is need for truth-telling. No one in England outside the Catholics and the Jewish community cares twopence about Germany's internal policy, except as a stick to beat a dog with. This is proved by the attitude of the English people and the Established Church to the far more vile and bloodthirsty persecution of the Church in Spain, and perhaps even more clearly, by the idiotic way in which all totalitarian states are lumped together in the matter of persecution.

There is actually complete religious liberty in all the " totalitarian" states (Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal) except Germany.

In many important respects, the social legislation and particularly the labour legislation in the other totalitarian countries is almost ahead of our own, and at least fifty years ahead of the United States. Yet for political purposes we lump all the totali tarian states together and frame moral indictments against them. In part this is due to ignorance, but the ignorance could not persist if we realty cared. Before we have the right to preach to Germany, let alone to attempt by economic or diplomatic pressure to deflect her internal policy, we should first be ready to show the world that we are really interested and that we do really care. Before we can do this we have got to search the records of our allies and associates.

It is, and always has been, my view that

as Catholics we have the duty to defend Christian liberty wherever it is challenged, in any way in which we can effectively do so. Many of my fellow Catholics say that this would be going too far. They may be right and I may be wrong.

But it is certain that we cannot do anything effective for Christian liberties in Germany so long as we approach Germany with the bayonets of Moscow lined up behind us. On the other hand, a Germany freely co-operating in the tasks of a dis

armed Europe is a Germany in which persecution will cease in the natural order. It is along that path that we must first seek for a return to freedom and to civilisation: a freedom which we must no longer deny to Germany and a civilisation which we must teach her to respect, by stripping it bare of pretences and showing the world the picture of a people really determined on peace and justice for their own sakes everywhere, and not merely where it serves our political game.

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