THERE has been a great deal of bad reasoning in regard to the question of the Irish naval bases, reasoning which for the most part clashes with our own political and moral pretensions. We are fighting for the integrity of small nations and we are fighting therefore for Ireland's right to decide for herself whether she shall lease these bases to us or maintain her strict neutrality.
We are fighting for the democratic right of free peoples to decide their country's policy and we are fighting therefore for the right of the Irish people to decide this question for themselves which they appear to have done in clear terms.
We have then no sort of claim on Ireland and no sort of excuse for resentment against her leaders and her people. We have only the right to try to persuade Ireland either that she has a moral obligation, not to us, but to God and mankind as a whole, to join in the war against the Axis, or that it is in her best interests as a country to do this.
The argument that because Ireland is profiting from our command of the sea she has a moral obligation towards us to put these bases at our disposal will not hold water for a moment. The advantages she obtains are, from her point of view, purely accidental, and while she naturally profits by them (incidentally doing us a considerable service at the same time) she owes us nothing.
No doubt in charity and friendship many Irishmen, including, we firmly believe, Mr. de Valera, would be glad to give us aid in return for the aid which we cannot help giving them. but the question of the bases is for Ireland a question of war or peace. As such it is eminently a question which Ireland must solve for herself and in which we have no say whatever save by way of persuasion. If these truths were more generally recognised here, our chances of persuading Ireland would he better.
cERMAN troops are massing in South
Eastern Europe including the northern frontier of Yugoslavia, while King Boris of Bulgaria has met Hitler to discuss Sofia's attitude to Greece apd Turkey, Bulgarian claims in 'Thrace, and the possibility of free passage for German troops through Bulgaria to Greece and/or Turkey. The meeting of Hitler and Molotov at the same time arranged agreement between Germany and Russia should hostilities break out in the Eastern Balkans.
The situation in Belgrade is now tenser than ever. A new phase of intensive pressure has been put on the country in which Italy has contributed a share by repeated accidental bombings of Monastir, the Yugoslav garrison town, commanding the main road between Albania and Salonika. Unidentified aeroplanes have dropped leaflets urging the people of Montenegro to revolt against their cruel Serbian masters and set up the old pre-1914 kingdom under Italian protection. (The present Queen of Italy is the daughter of the last King of Montenegro.) In Belgrade members of the Government are reported to he in favour of yielding to Axis pressure, but the army—a powerful machine in Balkan politics as was proved in the last war—
is said to have the situation under control. Possibilities of an army coup d'etat in the event of Government weakness are being spoken of, and there is no doubt that the mass of Serbian opinion is staunch behind resistance.
The meeting of German and Italian military chiefs, Field Marshal von Keitel and Marshal Badoglio at Innsbruck discussed in secret combined Axis military plans including the next move in the Balkans. Straightway after receiving M. Molotov in Berlin, Hitler summoned Sutter and Ciano to Berchtesgaden. It was thought in London that Hitler owed some explanation to Sutler over talks with Molotov, and that some general outline of future plans was spread out before both Foreign Ministers. Sutler's visit to Berchtesgaden was reported to be un popular in Madrid, where moderates fear the results of direct contact between the Falangists and the Nazi party.
ROME : A HOLY CITY
A LETTER in last week's New States' man and Nation put the case against bombing Rome on the ground that the Italian capital is the centre of Christendom and the common inheritance of our civilization. At the same time it is impossible to neglect the possible effects of a growing agitation for a blitzkrieg against the Italian capital fostered by some of the more violent newspapers. The Italian threat to Greece has given a handle to this agitation, but there is little doubt that it would have occurred otherwise as those most anxious to save Athens by bombing Rome are perhaps people normally least interested in what either city stands for.
That Rome should be considered an open city was accepted in principle by the British Government, not out of sympathy with Mussolini but because of the quite unique position of the Vatican City as a State within the State. Rome, in the eyes of many millions who had never seen it, was primarily viewed as a holy city which existed before and doubtless would survive the Mussolini episode. We need not suppose that this view was grounded on more than acceptance of the existence of the Catholic Church: for the same view would doubtless be taken with regard to bombing Mecca, which would he considered undesirable in any thinkable circumstances, if merely because His Majesty has a large number of Mohammedan subjects. For others, Christians, Jerusalem, again, has its significance.
It is not generally realized that, the carefully marked frontiers of the Vatican city apart, the Papacy has numbers of extra-territorial offices in the palaces of Rome such as the Chancellery or the Propaganda. These arc scattered through the city like the Italian state buildings, and it would, in fact, be impossible to bomb one without bombing the other. This is a problem quite apart from the scores of churches and basilicas bearing the Papal arms. In addition to this there is no doubt that the newspaper writers have paid inadequate attention to a desire, amongst many Luropeans, to preserve the treasures of generations of labour of sculptors and painters in the past, which by some are considered the main glory of an otherwise rather tawdry civilization.
MR J. P. KENNEDY THE current number of the News a Review asks whether "J. P. Kennedy, Roosevelt's Roman Catholic Ambassador to the Court of St. James " publicly belittles Britain's War Aims, whenever he goes back home. Some mystery (press reports suggest) still surrounds statements attriouted to Mr. Kennedy in Boston, and though they were denied as inaccurate by Mr. Kennedy it is thought in the United States that Mr. Kennedy is not likely to return to London. Amongst successors mentioned the favourite is Mr. William Bullitt, formerly ambassador in Paris, a friend of France even to the extent of being a crusader. Recent speeches made by Mr. Bullitt on Hitler's menace to American democracy, suggesting that war against the United States would be as certain as war was against France once the British fleet was disposed of, have put him in the van of aid to British feeling.
While it is impossible, given the methods of American sensational journalism, to know precisely what Mr. Kennedy meant if he said that American intervention in , the present war would take place only over his "dead body," Catholics in the United States have a powerful influence in the isolationist camp as Mr. Christopher Hollis who has recently returned from New York pointed out. This feeling is not based on religious sympathy with European totalitarians, but on political sentiment. American Catholics, during the Spanish war did not adopt as a whole an ardent sympathy with Franco, in fact they remained more aloof than most Catholics throughout the world. But American Catholics tend not to be of Anglo-Saxon stock, but are predominantly Irish : then German, Polish and Italian. While neither the German nor even the Italian Catholics in the United States have strong pro-Axis tendencies, and the Poles obviously feel for Poland, they have no strong feelings tying them to Great Britain. Those of Irish descent in the United States are many of them descendants of immigrants with a grievance, and they are inclined to jump angrily on anything which they call British imperialism especially with regard to Ireland. Many of them (nay react strongly if the question of Irish bases developed into a political crisis.
WE have recently published in this column personal accounts of various countries written to us by correspondents. We give here extracts from a correspondent in Lisbon.
Opinion in Portugal, he writes, is not so defined as may he believed in Britain. Thus there is a view that Salazar himself is privately slightly Germanophile, though there is no doubt at all that this great statesman has only one ambition in the war, namely to remain strictly neutral and to keep his country out of the fray at all costs.
One disquieting feature at present is the way German goods are tending to oust British goods from the market. The German stuff is good and cheap. I bought a post-card of Lisbon the other day, printed in English: On it were the words " Made in Germany."
The case of Portugal is analogous to that of Ireland. Both want to he our friends, but will permit no interference or forcing of that friendship on our part. Rumour has been strong here that both Spain and Portugal are to be occupied by the Germans, but the Portuguese do not easily give credence to rumours. Dr. Salazar yesterday (November 4) received in conference his Sub-Secretary of State for War, an event that sets tongues wagging. There is a tendency among Portuguese of all classes to accuse Britain and the British of being too slow in movement and imagination, and that it is due to this lethargy and glaring defect in our psychological make up that we may in the end "miss the bus." The Continental mind is not touchy about legalism and some people here say that they would have felt mdire comfortable had Britain taken Spain and Portugal under her protection in the early days of the war when France was still in the geld.