Page 4, 23rd March 1945

23rd March 1945
Page 4
Page 4, 23rd March 1945 — THOUGHTS ON THE BURDENS OF PEACE
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THOUGHTS ON THE BURDENS OF PEACE

MR. Churchill's speech at the

Conservative Party Conference last week gives us all a timely reminder that the burdens of peace will soon be upon us, and that they will require a national concentration and purpose that may not fall short of' the war effort itself. And though we shall happily be relieved of vital anxieties and the price of blood which wardemands there is a very real sense in which it can be said that with the ending of wer our real worries will begin. War. it cannot too often he stated, presents relatively simple problems to a great nation. It takes time for a people to shake off the traditions and habits of peace, but once that has been done--and the Prime Ministei was the person to ensure that it was done in the nick of timeL-everything is. in favour of the energetic leader. The

end is clear and simple: the means are to hand. And the issue is finally decided by relative force, aavill-power and technical skill.

But once the victory has been gained stupendous problems have to be faced. A people inevitably relaxes alai it resents the prolongation of the testae. tions it welcomed in war. Ends become confused, for there is a multitude of possibilities to choose from—and the choice is a matter of popular decision. The artificial supports which kept the nation going at any and all costs in order to ensure victory begin to fall away. and the work of reconstruction, shot through with the rosy expectations of all who have,toiled in the fight and been comforted by political promises, has to be undertaken in an atmosphere of political freedom and economic selfhelp.

And despite all these handicaps—not to mention the even more vexatious foreign commitments and plans upon whose success all modern nations depend—it is the quality of the victory itself which is made or marred by this building-up of peace. For military victory has only one real meaning: to furnish the opportunity for making a peace. Unless a nation succeeds in doing this victory may well lead to a state worse than the one for which a trial by force had seemed the only rational escape.

Dangerous Trends rINE surely has but to reflect on these truths (which could be indefinitely extended in order to underline still further the toughness of the problems to be met) to realise that every possible safeguard and precaution must be taken if the sufferings and cost of the war itself are not to be utterly wasted. Mr. Churchill, though speaking as the leader of a political party to which this newspaper owes no allegiance whatever, did give the impression that he personally was well awate of the nuture of the situation and desirous of making a contribution to it as effective and intense as the one he has made to the gaining of victory. The Labour and Liberal leaders seem wedded, however—at any rate in public speech for the benefit of their popular audiences —to a policy of irresponsibility in which the gaining of personal power and popularity seems to count for more than the good of the country. It is right that the peace government should be the result of a General Election which can test the degree of support which each of the parties can command to-day. And no one disputes this. One hopes. too, that each of the minks in making its appeal to the electorate will be thinking not so much af currying favour as of offering a well thought-out and constructive policy, more particularly where finanaial and economic questions are con cerned. The basic issue is without question the attaining through proper economic, financial and social measures of a fully, and usefully employed people. (It is because of its fear of the future and its dependence on large business and money interests inherited from the economy of a dead past that we for our part pannot be satisfied own ptahrety.o)utlook of Mr. Churchill's But it is madness to take up at this stage a rigid party line. Let the appeal he made faithfully and honestly in intelligent rather than platform terms, and let the results then decide of the best line to be taken to ensure that through the first putt of this vital period the country is firmly and wisely led. even if this does mean that the noisier politicians have to return to the back bench where their critical faculty will be best employed.

FOOD RATION CUTTING UNPOPULAR as it may be to write it, we must say that the news of food shortages which may lead to a cutting of rations is not wholly a bad thing. Nothing will bring home better the stark truth that one can't have wars of this magnitude without everyone paying for them, not only while they are being waged, but long after. As compared with millions upon millions on the Continent, we in this countiy have been spared a very great deal. Many of our relations and friends have been killed or maimed in battle and there have been prolonged and painful separations. A number of cities have been heavily bombed and the people of London and the SouthEast especially have been subject this year to a prolonged strain through robot bombing; but all in all our trials have been moderate. If it is to help our fellow human beings whose lot has been harder—often very much harder—it is well that we should tighten our belts a little further: and it is well that we should realise early the fact that the end of a war like this cannot mean a quick lifting of its burdens, hut rather perhaps the beginrang of a period of even greater stringency.

One hopes that intelligent world statesmanship will enable all peoples to exploit with the minimum of delay the productive resources of the world some of which have been made more accessible through technical knowledge acquired in war. But with the best will in the world there must be a delay, and we cannot think of any true Christian not being ready to play his part in seeing to it that all • share fairly through that period.

We have long known that the cost of the war has fallen exceptionally heavily on this country, but by artificial and non-recurring devices it has so far proved possible to avoid anything like a full payment of that cost. The bill remains. May it not prove to be as heavy as some fear and as we are sharply reminded by the present food situation.

VISION IN AGRICULTURE IT has been ideal weather for the spring sowing, and of this, as far as labour has been available, good use appears to have been made... The prospect of an early end to the war in the West and therefore of a return to the land before the harvest of men now in the Forces has given farmers confidence in their ability to gather in the large acreage under cultivation.

But the same prospect of peace has also worked the other way. Having regard to the additional populations in Europe that will need supplies of every kind and the release of shipping for the .transport of these supplies, President Roosevelt has been telling his

people that they must tighten their

belts. While it is indicated that priority in American exports will be given to countries in more need of heap than Britain, it is further intimated that the inter-departmental committee on food shipments is in favour of still greater allocations of British reserves to relieve Europe. Thus, as the Food Minister's intimation of further cuts in our rations indicates there is the prospect of a shortage in certain foodstuffs, a fact which, in view of the cause, should be accepted not grudgingly but in a generous spirit.

Tightening the belt, however, is but a negative method of meeting the situalion. More positive and constructive ways might be considered. Thus, a report by the House of Commons Select Committee on National Expenditure has made known the large amount of land requisitioned by the Forces. The Admiralty holds 26,000 acres, the War Office is using 600,000 acres and the Air Ministry is withholding from agricultural use 253,000 acres. If any of this much-needed land can be now made available to producers, no time should be lost in handing it over.

But the period over which, in addition to Our own needs, other countries will require help extends far beyond the present year. The world-situation is such as can be met only by an agriculture possessed of vision. The plan proposed for harnessing the powers cif the Severn reminds one of the great and abundantly fruitful experiment carried out in the Tennessee Valley. U.S.A. The results of that scientific enterprise suggest that, with the application of similar methods on a modified scale, we might well nigh double the productiveness of our native soil.

ADMIRAL ESTEVA'S TRIAL

cannot think that the new France will raise its prestige through the staging of a trial like that of Admiral Esteva It was made perfectly evident during the proceedings that the Admiral acted throughout the war as a patriot (whatever the quality of his judgment in painfully difficult situations) and that he was the type of honest man who had no intention of pleading falsely to better his

position, to face with political judges. f there had been more Estevas in France, that great country's recent history would have been far happier. For a resurgent France publicly to condemn him to a punishment technically only just short of the death sentence and to deprive him of his rights as a grand French sailor is to stain the regime itself. Obviously, the condemnation was needed in order to prepare the way for the trial of Marshal Main. And it looks as though the trial of the Marshal was thought to be necessary in order to furnish legal and judicial support of the present order. If so, it is an extraordinary sign of weakness and it is surprising that the French authorities do not realise how it will all look to history—and to impartial observers to

day.. The new France does not need to be buttressed with dishonest and sordid trials of men who tried to serve her quite as faithfully as anyone is doing to-day, even though the march of history may have swept them aside. France to-day would be all the stronger and all the better esteemed if she had the courage to drop once and for all the whole of this business except where it may concern such miserable people as, for example, were prepared deliberately to sell their fellow Frenchmen for foreign gold.

THE FINNISH ELECTIONS SEEING that the signing of the Armistice with Russia took place as recently as the early part of last September, the holding of • a General Election in Finland so soon may be taken as a sign of recovery from war conditions. The Social Democratic Party, which held 85 seats out of 200 in the Parliament now brought to an end, protested against fixing the date so soon, but, as others desired to hold the Election in January. M. Paasikivi's Government decided on a compromise, One of the main issues of the cantest has been the treatment to be accorded those accused of helping Germany. It is as representing the more severe view that the extremists of the Left among the Social Democrats have appealed to the country. The process of enforcing the Government's demands is regarded by this section as too slow and they point to the fact that neither Ryti, the former President, nor Rangel], former Prime Minister, have resigned their posts at the head of the Bank of Finland.

But the country is faced with the task of paying the huge sum demanded by the Armistice, amounting to three hundred million dollars payable over six years. This has to be paid in commodities such as timber, paper,cellulose, sea-going and river craft and machinery of various kinds. As a consequence, public interest has centred largely on the country's industrial future.

The Social Democrats, constituting the strongest single Party, has been handicapped by internal • divisions. there being tive different groups, an appealing to the Labour 'element. The Communists have regained their political I teedom, but they are opposed by a strong anti-Soviet feeling.

For diplomatic reasons, the attitude of Russia since the Armistice is said to have been " correct." and it is claimed that the conditions under which the Election has been fought have been in strong contrast from those which governed elections in other Baltic States. In fact the Soviet treatment of Finland is in strong contrast with its action in Poland and the Balkans. It serves to show that Soviet foreign policy is not the inevitable result of more primitive conceptions of public behaviour, but a matter nicely calculated for carefully discriminated purposes.




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