Page 4, 25th February 1944

25th February 1944
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Page 4, 25th February 1944 — TAKING RUSSIA AT ITS WORD'
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TAKING RUSSIA AT ITS WORD'

• MR. Churchill's remark on Tues

day to the House_ of Cornmons that ” Russia has the right to reassurance against future attacks from the West, coupled with his affirmation of sympathy with Russia's viewpoint regarding her Western frontiers. calls at this time for comment on the question of " strategic interests" That surprising weekly source of accurate information of the inner councils of the Soviet, the Observer, informed us last Sunday that Soviet Russia, having satisfied " her strategic needs" through territorial and political readjustments in Eastern Europe" . . " had no claims beyond the sphere of her immediate strategic interest." These words have so familiar and ominous a sound that one is surprised to see them used in connection with Stalin by an Observer "Special Correspondent." Oddly enough, it may seem, we believe them to he a true expression of Stalin's mind. Hitler, when he used similar language, meant it also. but Hitler, seeking an immediate object, was so carried assay by his emotions that he could persuade himself of anything that suited him. Stalin's whole make-up is entirely different. He is hard-headed realist, showing little sign of the traditional megalomania of conquering dictators and probably extremely sceptical of much of the Communist Party's ideology.. He does not want to bite what he cannot conveniently

digest. None the less, two points arise First, what of Russia's " strategic interests "; and, second, what of Russia's future commitments?

As to the first, are we (as apparently even the signatories of the Atlantic Charter want) to accept the slicing of Poland. the tearing-off of hits of Germany„ the liquidation of the Baltic States, the reduction of Finland (the result originally of e war of aggression on Russia's part) and possibly half a dozen other changes—are we to accept these spoliations on the ground of Russia's " strategic interests"? And all this as the result of a war waged against brute force— a war in which territorial compensation is not sought? It is worth putting the matter quite simply, for it is frankly a matter of right and wrong.

On the one hand we excuse total war (If total war ever can be excused) on the ground that our aims are so lofty and important that nothing in the way of men or monument can stand in our path; on the other we seek to arbitrate whether a half or a third of the territory and people of our gallantest Ally shall he wrenched front it by the will of its big neighbour and the forced consent of its bullied leaders. And all this is the result of taking Stalin at his word! The second point is yet to come.

The Moral Size of Latvia

THE Soviet, having secured her strategic frontiers, using for the purpose of building its Maginot Line the history of proud nations and the destiny of living souls over whom it has no moral claim. will certaird'y find itself still in relation with other peoples and in tension with other interests. Countries of no greater historical importance nor of any greater power will still stand between Russia and the potential might of the Indies; between Russia and the civilisation of the Mediterranean, between Russia and eighty Million Germans, between Russia and the seven seas. No matter how satisfied Russia may think herself, are we to suppose that the new problems and tensions will • yield more easily to solution by co-operation and arbitration than the present problems and tensions between the Soviet and Poland, the Baltic States, Finland. Rumania? And are we to suppose that Russia, having found so convenient a way of disposing of its present anxieties, will never be tempted to repeat the experiment in dealing with the " realities " of to morrow? Already we know that Russia, however sincerely she is concentrating on the immediate issues, at least nurses possible lines of action in other and further directions should action be needed.

All this is the A B C of international practice, and it is precisely because the sequence is so elementary and obvious that a tiny country like Latvia is morally as hig as the United States. Latvia to-day stands as the test.If Latvia is liquidated. the world will inevitably move from one liquidation to another until a third world war is blazing. If Latvia's rights are takeh into account to-day, it is possible that the five years of blood and sacrifice from the Russian people, no less than from ous own, will not be utterly fruitless.

PARLIAMENTARY ABSENTEES WHILE' the feeling against what are regarded as coupon elections has been rising, there has been another protest agaimst the alleged interference by the Prime Minister with the right of constituencies. It is true that when the actual facts as to the appointment of M.P.s to iobs which take them away from the House were made known it was seen that the criticisms had been exag gerated. That, hoviever, did not affect the principle involved. A member was elected, it was argued, to represent his constituency and, on occaaion, to champion its apecial interests, but this was made impossible if he received a Government appointment incompatible with 'the fulfi infect of his Pat I al menta ry duties. The constituency which had not been consulted in the matter was cheated and would find small compensations for losing its representative in the Councils of the Nation in the fact that he was usefully employed elsewhere.

It shows a healthy respect for the spirit of Parliamentary Government that this protest should be raised in the House. But that Protest would be more convincing in more normal times. At present there is a shortage of manpower which necessitates that capable men should be allowed to double their part. Moreover. in the absence of acute party controversy. the value of a vote in determining the eourse of legislation has much declined, A constituency, under ordinary conditions, might well feel aggrieved if at a political crisis it could not make its voice heard, has not to-day the same cause for grievance. The abnormal circumstances of the present must not be allowed, however, to sanction what might prove to he a permanert weakening of what tradition has so painfully acquired and maintained of Parliamentary governmeni THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE THE White Paper outlining a I Service of National Health is confessedly a tentative scheme. 11 awaits the criticism of the medical profession and of the general public. This latter is important. Health— by which we understand wholeness of being—cannot be imposed on a

s

community. It is essential that there should exist a will to health. All that the State can do is to provide the opportunity for this will to function. Health, properly understood, is too personal a matter, too closely bound up with all that we mean by personality to be brought about by Act of Parliament.

For a nation as a nation to be healthy it is necessary that it should be animated by some common.

worth-white motive. The war has shown the effect of such a motive. Statistics reveal that. despite all the hardships endured and the abnormal strain under which we have lived, the health of the people as a whole has improved. The conflict has had a tonic effect. The water of national life which was becoming stagnant is now flowing. We have been taken out of ourselves and given an object for which to work and a motive for keeping fit. The psychology of health, as is now generally agreed. is an important aspect of the problem. The undue prolongation of the war, on the other hand, may have an opposite effect on the mind and consequently on the body. Indeed, it would be difficult to set limits to the conditions necessary for the building-up of a healthy people. Most obviously the problem is closely related to the housing question and the provision of open spaces. We should probably find that even our agricultural system is a factor Lord alankey. in a recent debate in the House of Lords. gave scientific reasons for the belief that certain of our methods are poisoning the soil. A good deal of the food we eat is affected thereby and. in addition, deprived, by the processes through which it passes. of its vitals king powers, and many agricultural reformers take an even stronger view. This and many other considerations, not least spiritual and moral balance. must he taken into account if we are to fulfil the purpose of the National Health Scheme.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS NEITHER the eight months which have still to run before the Presidential elections in the United States take place nor the fact that they are not our immediate concern is sufficient to check the interest shown in the matter on this side of the Atlantic.

Mr. Roosevelt has not yet signified whether he will stand for a fourth term of office, though there seems to be little doubt that he will do so The constitutional issue was practically decided when he stood for a third term and is not likely to be a decisive issue should he once more run for the Presidency. If he enters the arena it will be. we believe, for other than personal reasons. He has shown strong conviction as to the rightness of the financial policy which he has pursued. He believes that the prevention of inflation, reckoned by the attitude of both Congress and Labour, is essential. If only to ensure that inflation shall not occur and that financial . support for the oar is not endancerecl he will endeavour to retain his present office. So much may happen in the interval between now and the decisive moment that it is difficult to forecast the result. The tempo of contemporary history, is so rapid that the entire outlook may be changed with consequent reaction of political opinion. We do not even know on whom the Republican choice will fall, whether on Mr. Wendel Willkie or Governor Dewey. The course of the war, too, will be a big factor. Great victories might inflate American optimism and strengthen the hana of those who believe that the drastic policy pursued by Mr. Roosevelt is unnecessary. Provocative action on Russia's part again might endanger his chance. So closely are the interests of the two peoples—British and American —bound up together that we shall watch the swaying course of the political contest with almost as much interest as we should take in a general election in our own country.

THE TURKISH MYSTERY LAST week we suggested that it might be fear of being involved as an Ally with imperialistic Russia which accounted for Turkey's coolness towards the Allies. It was therefore interesting to obeerve that Tribune found the cause of this coolness in the opposite direction. Mr. Aneurin Bevan would have us believe that Turkey is turning more and more towards her big neighbour. In support of this he says that even pro-British papers in Turkey became increasingly critical of British Mediterranean strategy and that. on all the outstanding questions of the day—such as that concerning Polish frontiers—there was an almost total switch to a strong pro-Russian attitude. The first of these statements might be made concerning our own Press. which has been remarkably outspoken in its criticism of the conduct of tae war in Italy. Apart from that. however, the reasoning is

curious. Turkey, which was sup po• to be on the point of joining,

the* United Nations (including, ■,f course. Russia). suddenly shows signs of drawing back and looking for excuses which would exempt her from implementing her treaty with Britain. And the cause of this change is sought in the belief that her sympathies are more with the Soviet than with ourselves The real issue before Ankara is whether she shall remain neutral or join those who are fighting against the Axis And decision on that issue is not affected by a transference of sympathy from one of the Allies to another The fact is that. so far as any information published in this country goes. Turkey's change of attitude remains a mystery. All we can say is that it is not inconsistent with the attitude of other neutrals. including Spain, who do not yet seem convinced that Germany is beaten. The attitude of the neutral who is far less the victim of wishfulfilment than the belligerents cannot be disregarded by any coolheaded observer, however patriotic. We may have a long way to go yet




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