Page 4, 26th January 1945

26th January 1945
Page 4
Page 4, 26th January 1945 — MR. CHURCHILL'S MOST ASTONISHING SPEECH
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MR. CHURCHILL'S MOST ASTONISHING SPEECH

JOOKINCi at it in all fairness

and sympathy, yet against a background of far-seeing statesmansnip, let alone plan moral honesty, Mr, Churchill's speech last week was surely one of She most astonishing efforts of his career. The Prime Minister has, if anyone, the power and the will to speak out his mind in terms that no one can misunderstand. Nor has he ever thought it right to disguise his feelings; rather he loves to express them in richly-coloured terms, often'of ahuse, that provide his critics with numberless handles for future use. Nothing, for example. which he has said against the Nazis during this war surpasses what he was once accuetomed to say about the Bolshevist. On the other hand Mr. Churchill realises well enough the need For the utmost discretion at certain times and on certain occasions.

But his speech last week was a cornbination of the utmost outspokenness,

and also of the utmost discretion end deference, about one and the same sub. Wei, and the contradiction involved wee Ill-concealed by occasional warm assurances about the depths of his own convictions and the realism and reasonableness of the noble traditions and claims of Britain.

When, after the war, he is able to explain and defend his policy he will no doubt say that he had no choice. He will say that, raced with the actual outbreak of revolutionary Bolshevism ill Greece. he told his countrymen as plainly as he could just what It meant, and consequently just what It involved For the great Power on the spot which faced the choice of seeing murder and cruelties of every kind done or undertaking the thankless mission of resisting them. But in regard to other countries there Was nn immediate Britieh responsibility, and therefore wisdom indicated silence and even consent for the good of the Allied cause as a whole, espectully on the eve of a meeting between himself and Messrs. Stalin and Roosevelt.

The Atrocity Record wILL such a defence be accepted?

Will history agree that Great Britain, the ,great Power by position and tradition most directly responsible for the interests of Christian Europe. had the right to encourage in whet parts of Europe that very evil which her Prime Minister so clearly denounced and so steadfastly resisted when it showed itself in its true colours in Greece? Will history consider that even on purely political grounds there could be any excuse for the extravagant eppeasement of an Ally whose political tactics included the deliberate provocation and organisation of the kind of concloct so sternly condemned in Greece?

It is worth noting that Mr. Churchill concentrated in the case of Greece on the actual atrocity record of the partisans. Naturally the grim story he had to tell was effective, but he laid himself open to the retorts that atrocities can be exagg.erated, that they take place tin both Odes, that in countries like Greece, especially after the years of suffering, they are inevitable. It was a comparatively weak argument, but Mr. Churchill had to make the most of it because it suggested a distinction between the events in Greece and those in Yugoslavia and Poland. We say " suggested," because the Prime Minis ter knows perfectly well that the Russian and partisan record in the other Countries do not compare particularly favourably. Though Mr. Stokes in his speech rather vaguely reminded the House of the record in Poland and the Baltic States, Mr. Churchill could comfort himself with the reflection that the general public, thanks to the Government and a one-sided press. knew little cir nething of the truth— just as it would have known nothing about Greece, had it suited Mr. Churchill to back E.L.A.S.

And the truth Is that the atrocities, and even the sequence of facts in the Greek story are of secondary importance. What is important is the principle: the bid of a well-organised and powerfully armed party to seize power by guile and force. Had there been no bad atrocities, had there been apparently much greater public support for the faction, had the bid succeeded without any bloodehed, the essential political and moral evil would have been as great and as repugnant to what the Prime Minister himself and every decent penson in these isles most deteats: 3 coup trete! unrelieved by any motive riobter than the seizure of power in the interests of material gain and subservient to the Imperialist gain of the strongest despotic Power in the world. But Mr. Churchill was prevented from resorting to this argument because it would have slashed through his lamentable compromises in Yugoslavie and Poland, a compromise wheat he pitifully tried to disguise by resort to the inaccurate and to-day largely meaningless term of Trotskyism.

Appeasement, But No Compromise wHICHEVER way we look at it, we are forced back on to the inescapable truth: ii Is that this coontry is prepared to stand for moral nrittriple In the world or It is forced to engage In a power rivalry with a regime which because of its far greater material strength. Its geograithical position and its refusal to abr'e by any convention will get the better of us every time. And in this hopeless struggle even our remaining idealism will he regarded as hypocritical and ehildish. What right have we to invoke the Prime Minister's high principles in the ease of Greece when we RTC repudiating them in the same breath in the case of Yugoslavia and

Poland'? Is it any wonder that our intentions are douhteel Is it any wonder that shrewd people suspect that the one case where Rbesia has apparently yielded to our endlest gestures of compromise, namely, by allowing us free hand in Greece, was deliberately thought out by the Kremlin to embroil us still (tether? Or, that we are in Greece for purely imperialistic motives?

We suspect that the only reason why there is no wider denunciation of our policy (apart of course for the fact that all our internal propaganda is designed E0 confuse the issues) is the feeling that there is no alternative policy except the breaking of the Alliance and ultimately war with Russia.

We do not accept that view, and we believe that it is only held because of the modern confusion between tree and false appeasement. Before the war it was considered necessary by all the just that we should provoke war with Nazism and shower the German leaders with every sort of moral insult we could think of. War between Britain and Germany may have been inevitable. but we certainly made ussurance double sure. This paper took a different view. ' It never faltered in its insistence that there should be no cornpromise with a totalitarian and persecuting State, but it clurtg to the posability that little by' little the excesses of the regime might be purged through a really honest attempt to create a better international understanding and the generous desire to remedy genuine grievances. 'This, we contend, was true appeasement — appeasement without compromise. We may have been right pr we may have been wrong in that particular case. But what we stood for before the war in the case of Germany would at least serve our intereste 'end those of the world far better then the wholesale evil compromising appeasement gladly entered into in the case of Russia by the just of yesterday.

We do not take the view that Russia can never enter into a honest and lawabiding comity of nations. We have never insulted the Russians and the Bolshevists—and we who have been warning our countrymen of the dangers since Russia's entry into the war have never even used terms similar to those uttered the other day by a Catholic Tory M.P.

We hold that in politics it is often necessary to tolerate one evil in order to avoid the threat of greater evils. But this is a totally diffetent thing from defending, praising and directly associating ourselves with such evil so that every good principle is confused and lost. The only result must be the general weakening of the very !spiritual, moral and cultural standards which might otherwise and in course of time exercise their influence on the aggressor and immoral Power.

t.THELUNATIC FRINGE.'

IN the War Situation debate Quin ton Hogg made a sharp and characteristic attack on the " little cliques " of the, Labour Party. He described them as " the professional agitator, the near-Communist and the mere intellectual," and accepted an interjected descriptionof them as " the lunatic fringe."

We feel that Mr. Hoeg very largely made his case—the case that this body of extremists have had a record of extraordinary irresponsibility during the war and one whose one unifying mark was Criticism of every good thing the country has accomplished. And the retort that this coterie does in fact represent a very large number of people in the country was hardly to the point. In days of frayed nerves and inevitable discontent there is hound le be a big following for those who take it upon themselves to be permanent critics of everything that is done and permanent promisers of everything which anyone can possibly want. This fact should make the self-constituted leader's of the dissatisfied all the More careful not to abuse their responsibility.

And the curious thing is that individually many of these extremists are among the sanest of members. No one who knows, for example, Messre. Stokes and Cove could think of them as other than politicians with an insight considerably more acute than the run of M.P.s. They and many of those with whom they are associated have well understood the Childish folly of looking on the eaerny as a pack of Irredeemably bad boys. They realise that the causes of the war go much deeper than Flitter. They know that we are preparing another and worse war. Though Socialists, they are not deceived as many a Tory about Soviet imperialism. Mr. Stokes has been right over his battle of the tanks. And in home affairs these extremists have a perfect right to point out the many shortcomings of the Government's plans. None the less it remains true that their record is chiefly one of petty and personal obstruction with what at times amounts to and wilful Ignorance in the interpretation of Continental political movements. This is a pity because there are deep 'grounds for criticism against the main assumptions of Government policy. A wise leader seems needed.

CATHOLIC DOCTORS A CRYING NEED wE have deplored before in 7 these columns the present lack of an effective medical guild, representing Catholic doctors, and the lack of any Catholic medical journal which can deal on both moral and

views and practicce. Quite evidently scientific grounds with current medical

the need for these expressions of Catholic Action is steadily -increasing. In regard to general medical organisation in the country current plans seem to threaten the professional independence of the doctor—and for Catholics the profeseional independence of • the Catholic doctor is a moral necessity. Only if he enjoys it to the full can he apply moral teaching without danger of being victimised by the State, (This is not to say that medicine cannot he made a more effective servant of all members of the society, but whatever plan may be adopted for reorganisation the doctor must be free to consult his conscience and that of an equally free patient in carrying out his job.) The Archbishop of Westminster has elready had to protest against seeming dangers, and there are those who hold that the/Minister of Health's reply was unsatisfactory. Certainly there is little defence nowadays in the fact that Parliament remains a court of appeal in regard to any application of a law.

Not less important is the readiness of respected members of the medical profession to experiment in new scientific developments that run counter to the clearest principles not only of specific Catholic morality but the customs and traditions which in large measure preserve our social life. The practice of artificialinsemination with a third party father, for example, raises problems that strike at the basis of a human

In these conditions it is surely imperative that there should he a body of Catholic doctors, commanding the means of propagating their views, with authority to speak to the country. We should indeed like to see a body representing Christian medicine on a wider basis. though there might be difficulties in organising this, so widespread to-day are moral fallacies.

We have pleaded again and again for more effective lei action in this c&ntry. Surely here is a subject where only lay action can keep and where it is vitally and immediately needed.




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