Page 4, 27th February 1942

27th February 1942
Page 4
Page 4, 27th February 1942 — Notes and Comments
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Notes and Comments

THE MISSING TOPIC

THE speeches of President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill acburately reflected the respective states of mind in the two countries for which they spoke. Mr. Roosevelt was concerned to arouse the American people to a sense of the magnitude and scope of the war, as well as to allay the myriad rumours with which the country has been filled. Mr. Churchill had to impress upon our own people the unpleasant truth that we are up against forces so powerful that we cannot for the time being expect anything but more or less unsuccessful delaying rearguard actions. Hence the president's speech was optimistic, whereas the Prime Minis ter's was somewhat pessimistic. President Roosevelt. for example, lightly passed over the vitally important Battle of the Atlantic, whereas Mr. Churchill, in a perhaps unnecessarily stark and alarming sentence, mentioned that in the last two months matters there Were going very badly. It was unfortunate, however, that both speeches omitted the one topic which is growing in importance every day, namely. the plan of the world for which we must fight, if we are to compensate for military inferiority by strengthening the morale and will-power of the millions whose fates depend upon an Allied victory. Benevolent imperialism, both territorial and economic, is done for, and the future task of the British Empire and Arnerica is to use their wealth and experience in order to soften, and yet hasten, the transition from the old cam; netitiveworld to a new ce-operation or commonwealth of peoples. For this purpos they will need a moral backing that can only come from world-Christianity and chiefly through the help of the Pope. It is quite clear that the only alternative to such a programme is the infliction upon the world for perhaps a hundred years of totalitarian tyranny. whether of a " Right " or "Left " variety.

THE PRICE OF THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE

THE one bright spot in an outlook which otherwise has hew dark is the continuance, though perhaps at a diminished rate, of the Russian advance. The plan of concentrating all available help at the point where it is most likely to prove of decisive value is wise. Russia having succeeded in forcing the Germans to retreat can make better use of our munitions than they would have if, with negligible results, they were scattered over a wide area. This must not lead us, however, to forget the indebtedness in which Moscow stands to this country and America for those sinews of war which have made its victories possible. We remarked on this some little while ago, and it is good to find the wellinformed "Student of War" (a pseudonyin which covers a name well known to readers of this paper) who writes in the Daily Telegraph, saying the same thing. " We are in effect," he asserts. "supporting a considerable expedition in Russia, and in paying tribute to the skill and gallantry that has turned the material to such excellent purpose, it must not be forgotten that the operation lays a great strain upon our productive capacity and shipping." It is scarcely fair to ourselves and our war effort to point, as is done in some quarters, to the contrast between our comparative and temporary failure in those areas where we are engaged with the sustained saccess achieved by the Russians on the Eastern front. It is precisely because we have denied our own forces the arms necessary for victory that our Ally has been able to forge ahead.

IBN SAUD AND BRITAIN

THE proclamation of loyalty to the • Allies of Ibn Saud, the Arab ruler and political head of the Wahabi sect, is of considerable significance. The Wahabi are the Puritans of Moslem and Ibn Saud is not only a forceful character but a man of deeply religious nature. His influence on the Mohammedans of the Middle East and India will prove a powerful factor• on our side. The followers of the Prophet are finding in their religion ample grounds justifying them, as they allege, in opposing Germany. Major Mohammed Akbar Khali, as far back as the end of 1900. wrote: " Any student of comparative religion will be aware of the fact that Moslems accept Christ as a prophet of Allah, as they also do the Hebrew prophets. In fact they are all people of the Book. Now the Nazis have no room for the people of the Book or for any other people save those who subscribe to their fiendish ways and their philosophy of terror and destruction, . . Therefore it is perfectly obvious to a Moslem where he stands." No doubt the alliance. with Russia endangered this alliance. but the attitude adopted by 1bn Saud shows that the Arab people whom he governs and whose religion tends to fanaticism, are able to distinguish between Russia as a military ally and Russia as a model to be followed in other respects.

IMPEACHMENT

WHATEVER may be the truth as to , the alleged criminality of the prisoners being tried at Riom, the spectacle of men formerly in high position being examined for their share in national disaster and facing, if found guilty, dire punishment is a wholesome one.

In this country when a man of this type is found to have shown criminal slackness, it is discovered that he has reached the age for retirement, or it is announced that he has resigned " for reasons of health " or it may even happen that he is given an embassy job in some distant State. Individuals who have accepted responsibilities involving the lives of thousands and the safety, at a most critical juncture, of the Empire, should be, if discovered to have betrayed their trust, treated with a seventy that would serve as a warning to others.

The good nature of the British public, which favours more lenient treatment, is

in reality more than unkind. Drastic measures in such cases, though they may seem hard, are in the long run more humane than those which, by avoiding disciplinary punishment, endanger the whole nation. Whether it be industrialists Or agriculturists responsible for production. or Trade Unions ventilating class grievances, or generals and admirals slacking in the pursuit of their duties, they should all know that failure will not be rewarded with alternative office, nor even glossed over with polite phrases and conventional lies.

JUVENILE CRIME

THE debate in the House of Lords con cerning religious education did not take us much further in that troublesome matter. The Government spokesman, Lord Hankey, was non-committa). Lord Rankeillour, denying that he spoke with official authority, declared his certainty that Cardinal Hinsley . and the Catholic Hierarchy could view the motion before the House with nothing but the heartiest sympathy.

Perhaps the most notable contribution to the discussion came from Lord Atkin, who spoke of the increase in juvenile crime. The figures, he said, were more or less uniform up to 1929. being about 300 per 100,000. But between then and 19,.36 they had nearly doubled. During the war they had increased enormously; from January to August, 1940, they increased by 41 per cent. among children under 14 and by 22 per cent. among those between 14 and 17.

These figures and the facts known to all social workers suggest that what is called religious education is insufficient to counteract temptations in our present social system. Religion must be the backbone of education, which should include a Christian Youth Movement giving room for action, having in it a spice of adventure and fostering an esprit de corps exacting loyalty to those in authority and fellow members. Along with the institution of such organisations might go a more severe censorship of the films likely to suggest crime, The cinema bears a large share of responsibility for the state of things revealed by these figures, not only by showing pictures glorifying clime, hut also as offering incentive foe' the petty thefts which constitute the majority of the offences enumerated.

DISILLUSIONED FARMERS

WHEN the advance in wages was made to the agricultural labourer, the Government gave an explicit promise (recorded in our columns) that the burden of this should not fall on the farmer. Prices, it was said, would be raised in proportion to the increased costs of labour. Unfortunately criticism of the new price-level for wheat during 1942 suggests that this promise is not being Rept, and persistent reports that Mr. Hudson, the Ministerf for Agriculture, felt the slur on his honour so keenly that he threatened to resign, seem to have something behind them. Farmers are scarcely to blame if, after their experience following the last war, they are suspicious of Government promises.

But with the heavy drain on our shipping due to the situation in the East and the intensification of U-boat activity in the Atlantic, it is supremely important that this element in the community should receive every encouragement. The coming season will be a testing time as to our ability to feed ourselves, an ability on which to no small extent the whole• issue of the war depends. It is difficult to state a proposition so simple and obvious in sufficiently forcible terms. The realisation of such truisms is more important than the ability to grasp subtle and perhaps fallacious proposals as to military and naval strategy. it is precisely he things which the man in the street can, if he will, understand which are basic to the successful prosecution of the war.




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