IN AGREEMENT WIT!! POPE'S The Problem of the Russian Alliance
By ROBERT SENCOURT (C.11. Diplomatic Correspondent) On Easter Sunday the Pope,making the second great pronouncement of his reign, spoke again of a peace founded on justice. " Peace," he said, " is built upon a single foundation—that is to say, it is built on the Eternal God. To diminish the obedience due to the Divine Creator . . . is nothing else than to throw into confusion and break up the tranquillity of the separate nations, and ultimately of the whole human race."
This from the Pope on April 9. On April 19, Lord Halifax, Great Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, spoke at great length in the House of Lords: in a speech of remarkable patience and moderation, he set out his peace policy.
"I cannot doubt," he concluded, "that at the foundation of our civilisation are moral values which have been set up through the influence of Christianity, and by observance, however imperfect, of Christian thought and action which have for centuries been the strongest single element in European life.
"Unless Europe is prepared to return to those principles, we are not likely to make much progress in either persona] or international relations."
The relation between the Pope's words and those of Lord Halifax would be remarkable if it were pure chance. But when the Pope's direction is of such obvious account to the politics of Europe, it is not pure chance.
The key to the troubles of the present day is that the French and British peoples, through former Foreign Ministers, M. Delbos and Mr Eden, denied justice to Spain, and also to Italy. They have now to labour to repair that injustice. For now it is complicated by fresh injustices, for which among others Italy is to blame.
Some years ago I knew two retired midshipmen who were afterwards ordained. One has already become a bishop. The other is a mere monsignor. When he told me of the castigations he had received in the gunroom. I asked him if he felt a grudge. No, he said, but I determined to take it out on the midshipmen who joined the battleship later. And so the fine traditions of the Navy are carried on.
By a reaction not wholly dissimilar, Italy takes it out on Albania—and Abyseinia—for what she has suffered from the " piuto-democracies." We owe therefore the greatest forbearance to the faults of Italy.
But what are we to say of Lord Halifax when he bases his hopes of peace on Christian principles, at the end of a speech in which he said he was in active pursuit of negotiating with Moscow?
Those negotiations have satisfied the Left all over Europe, and kept !.hour from criticism of the Government. They keep the country united in defence of Poland and Rumania: but for all this a very high price is paid.
That price is not only the misgiving of countless English and French Conservatives, Christians and Catholics.
It includes a revulsion in Spain. It troubles Italy. It gives an enormous weapon to Nazi propaganda, which honestly regards it as Machiavellian. It dismays the Catholics of Central Europe, including therefore the great majority of the Poles; but, greatest anomaly of all, it threatens Rumania with an aid which she can in no circumstances accept.
These facts are so plain that it would be absurd to think that the Foreign Office did not know them.
But the Foreign Office also knows that. Hitler has had his influence on certain Russians: and though many were executed a year or so ago, some survive. We never want that combination: we want to do a little work in Russia ourselves. For Lord Halifax cherishes the hope that even in Russia, as in Germany, there are workings of Divine Grace. If we had nothing to do with Russia. these would have lees encouragement.
Again, supposing the more aggressive Nazis could count on taking the West and Russia as absolutely hostile to one another, then the Hitler Government would have no restraints against aggression. And on the Danube, or in Poland to-day, it is Nazi aggression, not Russian atheism which is the menace. The. Russian menace was eliminated with the fall of Benes.
WHAT COULD RUSSIA DO?
But lastly, and this is the most important, Lord Halifax made only the vaguest references to the negotiations. His actual phrase was this; "I have every hope that recognition of the different points of view of which we have to take account will enable us to make the progress that we all desire in the matters to which the negotiations are being directed."
What are those matters? It is not a military alliance of Russia with Poland and Rumania, for that, those countries can, in no circumstances tolerate. And in any case what are Stalin and Litvinoff likely to give? They are still out to destroy both religion and capitalism; they said so as late as March 18. What therefore can they do for Rumania, or for Poland? They dare not mobilise, for that would put the power in the hands of the Generals. They cannot send forces, All that they can do would be to send supplies: such supplies as petrol, munitions. conceivably aeroplanes. Those, humanly speaking, are the only possible negotiations. Besides, Russia has one real national interest: it is to keep the Dardanelles open. Otherwise she can never get to the sea in winter.
Such then is the complex situation in which, in union in our different ways both with the Pope and with Lord Halifax against all the forces of materialism and atheism gathered under what St. Paul called " the kosmocrats of the darkness of this aeon," we need to act for a peacr founded on justice,