OVER a month ago we pleaded that Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt should make a joint appeal to Generals Giraud and de Gaulle to discuss the situation together and to come to an understanding in the interests of France and the United Nations The effecting of such a meeting was one of the objects of the Casablanca conference, and we may now expect that the French problem (which must have such important bearings on our whole strategy) will now be satisfactorily solved. It would appear, moreover, that the choice of Morocco for the conference and the emphasis laid on the North African theatre of war mean that our whole offensive operations will be based on this initial success of our arms in Africa. This again, it may be recalled, was the line foreseen in these columns at the time when the Eighth Army broke the Rommel positions in Egypt. The sending of vast expeditionary forces here and there is impracticable with modern armies and shortage of shipping. But a good base having been taken it is possible to accumulate the men and weapons needed to branch out and (as in this case) tear through what Mr. Churchill has called " the underbelly of the Axis." The command of the Mediterranean (which we need never have lost but for years of foolish foreign policy especially in the case of Italy and Spain), having been fully restored, and with Southern France itself the softest spot in the Axis defences with Italy next, we have the opportunity of driving at Germany as vigorously and successfully as Russia is doing. This strategy, moreover. can have the effect, if properly exploited by the right policy and propaganda, of detaching the whole so-called Latin bloc from the Axis and undoing a monstrous partnership that should never have been allowed to develop.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE THE public, it seems, is receiving the magnificent news of what is evidently a major German defeat in the East, as well as the news of the taking of Tripoli by the Eighth Army, with that same stoical calm that saved the country in the dark days of 1940. Then, it felt, the news was too bad to be true; to-day it is becoming too good to be true, This tough and sturdy morale is a priceless asset, and in the end it may prove to be the one factor which counted most in carrying us through the greatest peril with which Britain has ever been faced. If in 1940 the had news had been taken at its face . value the war would certainly have been lost. And to-day if the heavy Axis reverses, great and perhaps decisive as they are, were allowed to fill our minds. we should certainly fail to make the efforts that are still re quired to drive victory home. In particular there is one front upon which all can yet be lost if we allow ourselves the slightest relaxation of effort, and that is the shipping front. It looks very much as though Hitler were now straining every nerve to break those sea communications that are absolutely vital to the United Nations. The number of German submarines steadily rises, as does the quality and experience of their crews. (Gone are the dais when we could fondly hope that the reserve of U-boat crews would soon run out. Just as the sky is the limit to the number of pilots whom we can train, so the depths of the sea is the limit to the number of underwater sailors Germany can produce.) It would seem that the construction of planes in Germany has diminished to allow of greater concentration on the building of submarines.
In the opinion of many, the only answer to the submarine is in the air in co-operation with stronger convoys. The range and speed and height of aeroplanes reduce sea warfare to a narrow scale with ponderously slow movements. Under these conditions one asks oneself whether the concentration on the indecisive weapon of even large-scale bombing of German land targets is wise. If the U-boat menace could be overcome from the air, the last possible chance of an Ax Axis victory would have disappeared.
FAMINE T HERE is an ominous silence in ± the press about India. Yet it is known that nothing has happened since the failure of the Cripps mission to reconcile the people of India to the policy of the mother country. And in addition to political troubles, with the train of civil disorder to which they have given rise, the country to-day is faced with economic conditions that have raised the cry of famine. Prices are soaring, food is being hoarded and little or nothing is being done, apparently, to meet a situation that cannot be dismissed as just the consequence of trouble-making on the part of a tiresome political minority. It is true, however, that conditions of .. civil disobedience on the part of the politically-minded make it extremely difficult to obtain that popular goodwill that is needed if food is to be properly produced . and equitably distributed.
For this reason the present economic troubles make it more imperative than ever that the political situation should be faced and solved. We have maintained that there is a simple line that could be followed. It is to obtain the guarantee of all the United Nations to our promise of Indian independence as soon as the wholly exceptional conditions of war are past. Such a step, furthermore, would go a very long way indeed towards reconciling criticism in the United States of British im
perialistic aims. When we pride ourselves so loudly and frequently on the deep loyalties that keep the United Nations together, what is to prevent our inviting them to cooperate with us in the settlement of
this urgent question? This might well have been one of the agenda at Casablanca.
THE VOICE OF CHR,STENDOM ALL Christendom in this country is united, through the voices of its leaders, in urging the Government to take all practical steps possible to save the Jews who are now being tortured and massacred fn Eastern Europe. The object of this persecution is avowedly the extermination of a community which the Nazis hate and fear. It may be possible through the Vatican and neutral sources that some at least may be allowed to leave German occupation, and certainly the better Germans, who may feel that there is no preventing the Nazi behaviour, would welcome this. It is to be noted that German Catholics themselves in the person of Cardinal Faulhaber have vigorously protested against the shameful behaviour of their corn patriots, though to-day they may be much too near a similar fate to be able to speak out with any utility. Refugees. under proper military safeguards, should find sanctuary among the United Nations. This question. like that of seeking to feed the starving in Europe, is , outside political and military considerations. It is one about which Christians can have only one mind.
OUR BOARDING SCHOOLS THE Headmaster of Dean Close School has invited any member of the Labour Party in the London County Council to be his guest in his
school for so long as he likes. He believes that the view of that party
that " public schools as at present constituted are both socially and educationally undesirable " to be founded on lack of knowledge and experience of the Public School. hence the invitation.
The future of the Public School, as well as that of all secondary schools that would fall outside any secularist national scheme, is of course of very great importance to Catholics. Cardinal Hinsley has clearly told the nation that we have no intention of handing over our secondary schools any more than our elementary schools without full safeguards for their Catholic character. In fact it is clear that we should have to be even more intransigent about boarding schools than dayschools, since in the former the child is taken right away from home and parish. Any secularisation of the whole secondary boarding-school system would in fact mean depriving the nation of schools founded and maintained (altogether or in, part) for special purposes and with special ideals, be they religious or social or cultural. The loss to the nation would be enormous and the gain infinitesimal. Clearly this issue has been raised on " class " rather than " progressive" grounds, and the distinction between the two grounds should be made clear, not least by those who, like ourselves, have very grave reasons for maintaining boarding and secondary schools outside a uniform national system. Cardinal Hinsley, with the heads of other communions. signed his name to the declaration that "every child, regardless of race or class, should have equal opportunities of education, suitable for the development of his peculiar qualities." It is the business of the Catholic community to implement that demand as far as it can. The more we can do to diminish the "class " character of our big Public Schools the better. And reform along these lines would be directly in the Christian interest, for some of these schools in the past have done far too much apeing of the Eton and Harrow codes and have set far too low a value on Christian ideals in the classroom, recreation and training for daily life and career. Our aim, both on religious and national grounds, should not be to produce Eton three-quarter backs in cassocks and cottas.
DE MINIMIS .
ONE was relieved to learn that the test case put forward by the petrol rationing control was lost. A motorist was prosecuted for driving 77 yards out of his way. He was entitled to be on a road where there was a cinema. He could not, however, leave his car in the road to visit the cinema, so be drove it to the nearest car park. Driving the car in and out was a matter of 77 yards. There is a very real danger at present that law itself should be brought into disrepute by the multitude of offences that can be com mitted. This is inevitable, but it makes it all the more important that magistrates should administer the regulations with a due regard for the commonsense of the ordinary citizen. The latter is perfectly prepared to follow regulations that clearly relate themselves to vitally important ends such as the saving of ships and lives at sea or the protection of the country from enemy planes. But the old tag, de minimis non curat lex, which is itself based on commonsense, has not ceased to have its importance. One feels that there is little relation between a tiny evasion of the letter of the law and the scale of the war itself. (Even if this can be shown not to be the case, the feeling persists.) In the long run the citizen will obey the regulations with a better spirit and more thoroughly if he on his side feels that the law is taking account of his far from perfect human nature. The fact that detailed regulations are likely to persist after the war, when their necessity will not seem so obvious, makes it all the more important to safeguard the dignity of the law here and now We do not want the disrespect for law that became common in America during the prohibition era.
LEGISLATIVE BOTTLENECK THE measures with which Parlia ment hopes to deal in the present session both in number and in character suggest that there will have to be some speeding-up in parliamentary procedure and curtailment of aratory. The Beveridge Report itself provides material for endless discussion, and ih addition to this there is Mr. Butler's Education Bill, a motion with regard to post-war financial and economic policy, the appointment of a Ministry for Town and Country Planning, involving consideration of the Scott and Uthwatt Reports, proposals for the reorganisation of the Civil Service and the Chancellor of the Exchequer's submission of two votes of credit.
But this rush of legislation is mild compared with that which will follow immediately on the conclusion of hostilities. Many of the proposals now being made cannot become law till peace comes, but will be urgently needed then if chaos is not to ensue. In order to deal with the difficulty something will have to be done with the cumbersome parliamentary machine, and it should be done now. Delay may be made an excuse for the employment of dictatorial methods. It should not be impossible to devise methods by which democracy may function efficiently and speedily.
(Continued from column 8)
Algiers was•once lost with heavy loss of life all the Balearic (stands.
But the pilgrim who goes to this church should go with another brayer in his heart, that the sea which separates Europe from Africa may be the highway over which will pass from one continent to the other all that is soundest and healthiest in our civilisation.