By Michael de la Bedoyere
SOVIET Russia is not convinced that the measures so far taken by the West to challenge her policy of aggression are sufficiently dangerous to suggest the need for any retreat. That is the meaning of Mr. Vishinsky's veto of the Security Council's attempt to find a compromise formula for the Berlin question.
It is a disappointing result, but hardly a surprising one, in view of the patent weaknesses in the position of the West.
The chief of these weaknesses is, of course, France. So long as it remains possible for the Russians to disrupt the economy of France and cause its Government to take quasimilitary measures against Frenchmen, Moscow has no need to he nervous. In this sector Moscow is fighting the battle it understands best, the battle of its special choice. The United Nations and the meetings of Foreign Ministers are essentially stalling devices, designed partly for propaganda purposes and partly to maintain some control over the traditional diplomatic and military aspect of international affairs. Meetings of this kind suffice for Moscow's purposes since it is well aware that at this level the Western Powers are not prepared to go beyond words. The will to find a solution by compromise remains, and so long as the Western Powers remain intent on this aim, Moscow will be satisfied. Meanwhile Moscow remains free to continue its real aggression through its Fifth Columns.
Its tactics are well known, but their danger is not even now sufficiently recognised. No one. for example, has so far suggested at an international conference table that the strike of French miners is a more serious threat to peace than the blockade of Berlin. Yet it is. In Berlin the great Powers stand face to face, and it is the explosive nature of the situation which for the moment renders it innocuous. Simply because the Great Powers are utterly opposed to a detente by world war, Berlin remains a stalemate—a game of bluff played with a consideratOe margin of safety. It is otherwise in the case of the Fifth Column aggressions within the West. Just because these campaigns are not warlike in the traditional sense and do not sharply confront the great Powers, they play into Moscow's aggressive hands and here and now destroy peace. Nor will they stop until the Western Powers are prepared openly to treat them as Soviet threats to peace which must be guarded against as earnestly as any threat in Berlin.
Moscow's Responsibility in France IN fact, the success of Moscow in France is almost incredible. Apart from the very serious loss to France, and consequently to recovering Europe, of many weeks of coal production, Moscow has been able to create a situation in which thousands of French workers are ready to see their means of livelihood destroyed. In Moscow's name the blood of Frenchmen is spilt. Moscow is responsible for inevitable military counter-action which is hardly distinguishable from the beginnings of Civil War.
It is true, of course, that Moscow could not have achieved these victories if she were not exploiting a dangerous social and political situation within France. It is true that the French miners had cause to strike, and that the subsequent exasperation accounts in part for the desperate tactics of the miners. It is even true that Moscow may lose the battle in France, as she lost the battle of the general strike. But it is precisely Moscow's way to use the means at hand for fomenting the trouble from which Moscow alone profits. Whatever the arguments and grievances. it is beyond doubt that the strike was timed by Moscow and led by the agents of Moscow who control the main French Trade Unionist body. Throughout the fight the agents of Moscow in France have directed and incited the troubles.
No one can get away from these facts, and each one of them is a threat to peace, as well as an act of treason to the national interests of the country concerned.
The Need for Action THUS, there is no real argument about the fact that the activities of the Soviet Fifth Column in every European country have become a major menace to peace, and the Western Powers as such, as well as each individual country, must now take measures to deal with them.
It is not an easy problem to tackle. we admit. No one wants general persecutions and repressions under the cloak of which innocent people as well as guilty ones are punished, good motives as well as evil ones condemned.
The distinction between a reasonable social grievance and the exploitation of that grievance by the agents or virtual agents of Moscow must be maintained. Equally. we must distinguish between the dupes of Moscow and the conscious instruments of Moscow. Clearly., the removal of legitimate grievance Is the best positive measure to take. and it is of vast importance in France to-day. But such reforms take time and depend on many factors not necessarily within the control of governments. Nor will this world ever become so perfect as not to contain causes for a bona fide dissatisfaction that cau be evilly exploited. Hence we cannot blind our eyes to the absolute and pressing need for legal measures which will disarm movements and persons whose aim is clearly the disruption of the countries of the West at the orders and in the interests of Moscow.
This is a time of " cold " war, and Moscow makes no pretence about the fact. The words now being used by the statesmen of the West. as well as the resort to the United Nations, are an acknowledgment on our part of the same truth. It is fatuous then to suppose that an attitude of war can be adopted in reeard to one side of the Moscow offensive, and an attitude of peace adopted towards another—which in any case is the more dangerous of the two. Those who consciously work in Moscow's interests are today enemies, and for the defence of the West only one attitude can be taken towards them, NATIONALISATION OF IRON AND STEEL THE Bill to nationalise Iron and and Steel is likely to dominate the domestic political situation for many months, and it will inevitably play a very important part in the next General Election. This is a tragedy, because the interests of the country demand that this question should be settled on its merits in close and free debate in the light of expert knowledge and proposals, not on mere party political issues. Even election promises made in the circumstances of three years ago should not count as against the present interests of the country and people making their giant effort at recovery and self-sufficiency. Catholics will naturally ask themselves, as they have always done in the case of nationalisation proposals, whether this industry falls withip the classes which according to Catholic social principles are suitable for nationalisation. For our part, we find it diificult to avoid giving the answer " yes." The production of Iron and Steel is a basic industry of ever growing' importance to the whole community, and the State is surely metaled to take all measures necessary for the control of that industry in the national interests. Nor is it sufficient to say that the present prosperity and good management of the industry ensures this guarantee. The State has the right to prepare itself for conditions of slump when the power in the hands of the masters of the industry can be (and has, in fact, been) dangerous, and measures for safeguarding it under private ownership inadequate. Moreover the close connection between the industry and armaments make it in many ways desirable that it should be fully State-controlled.
But Catholic doctrine does not imply that because the nationalisation of an industry would be theoretically justifiable, the decision to nationalise it or any particular method of nationalising it is prudent and desirable.
This is precisely the matter for debate. This is the kind of question which can only he wisely decided by an honest and impartial investigation into all the circumstances, not excluding the present overriding need for national unity. That is why we totally deplore the party political approach which means that one side will simply argue that the measure is a blessing for the country and the other a menace to it. Such attitudes, we consider, are far more suitable to moral condemnation than the question of nationalisation itself.