Questions of the week
by Michael de la Bedoyere
THE difference between the
sudden Communist assault on Southern Korea and previous— and in themselves more important Communist coups lies in a combination of two factors : the avowed military nature of the operation and its suddenness.
Political methods of itggression, paying enormous dividends, have delivered half Europe to Soviet Russia, while the combination of political and military action with an almost imperceptibly slow and subtle start, have resulted in the fall of China, and today, in a minor way, threatens Malaya and Burma.
The case of Korea presents a very striking and very important difference, but we shall do well not to lose our beads, and imagine that something intrinsically novel has taken place. The Soviet has long planned its aggressions in accordance with each differing situation. and we must suppose that it has judged that a lightning military campaign in Korea was likely to prove the easiest, the most effective and the safest method of gaining its ends The free world, having allowed almost without protest great historic countries to be seized by Soviet guile, is hardly in• a position to make a special fuss about Southern Korea. except for two possible reasons that need to he carefully examined. It must be convinced that Korea is the right place to time the great challenge against the whole of the Soviet policy of aggression. And/or it must be convinced that the open change of method in this case —the change from political or political-military to absolute military — indicates a decisive change of mind in Moscow—in other words that, from the Soviet point of view. this is a first act in a new chapter of military defiance--in other words, the first open blow in a third world war.
IS it the test ?
KOREA is essentially a place in " continuous international dispute, and it has been common ground between East and West that any permanent settlement of the Korean question must depend on unifying the country. The present division was never intended to he permanent.
Unfortunately, the position was such as to present a " classic " opportunity to the Communist ideology and methods and the greatest possible difficulties to the democratic West.
That the situation created has been exploited by the Communists is, of course, the result of the wholesale betrayal to Russia which marked the war conferences and the post-war settlements.
Nevertheless. it seems as though, under the United States leadership, the United Nations Minus the absent Russians) is prepared to make this the test case. This. one hopes, implies that America, realising all that is involved in the defence of the Far East, soberly judges that the Korean invasion is a deliberate challenge, qualitatively differing from all that has gone before; that this is the right and best time to make a stand; and that it is strong enough to succeed in the shortest time possible in making a sufficient display of strength as to deter the mischief-makers from any further adventures of the kind.
Given all this. everything depends on the will to risk everything in order to turn the tables. " Too late and too few," the old refrain, has already been heard in connection with the opening phases. America dare not let it be heard again.
In other words, two choices are possible. The first implies a definite judgment that this is not yet the time, and then it is best to do nothing. but repeat the formal legal and verbal protests. The second implies the definite judgment that this, all things considered, is the time ; and then everything must be done. To fall between these two stools, as we have so often done in the past, is bound to be fatal.
A cool head
TO argue this way is surely not to be defeatist about Communist aggression and the future. We are the victims of immense diplomatic and political mistakes which prepared the way for the great Russian-Communist aggression. We recognise—or more or less recognise, since we are even now not prepared to work in with Communist's oldest opponent. Spain—the suicidal nature of our policies, and we arc soberly engaged in the arduous and longterm work of trying to repair them.
This demands a carefully planned and timed world view, with a very clear idea on our part about what is vital to ultimate success and when it is vital.
It would he the height of madness —and reminiscent of the hasty Polish guarantee before the war—to allow our own plans to be sidetracked by the latest Russian initiative. whatever its character, no matter how unpromising. hopeless and dangerous the situation.
This may sound heartless and even cynical; hut the world has twice experienced the appalling results of
emotionalkm dictating policy. We cannot afford a third tragedy of a like nature,
Russian-Communist aggression will only be contained without war if we can plan wisely and coolly, hack our plans with the requisite deterrent force, and meanwhile further as rapidly as possible all constructive projects for offering to the world a working alternative to Communism.
Schuman Plan more vital
THIS is where the Korean incident runs up against the Schuman Plan. The Schuman Plan has presented the free world with the first truly constructive political idea for repairing the damage done in the past.
It is clear that in some form or other the free world must be integrated both for defence and for a generous and equitably distributed economic production. It is equally clear that for immediate strategic and economic reasons the integration of the small. quarrelling countries of Europe must go as far as is compatible with their traditions and present needs. Finally it is clear that success in this necessary endeavour must first depend on a constructive settlement of the relations between free Germany and the rest of Europe.
This is why the Schuman Plan is the first key to success in the task of shaping a future world peace. If it succeeds. it will mean that the always dangerous wealth and weight of Ger many will be applied to peace and general reconstruction. If it fails, it will mean that Germany may this time become the real instrument, whether willing or unwilling, of a world Communist triumph.
IT is truly childish to suppose, as
▪ our political leaders seem to sup pose, that an initiative or this order can he carried to any success in terms of the old notions of sovereignty. It is hardly less childish to concentrate on the difficulties while turning a blind eye to the pressing, indeed critical, nature of the need. Whatever the difficulties may be, the need to overcome them, if we are not all to be destroyed together, is
infinitely more serious. And how superficial arc the objections that arise from various quarters!
One set of objections arises from the alleged danger that Britain might be committed to Europe when its own prior need might be to stand by the Commonwealth. We are back in 1914! As though with the situation as it is at present, there could be any danger of a clash of interests between Western Europe and the Common wealth and America. If the question which worries our politicians were to become serious, we should be sunk already. and Communism would have virtually won the day. On the contrary, the integration of Europe is a powerful move towards the required integration between Europe, Britain, the Commonwealth and America.
Another set of objections, though perhaps more sensible at first glance, scarcely merits any long-term serious attention.
These objections, which arise from
Trade Union quarters, arc based on the fear that the traditional methods of safeguarding labour standards of life and work may be imperilled.
But what will be the value of those methods if Communem wins the day? Of what value, even. will they he to millions if European world trade, cannot be maintained in its present deeply hazardous state?
Surely we must judge such matters, not in the absolute terms favoured by Labour and the Trade Unions—as though the world around Britain were an unvarying constant, always favourable of its nature to us. —but in terms of the most prudent reaction to an extremely dangerous and variable situation.
If the great and long world crisis can he constructively overcome, then there will be less danger than ever before of unemployment and unsatisfactory conditions of labour : if it cannot be overcome, the end will he death, misery and enserfdom. Our narrow ideas at present seem to be largely directed towards ensuring that this last will he our future.
flidaules fall OBVIOUSLY it is absolutely tragic that at this particular juncture in world affairs the French Government should have fallen. Not for the first time, the French socialists have put their own narrower interests before the good of their country and the good of the world in general.
However strongly the French politicians may protest that the fall will make no difference to the future or
the Plan, it is clear that an absolutely essential French authority and drive will be lacking for a matter of weeks. Indeed, one cannot but suspect that the Socialist action was not wholly enaffected by a project which in some ways at least they dislike as much as do Mr. Dalton and his friends in this country.
Unfortunately. this further crack in the facade of contemporary democracy must have a generally demoralising effect in the West and a conversely heartening effect in the East.
It is indeed a long shot in terms of contemporary France, but the sane outside observer cannot but wistfully hope that it were possible for a man and traditional figure like the Comte de Paris. lately readmitted to his country. to rally in some way the patriotic and sensible majority of the French people of all classes. and with their organised and forward-looking, unselfish backing give some political stability to that very real thing, the determination of the French people really to live in terms of political liberty, social equality and human fraternity.
Poland claimed AVALUABLE article on "Poland Since Rokossovsky" appears in last week's Economist. There it is shown that the sending of Rokossovksy seven months ago initiated the policy of the virtual incorporation of the proudest and strongest anti-Russian Eastern European country into the Soviet system. and that it has proceeded apace since then.
" In the seven months that passed between these two events [the coming
of Rokossovsky and his joining the Polish politburo last monthi the Sovietisation of Polish life has been pushed forward at remarkable speed. The entire wholesale trade and threequarters of the retail trade have been nationalised; the drive to force the peasants and their land into collective organisations has moved into top gear; the resistance—both political and religious — of the Catholic Church, stubbornly maintained for five years, has been met with force; and throughout the military and social life of Poland the stamp of Soviet practice and theory has been imposed."
An important factor in bringing about the control both of Poland and Eastern Germany has been the skilful way in which Moscow has varied the theme of the Oder-Neisse line and the ex-German lands to the cast of these rivers. After having baited the Ciermans with expectations that the new, internationally finally unrecognised, frontier might yet be changed to the German advantage, Russia has rewarded its friends in Poland with a declaration that the new frontier will he perneanent and unalterable.
ButRussia alone cannot legally make it permanent and unalterable, so it will not be difficult to find an excuse in the future for a swing hack in Germany's favour, when Poland is absolutely safely under lock and key. Finally. as the Economist very shrewdly suggests, " there is always the possibility that eastern Germany and Poland will be integrated with the Soviet Union that a revision of their common frontier will be regarded by the Communist leaders of both as an administrative matter of purely domestic concern."