Page 2, 30th September 1938

30th September 1938
Page 2
Page 2, 30th September 1938 — CATHOLICS AND WORLD AF AIRS III

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" It is inevitable, if war comes, that passions will be aroused and angry men will talk of a fight to a finish. That policy no Christian can support.

"We must support a war fought in a just cause. We must continue to support it only so long as the cause is just."

Above are some of the warnings given by Douglas Jerrold in his analysis of the situation in the eyes of Catholics.

Mr. Jerrold also resumes the historical causes of the present tension because " it is above all else essential to remember the causes of a war."

By Douglas Jerrold

The events of the week just passed are the disastrous consequence of nearly twenty years of invertebrate government for which the chief blame must perhaps always rest upon the shoulders of one man.

Few wars are followed by a just peace: few crises are followed by just settlements: those are reflections which should be uppermost in our minds today. We shall be without the excuse of the men of 1918 if, when our time comes, under Providence, to make a settlement, we fall into the old errors.

No one living in 1918 had seen anything equal to the disintegration of society all over Europe, nor could anyone point to any clear historical lessons showing how Europe could be rebuilt. Today we can see, and have the duty to see, in the state of Europe at this hour, the direct consequences of the action of our contemporaries, consequences for which the Governments of Great Britain and France bear by far the greatest share of responsibility.

1918 DREAM SETTLEMENT —and how it was Betrayed

The settlement of 1918 was professedly based on the self-determination of peoples, and was to be accompanied, in Europe itself, by progressive disarmament, and, outside Europe, by the liquidation of the colonial system and the creation of a general system of mandates whereby colonial territories had to be administered by the nominees of the League of Nations in the general interests of our common civilisation.

This was the dream. The reality was fatally different.

The newly self-determined States which were friendly to us were nearly all allotted substantial minorities, while States such as Austria and Hungary were rigidly limited to their racial boundaries regardless of economic, political or military considerations.

As early as 1919 Mr. Arthur Henderson remarked that "millions of Germans are placed under Czechoslovak rule (and Polish and Italian rule). This will create irredentist populations as considerable as those which provoked the Serbian agitation before the war."

A year later, the Labour Party, speaking In its official capacity, declared that " permission in the predominantly German areas of Czechoslovakia to determine their political future should be granted." These were but two of countless protests by Liberals, Socialists and Conservatives against the manifest injustices of the Peace Treaties in the matter of frontiers. Yet there were other injustices far graver than these frontier anomalies, for they were. injustices against which the authors of the pace treaties had tried to provide. 1 refer to the disarmament and colonial questions.

DISARMAMENT Broken Pledges

The defeated nations were disarmed and kept disarmed on the clear and written understanding that the victorious nations would themselves disarm. This pledge was broken.

The Succession States raised vast conscript armies: even Great Britain increased her expenditure as compared with 1914 and so did France. Europe. with the exception of Germany, was more heavily armed in 1928 than in 1914.

From this, coupled with the policy of reparations, grew the revolutionary temper in Germany which carried Herr Hitler to power.

All need not, however, have been lost. Much time had been wasted, the mood of appeasement had passed and given place to a rising anger, but disarmament could still have been achieved on a basis of equality : the problem of Austria and the problem of the Czechoslovak minorities could have been resolutely faced and solved by negotiation.

Instead, the victorious Powers waited, but waited disunited and irresolute.

The only possible alternative to a policy of active conciliation was a policy of rigorous and uncompromising enforcement of those clauses of the Treaty which had, for the first few years, rendered Germany incapable of offensive action. That grim, unjust, but effective alternative was also rejected. The next stage was the German rearmament and the denunciation of the other punitive clauses of the Treaty or Versailles.

CHANGING MOODS Germany Becomes Proud

With this, the mood of Germany changed. The formerallies remained passive and divided: righteously but ineffectively indignant.

Germany, from being angry became proud: from being rebellious became aggressive in her policy. She passed from the restoration of her internal sovereignty to the determination to extend that sovereignty over countries which had never accepted the rule of Prussia.

With that change of policy, her re-armament proceeded apace, and soon outran, in material respects, that of France, while Britain was as yet barely roused from the lethargy into which the policy of Mr. Baldwin had plunged her.

Meanwhile, France and England had suffered a serious diplomatic reverse at the hands of Italy. This, too, was a legacy, though an indirect one, of the Versailles Treaty. Under that treaty, Italy had received no satisfaction for her colonial ambitions. The theory of the post-war system was that colonial ambitions were no longer respectable, but unfortunately the only practical result of that theory had been an immense increase in the colonial empires of Great Britain and France.

Italy proceeded to take advantage of the disorder arising from Abyssinian raids on her African frontiers to organise a colonial expedition, and then proceeded to dispatch that expedition without any regard for the provisions of the League of Nations Covenant. The League took action against her at the instance of Great Britain, failed to make that action effective and passed from the stage of power-politics which thus became the accepted order of the day.

Germany, heartened by the discomfiture of Great Britain, increased the pace and seized Austria, with the consent, it must be

conceded, of a majority of the inhabitants, but nevertheless by a coup de force.

Germany's declared aims were now nearly accomplished. She had no quarrel with France. She had reached an agreement with Poland. She had annexed Austria. The Sudeten Deutsch on her southern frontier remained. Would Germany accomplish her final purpose successfully by consent, or successfully by force, or would she fall at the last fence and re-unite against her threat of force those Powers whose formidable coalition had conquered her only twenty years before? '


That was the background to the grave events of the last few days, events which

have brought us to the very brink of war. I have recounted the successive steps by which Europe has been brought to the edge of the abyss for the second time in a generation as dispassionately as 1 can, have done so for two reasons.

It is above all else essential to remember the causes of a war. Unless we do, we get enmeshed in irreconcilable hatreds: the cry goes up from angry and despairing men

for a war a l'outrance, for a war of vengeance, for the complete destruction of whole societies.

Once such a cry has been uttered and accepted, nothing can arrest the slaughter : the gates of mercy are closed on foe and friend alike.

Secondly, once a false view of the origins of a, war becomes part of a nation's consciousness, the possibility of a just and lasting peace is gone for ever. If we are to be called on to light twice in a generation,

we owe it as a sacred and indefeasible duty to our heirs not to be guilty twice of the same folly.

If, by the time these words appear, neither the argument of logic, nor of pity, nor of morality, has prevailed: if, to the open threat of force already offered there has been added a cold and deliberate refusal to entertain any negotiation, then

we are indeed faced with a situation which no lover of justice can be compelled to

accept. That is self-evident. A surrender to force so used, and in circumstances which provide no excuse whatever for its employment (for the substance of the claim is already conceded) could never be required as a right from any government, and, if it were made, could never be the starting point of an era, however brief, of peace and progress.

CIVILISED PROGRESS Justification of War

The Governments of Great Britain and France have required from the Government of Czechoslovakia that surrender to reason and justice which they had a right to require. They could not, and cannot, use the coercion of force to compel a surrender to force. That also is self-evident. This war, if it must be fought, will be fought for in support of a practice essential to civilised progress. But that is its only justification, and that is the ground on which, as Catholics, we must and shall offer our loyal support unreservedly to the Government. For our conscience' sake, and for the sake of the whole world, let us remember this.

GRAVE MORAL DANGER Elimination of Reason

We shall enter this war, if need be, with a clear conscience, but there is a grave danger that we shall lose sight of the principle at stake very soon, and end up by ourselves opposing the very practice of negotiation, of just settlements justly arrived at which the German Government has it seems, as 1 write, to have finally abandoned. We must stand fast for this principle of negotiation; we must stand for it because force settles nothing. We are right; but, because we arc right, force will settle no more when we employ it than when it is employed by our enemies. Our object is to insist on negotiation not force as the instrument of settling disputes. It follows that we must not only he prepared to negotiate at any moment but that our declared aim and policy must be to negotiate.

It is inevitable, if war comes, that passions will be aroused and angry men will talk of a fight to a finish. That policy no Christian can support. Christian opinion, warned by the lessons of the last twentyfive years, must be vigorous enough and brave enough to prevent that deterioration in the national temper and moral which led us in 1918 to make a peace which was as unjust as it was improvident, and for nearly twenty years afterwards allowed us to sit idly by while angry and embittered men were led, for lack of our initiative, to take the law into their own hands.

We must, if war comes, remember that our two duties are complementary: we cannot fulfil one without l the other. We must support a war fought in a just cause. We must continue to support it only so long as the cause continues just.

Above all, we must be on our guard against two grave dangers: that our arms may be used to extend the dominance of the atheist government of Moscow and the persecuting government of Valencia.

To spend the lives of liberal-minded and Christian men in such causes would be a violation of every Christian principle.

As Catholics we must stand clear and united on these issues, and we can be confident of the support in his attitude of the whole Christian community of Great Britain and of the British Dominions.

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