By Sir DESMOND MORTON
FULL CIRCLE: the memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden, K.G., P.C., M.C. (Cavell, 35s.). ANYONE, aspiring to the high office of Prime Minister must possess qualities of mind and body well above the average. What precise qualities are to be preferred is matter for debate.
One thing is certain. 1 he successful candidate must abandon hope of being judged by ordinary standards.
He will have to endure meticulous and unfair criticism from friend as well as foe, from the ignorant and prejudiced as from the experienced and magnanimous. Such arc the conditions of political life to-day, wherein no quarter is given, no excuse accepted, and nothing counts but failure and success.
Good or bad ?
IT is usual for biographers and
historians to propound, after the death of the subject and when political passion and personal jealousies can be sieved out, whether he was good or bad for his country. '
Letters and other personal documents have by then slowly come to light. Eventually, when all lively interest in the issues involved has faded, State Papers are released to enlighten or darken counsel.
To possess the victim's own considered account of the principal responsibility set down hear responsibility. set down while these are fresh in his memory, should therefore prove of peculiar interest and value.
The present memoirs, covering the five years from November, 1951, until Sir Anthony's forced resignation through illness in January 1957-during the first three years of which lie was Foreign Secretary in Sir Winston Churchill's last government-may not satisfy all hopes and expectations.
IT is difficult to extract from them facts of importance not already made public or deduced by the busy press of various countries. Yet it is of value to have the more thoughtful deductions confirmed.
One or two widely held rumours are usefully disposed of. For example, it seems that President Eisenhower's personal reactions to the Suez adventure were far more sympathetic than has been alleged.
On the other hand, we now understand that the American Oil Companies refused, in l954, to force British interests out of Iran, contrary to a suggestion made by the State Department; not the other way about.
Support can be found for a view that the policy of the late Mr. Foster Dulles was a continuous disaster for England; being founded on a determination to keep Communism far from the United States, no matter what happened elsewhere, to keep the United States out of war. while encouraging "brinkmanship" in others, together with a pathological horror of "colonial Powers".
SILL, seeing that Mr. Dulles was the American Secretary of State, his first two objectives cannot be counted as wholly unworthy, even if a little narrow when viewed internationally. It would be interesting were one able to learn and understand the principles governing what was presumably a less rigid British policy over the same period.
Sir Anthony's account of his dealing; with Moscow and Mr. Khrushchev leave some impression of failure to understand, or to accept, the nature of the driving force behind Soviet policy: that Leninism is a religion, defining truth in a manner wholly different from that which conditions all other religions, and upon which normal human relations and reciprocal conduct are based. He seems baffled at the Communist failure to observe rules of international courtesy hitherto followed by all civilised nations.
Nevertheless, this manifestly sincere account of events in many fields deserves and must receive deep consideration by present and future historians before fair judgment can be delivered.