THE five-year war began with
the British refusal to let Hitler swallow Poland. It is ending with the tragic spectacle of the fighting Poles in Warsaw being murdered by the desperate Germans, while the enemies of Germany leave these heroic men and women of the Polish capital to their fate. However triumphant the Allied arms and however rapid the liberation of half Europe, we dare not close our eyes to the dreadful thing that is being done in the capital city of the land we set out to save. Some might well consider that it is a judgment on the war as a whole. and certainly no human story-teller would have had the audacity to point so sharply the moral of his drama, For our part, we are reluctant to read signs and wonders into the events of history. God's hand, it may he, is more subtly disclosed. Natural causes lead to their natufil effects, and it is for us to read God's message in this logical sequence. (Among other things, it is scarcely a moment for 115 to indulge, as so many are doing, in a righteous attitude towards our enemy, an attitude unmixed apparently with any suspicion that we also may have faults on or conscience.) Nearly five years ugo Russia also marched into Poland, stabbing her in the back no less certainly than Italy a few months after stabbed France. Events later threw us into alliance with Russia, a fully totalitarian country, in common warfare against Fascism and tyranny and the law of might. This alliance. which was not of our choosing, was a military convenience, possibly even a military necessity. Up to a point it even had its moral justification in that Russia also had become a victim of aggression. But this did not remove the moral Contradiction which it involved. But it was the policy of this country, and later America, to close its eyes deliberately to that moral position. From that day to this we have pretended to ourselves that the alliance rested on common principles, that together we could go forward to build the new world of freedom. For the first time perhaps events (notably the Russian refusal to let us give effective aid to Warsaw-by allowing our planes to land and refuel) have forced some eyes to open a little to the truth. But when this incident is " liquidated," many of these eyes will doubtless close again. Yet it is absolutely certain that no sort of progress can be made towards that better world until Britain and America as a whole face up to the realities of the situation.
Facing Up to the Truth
IN doing this there is DO need to work oneself up into an attitude of crisis. There is no need to imagine that we should be running into a third war. The Soviet has never pretended to be other than it is. It •is potentially an immensely strong totalitarian Power placed in the centre of the old world. Its purpose is to realise through a centralised State economy the social and economic welfare on a materialistic basis of millions of human beings condemned through history to a subhuman standard of life. To ensure this purpose it is prepared to take what steps it thinks necessary, interhally and externally, with complete disregard of traditional or Christian morality. It has openly proclaimed this time and again, and asserted that the needs of the State are the basis of a Communist morality.
In playing its part (a great part) in the defeat of Hitlerisrn, Soviet Russia has saved itself and, accidentally, helped to save us. For this we are grateful,
and because of this we should be all the more disposed to study the Soviet purpose with frieudliness and understanding. But these, if we stand by the Christian principles for which we fought, cannot possibly alter the fact that our spiritual and moral values are the opposite of theirs—as indeed is our whole political and economic outlook.
It is for experts to study honestly how far and where these opposite outlooks can find common ground for action, but the success of such a study depends absolutely on the honesty of both parties in recognising the far far greater points of difference. Meanwhile it is equally our job to see to it that we preserve what we value. And what we value what Europe and America and China value. It is equally our moral duty clearly to dissociate ourselves from what we know to be wrong in Russian action, more especially where that action covers a ground whereon we also have responsibilities. Nor may we desist from the effort to help--where help is possible and useful—those who have been made the victims of injustice.
Of course it is a dreadful and saddening thing that these great days of victory following victory should be marred by the working out of a fundamental moral clash between Allies, but let us at least be clear that any attempt to close our eyes to the truth will jeopardise the fruits of victory far more seriously than the mutual recognition of that truth and the common determination to build on a itrue, if narrow, foundation.
HOSTILITY TOWARDS THE POPE
WE have noted before a considerable increase in hostility towards the Church, the Pope and those who do not fear to stand by the principlea which they arc teaching. One might have thought that in the hour of victory, when all danger is past, the heart of man would become more generous and his mind more open. Apparently not. The removal of danger seems rather to have increased passion and prompted men to compensate for what they have endured by indulging in an orgy of hatred and vengefulness.
Because the Holy Father has been recalling the plainest teaching of our Lord, there has been an outbreak of " moral " indigeation, leading the burgess of Oxford University (elected, no doubt, by many a clerical vote) to call such teaching " less and less distinguishable from feebleness of mind." In another paper the Archbishop of Westminster has felt himself obliged to protest against misinterpretation of the Pope's words. (In that peper a long series of letters exprelsing anger with the Pope are printed not far from an article entitled " The Most Devastating Weapon Ever Devised" A paragraph, describing our invention, reads: " The big block-buster is a thing of immense and sudden devastation, an obliteration bomb which causes whole blocks of buildings to disintegrate.") In our view, the only really worrying thing about these attacks is that they may cause us to weaken in our resolution to stand by the teaching of our Lord. The outbreak of feeling makes a truly Christian stand all the more necessary, if only to counterbalance it. And surely just now there is ample evidence to show that the disposition to show‘rnercy is likely to be more effective than the resolution to teach by force alone. We are punishing the Germans, punishing them day by day by every kind of overwhelming military action. Are they learning anything from all this ? To judge from reports their despair is inducing in them an even greater recklessness and cruelty. And so it will always be.
The Pope has said no word againSt necessary measures of justice and reasonable acts calculated to increase security. On the contrary, he has expressly accepted these as right and proper. But he has asked that they should be thought out and performed in a spirit of not doing unto others what We (as honest judges of our own oonduct) would not have others do unto Us. If that spirit is missing, we are all committed to an era, lasting perhaps many generations, of brute force in which mankind will become steadily more brutalised
FINLAND'S long hesitation in reaching a decision has come
to an end and she is now out of the war. That hesitation was, apart from obviousness of the defeat awaiting her ally, understandable. Like other Baltic States, she was between " the devil and the deep sea."
That there had been an understanding prior to Russia's invasion of her soil, between Germany and the U.S.S.R., and that, in the early summer of 1939, Berlin and Moscow had fully discusted the whole Scandinavian and Baltic question, she knew. The reason for that curious allianus is not far to seek. It certainly had not as its object the safeguarding of the smaller States' interests. It mitst be sought rather in the desire of both partners to divert the trade of those States (including Finland) from the West to Central Europe. With Germany on the point of being eliminated as a rival, Russia, it may be presumed, is pursuing the same policy on her own account.
With a Germany facing utter defeat and, if the objects of the Allies is achieved, military impotence for many a long year, it is idle to declare, either in the case of Poland or Finland, that Russia desires to protect her western frontier against possible German ag gression. Unless it is Britain and America which Russia ultimately fears, we should look not for military but commercial motives in the relations which Moscow desires to establish with the border Powers.
The trade which it is thus desired to divert from the West is considerable. Timber, steel, and agricultural products were exported from the countries in question to the West in large quantities. Swedish iron ore deposits are a valuable asset for any Government able to control their distribution. The
Finnish lecke' mines at Petsaruo, in the development of which British interests at the end of 1939 spent six million pounds, is another source of wealth. This Baltic trade, in fact, is a valuable prize and Russian dominance in that quarter may be looked upon as one of the substantial gains which Moscow will reap as the result of her prodigious military effort and spectacular victories.
THE text of the Agreement
reached in the conference between the Yugoslav Premier, Mr. Ivan Subasic, representing the Yugoslav Government in London, and Marshal Tito, President of the National Committee of Liberation of Yugoslavia, has been published. • It contains statements from both sides and these show that a large measure of agreement has been reached. A critical examination of these documents, however, is not altogether reassuring.
In the first place, quite properly, consideration of crucial questions relating to the .country's future is postponed until these can be decided by the people themselves. But, though the exclusion of these was necessary, it is well to remember that it prevented the discussion of those matters most likely to provoke dissension. Settlement on crucial issues has not been reached ; consideration of them hes been merely postponed till after the war. In the second place, the Yugoslav Government. as well as the Liberation Committee, reaffirms the accusation against General Mihailovitch that he is guilty of collaborating with the enemy. Seeing that it was he who initiated the resistance movement, the exclusion of the General and his followers and the hostility shown towards him is scarcely consistent with the claim that the parties to the Agreement represent all the anti-Fascist elements in the country.
After a careful perusal of these documents it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the road has been left open for the future exercise, by methods all-too familiar, of Communist influence out of proportion to the Party's numerical strength. If Moscow adopts a more tolerant attitude in Yugoslavia than -in Poland it is because, while no papule, leader Illie Tito has arisen on Polish soil, Russia possesses in the Marshal a faithful henchman who can be trusted to further its interests on the spot.
Much more puzzling is the Russian attitude of appeasement to an ex-enemy, like Rumania, as compared with her attitude of hostility towards the great majority of the Poles who have been among the bravest of the brave on the Allied side.