THE debate in Parliament on the Yalta Agreements ratifies the annexation by force nf nearly half the territory of an Allied country whose frontiers were, apparently, considered quite satisfactory by Britain and America until it became highly convenient to resurrect a theoretic Curzon Line.
Though we regret the attempt made by the Prime Minister to defend the justice of the frontier settlement, we do not, of course, doubt that 'Iritain and America have only so acted in this question because it seemed to them the lesser of two evils.
Anyway, the fifth partition of .Poland is a fait accompli.
A Big Undertaking.!
But as for the rest of the proposed Polish settlement, let us be quite clear about the simple truth that the test is yet to come.
Statesmen who normally rightly refuse to accept the word of foreign Powers without tangible guarantees have on this occasion had to accept Russia's promise that Russia (for it is only really a question of Russian behaviour) will honestly help to establish in a neighbouring Poland a free, fully representative and truly democratic State, as those terms are understood in the West The only condition—and it is a strange enough one—is that the new Poland shall remain friendly to Russia. One might have thought that this was essentially a Polish business and, certainly, a very obvious Polish interest; but apparently in the new world a great Power is to have the right to control its neighbours to the extent of seeing that they remain friendly to itself—or, by Heaven, we'll force them to love us!
The more one considers the whole position, the more frightening seems the responsibility which Messrs. Churchill and Eden have had to take on to themselves.
Maybe, some of the things said in the debate which was far from useless have already made them wonder whether they hadn't Started biting a good deal more than they had inclination to chew.
It is up to the friends of Poland now to see to it that they indeed
do chew every single .hit—or pub-1 hely do what one does with food one cannot chew!
That the experiment should be successful is certainly every bit as much our wish as it is theirs.
An attempt has been made by many who participated in the betrayal of our Ally to make out that hatred of the Russians, rather than any love of Poland, has prompted their critics to stand by that country.
Can it be too often said that, so far as Catholics anyway fre concerned, the one desire is that Soviet Russia should act in this and other questions in such a way as to make international understanding and peace possible and fruitful?
Only a madman could wish otherwise! The alternative is another and bloedier war, misery for millions who come under direct or indirect Soviet sway and,. in Russia itself, the hardening of a totalitarian and anti-Christian regime instead of its evolution into a regime consonant with what until lately was universally called civilisation.
Of course, every decent Christian wants the alliance with Soviet Russia to be a successful -and happy experiment. But such a Christian cannot possibly be very sanguine about the prospects.
He cannot disguise from himself the simple truth that by every moral and rational test the Soviet is not in fact behaving as one has a right in all prudence to expect of a partner.
The Russian soldiers have fought heroically and the Russian people have endured with patience and courage their terrible trials— but so have the Germans. Under contemporary totalitarian conditions, this is no longer a moral and rational test of a nation's status in civilisation In foreign policy and religious, moral, cultural and social conditions at home, we know. of no change for the better, save for such changes as clearly minister to the material efficiency of a nation at war. And those who can get a copy will do well to read in the Readers' Digest of January and February a friendly American reportage on conditions in Russia which suggest that even in efficiency the Soviet still lags far behind the West. As for working men who look to Russia as a terrestrial paradise, they would do well to study the change-over in Russia from the humane time-rate of payment to the feverish piece-rate, once thought a capitalist crime against the rights of the person.
But if anyone can adduce wellauthenticated facts to show that Soviet Russia is indeed evolving towards 0-ideals cherished in the West, and doing so with the added advantage of revolutionary experience, it is the Catholics who will be the first to hold out their hands in honest welcome.
Meanwhile, the test is once again Poland.