THE world that has emerged from the last war is very diferent from the world that existed before it. The war of 1914, although the fighting casualties were greater, made a far smaller change in the standing and relationship of the Great Powers. Among those Powers, Austria-Hungary was the only casualty. After the first war, as after the second, it was not long before the generous hearts of the victorious democracies began to bleed with pity for the defeated, and the tears that filled their eyes blinded them to the fact that although rations might be short in Germany she had gained one enormous advantage as the result of the war. She no longer in 1919 had two Great Powers as her neighbors. Her frontiers no longer marched with those of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Where they had stood there remained now only nations of the second or the third category--Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Baltic republics. How quickly she availed herself of this advantage was only realized when 15 years after her complete defeat Europe was once more trembling before her menaces.

From this remarkable fact we should have learnt the lesson that the victor is not always the winner, nor is the defeated necessarily the greatest loser. No nation had a prouder record in the Second World War than Great Britain, the only one that went into it of her own will at the beginning and remained undefeated until the end. Yet Great Britain has lost her naval supremacy, upon which has depended her authority ever since she became one of the Great Powers; she has lost her foreign investments, with which have gone her supremacy in the financial and her leadership in the commercial world; and, since the war, she has also lost her Indian Empire with dominion over 340,000,000 souls.

More disastrous even than these gigantic losses is the fact, still only dimly appreciated by the majority of Englishmen, that Great Britain has lost the inestimable advantages conferred upon her throughout the centuries by her insular position. She is no longer an island. She is part of the continent of Europe.

This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall

wrote Shakespeare. That wall has been knocked down. Those narrow waters that have so often saved the life of the nation saved it once again in 1940. But it was for the last time. General Eisenhower has stated definitely in his war reminiscences that if the Germans had launched their attack of flying missiles against Great Britain before instead of after the invasion of Europe, that invasion could not have taken place. This means that the fact of being an island, instead of counting as an asset as in the past, has become a liability. The inhabitants of the mainland can retreat before a bombardment. In the last war the Russians retreated 500 miles on a 1200 mile front, but for the inhabitants of an island, retreat is limited, and the resources of modern science will find little difficulty in putting a girdle round about the island in whose immunity from attack Shakespeare had such good reason to believe.

If we compare what Great Britain has lost in the last ten years with what Russia has gained, the complete revolution in world affairs becomes more glaringly and alarmingly apparent. Russia had two great enemies before the war. She stood in constant dread of both of them, and with good reason, for they had both defeated her in the present century. First she had been defeated by Japan, and ten years afterwards by Germany. Now, owing to the efforts of the United States and of Great Britain--for though Russia had a larger population than those two countries combined, and inexhaustible supplies of raw materials, she was dependent on her allies for many munitions of war--now she is freed from the anxieties that so long beset her. She no longer looks anxiously to East or West, for neither Japan nor Germany can harm her, and she has already made such good use of her newfound freedom from fear that she has absorbed in her vast maw Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania and Czechoslovakia. This has been the rich reward of the contemptible and cowardly policy pursued by Stalin from and before the outbreak of war. He let loose the war in Europe by making an alliance with Hitler. He refused to believe the evidence laid before him by the British that Hitler meant to betray and attack him. He allowed two fronts, those of France and of Greece, to be destroyed without raising a finger. And after being attacked he never ceased to complain of his allies for not establishing another front more rapidly.

Fortunately Russia is not the only Power that has found her world situation radically altered as a result of the war. America had long occupied the position of the recognized heir to a great estate--a young man who was in no hurry to step into his inheritance and who, awaiting without envy the demise of his elderly cousin, was content meanwhile to enjoy the good things of the earth, postponing as long as possible the assumption of those grim responsibilities that go with greatness. Since the defeat of Napoleon--for nearly a century and a half--it has fallen to Great Britain to maintain the peace of the world and, incidentally, it has been the duty of the Royal Navy to protect the long Atlantic and Pacific seaboards of the United States. But now that has all changed. The heir has inherited, and the coming half century will show how America fulfils the great task, the high duty that has been laid upon her. She has begun well.

Some of us believed when the war was over that there yet remained a great opportunity for the British people. It seemed to us that there was ample space between the American continent in the West and the Euro-Asiatic empire of the Soviets in the East for the creation of a third confederation which, if properly constituted and firmly united, would prove inferior in strength to neither of its neighbors. The western states of Europe are in themselves unimpressive so far as extent of territory and figures of population are concerned. But each of them possesses colonial empires which are still awaiting full development. The French overseas empire is second only to that of Great Britain. The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and even Spain have control over large territories in various parts of the world. A confederation of those Powers, in friendly collaboration with the Union of South Africa, would exercise practically complete control over the whole African continent, with which the recent independence of Egypt would not seriously interfere. At the same time British, French and Dutch possessions in Asia, if all controlled by one policy towards one end, would constitute an influence in that continent which no Power could afford to neglect. Great Britain would have been the natural leader of this vast confederation, and the link which would have united it to the British self-governing Dominions. Thus would have been called into being yet a third giant to grapple with the earth's affairs, a giant upon whose birth I believe the American people would have smiled, and upon whose firm friendship they could have counted.

Five years have passed, and with them has passed also Britain's great and, it is to be feared, her last opportunity. Her present Government has paid lip service to the idea of a united Europe, but those who have been genuinely striving for it, and believe it to be a practical ideal, have found to their bitter regret that at every effort that has been made to advance along the hard road it has been the representatives of His Majesty's Government who have blocked the way. Many instances could be given. The last is the worst.

During these same five years no suggestion has come from any of the Powers concerned as to how the problem of Germany's future should be tackled. Many people, preoccupied by the more pressing and immediate problem of Russia, appear to have forgotten that a German problem exists. They need reminding that it was the Germans who started the two world wars; that the the Germans are still there and that their numbers are undiminished; that they possess great military qualities, and probably regard war with less distaste than do other nations; that they have everything to gain by war and nothing to lose by it; and that they have two defeats to avenge.

There is one obvious way of rendering Germany harmless, which is to deprive her of control over her own output of steel. The Americans and the British have refused to adopt this method, which would have set the fears of Germany's neighbors at rest. Germany has already surpassed the limits of steel production which were imposed upon her, and no protest has been made by the Allies.

In these circumstances the French Foreign Minister has brought forward a simple but a daring suggestion. He has proposed that the European output of steel should be controlled by a combine of European nations. Thus Germany would be asked to make no sacrifice of sovereignty greater than those made by the other nations, yet she would place herself under an international authority which could prevent her from repeating her misdeeds of the past. The other nations who have been invited to collaborate in this experiment have consented. Great Britain alone has refused, and by her refusal she has not only forfeited her right and her opportunity to lead Western Europe, but she has also gravely endangered the success of the scheme. Great Britain and France, with the smaller Powers, could have controlled Germany. Whether France will be able to do so without Britain's aid remains to be seen. M. Schuman is taking a terrible risk.

The refusal of Great Britain to assume her responsibilities or to play her part must impose a heavier burden upon the United States. Leadership demands not only courage, a quality which Great Britain never lacked, but also foresight and imagination, gifts which do not always accompany it. The President of the United States has proved, beyond the expectation even of many of his admirers, that he not only possesses these gifts but is willing to be guided by them. When the Communists struck their first open blow, committed their first brutal, undisguised act of aggression in Korea, deep gloom prevailed in the hearts of those Europeans who had closely studied the genesis of the last war. They were painfully reminded of March 1936, when Hitler by marching into the Rhineland sought to test the strength of the resistance which further acts of aggression would encounter. Mr. Truman's prompt rejoinder lifted from those hearts a weight that had been growing heavier these last five years. The free nations felt that they could breathe again because the challenge had been accepted.

It is now generally believed that the American nation, having put its hand to the plough, will not look back. And now that it has raised the torch of leadership it will find followers who will be faithful unto the end. But the end will not be in Korea, and that is the most important of all the facts which we have to get into people's heads today. That campaign may be short or long, cheap or costly, but that the combined forces of the United States and the British Empire supported by the United Nations can defeat the North Koreans, together with any reinforcements that Stalin may be able to send them, does not admit of a doubt. The danger does not lie there but rather in the possibility that after that victory people may be inclined to believe that the war is over when in fact it will have been hardly begun.

When the drums are beating, the flags are waving and the shooting is heard afar, it is easy to rouse the martial spirit of men and demand sacrifices which are cheerfully accorded. But it is when the battle is over, or seems to be, and the warrior is returning home, perhaps with a laurel wreath in his suitcase, and with the satisfaction of having done his duty and survived--that is the moment when appeals for further efforts are apt to fall upon deaf ears. The record of Great Britain and of the United States after two victories affords melancholy proof of it. When the war is on men will gaily lay down their lives for their country; when the war is over they will grudge every penny spent in taxation to pay for the forces required to give them security.

When people ask me whether I think there will be a war I tell them there is one already, and when they explain that they mean a world war I say that it has broken out. The war in Korea is not between Northern and Southern Koreans, it is an attack launched by the totalitarians against the forces of freedom. It is the first fought battle in a world dispute.

Victories in this war have been won already, but they were not fought. We allowed Stalin, as we previously allowed Hitler, to take Czechoslovakia without striking a blow; and we also allowed him, as we did not allow Hitler, to conquer Poland unopposed. We even aided and abetted him in the conquest. But now no doubt remains in the minds of reasonable men that the time has come to call a halt. Stalin told Eden years ago that Hitler's mistake was that he had gone too far. He has made the same mistake himself. Few dictators avoid it. Surrounded by flatterers, cut off from realities, intoxicated by power, they usually succumb sooner or later and commit the errors which deliver them into the hands of their enemies. Let us be thankful that it is so.

But at the same time let us remember the great advantages that the dictators possess. Stalin does not have to declare annually to the whole world how much he is spending on preparations for war, and how that expenditure is distributed among the various branches of the fighting services. His Ministers have not to face weekly a popularly elected assembly whose members can ask the most searching questions on any subject and demand an answer. He does not owe his position to the willing support of the majority of his fellow countrymen and of legislators who remind him daily that if he says this or does that they may lose the votes upon which their position and his must depend. A powerful politician whom he dismisses cannot give trouble afterwards, for he disappears forever from the land of the living. And whatever lie he chooses to utter is published without question in the press and accepted as gospel truth by his millions of subjects who never hear a whisper of news or opinion to the contrary. These are tremendous advantages in the preparation and conduct of war.

Let us not underrate our enemy, neither let us believe we can defeat him in a single campaign. Now therefore is the time, while the ugly facts of war are under our noses, to face bravely the whole issue, and to lay plans to which we shall remain committed when the immediate emergency has passed. We should consult together on the highest level, and without delay.

The first thing about which we should be properly clear in our own minds is against whom and what we are fighting.

When Mussolini attacked Abyssinia there were many people who felt that he was only doing what Great Britain had often done before, that the expansion of his colonial empire had rendered it necessary for him to teach a lesson to some backward, barbarous, slave-trading tribes and that the Abyssinian people themselves would probably benefit in the long run by coming under the control of a civilized modern government. This feeling was widespread in Great Britain and would have made it very difficult for the government to have gone to the help of Abyssinia.

It was a misapprehension--a very natural one, but it misled many. The twentieth century is not the same as the nineteenth. Different codes of conduct do, or should, prevail. The Abyssinian war was the first attempt by a self-appointed totalitarian dictator to impose his will by aggressive force on a fellow member of the League of Nations in defiance of the opinion of the civilized world as recorded by the League's vote. Had that issue been plainly understood at the time a different decision might have been arrived at, aggression and totalitarianism might have been nipped in the bud, and the Second World War might have been avoided.

Let us not repeat the error. Let us, at all costs, be clear in our own minds about the issue. Our quarrel is not with Koreans; if the name of Karl Marx means anything to most of the people of North Korea it means only the admirable weapons of war with which they have recently been furnished. They are not the enemy, nor when they have been defeated shall we be victorious. The enemy is the Kremlin--the men who from within it now control the fate of Russia and of all those satellite Powers over whom she has extended her dictatorship. With those men there can be no peaceful settlement any more than there could have been a peaceful settlement with Hitler. This is a hard saying and there will be many who will be reluctant to accept it. But in life, and in politics, it is always wiser to face the worst, for if things turn out better than could have been expected we shall have no cause to complain. The admitted aim of Communism is to conquer the world. Stalin has proved himself a faithful servant of this purpose. Neither the vast concessions made to him at Yalta, nor subsequent ones at Potsdam in the warm glow of a common victory, satisfied his appetite nor softened his intransigence. He and his associates have shown from the first that they were determined to wreck the United Nations association. They have now defied it. The quarrel is between the United Nations of free men and the forces of Communism throughout the world. Let this fact be generally accepted and deeply engraved upon the minds of all before we begin to consider the plans that we should make or the policy we should adopt.

In the first place it seems to me as plain as daylight that when, or before, the Korean campaign has been concluded, instead of asking Stalin to return to the United Nations, reinforced by a Communist representative of China, we should develop it into an association in which only those nations which maintain free institutions would be willing to participate or would indeed be admitted. To pretend that your enemy is your friend and to invite him to your council chamber seems to me to be the height of insanity.

This new association should lose no time in marshalling its resources. Had the forces against which Hitler was fighting at the end been united against him at the beginning, he would never have dared to go to war. The nations that are now held down under Communist tyranny, although their numbers have increased since the war, form still only a minority, and in many of them there are resistance forces praying and plotting for freedom. If the resources of the free countries are properly coördinated they will be found to be enormously superior to anything that their enemies can produce.

When the host has been numbered, and the weapons carefully tested and reviewed, the whole field of operations must be surveyed. It covers the habitable globe. We must not again be taken by surprise. Neither naked aggression as in Korea, nor cloak and dagger methods as in Czechoslovakia, must be permitted to give the enemy a stolen march. Wherever it seems possible that a Communist coup d'état may be in contemplation the existing government must be warned, and if necessary reinforced, so that it can deal firmly with the domestic menace. It might even prove possible to restore freedom to some of the countries that are now enslaved. The feasibility of insisting on the holding of free elections would be a matter for inquiry. Above all, we must give proof that we really believe in the thing that we are fighting for, and that our faith is as strong as that of our enemies.

If it can be shown, as I believe it can, that we not only possess overwhelming superiority in the resources of war, but also that we are determined to use them, then it should surely be possible to dissuade our enemies from ever having recourse to that desperate remedy. I have said that, as things are today, we cannot have peace with those who are determined to conquer the world and to destroy everything that we believe to be good. I do not mean that we are bound, of necessity, to embark upon a great war. I do mean that we should prepare now for such a war and hope by the scale of our preparations to deter the enemy from declaring or desiring it.

There was a time when Islam hoped to destroy Christianity and to convert the world. In those days there could be no peace with the Moslem. But there was not continual war; and in the course of centuries, although neither faith has compromised with the other, their adherents have learnt that the world is broad enough to hold them all and that they can even become the best of friends.

After the last war the United States and Great Britain disarmed beyond the limits of immediate safety. Disarmament has ceased. Rearmament must begin on the required scale. If the people are made to understand--as they can be made to understand, for they are not fools, the people of these great democracies --that vast and continuous sacrifices are demanded in the cause of security, those sacrifices will be gladly made. It is for America both to set the example and to insist upon that example being followed. She is in a position not only to make but also to exact her demands. By the courageous decision of her President she has grasped the leadership of the free world, but she cannot be expected both to finance and to fight for it unless her requirements are met.

The first requirement that America should make of her Allies is that they should understand that it is their war that she is fighting. The second is that it be understood that it is a war against Communist imperialism. Hence it must naturally follow that the Communists in our midst are enemy agents and should be treated as such. When we were at war with Germany we showed little, perhaps too little, consideration for German nationals within our territories. Yet all Germans were not loyal to Hitler as all Communists are loyal to Stalin. Nor was it a man's fault that he was born a German. Nobody is born a Communist. To become one is a voluntary act, for which a man must be prepared to accept the consequences.

The sacrifices in money that America has already made, the sacrifices in blood that she is making, will justify the demands that she must make on the free nations of Europe. She should ask of each of them the maximum contribution to the armed forces of the new union of free nations. She will be able to assist them in the equipment of those forces. When the full might of that host is known let it be published, and let the enemy be warned that the will to make full use of it exists. Let them be assured that the strength of the armed forces will not be diminished nor the will to use them relaxed until we are satisfied that the threat to freedom has passed away. Then it may well be that they will abandon their ambition to conquer or convert the world by force. When that time comes there can be peace with Communism, but not until then.

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  • SIR DUFF COOPER, British Secretary of State for War, 1935-37; First Lord of the Admiralty, 1937-38; Minister of Information, 1940-41; Ambassador to France, 1944-47; author of "Talleyrand," "Haig" and other works
  • More By Duff Cooper