Courtesy Reuters

British Foreign Policy and the Dominions

THE British Commonwealth of Nations is in another period of transition, marked by two developments. In the first place, the Dominions have now become virtually independent nation-states. Secondly, the manner in which power politics is now being practised by all countries, totalitarian or otherwise, has brought an end to the era of make-believe foreign policies in which both isolationists and supporters of collective security enjoyed their fools' paradise. We are now down to brass tacks.

These two developments have inevitably led to momentous changes in the foreign and defense policies of the Commonwealth as a whole and of its six member-states individually. For we must keep in mind that each of these six nations is able, not only to conduct its own peacetime foreign policy, but to decide for itself the issue of peace and war.

Apart from the United Kingdom, two of those nation-states--the Union of South Africa and Ireland--have publicly declared through their governments that the decision to abstain from, or take part in, wars involving other members of the Commonwealth resides in them alone. The South African Government glosses over the question of formal neutrality, though constantly challenged by the Nationalist Opposition to be precise. Mr. De Valera for his part, while claiming the right to neutrality and insisting that it is Ireland's policy to remain neutral, has frankly acknowledged that it would be extremely difficult in practice for her to do so if Great Britain were involved in a European war. The important facts are that open declarations of principle have been made which imply a possible division of the Commonwealth over the issue of war and peace, and that these have not aroused any protest from the United Kingdom Government. They are indeed accepted by a large part of informed opinion in Great Britain as a logical expression of Dominion status.

In Canada, the Government's utterances on the subject of the Dominion's right to decide between peace and war might be taken as a mere claim

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