PEACE depends on the Great Powers. But the Great Powers are all enigmas. And who will dare to predict the future of an enigma?

Let us take them one by one—the five Great Powers of the United Nations Security Council. Who can say how many decades or generations China will require to achieve stable national government and the high degree of industrialization necessary actually to make her a Great Power? What can one predict of France's future, of her recovery of inner stability and the rebuilding, as after 1870, of her power in the "French Union" of Greater France? Russia is doubly an enigma. The absence of government by public discussion means a statistical blackout, so that what she is producing, or is capable of producing, must remain unknown to the world. Nor is it possible to foretell the development of her political system, or of her foreign policy. For the United States there is no lack of statistics of all material things, but we know little of the human forces which elude capture within any net of numbers. We do not know whether the United States can solve the vast economic problems of production and distribution in a free society. Nor on the international side do we know whether she can overcome the vice of free peoples, of which President Monroe warned Congress in 1822 when he said: "It has been often charged against free governments . . . that war will always find them unprepared, and whatever its calamities, that its terrible warnings will be disregarded and forgotten as soon as peace returns."

If these four are enigmas, should we not say, paraphrasing a famous remark made in a different connection, that the Great Power which is the theme of this article is a mystery wrapped in an enigma?

II

First, what is the Great Power with which we have to deal? Is it Britain, or the British Commonwealth? If it is Britain can she survive as a Great Power with all her industries at point-blank rocket and robot range? If, as we must assume, she takes all the insurance, including duplicate underground installations, necessary in a world of secret rockets, mass produced in unknown numbers, can she achieve the 50 percent increase of her prewar export level necessary to pay her debts and to enable her people to live at not lower than the prewar standards? And can she consummate that full partnership with the dependent Empire, step by step with the advancement of self-government, which is the goal of British policy?

Or if the Great Power is not Britain but the British Commonwealth of Nations, just what is this Commonwealth? There will always be those who approach the facts from a purely legal angle. In this case they begin with an examination of "Dominion status" and attempt to explain it in terms of the traditional categories and assumptions of international law. They naturally find little but negations; while those who approach the Commonwealth as a problem of politics and of the interplay of human forces, find instead one of the greatest and most fascinating institutions of world history. Thus a Canadian constitutional lawyer,[i] having looked carefully into the law, finds there only one solid substance: namely, Dominion independence. His search of the law discloses that the British Commonwealth is apparently without legal substance, though it still seems to possess a wraith-like existence which shadows the clear waters of independent statehood. So there is a call for argument to demonstrate that the shadow does not really affect status, sovereignty, rights of neutrality and of secession, and all the other so-called "positive" elements of sovereign independence. "The British Commonwealth of Nations," he finds, "is not a state. . . . The name is merely a convenient way of referring to a particular association of nations. . . . It belongs to the category of collective names such as the 'Pan American Union' or 'The United Nations.'" Any "surviving unity" of the Commonwealth is merely "a remnant of a much greater unity and not the result of an effort toward a new and closer association."

Estimates in the United States vary between Professor Shotwell's dictum in "The Great Decision" that the legal and political changes since 1919 have made the British Commonwealth of Nations "little more than a mystical expression of spiritual affinities," and Wendell Willkie's view of November 17, 1943, that it is "the most exciting experiment in international democracy the world has ever known." In saying this he can hardly have thought that he was referring only to a mystical entity.

Moreover, we are confronted with the fact that the President of the United States, the Secretary of State and the lawyers of the State Department have the habit of referring to the British Commonwealth in legal proclamations, messages to Congress and other formal texts issued on formal occasions. The official notification to the Powers regarding safe conduct for the exchange ship Gripsholm, issued by the Secretary of State on August 31, 1943, begins: "To all to Whom these Presents shall come, Greeting: I the undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States of America, hereby inform all whom it may concern that the Governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Netherlands . . . have conveyed to the Government of the United States . . . their assurances of safe conduct for . . . the Gripsholm." [ii] The presentation of letters of credence is likewise an occasion for careful language. The President in accepting the letter of credence presented by Sir Frederic Eggleston on November 14, 1944, twice referred to Australia as part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.[iii] Further, the President's Twelfth Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations [iv] contains no less than ten references to the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Report states that the British Commonwealth made expenditures, and presented statements and reports on reverse lend-lease assistance to the United States. Similar references are to be found in formal joint statements issuing from Anglo-American war conferences. For example, the joint statement issued at Quebec on August 24, 1943, refers to "the war effort of the United States and British Commonwealth and Empire."

III

Is the British Commonwealth just a "collective name" or is it a Great Power? It is referred to repeatedly as a Great Power in the speeches of its leading statesmen, with the exception of Mr. Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister. Lord Halifax in a speech at Toronto on January 24, 1944, from which Mr. Mackenzie King expressed dissent, put forward the thesis that, "Not Great Britain only, but the British Commonwealth and Empire must be the Fourth Power in that group upon which, under Providence, the peace of the world will henceforth depend." Mr. Churchill has said the same thing in different words and so has Mr. Anthony Eden and many other British statesmen. Field Marshal Smuts in the South African Parliament on March 30, 1944, spoke of the "three Great Powers" as "the United States, Russia and the British Commonwealth." He has used the phrase a number of times in different forms in this and other speeches. He did not mean that the Commonwealth was one state under one direction, but rather a family group of free, independent, sovereign states with such a spirit of unity and identity of purpose that it functioned as a Great Power. The Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, has often spoken in the same strain. In addressing the Canadian Parliament on June 1, 1944, he used exactly the same formula as General Smuts above. Similar phrases are common in New Zealand. Mr. Walter Nash told British members of Parliament on February 29, 1944, that the question which British Commonwealth Foreign Ministers should put to themselves is not "What are the relations of New Zealand or the United Kingdom to China or Russia, but what are the relations of the British Commonwealth?"

As mentioned above, Mr. Mackenzie King condemned in the Canadian Parliament on January 31, 1944, the views of both Lord Halifax and General Smuts. He took the view that references to the British Commonwealth as a Great Power, and General Smuts' idea of bringing the small democracies of western Europe into close association with the Commonwealth, implied a power bloc, and were based on "the idea of inevitable rivalry between the Great Powers." He disliked the idea of "a common foreign policy" for the Commonwealth. He wanted the Commonwealth to have an inclusive and not an exclusive policy. Yet the difference of view seemed more apparent than real; for Lord Halifax's idea was not a common policy expressed by a single voice but "by the unison of many," while General Smuts had suggested not a balance of power but coöperation between "a trinity of equals"—the Big Three.

Whether there is much more in all this than a dispute about words is not clear. The fact that Canada is the most secure of the Dominions did not prevent her from springing to arms in 1939 without waiting on the United States. When it comes to an appreciation of the part played in the past by the British Commonwealth, and still to be played by it in the future, the views and feelings of the Canadian Prime Minister do not differ much from those of all the Dominion Prime Ministers. After the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth in London, Mr. Mackenzie King told the Canadian Parliament on May 22, 1944, that the Commonwealth was as closely united as it had ever been. "I was never more proud," he said, "to be a citizen of the British Commonwealth." Later, on August 11, he told the House that his Administration had done everything in its power "to make the Commonwealth a permanent institution in the world. . . . So far as the British Commonwealth is concerned, I believe it to be the greatest agency for peace throughout the world that this world has ever known." He then went on to make a point, which he has made several times in recent years: "In the course of this whole war, where, I ask, has there been a single difference between Britain and Canada, between Australia and Canada, between South Africa and Canada, from the beginning up to this moment? What finer coöperation could there possibly be?" He gave this as a reason for his view that the existing machinery of consultation and exchange of information could not work more perfectly, so that there was no need of any centralized secretariat in London such as the Australian Prime Minister had proposed. But his statement is the clearest proof that throughout the war there has been a common policy secured by the unison of many voices and expressed very frequently by a single voice.

The British Commonwealth has certainly acted like a "Great Power" whether the term is the right technical description or not. Ever since its Governments first began to meet in family council in 1887 it has commanded a fervent patriotism from its leaders and peoples that is one of the most remarkable things in modern history. The feeling wells up, as warm and as strong as ever in the past, in many speeches of the Commonwealth's Prime Ministers. Witness the words of General Smuts before the British Houses of Parliament in October 1943: "This great human experiment in political organization, this proudest political structure of time, this precedent and anticipation of what one hopes may be in store for human society in the years to come. . . ." The same theme struck fire even in the reserved Scotsman, Mr. Peter Fraser, who is New Zealand's Prime Minister, when he addressed the Canadian Parliament on June 30, 1944: "The British peoples—and when I say the British peoples I mean all the races under the British flag . . . have raised with their sons, around the Mother Country, a wall of fire, and have forged bonds as light as air, though as strong as steel, bonds that are stronger now than ever before." [v] The language of events speaks not less decisively, as witness the continuous pursuit of common policies for more than two generations, the close coördination of defense arrangements, and the fighting of two great wars with the utmost solidarity.

IV

In the last half century the basic factors of kinship, psychological bonds and common interests have remained relatively constant. But there have been great constitutional and legal changes whereby the Empire has been transformed from a single state into a family group of states. The main stages through which the Dominions have passed since 1919 include their separate representation at the Paris Peace Conference; separate membership of the League of Nations; the accrediting of ambassadors and ministers to foreign states; the negotiation, signature and ratification of international treaties in their own right, though through the instrumentality of the common Crown; the Statute of Westminster of 1931, which gave full legal recognition to their independent status under the Crown; the neutrality of Eire; separate declarations of war on Germany by Canada and South Africa in September 1939, and later by Australia on Japan in December 1941, though in each case through the common Crown or its representative.

In legal theory all this involves something which is equivalent, if we must use a question-begging term, to separate legal sovereignty. But to read it as involving political disintegration, still more as a severing of the basic psychological bonds, is to fly in the face of the evidence. The process we have described was a normal process of the coming of age of a family of states; but the phenomenon was unique since this family is the sole example of its kind on the planet. Coming of age was a necessary condition for running the affairs of the family on an adult basis. The process was not without the characteristic dangers which beset such a development. For a certain time there was a kind of witch-hunt led by representatives of Eire and South Africa, with a few individuals from other Dominions joining in, to search out and destroy every conceivable relic, important or unimportant, of what was called "colonialism."

Traces of this mentality still lurk in various places. It shows itself in attacks on things which have nothing to do with legal dependence but are appropriate to a continued family relationship on an adult level. Attacks are made, for example, on preferential tariff relations, on the refusal to bring them within the scope of the most favored nation clause in commercial treaties, or on the doctrine that agreements between members of the Commonwealth family have a special character of their own, and that disputes between them are family affairs and not matters for international arbitration or a world court. It lurks also in a characteristic confusion between "status" and "stature." Consequences which flow from the fact of being a small power are taken as marks of inferior legal status. Thus the complaint was made recently in Canada that on the eve of this war the Dominions did not have any "power or control over British policy," that they were involved in war without being able to "select the enemy." The same was true of all the small states which the Axis invaded. A Canada which had severed her relationship from the Mother Country would surely have been involved in the belligerency of the United States, over whose policy she had far less control than she did over the policy of Britain. Nor was the United States able to select its enemies—as witness Pearl Harbor.

The Commonwealth cannot be explained by negations, such as theories about the divisibility of the Crown or the so-called "right" of a member to secede, or the "right" to be neutral when the other members of the family are fighting for their existence. Neutrality is theoretically possible for other members of the Commonwealth besides Eire. But who can predict the cost to those members in terms of moral integrity, disruption of national unity to the point of civil war, loss of face and loss of place in the family group and in the wider society of states? A neutrality that began with a denial of any direct political and moral responsibility in the common struggle for the maintenance in the world of the freedom of nations and of man's free mind and the free conscience, and which ended in an expression of official condolence to the defeated Reich on the death of Adolf Hitler, is not one to which any member of the Commonwealth would care to appeal in the future. The appeal will be rather to the example of the hundreds of thousands of individual Irish men and women who repudiated that policy and joined the common cause. The neutrality of Eire is thus not a Commonwealth precedent, but an Irish problem. The political pattern of the members of the Commonwealth has not been one of neutrality to each other in time of war, but rather of mutual assistance for reasons of principle and self-interest. Thus the South African Parliament entered the war on General Smuts' plea that "we should do the proper thing and align ourselves with our friends, and we should ward off and prevent those dangers which are almost sure to overtake this country in the future, if we now isolate ourselves and have afterwards to face our ordeal alone." Moreover, neutrality itself is unlikely to continue to exist in a world so highly integrated that all war tends to become a civil war in which no nation is out of the firing line and all are ranged in two opposing groups. The idea of secession is also outmoded. Like neutrality, secession is theoretically possible but highly improbable in a world in which small ungrouped states can hardly exist at all. As for the divisibility of the Crown, it is doubtful in theory, and the theory is highly unimportant when compared with the substance and the strength of the common allegiance. The fact that separate declarations of war were made by the Dominions in some cases, and at some days' interval, is a formal innovation of minor importance; the real point of substance is that the declarations were concerted, immediate, and, except in South Africa, by unanimous consent.

V

Dominion status is indeed a thing of the past; for the Commonwealth has passed out of the period of adolescence when the emphasis was upon status. Even New Zealand is getting status out of the way, to attend to more serious matters. The Governor General at the opening of Parliament last February announced that a measure would be introduced "to adopt the Statute of Westminster in order to remove doubts in the eyes of foreign Powers regarding the sovereign status of New Zealand." Lest this be misunderstood, let us recall the New Zealand Prime Minister's words to the Canadian Parliament on June 30, 1944. He referred then to "the paradox that the freer we become the closer we are together; the more our constitutional bonds are relaxed the more closely we are held in the bonds of friendship; the greater the extent to which government sovereignty is extended to the various parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire the more truly one we are in sentiment, in heart and spirit—one in peace as well as in war." In this new period the emphasis is on the positive elements of stature and function. The British Empire, Mr. Curtin said on December 14, 1943, in defining the policy of the Australian Government, is passing out of the "Third Empire" with its emphasis upon status. "In the Fourth Empire which is approaching," he went on, "the trend is to augment an association of independent sovereign peoples by a common policy in matters that concern the Empire as a whole." When we speak of "free association," he said in May 1944, the important word is "association. . . . The parties in that association have a primary responsibility to each other, jointly and individually."

VI

A few weeks before his death in 1936 Lord Balfour jotted down on a piece of paper, later found on his desk, the words:

"Whence comes the cohesion of the Brit. Emp.?

1.~ Patriotism. Loyalty. Custom.

2.~ Religion. Race. Pride in various manifestations. Habit. Language.

Mere law is the weakest of all bonds."

"Mere law" has been the subject of innumerable learned volumes. But nothing has been written on these imponderables, though they furnish the key, when political science learns to use it, to the secret of the Commonwealth. Mr. Winston Churchill had his hand on this key when, in the House of Commons on April 21, 1944, he referred to the "miracle" of the rallying of all parts to the common cause. Yet this, he said, "does not depend upon anything that could ever be written down in any account kept in some large volume." The Statute of Westminster has not, he went on, impaired the centripetal forces which after the wreckage of empire, states and nations, have left the Commonwealth and Empire "more strongly united than ever. I have never thought myself that the Empire needed tying together with bits of string. . . . Natural developments, mysterious natural forces will carry everything before them, especially when those forces are fanned forward as they will be by the wings of victory in a righteous cause."

The fact that these things are difficult to analyze does not mean that they are not political forces of the utmost importance. The main clue to them has so often been referred to unthinkingly that it has become almost a meaningless commonplace to most people. I refer to the idea of family relationship. The common citizenship and the common allegiance to the Crown are important expressions and symbols of this family relationship. When the Report of the Imperial Conference of 1926 spoke of the "Communities within the British Empire" as being "united by a common allegiance to the Crown" it was not expressing merely a constitutional formula, but a profound psychological truth. Through the common symbol of the Crown, and the person of the King, the peoples of the different parts of the Commonwealth are identified and united with one another. When the King addresses his peoples it is in the language of the family. When their Ministers or their Parliamentary representatives are gathered together, in what they have called on innumerable occasions since 1887 a "family council," they too use the language of the family—as in the loyal toast moved in the great Empire Parliamentary Conference of 1937 to "The Head of the Family—His Majesty the King." Such Parliamentary Conferences and innumerable individual personal contacts, built up since 1911 through the work of the Empire Parliamentary Association, have created a living community of parliamentarians of a unique kind, which, though it is almost unknown to writers on the constitution, is one of the principal central institutions of the Commonwealth. By the community thus established between its 34 Parliaments the British Commonwealth has become a union of Parliamentary democracies. Only this can explain the extraordinary fact of September 1939: that in four Parliaments in the four corners of the world—Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—every vote of all but one single member was cast in favor of war against Germany. A further link between the Parliaments may well be the next step in closer constitutional relations within the Commonwealth.

VII

However close its psychological bonds, the British Commonwealth could not function without common machinery. Here again we meet with a seeming paradox. There is machinery at work; for on all sides we can see its results. But it works out of sight, with little or no publicity. It is not machinery of the formal type to which the lawyer or political scientist is accustomed. There is no machinery set up under any constitution or contractual agreement. Even the "family council" or "Imperial Conference" of the Prime Ministers of the different Governments meets all too rarely. There was a seven-year gap between its meeting in 1937 and the meeting in April and May 1944. One reason for this was Mr. Mackenzie King's belief that the machinery already worked with such "complete success" that neither a full Conference of Prime Ministers nor any central secretariat was necessary. Because of the perfection of the Commonwealth's communications, he told the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, the Commonwealth works through an "invisible . . . continuing Conference of the Cabinets of the Commonwealth . . . which deals from day to day, and not infrequently from hour to hour, with policies of common concern."

The informality of the machinery does not mean lack of efficiency. Such informality is characteristic of British administrative methods. Mutual understanding and perfect teamwork make it possible to proceed by getting "the sense of the meeting." Interdepartmental and intergovernmental committees take decisions without formal votes. Mr. Winston Churchill commended to the House of Commons in a debate on Commonwealth unity on April 21, 1944, the remark of Mr. Hore-Belisha that "the world today was ruled and directed more, as was the war, by functional institutions than by political institutions." Examples are British Commonwealth supply machinery in London and Anglo-American supply machinery in Washington, including the Combined Boards. The "genius of the air" turned to peaceful usages has made possible an extraordinary fluidity of movement whereby Ministers and officials from the most distant parts of the Commonwealth can have personal consultations in Washington or London and be back at their desks within little more than a week. Daily consultation by telephone, cable and airmail, and a perpetually flowing stream of information on foreign affairs and all other matters of importance has been developed to a point which, as Mr. Eden said last March, is "unparalleled in history." Not only are there daily meetings between the British Foreign Secretary and the representatives of the Dominions in London, but every important international conference is preceded by a conference of British and Dominion Ministers. Important proposals for improved machinery, put before the Conference of Prime Ministers in the spring of 1944 by the Australian Government, included the holding of frequent periodical conferences of the Prime Ministers, supplemented by meetings of other Ministers, and by regular meetings at the official level between officers from the various departments. Mr. Churchill and the Dominion Prime Ministers agreed to the suggestion that the British Prime Minister himself should once a month attend the regular daily meetings between the British Dominions Secretary and the Dominion High Commissioners. On Mr. Curtin's other proposals, including a permanent joint secretariat, the Dominion Prime Ministers undertook to consult their Governments.

VIII

The problem of foreign policy for the Dominions is to reconcile "status" with "stature." They have to avoid at all costs becoming small, ungrouped Powers without dependable friends, existing merely by the uncertain grace of Great Powers that owe them nothing because they offer nothing. Gone is the fool's paradise of the inter-war period where sovereign status could be played up in the Commonwealth and League because the Powers, great and small, were playing down responsibilities. An equivocal Commonwealth has gone with an equivocal League. In the global wars of the future the enemy will strike simultaneously at the Pearl Harbors of the Commonwealth—its capitals and bases. He must subjugate all the kindred states, because he knows that being kindred they can never forgive the destruction of any member of the family. Necessity thus imposes on the Dominions a steady line of policy in relation to the Commonwealth. "In a world where none of us is strong enough to stand alone," Mr. Curtin said to the Canadian Parliament, "we shall discover how and by what means we can best stand by each other."

A group cannot act effectively without a recognized leader who can act for all in vital matters of common concern. At present Britain alone can fill this rôle. She may be, as Lord Cranborne, Dominions Secretary, said recently," the Metropolitan Dominion of His Majesty, the King"; but she is more powerful than all His Majesty's other self-governing Dominions put together. In this war Britain's rôle of leadership of the Commonwealth, in the great Two-Power, Three-Power and Four-Power policy and strategy conferences of the war, as well as in the Combined Chiefs of Staff and the Combined Boards, has been unquestioned, though Canada has played an important and increasing part in some of these affairs.

The common line which is being taken by the Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, is that in such vital matters group action and British leadership are inevitable. As General Smuts put it in November 1943, the guiding principles for the British Commonwealth of Nations and for the new world as a whole must be "not only freedom and democracy" but also "leadership and power." "There are times," Mr. Curtin said in London on May 18, 1944, "when it is inevitable that somebody must be the spokesman for the whole and we cannot have half a dozen people saying 'this is the voice of the British Commonwealth.'" The historian, looking back over the history of the British Commonwealth for the past 40 years, he pointed out, must conclude that "while each of these peoples and their Governments are completely self-governing and autonomous . . . the degree of their unanimity is always approximately complete in matters of the greatest moment;" the points which divide them, he continued, are subordinate and local. The postwar policy of Canada on this matter has not been defined, but her policy during the war has been on the same lines as that of the other Dominions. As Mr. Mackenzie King put it to his Parliament, the leaders of the Big Four had to "enjoy a certain priority." Canada had to see that her interests were not overlooked: but her business was to help the common cause and not to hinder it by constantly asserting equality of rights.

IX

The San Francisco Conference presents the British Commonwealth in action as a family group of states. The way was prepared for the Conference by prolonged exchanges of ideas and information within the Commonwealth, including preliminary British Commonwealth meetings in London. At the Conference its members displayed the same ability to reach a common view on essentials that they displayed at important international conferences in the inter-war period—and the same freedom in the matter of casting votes on different sides in less important matters.

"The old myth of the 'six British votes' has vanished before the spectacle of the Australians, the New Zealanders and sometimes the Canadians not only opposing the British position but leading the opposition to it," wrote the correspondent of the New York Times on May 23. At the Conference there were differences between Britain and some of the Dominions in the matter of the veto given to the Great Powers under the Yalta formula, on certain aspects of trusteeship for dependent peoples, on the Argentine question, and on the admission to the Conference of the World Trade Union Congress. Some difference of view was also reported between Britain and Canada on one side, and Australia and New Zealand on the other, as to the degree of independence to be allowed to regional groups. But it has to be remembered that this was a constitutional convention rather than a conference dealing with definite practical issues, and that differences about constitutional formulas do not mean the family will not continue to act together when it comes to concrete issues involving vital interests. Moreover, just because of her world responsibilities and her European position, Britain is not always as free as the Dominions to follow what may be as much her preference as theirs. On the question of trusteeship and the policy of self-government, partnership, and welfare of dependent peoples, as against any policy of liquidation of the Empire, it is safe to say there is no difference of substance between the positions of the Governments of the Dominions and the Government of Great Britain.

As in the League Council, Britain, and not the British Commonwealth of Nations as such, will be a member of the Security Council. Mr. Mackenzie King noted in the Canadian Parliament on August 4, 1944, the difficulties which would follow if any formal attempt were made to tie the hands of the representative of Great Britain in such a way that he might have to withhold action until he had received instructions from half a dozen governments. The instructions might conflict and the Commonwealth be rendered impotent by a liberum veto of one of its members. But, as he pointed out, while the United Kingdom would sit on the Council in its own right as a Great Power, "its influence would be enhanced by its special relationship with the countries of the Commonwealth."

How the British Commonwealth will fit into the regional security arrangements provided for in Chapter VIII, Section C, of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals is not yet clear. It has long been a cardinal principle of the members of the British Commonwealth that it forms a true regional security organization. Its states were built by seaward expansion, its roads are the sea, and now also the far more direct ways of the air. It has been built up historically by an expansion of peoples, covering exactly the same span of time and fully comparable to that of the two great land federations, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The landward expansion of these last two peoples produced great federal states; whereas the seaward expansion of Britain produced a unique international family system which in the great recurring crises of history has shown no less solidarity and an equal patriotism. Mr. Curtin said on May 4 last year that "the British Commonwealth has shown itself as the most effective structure for regional security the world has ever known and it is in every country's interest and in the interest of any general security scheme that that structure should be maintained and, if possible, strengthened." This is entirely compatible with local regional consolidation in the South Seas under the Australian-New Zealand Agreement of January 21, 1944; as the Australian Minister of External Affairs told Parliament just before the Agreement was concluded, "The center of the British Commonwealth and Empire is in Europe. . . . We cannot contract out of Europe."

The new pact of the United Nations is not likely to alter in any sense the main lines of the Commonwealth. There may be, it is true, a certain danger that under this new legal settlement the Commonwealth, which appeared as a group in the Annex to the League Covenant, will be dispersed alphabetically. But this difficulty would be overcome if the international treaty which implements the Charter used the traditional Heads of States formula, so that the plenipotentiaries of the various governments of His Majesty would sign in his name.

But whatever the formula used, the Commonwealth will continue as a close kindred group, linked intimately with the United States. It is, in Mr. Eden's words, "the one really successful experiment in international coöperation." It forms a living bridge between the national past and the international future. As this study has been built so closely upon the words of the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth, it may fittingly conclude with the first and last words of their declaration to the world on May 18, 1944:

"We, the King's Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa . . . .

"In a world torn by strife we have met here in unity. That unity finds its strength not in any formal bond but in the hidden spring from which human action flows. We rejoice in our inheritance, loyalties and ideals, and proclaim our sense of kinship to one another. Our system of free association has enabled us, each and all, to claim a full share of the common burden.

"Although spread across the globe, we have stood together through the stress of two world wars, and have been welded the stronger thereby. We believe that when the war is won and peace returns, this same free association, this inherent unity of purpose, will make us able to do further service to mankind."

[i] F. R. Scott, "The End of Dominion Status," American Journal of International Law, January 1944.

[ii] State Department Bulletin, October 16, 1943.

[iii] Ibid., November 19, 1944.

[iv] House Document No. 353, Washington, 1943.

[v] Journal of the Parliaments of the Empire, XXV, p. 550-551.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now
  • H. DUNCAN HALL, former member of the League of Nations Secretariat; member of the British Raw Materials Mission, Washington; author of "The British Commonwealth of Nations;" joint editor of "The British Commonwealth at War"
  • More By H. Duncan Hall