Courtesy Reuters

The British Commonwealth as a Great Power

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

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