IT WAS apparent early this year that postwar international relations had entered a new phase. An interpretation of how this came about and of its significance for the future now becomes possible. It is of course a personal British interpretation.

A glance back over the postwar international scene from 1945 until the end of 1952 suggests that it divides into two principal phases. During the first phase the Western Powers attempted to keep together the consortium of Great Powers which had been established during the war. France resumed her moral position as a Great Power with some difficulty, geography and the confidence of her allies making good her initial military and economic weakness in the international equation. But in China, political and economic realities had irrevocably undermined the wartime façade of authority of Chiang Kai-shek's régime in world affairs, and China was tacitly dropped except for her formal position on the Security Council of the United Nations. This phase stretches from the Potsdam Conference, through the conclusion of the lesser peace treaties, down to the final breakdown of four-Power arrangements at the London Conference at the end of 1947. Though Western statesmen were becoming increasingly disillusioned about the possibility of any sort of real collaboration with Stalin, they continued to try to preserve such remnants of coöperation as they could. The Palais Rose meeting in Paris in 1949, which failed to produce even an agenda for a four-Power meeting, marked the last abortive effort of importance.


The second phase may be described as that of the consolidation of the West and the building up of Western strength against the threat of Soviet aggression. It was a phase in which the attention of the West was concentrated on Europe rather than Asia. In effect it opened in June 1947 with the launching of the Marshall Plan. But it should be noted that it was heralded a year earlier by the speech of Sir Winston Churchill at Fulton, Missouri, in which he had formulated bluntly and clearly the truths which Western statesmen were now beginning to realize.

While the distinction between these phases is clear enough, nevertheless they overlapped to some extent in time. For instance, a form of four-Power control continues in Austria to this day. Yet the year that followed the announcement of the Marshall Plan marked a sharp break between the Western and the Communist worlds both in the political and in the economic spheres.

As this second phase developed, shifts began to take place in the balance of power within the West itself, affecting particularly the Anglo-American partnership on which, in the last analysis, the stability of the free world is based. For instance, the transfer of primarily British responsibility for protecting Greece and Turkey to the United States announced in the "Truman Doctrine," and symbolized by the stationing of a powerful American fleet in the Mediterranean, was a striking but by no means a unique example of the extension of American and the contraction of British overseas commitments. However, even after these adjustments had been made, Britain still made a military and economic contribution to opposing Soviet ambitions out of proportion to her economic strength. Britain continued to bear the predominant responsibility in the Middle East; maintained large forces in Malaya, Hong Kong and Far Eastern waters; played a worthy part in Korea.

During this time, Europe was regarded as the place where "the mortal danger" lay. If Russia, at that time so much more powerful militarily than the West, could enlist, or even dominate, the strategic potential of Germany and France, she would have established a position which the remainder of the free world might not be able to match. The main effort was therefore devoted to reviving European strength, first economically and then militarily, through successive steps culminating in the North Atlantic Treaty and the creation of a coördinated Western military structure under SHAPE. These were the days when the danger seemed so imminent that the West concentrated on building up military forces as rapidly as possible, working to specific dates; and this was therefore the period in which the conception of political and economic integration for Europe was naturally in the forefront of Western political thought.

This great effort was successful. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization came into being and SHAPE took over. Western Europe was saved, and the line was stabilized, for the time being, along the present Iron Curtain. But while positions of strength were being built up in Europe, great changes were taking place in Asia. In India, the transfer of authority was successfully accomplished with the maintenance of the British connection; and the British Commonwealth gave outstanding evidence all over the world of its cohesion and adaptability, notwithstanding internal strains. But Asian nationalism was on the march throughout the continent. In 1947 Zhdanov made a speech in Warsaw calling on colonial peoples to rise and expel their oppressors. In 1948 there was intensified Communist activity in the Far East leading in that year to open resort to force and violence in Burma, Indonesia, Indo-China and Malaya. Later came Korea. And it is now all too clear, as some people pointed out at the time, that the real Communist effort was being made in the Far East rather than in Europe.


I think it is now evident that since the death of Stalin at the beginning of 1953, postwar international relations have entered a new phase. Again this phase was heralded by another famous speech by Sir Winston Churchill--the speech delivered in the House of Commons on May 11 of that year.

We can also now see, I think, that this third phase was induced not simply by the death of the utterly unyielding dictator in the Kremlin, or by the development on both sides of nuclear weapons, but also by the successful rallying of Western resolution and strength.

Some of the characteristics of this third phase have become apparent. There have been an easing on the surface of Soviet relations with other countries; a series of concessions on minor matters; a softening of restrictions on the travel of foreigners in and to the Soviet Union; greater cordiality in intercouse with foreign representatives; and energetic competition in international sporting events, exemplified by the successful participation in the Henley Regatta last July.

The Soviet Government in the course of this year has joined UNESCO, rejoined the I.L.O., and generally shown renewed interest in international social and economic activities. Greater flexibility has also been evident in diplomatic methods. At the Conferences of Berlin and Geneva, the endless argument about the agenda was abandoned. The Soviet representatives adopted a conciliatory attitude on procedural matters, and both conferences were able to get down to the substance of their work without delay.

Again, this third phase began before the previous phase was completed. There was a strong indication of it before Stalin's death. And the objective of the West in the second phase, namely the building up of positions of strength, has still not been fully worked out. Thus two of the four major industrial Powers in the free world, Germany in the West and Japan in the East, had not been integrated into the defense system of the free world. And while a considerable measure of political and economic stability has been attained in Europe, it remains to be seen whether an effective halt has yet been called to Communist encroachment in Asia.

How shall we estimate what the approach of the new Soviet leaders to the world's problems means, and in what relation it stands to the policies of Communist China?

There is no evidence to suggest that the present régime in the Kremlin does not continue to subscribe both in theory and action to the Marxist-Leninist ideology. In all its essentials the régime continues. The apparatus of power based on the Communist Party appears to be as firmly in control as ever. The Beria episode, and such present conflicts as we can now dimly discern, are struggles for domination within the system rather than a revolt against it. Perhaps the most significant change is that power is no longer concentrated in the hands of one man, but that the Soviet Empire is at present ruled by a Junta or Committee, in fact by a Soviet. It is easier for counsels of moderation to be heard in a Committee than under a personal autocracy. Indeed, whatever the reality, the present rulers of Russia are at least trying to give the impression of dissociating themselves, externally as well as internally, from the more extreme aspects of Stalin's police state. The status of the security police has been reduced; the new agricultural and consumer goods programs show an anxiety to correct some of the consequences of Stalin's excessive concentration on heavy industrial development; and in various fields including foreign affairs there has been a less inflexible hand on the helm and a greater appreciation of realities in setting the course.

Externally the Soviet leaders are pursuing the same aims. But they are pursuing them with rather greater suppleness and skill. They have authorized no reduction in the size and efficiency of the huge Soviet armed forces, to which the whole economic machinery of the U.S.S.R. is geared; on the contrary, the Soviet Union is being equipped with the latest thermonuclear and ballistic weapons. They continue to insist and to teach that there is no possibility of any genuine or lasting settlement with the West. Their policy at the Berlin Conference in January and February made it plain that, underneath the polite words, what they have they are determined to hold. For the present they find it expedient to seek a period of what they call "peaceful coexistence."

It is also significant that they have recognized as their main enemy the United States: the most powerful of the Western Powers. One of the principal aims of Communist activity in this phase is to isolate the United States: in Europe, by seducing and cajoling the other Western Powers away from her--by trying, in effect, to widen and deepen the Atlantic; and in Asia by playing on every difference, real or imaginary, between the British and the American approach to our common problems in this sensitive area.

In Europe the substance of Soviet policy has not changed. Its principal aim remains to maintain Soviet control over Eastern Europe, to disrupt NATO, and to extend Soviet influence westwards. Its purpose is to prevent the political association of the German Federal Republic with the West and a German military contribution to Western defense through the E.D.C. The proposal for a purely European "security system" is clearly designed to produce this result. It may well be that while adhering to these aims the Communist bloc will remain on the defensive in Europe, and exploit the seemingly better prospects which offer in Asia and in underdeveloped territories generally.

In the Far East, however, the Kremlin is no longer in a position to play a lone hand, owing to the emergent power of Communist China. During the years between the wars, the Kremlin gave the Chinese Communists little support, because it was chiefly concerned to block the expansion of Japan and felt that the Nationalist Government of China represented the best means of doing this. Not until the defeat of Japan in 1945 did Russia actively aid Chinese Communism, and then with a special eye to Manchuria and other key areas in the north. Perhaps Stalin hoped for a prolonged struggle, or even partition, in China, with the Communists ever more dependent on him. However that may be, Mao Tse-tung's unexpectedly rapid conquest of the Chinese mainland led to the formation of an independent Communist government; something quite different from an ordinary Soviet satellite. It follows that just as in the Soviet Union the Marxist-Leninist doctrine became compounded with traditional forms of Russian imperialism, so the possibility exists of Chinese Communism assuming a distinctively Chinese pattern, both internally and in its aims abroad. For the moment there is no doubt of the close collaboration between Moscow and Peking, and the two Powers are closely dependent on each other. But divergent interests can already be discerned; and certainly time and contacts with the West will not impede their development. The Chinese have long memories. But we must also bear in mind that in this third phase Moscow seems anxious to mark time on the basis of its gains to date, while the rulers in Peking are still in the flush of expansion and consolidation.

The third phase was characterized from the outset by the resumption of negotiations between East and West on matters of substance. The negotiations for an armistice in Korea which had opened on July 10, 1951, were brought to a conclusion July 27, 1953, some four months after the death of Stalin. Another frustrating negotiation developed over the calling of the political conference on Korea. Eventually, the Berlin Conference, though it made no progress on the European matters which it was called to discuss, nevertheless set up the political conference foreseen in the Korean armistice and added Indo-China to the agenda. The Geneva Conference which followed made no progress on the Korean question but nevertheless brought about an armistice in Indo-China. This armistice was hailed by many, with cheerful disregard of the historical facts, as a Far Eastern Munich, but it was in reality the same type of operation as Panmunjom. And so, within 18 months after the opening of the third phase, fighting in the Far East, apart from the guerrillas in Malaya and incidents in the Formosa Straits, has been brought to a close for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Of course this cessation of fighting is not equivalent to the conclusion of peace. We are left at present with little better than uneasy armistices, and with a continuing state of tension already marked and likely to be further marked by incidents not unlike those which occurred in Europe, particularly Germany, in 1947 and 1948 before the establishment of NATO.

And there is therefore a caveat to be entered in regard to the adaptation of British and Allied policy to this third phase. We cannot tell how long it will last. Its two predecessors, if I have analyzed them correctly as such, occupied no more than eight years. Only 18 months of the latest phase have yet passed, and the conditions which I have described as characterizing it might change--if not overnight, at least abruptly. If we have misinterpreted either the intention or the seriousness of the Communists' various moves toward a detente, we may be compelled to drastic revision of our own policies. And we can none of us overlook the possibility that, in one or other of the highly explosive areas of contact between the Western and the Communist worlds, some unguarded spark, or some careless firecracker, could precipitate overnight a conflagration which neither side could immediately control. A fourth or even more disagreeable phase may, for all we know, be just in the offing.


The hallmark of the third phase is a superficial relaxation of tension between the Communist world and the free world. What particular problems does this development pose for the West? First of all, it will be more difficult to hold the Western nations together now that the extreme pressure of rigid Stalinism has been somewhat abated. The strains are greatest in the Far East, and for two reasons. Actual fighting has been taking place in the area of the direct Chinese urge for expansion. Secondly, the attitudes of the Western Powers are here less closely aligned and their policies therefore less closely coordinated than elsewhere.

Then in many parts of the world we see the reëmergence of old patterns which were submerged by the armed struggle against the Fascist Powers and later by the rallying of the free world against Communism. This can be broadly described as a tendency of nationalism and neutralism to reassert themselves. This is perhaps most marked in Europe. The movement towards European integration has been weakened; and this has been notably exemplified by the unwillingness of France to commit herself to the E.D.C. At the same time there has been a tendency to focus attention not on the problem of security but on territorial problems of secular interest though lesser importance, such as the Saar and Trieste. Underneath the postwar democratic régimes in Germany, in Italy, in Japan, there are trends, not yet perhaps of great proportion, back to old political forms and habits; and this has stimulated the opposite trends in other Western countries in relation, for example, to the rearmament of Germany. In the United States there are indications, if not of isolationism, at least of disenchantment with allies and with collective action, as well as of strong opposition to liberal trade policies. An observer could no doubt discern similar tendencies in the United Kingdom.

It would be going too far to ascribe the recrudescence of these patterns of political thought and behavior, national and international, to the change in Soviet diplomatic tactics. They correspond to deep-seated emotional attitudes, and would no doubt have been present in any case. But their reëmergence may well have been stimulated and accelerated by the relaxation of international tension, and since they make for dissension between us, they are an ever-present danger to the cohesion of the West.

In this third phase of postwar international relations, the aim of British foreign policy is what it has long been: peace through strength. We stand for international coöperation, for the rule of law, and for minimizing the use of force. For this reason we stand behind the United Nations; not because we believe it to be a perfect instrument, but because we believe it has shown itself capable of developing effective machinery for international coöperation and the settlement of disputes. And if its enforcement-functions may be temporarily inhibited by the breakdown of Great Power coöperation, it always retains its value as a forum in which the views of East and West can be brought together and debated, and to which recourse can be had on the failure or in the absence of other methods of peaceful settlement of disputes. Since we believe in peace and prosperity we are anxious to reduce the burden and the threat of armaments, and particularly of atomic weapons, by any means which ensures adequate international control, and does not leave the democracies at the mercy of a secret totalitarian conspiracy.

A major aim of British foreign policy must be economic viability for our islands, which are a densely-populated power house that has to import most of its food and raw materials and pay for them with exports. It is for this reason that we in Britain believe in the importance of the economic factor in international relations; in the need for the free nations to place their economies and their relations on a structurally sound basis. Napoleon did not mean to be complimentary when he called us a nation of shopkeepers; but the gibe had an element of truth which was more exactly expressed in the words of Sir Eyre Crowe in his famous Memorandum written in 1907: "Second only to the ideal of independence, nations have always cherished the right of free intercourse and trade in the world's markets and in proportion as England champions the principle of the largest measure of general freedom of commerce, she undoubtedly strengthens her hold on the interested friendship of other nations . . ." Britain, as the center of the sterling area, is acutely conscious of the global as opposed to the regional aspects of international trade and financial relations; and this relates to trade between East and West as well as to the trade of the free world.

Early in 1952 the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations launched a determined attempt to place the economies of the free Western World both individually and collectively on a sounder basis: at home, by pursuing the correct internal policies, and abroad, by getting the trading pattern right and thus moving towards a system of freer trade and currencies. Action has to be taken simultaneously by debtors and by creditors in the fields of trade and finance; and much depends on the assurance that the external economic policy of the United States, as the world's main creditor, will move in a liberal direction. The hopes which had been raised of American action in this crucial area have not yet been realized. It is important that the momentum which has been attained should not be lost.

There are two reasons why, in this third postwar phase, I lay special stress on the economic factor.

The first is defense. It is a truism that a democratic country cannot have an adequate defense without a sound economy, and, conversely, that it is unsound to build up the armed forces to a point where it is beyond the capacity of the economy to maintain them over a long period. Or to put it in another way, a defense program which overburdens the economy of the country is an unstable defense program. It is perhaps no accident that the introduction of new defense policies popularly called the "New Look," and designed for the "long haul," coincided with the opening of the third phase in postwar international relations. These terms have been over-dramatized--they are simply the outcome of the normal governmental process of keeping defense requirements under review in the light of the presumed imminence of war, the economic possibilities and the development of new weapons and new methods of warfare. Each country, and the collective defense organization of NATO, has the responsibility of making this combined political, economic and strategic judgment on the size and shape of the defense forces that are needed. In the third phase it has seemed that the imminence of war has receded, but that the West must remain strong and vigilant over a long period. British defense policy is evolving methodically to fit in with the changing international environment.

Secondly, the consolidation of the economic strength of the Western Powers will enable them to pursue a stronger policy in the development of underdeveloped countries, whether dependent or independent. In the third phase the struggle against the spread of Communism will be determined in many cases by the estimates of people in underdeveloped countries as to whether they have a better chance, while satisfying their national aspirations, of raising their own standard of life through the adoption of the Western or the Communist ideas of organizing society; by the acceptance of Western or Communist help. Many countries, again, though independent and capable of a sound economy in a peaceful world, find themselves with inadequate technical and financial resources to build up the defenses necessary in the world as they find it today. I believe that ways must be devised, differing widely according to local circumstances, of furnishing aid to such countries in such a form that it is acceptable to the recipients as well as something that can reasonably be asked of the more highly developed countries. It is fortunate that the United States, with its much greater resources, is willing to play the major rôle in providing the wide range of loans, grants, investments, training facilities and technical supplies of all kinds, both military and civilian, which are required. We are playing our part too. Though the United States has taken over primary responsibility for supporting Greece and Turkey, now happily members of NATO, we play a vital rôle, in conjunction now with the United States, the Netherlands and France, in helping Iran produce such wealth as her soil permits; and in the Arab world it is we who are still mainly responsible for both such defense and such development as exist in that underdeveloped and vulnerable area. We in Britain can point with some satisfaction to the solution within two short weeks at the end of July of longstanding disputes with Egypt, with Saudi Arabia, and with Iran; and we acknowledge the support which American diplomacy gave to the accomplishment of these results. These settlements will, we hope, enable the West to consolidate its position in the Middle East on a basis of greater goodwill on the part of its peoples, and permit Britain to reconstitute a mobile reserve and so give her greater freedom of manœuvre elsewhere.

The British Isles are, of course, only the center of the British scheme of things. Our destiny, our economy and our sentiments are closely linked with the other sovereign members of the Commonwealth, which provides a unique system of collaboration between Britain, largely British communities round the world, and the new nations into which the ancient civilizations of the great sub-continent of India have formed themselves. We shall continue to devote all the thought, effort and money we can afford to the process of helping towards self-government the remaining dependent countries of the Empire and of assisting their development.

It is in this connection that the issue of colonialism is so often raised to cloud the real problems, which are those of the political and economic evolution of peoples to the point at which they are able to hold their own in the contemporary world. Americans are still inclined to look at colonialism in the light of their school primers and half-remembered pictures of redcoats; or else they think of the economic exploitation of colonial territories in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Yet this is all in the past. No one can now fairly accuse Great Britain of lack of boldness in the development of self-government in the British colonies; on the contrary, we have in recent years been thought by some people to have moved too fast. We believe, certainly, that the responsibility for bringing dependent peoples to the level where they can manage for themselves the growing complexities of a modern state is a task to which we have set our hand and which we must continue to discharge. It is hardly necessary to mention the swift evolution in the Gold Coast and in Nigeria, plans for federation in the West Indies, and notwithstanding unsettled conditions in Malaya and Kenya, constitutional advances there.

But there is still a good deal of loose talk about "colonialism" in other areas; for example, the Middle East. Since the Communist Powers are likely to intensify their attacks on the alleged colonialism and imperialism of the West, it is important to be clear what we mean, and not use language which tends to undermine our own position. It is obvious that in modern conditions many countries are not viable militarily or economically without external assistance, and that these countries cannot be assisted unless they are willing to provide some facilities through which this assistance can be extended. This assistance is given by the United States (and the United Kingdom) with the absolute minimum of interference with national life and aspirations of the countries concerned. It is given by the Soviet Union and would no doubt be given by China with the maximum of centralized control, oppression and discipline.


About British policy in Europe, I shall here say little. It consists in encouraging gradual integration by mutual consent. Europe is still the decisive area of the world, and is again passing through a testing period. It is a source of great satisfaction that British and United States policies in this whole key region are so closely and harmoniously aligned.

And yet the real test of Western diplomacy may still lie in the Far East. Here the essential problem is how to create in free Asia a willingness and ability to stand up to Chinese Communist imperialism with the help and support of the West. For the West cannot discharge this huge and unending task by itself, with most of free Asia indifferent, or even hostile. The two key Powers are India, which is both the largest and most influential country in free Asia, and Japan, with her large industrial and technical potential. But every nation in South and East Asia has a part to play. We must, I believe, so conduct ourselves in the Far East that the Asian peoples believe in our good intentions and accept us as allies in what is essentially their own struggle against Communist imperialism disguised behind the specious appeal of "Asia for the Asians." The outcome will be determined by whether our deeds and our behavior convince, or fail to convince, the uncommitted peoples of Asia that they have a better chance of satisfying their national aspirations and raising their standards of life and wellbeing by association with the West. For this reason, we in Britain believe that the West must not be identified with a policy of destruction in Asia by war or blockade, nor of denying to any Asian Power those things which Asians consider are rightfully theirs. For this reason, too, we pay what some Americans consider exaggerated attention to the views of the so-called "Colombo Powers:" it is those Powers that we must carry with us. Of course we must resist aggression where it occurs. But the real problem is how to encourage resistance to the penetration and subversion which are likely to be the preferred techniques of Communist expansion in Asia in the next few years. Our main aim must be patiently to redress the balance of power in Asia itself, now upset by China. This involves mobilizing every potential source of strength. It involves the assumption of responsibility by India; and India, first in Korea and later in Indo-China, has progressively come forward and shouldered the burden.

If we can achieve something like an equilibrium in the areas threatened by China, as we have done in those threatened by Russia, the threat of Communist expansion by force of arms will have been diminished. It will then be up to us to deal with subversion and infiltration by providing a better alternative on our side of the line. We shall have to set a steady pace of economic and social advance.

Perhaps the crucial question is that of the possibility of "peaceful coexistence" between the Communist and non-Communist worlds. Though its use is now fully established, I am not much enamored of the expression, which has a technical meaning in the Soviet thesaurus, and which therefore has a different significance for the Western and for the Eastern mind. For the Russians it signifies a temporary detente during which they can build up Communist strength and sap the will of the free world, a state of what has been called provisional nonbelligerency. I prefer to state our own objective as the establishment of a modus vivendi between East and West. This expression, since it enjoys the decent obscurity of a dead tongue, perhaps has less risk of becoming a popular catchword, and expresses more nearly the idea of a balance resting on peace through strength than any alternative synonym.

There is undoubtedly quite a marked difference of popular view between Britain (and Europe in general) on the one hand and the United States on the other as to whether the establishment of a modus vivendi is either desirable or an attainable objective. And in an equation which involves both the Soviet Union and China, it seems that the American preoccupation with China decisively influences American policy in this respect. There is a firm refusal to recognize the significance or at least the permanency of the Communist régime in Peking. Yet is there a practical policy between that of President Syngman Rhee and that of the British Government in relation to the Peking régime? Is there in the longer term a third course between fighting China and dealing with China? It is perhaps less the course of American policy than anxiety that it is falling into an impasse which evokes comment in Europe.

It is not simply a question of whether Communist China should sit in the Chinese seat in the United Nations "this year, next year, sometime, never." It goes much deeper than a decision on this single act of policy, which must obviously be influenced by Chinese behavior. It is axiomatic that Western democracies cannot embark on aggressive policies, since these are contrary to their fundamental beliefs. Therefore they must, in our view, be willing to negotiate. But here popular prejudice intervenes. Negotiation is thought to be synonymous with "appeasement;" with weakness, with Munich, with Yalta; with historical events whose full significance is but dimly remembered by most people. We are told that you cannot negotiate with Communist countries, that they are unreliable, untruthful and so forth. Maybe they are; if so, we are forewarned and forearmed. But we must have a policy; Sir Winston Churchill says that "Jaw is better than war;" that is his policy. President Syngman Rhee believes that "War is better than jaw," and that at least is an intelligible policy, whatever one may think of it. But "No jaw and no war," if it is a policy at all, is certainly not an effective one. Of course negotiation can be successfully pursued only from strength; it can rest only on a firm and united will backed by well-organized economic and military resources. A modus vivendi with the Communist Powers will be achieved only by the maintenance of adequate physical and moral force.


I have said that in the last resort the maintenance of the Anglo-American partnership, used in the widest sense of British Commonwealth and United States, will be the decisive factor. And since we seem inclined to magnify, and glory in, our differences and to ignore our identity of views, I must say a few words about Anglo-American relations. Without denying the differing popular, and perhaps also official, attitudes in the two countries towards what for short I may perhaps call the three C's--China, Colonialism and Coexistence--it remains true that the much publicized "rifts" in 1954 have in fact been concerned almost entirely with timing. It seems that, in relation to foreign affairs, Americans are not merely impatient of negotiations as such, they are impatient for results; they think in terms of time limits, and short ones at that. The ebb and flow of opinion--and I am not speaking of administrative policy--is much faster than in other countries: it is apt to be intervention on Monday and isolation on Monday week. By contrast the movement of opinion in Britain is apt to be slower, the popular patience longer. And patience is necessary. After all, it took eight years to settle the problem of the Suez base. It took four years from the evacuation of Abadan to restore the situation in Persia. How long, therefore, must be allowed for the far more intractable problems of the Far East? It is generally true that, while the British and the Americans are almost always travelling the same path, they are moving at different speeds. It is only at the moment when they are level with each other that there is complete harmony. We must try to understand this.

We must also try to stop the creation of myths about each other. One hears a good deal in the United States on the theme that the British are moved by expediency while the Americans adhere only to purest principles of morality in their foreign relations. In Britain we are told that while the Americans may have the power, they are unfortunately naïve and inexperienced in diplomacy, and should be guided by the superior wisdom of the somewhat impoverished but sage and experienced British. In this third postwar phase of international relations, when we are faced by a subtle and increasingly flexible opponent whose primary aim is to draw us apart, we really cannot afford to indulge in these self-laudatory comparisons which tend to obscure the recognition of our true objectives. Our first objective must be to keep together, otherwise we shall not be able to keep ahead of the Communist world in strategic and economic development. The free world must maintain the military strength and organization which is essential to keep the equilibrium between the two worlds. We need NATO, a MEDO, a SEADO--organizations which it is the Communist desire to disrupt or prevent. We shall not be able to dispense with watching the ramparts. Nor should we cease to proclaim our hope and conviction that in the long run freedom will prevail, and that, in the words of the Washington Declaration of June 29, 1954, we "should refuse to be a party to any arrangement or treaty which would confirm or prolong the unwilling subordination of sovereign states now in bondage." But to deny the possibility of reaching and sustaining a modus vivendi is to ignore the possibility of evolution and change in human society. History, after all, has shown that totalitarian tyrannies carry within them the seeds of their own destruction. Mr. Dulles is surely right in his faith in the powerful workings of "time and the fundamentals;" and I cannot think that the Soviet system is so perfectly attuned to the psychology of man and the laws of economics that it will not either stultify itself or evolve in the long run, if we but maintain our strength and our faith in our ideals. "Unity, fidelity, vigilance," have been Sir Winston Churchill's watchwords; and we shall all do well to remember them.

My belief that this is the course which we must and will take, in this third phase of which I have spoken, is based largely on the fact that it is really the only tolerable one. It is not the world we hoped for, this sullen and vigilant coexistence. But it is a world in which we can command enough resources and energy, and enough security, to get on with the main purposes of life. The alternative courses, on the other hand, are both intolerable, because they amount to abandoning these purposes, and indeed to self-destruction. One such course is to refuse all compromise, to abandon all hope of peace, and drift gradually but inexorably into a total war, a holocaust from thermonuclear weapons and whatever worse means of extermination may by then have been evolved. We should end up victorious, perhaps, those of us that survived; but victorious on a heap of ruins. The other course would be to abandon our unity, our fidelity, our vigilance, and to pursue each his own immediate self-advantage, until one by one we find ourselves swallowed by expanding Communism--a fate as horrible, to free men, as total war itself, since it involves not merely destruction but dishonor.

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  • SIR ROGER MAKINS, British Ambassador to the United States since 1953; Deputy Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office, 1948-52
  • More By Roger Makins