ESSENTIALS OF THE COMING PEACE
AN ADDRESS BY DR. HERBERT L. STEWART, M.A. (Oxon), Ph.D., F.R.S.C.
The President, John C. M. MacBeth, Esq., B.A., K.C.
Thursday, December 3, 1942.
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Gentlemen of The Empire Club: Our guest today is one who has been with us before and therefore needs no introduction to his friends. A son and grandson of the Manse, he was born in Ireland, and educated at Belfast and Oxford, at both of which institutions he had a very brilliant career. Since 1913 he has been on the staff of Dalhousie University at Halifax, as Professor of Philosophy.
He is a student of current events and shares the benefit of his research with an appreciative public through the medium of books, periodicals, and magazine articles. He is now, however, best known to most of us as Dr. Stewart, news commentator and radio broadcaster; otherwise, however, as Herbert L. Stewart, M.A. (Oxon), Ph.D., F.R.S.C. Gentlemen, I have the honour of presenting Dr. Stewart who has kindly consented to address us on "Essentials of the Coming Peace". (Applause.)
DR. HERBERT L. STEWART: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of The Empire Club: There is so much I want to say to you in the course of a short talk this afternoon that I shall make as brief as possible my reciprocation of the very kind words with which I have been introduced. I think you understand how I value the opportunity of speaking to this particular Club. When your Committee invited me again I could not decline, because there was so much on my mind I wanted to share with the sort of audience I can best describe as "Empire-conscious". By no means all audiences in Canada, or for that matter in Britain, can be so described. "Imperialism", we have lately been warned by Mr. Wendell Willkie, is a word of ill omen abroad. It is not too much to say that it arouses a good deal of suspicion in some quarters nearer home. The reasons are obvious. People knew the Empire of Tsarist Russia, of Hohenzollern Germany, of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburgs, of the Japanese "Son of Heaven". They might naturally recommend use of a different word when one means a very different type of national association. I think this was the deciding motive when the term "Commonwealth of Nations" was preferred by that greatest of overseas exponents of our British Imperialism-Field-Marshal Smuts of South Africa. And yet it is hard to part with a term short and familiar for one that is new and cumbrous. Besides, the word "Empire" carries a sense of unity that we want just now to emphasize, and that does not belong in the same obvious, intrinsic manner to the term "Commonwealth of Nations". Field-Marshal Smuts himself has declared his belief that the principle on which members are associated in the British family supplies the best model for a coming wider federation. It is because I want to insist on this as a basis for the coming peace that I turn in the first instance to a Club in whose very constitution the spirit of British imperial unity is central.
It may be suggested that my title means a premature enterprise. The war is still raging. Can we talk about post-war conference and world settlement? "Inter arms silent leges." So said Cicero, in a speech that most of us read and some of us remember. If law itself is thus silenced by the din of battle, how much more the voice of speculation on how law might be improved! I notice Sir Percy Bates, the Chairman of the Cunard Company, has been the spokesman of a very vociferous opposition to planning for a post-war world. This is what I find he lately said: "It is strange but true that there is an active collection of people sufficiently devoid of any responsibility in carrying on the war effort to have the leisure to plan a new earth". If you look at such organs as the National Review or the Nineteenth Century, or if you look at the manifesto of that very eager group calling itself the "Individualist Movement" you will find that Sir Percy speaks for an insistent if not a very large body of British opinion.
And yet I am convinced that he and his friends are wrong. It would of course be absurd to attempt to produce a draft treaty of peace, to say how the map of Europe is to be redrawn and what are to be the boundaries of the post-war Japan. So many adjustments which it is now impossible to foresee would have to be met. But those who have been pressing for some sort of outline of the post-war world propose nothing of the sort to which Sir Percy's satire has any relevance. It is surely important that we should clarify. We cannot clarify too widely to listeners the essential principles of the great document called The Atlantic Charter. Therein is the planning for a new world, a new earth. Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt thought it worth while to withdraw at considerable danger and immense trouble, suspending activities very important elsewhere, that they might meet somewhere in the North Atlantic to sketch exactly the sort of thing which arouses Sir Percy Bates' vehement resentment. I cannot help thinking they were not so markedly inferior to him in sense of responsibility for winning the victory that they withdrew for this purpose in a mood of negligence. I am rather haunted by the suspicion that Sir Percy's concern is not so much against the impropriety of stopping to plan a new earth as against the sort of new earth which President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill and, we may add now, Sir William Beveridge, have been planning. Surely if one thinks of this further consideration, one can see that those men were right. It is always an excellent rule that you shouldn't be above learning from the enemy. If the propagandists of the Axis Powers have time and energy to confuse persistently, and to misrepresent, the purpose of the Allied Nations, we ought to have time to correct it. They are busy, constantly busy with that very job. They are constantly broadcasting to the Far East a story that it is just the old British Imperialism at work again to exploit the coloured races. They are broadcasting to the Arabs about British partnership with Jews in Palestine. They are broadcasting to Russia that Great Britain and the United States hate the Soviet Union far more than they hate Germany, and are using the Soviet Union only as a tool. They are broadcasting to the audience they think most susceptible in Britain and the United States to anti-Bolshevist appeal that if the democracies win this war, it will mean the Bolshevization of all Europe.
Our propaganda has been not our best side. Their propaganda has been mostly artfully contrived. We may try to persuade ourselves that they make no impression, but we have sad evidence in Malaya and in Burma, in India and in South Africa, that they have got actual results. There is a warning there: a warning which I am sure is what chiefly inspired Mr. Wendell Willkie--who amid some spacious blunders-said some things that were most opportune and important: a warning that we should not neglect counterpropaganda.
In attempting a sketch of essentials for the coming settlement, the point I mention first is this, that in the settlement we must embody the spirit of a moral triumph, a triumph for moral principles. This means that we must turn a deaf ear to those already quite active in urging that we must not in the next treaty inflict upon the beaten nations a sense of humiliation. They desire that, at the conference table, we shall carefully disguise in terms of economic or territorial adjustment what we have declared throughout the war to be a moral issue, and declare that unless we adopt this precaution we must expect a third World War. In short, it seems that we must not obtrude in the settlement what we know to have when the very heart of the cause for which we fought.
Now it seems to me that that way leads to ruin. I don't believe that the method to ensure faithful acceptance of the peace terms by the defeated dictatorial powers of any such flattering of their vanity or of their sense of dignity. I think we must adopt quite other means prevent them from trying their fortunes in war again. Those for whom I am concerned are rather the anti-Fascist and the anti-Nazi minority, which I have no doubt are very large indeed in Germany and in Italy. If you tell them that the peace you have in mind is one of mere territorial or economic or legal adjustment, the clearing up of a misunderstanding which was unfortunate and led to most lamentable results, but which may well have been the fault of the different sides in something like equal proportion--you know the sort of sagacious silliness so often put forward in the name of "political science"--if you say that, I quite believe that our potential friends in those countries will lose heart and will exclaim "What's the use? It will all have have to be done over again. This war is going to end like the last war, and there will be a third one, quite possibly about 1960".
"Gentlemen, as I see the situation, two conceptions of the government of mankind have been in conflict: the one, whose constituent values are liberty, justice, good faith; the other, whose essence is despotism, class dominance, gigantic and systematic fraud. Surely here is a conflict which means everything to mankind, in the ultimate treasures of life, not in mere economic interest, or national prestige, but in all that makes life worth living. This is what has inspired the will and nerved the arm of the United Nations in battle: the same must prescribe the conditions of peace: it must be written in clear unmistakable language into the document which will correspond to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. From that as central principle must be explicitly derived the whole scheme of requirements that the victors will impose upon the vanquished. Their single purpose must be to guarantee a way of international life, twice insolently challenged within one generation, against the risk of a serious challenge again.
Now, I well know the danger of "the speech peril", that is to say, the deceptiveness of phrase-making. Morley once warned the Emersonians that a platitude is not transformed into a profundity by being dressed up as a conundrum. Lest, then, I should be thought in what I have just said to be labouring the obvious, in language more resonant than significant, I shall try to set forth what it is that I fear from certain quarters in the next Peace Conference, and against which I have pressed this, about the moral issue of the war, as a warning. We shall have a group vociferous at the Conference Table with the story that here was no basic moral conflict, that the dispute arose from the old, old clash of national interests, in which each competitor would have acted very much as the other acted if he had been in the other's circumstances. With fine show of a hospitable and sympathetic mind, it will be urged that the passions of the battlefield be shut out from the deliberations of the Conference Table, and the conclusion will be drawn that the disarmament of the enemy should stop short of disabling him.
Very few of us would be accessible to that sort of plea now. .After what we have seen of German purpose and German method, we should deal promptly and summarily with any suggestion that no more that a misunderstanding had set us at variance. Shall we keep that resolute, clear-sighted hold on facts when it comes to drawing up the terms of peace? We know now that Germany's word is worthless, that she is unfit for any manner of national trusteeship, that only by disarming her and keeping her disarmed can we ensure the peace of Europe. But shall we write that conviction into the Peace, and act later in the light of it? Here lies the first prerequisite of a Peace that will last.
Someone will perhaps protest: "Didn't we do just that before, and yet it did not last". I reply: This is only one prerequisite. There are others. My second essential results from my first. If the Peace is to be of this decisive, uncompromising moral character, the Powers which united to win the war must remain united to preserve the fruits of victory. And that, I am convinced, means some form of federal union after the manner urged by Mr. Clarence Streit. Union of democracies commanding international force to defend what they have won.
A compromise peace might probably be maintained for a very considerable time with no such novel readjustment as the one Mr. Streit recommends. Especially since both sides would emerge from the war very much exhausted, and ready for almost any way of avoiding another fight. A bargain in which the victors had not profited on any great scale, and the vanquished had suffered no complete disablement, might continue to be observed while the weakness of the one side and the weariness of the other made a peace--or at least a truce--attractive to both. This has often happened. From time immemorial, under the old system of independent competing Powers, connected by no sort of federation, a peace such as that, concluded at the close of a war, has lasted long. But never such a peace as the one I have been declaring this time to be essential. This is an utterly new kind of settlement-disabling one side completely on the ground of its moral unfitness to be trusted with the normal equipment of a Sovereign Power. We made an approach to that new type of peace in 1919, but we tried it with only the old type of international machinery, when the Treaty of Versailles had its war-guilt clause and its clause declaring Germany unfit for colonial trusteeship. The result was what we know. The inference is not that it was the wrong kind of peace, and that this time we should aim at making the settlement last by giving up what we are fighting for. The inference is that we must preserve for its maintenance the machine which secured it. It won't serve to set up again an international debating society like the League of Nations, with the paralyzing proviso that no decision shall be effective unless it is unanimous. Nor to indulge again such early quarrelling and counter-manoeuvering among the Allies as that which set Britain and France at work to frustrate each other within five years from the signature of the Treaty of Versailles. Least of all must there be again a member of the victorious group refusing to share in the common burden of safeguarding the Peace. "You cannot," said Francis Bacon, in one of his happy epigrams, "do what has never yet been done, except by means that have never yet been tried". A common council of the democracies--controlling common defence forces (land, sea, air), with a common budget for their maintenance, but leaving the internal affairs of each as at present to itself-this is a difficult and in some respects a disagreeable proposal. But I think there is in it less that is either disagreeable or difficult than in the prospect of a Third World War to which, if we revert to the old internal method, we may look forward within a comparatively short time. The essence of the safeguard would be this, that if danger should ensue again, there would be no such protracted and enfeebling delay as we have seen twice within a generation-the democracies, every one of which was in fearful peril, unable to come to terms with one another, but playing again with ideas of neutrality and isolationism in rhetoric which it now makes us sick to recall. Nor would the danger be allowed, as before, to develop, with the vanquished powers securing accomplices among the victors at disagreements with one another so that the conditions of peace might be secretly nullified.
Can we rise to a project such as this? Or can we see in it only the hardships, the burdens, the irritating changes which I make no attempt to conceal? President Roosevelt, in a recent fireside talk, predicted that once the victory has been gained, the isolationist spirit, which no experience has availed to subdue in certain Americans, will assert itself again. It is not only in certain Americans that this dangerous mood is to be apprehended. Unless the next Peace Settlement is guaranteed by continuing partnership of the victors very different from their unsteady mutual relationship after the last Peace, the sequel will be as tragic as before. But must we so despair of mankind as to think that not even a second terrible experience will avail? The United Nations are fighting this war with eye fixed on the goal, looking beyond the difficulties of the way. Can we not keep the same perspective for the Peace? Preventive medicine has its moral here. How often by a fraction of the inconvenience and self-restraint one accepts to be rid of a disease might one have prevented it from developing at all!
The last of my essentials for the coming peace is this in order to ensure such continuing co-operation of the United Nations, the terms imposed must commend themselves as just terms: not vengeful but precautionary: punitive only like the sentence of a criminal court, with remedial purpose to deter and to reform. If this is neglected, in the fierceness of anger and the flush of victory, we must expect before long a breakdown in our Union. The flush will pass off, the fierceness will abate: soon we shall hear the voice of misgiving about a settlement of merely passionate vindictiveness. This, I am sure, was the thought which dictated clause 4 of the great manifesto we call the Atlantic Charter-the clause promising in the reconstructed world equal access for all nations to the necessities of life and industry.
The point I am here emphasizing will be altogether mistaken if it is thought to be a plan for sentimental indulgence to world scoundrelism. It was upon the merciful, not upon the sentimental, that the historic beatitude was pronounced, and a fundamental contrast indeed is the one which separates them. For cruelty a prolific source is sentimentality-choice of the easy-going in the immediate present with refusal to consider remote and deeper consequences. What the Peace Settlement must show is the inflexibility of a calm judicial decision. We are dealing with criminal nations, and the parallel of justice for criminal persons is a good one. The whole fair-minded world applauds the pledge that the arch miscreants in this outrage upon mankind shall be dealt with at its close as their appalling deeds deserve. But we have long realized that the problem about criminals is not limited to one of catching them and punishing them. It extends to the question whether there was anything in the lot of these desperadoes which in a measure conduced to make them what they became-anything alterable by law or by social effort, whose alteration might thus make for a more peaceful world.
Point 4 of the Atlantic Charter is the product of just such thought about nations. I shall be much surprised if we do not yet learn that it was Mr. Roosevelt rather than Mr. Churchill who drafted the special wording of this passage. It was surely the champion of the Four Freedoms who suggested for paragraph 6 the phrase about freedom from want and freedom from fear. I feel that from the same hand or the same voice which so often described "the forgotten man" came paragraph 4, so obviously describing a forgotten nation.
There are countries fitly called "the Have-Not's" in contrast with others that are "Have's", just as there is such a contrast of individuals. Japan has no cotton of her own and no oil. Italy has scarcely any coal. Germany is lamentably short of fats. These are essential of industry, and they exist elsewhere in an abundance far beyond what those fortunate enough to have access to them can use. This does not imply, as so often alleged in enemy propaganda, that British and Americans and even Dutch are brigands, who have pillaged and monopolized the treasury of the earth. It is a charge as baseless as that of the burglar in a criminal court that the more prosperous people owe their prosperity to his methods, differing only in a certain finesse of concealment. But though such inequalities of fortune, personal or national, arise from a multitude of circumstances involving no fault in anyone, we surely need to apply to the less fortunate peoples something of the method so long developed under the name "Social Reform" for the less fortunate persons. It is idle to say, as is so often said, "Let the indigent countries buy what they need in the open market". They can buy only if they have the sterling or the dollars needful, and they can procure this only by selling their own goods or products to countries fenced against their trade by tariff walls they cannot scale.
The heart of the problem here, as I see it, is this -
How shall we facilitate access to the essentials of peaceful industry for the dangerous Powers while ensuring that they will not use these as a means to rearm? Point 4 of the Atlantic Charter, exclaims the National Review, means that Germany after defeat is to be set on her feet again, to prepare for the Third World War! Surely it has no such necessary implication. Point 4 stands side by side with Point 8, a pledge for the complete disarmament of Germany, and it is fair to suppose that experience of how disarmament was evaded by German bad faith twenty years ago will prescribe, especially to a government led by Mr. Churchill, measures to make it this time effective. Surely we now know so well the vital necessities of rearming that we can keep successful watch, through garrisons that must long occupy the defeated countries, against the beginnings of an all too familiar peril. It won't be altogether easy. It will involve harsh repressive measures. It will mean turning a deaf ear to the seductive voices of appeasement. But once Prussia is dismembered, the German Reich dissolved, the points of vantage occupied by British, American, Russian, Czech, Polish, Free French sentries, that task of peace vigilance should not be beyond the United Nations which proved equal to the task of war. Such measures should prove altogether compatible with the facilitation of peaceful German and Italian and even Japanese industry. It was not as a desperate means to get at the essentials which more favoured nations had monopolized that these aggressor nations went to war. But undoubtedly their economic hardships supplied an effective pretext for the dictators to urge upon their own people. That pretext it is not only an act of justice, it is a precaution against another war, to remove.
Now, if any plan of world-mending so difficult, so delicate, in some respects so self-sacrificing as this is to be attempted, it must be the task of the democracies in union. They cannot be engaged at the same time on schemes for one another's economic enfeeblement, under old mottoes such as "Mind Britain's Business", or "America First". That way lies national isolationism, and we know the collapse to which it leads. It was Lord Beaverbrook who made such play with the motto, "Mind Britain's Business", but he is now a champion of Federal Union: the lesson of events has not been lost on him. No less significant is the announcement that the leader of American Republicanism, the party of the Fordney-McCumber Tariff, now declares "Tariff walls must be abolished where they keep the democracies apart". It is indeed the United States and Britain that must lead the way, but it needs no seer to predict that other democracies will be quick to join, or that overwhelming success, in peace, as in war, will come from their continued combination.
This, as I see it, is the responsibility which the English-speaking peoples must face. It is their responsibility because of the bond far closer than community of blood, far deeper than community of language, that holds them together. Their fundamental values are the same; they think and feel and purpose alike about the things that matter most of all: they judge the same way about what makes life worth living. Never before did they realize this on either side of the Atlantic as they realize it now. Never in their history was the spiritual kinship of British and American so felt. No one has put the conditions of an enduring peace better than that eloquent German exile, Hermann Rauschning, in his book, The Redemption o f Democracy. What we need, he says, is a Pax Atlantica. It is the Atlantic English-speaking Powers that must first win it and then guarantee it. What I am pleading for is the recognition in time that this community of effort must be maintained, and can be maintained only by the appropriate machinery, after the stimulus of danger which it called forth shall have passed away. I am haunted by memories of 1918 and its sequelthe fair promise so soon and so tragically marred. For this reason I press these considerations today, when to some they may seem premature. We have such ground to dread again the postponement of planning, from the time when enthusiasm is at white heat to the time of a victor's lassitude.
Gentlemen, I began this address by saying I had some ideas to present to an audience of the "Empire-conscious". I meant an audience with no "isolationist" tinge--an audience of those who welcome world responsibility for the group of nations united under King George VI and acting together to safeguard a certain British way of life. They acted together to safeguard this a quarter-century ago: they are acting together again, with common toil, common patience, common sacrifice, not to acquire territory or to promote trade or to establish racial dominance, but to preserve certain human values in whose protection they judge no risk too great and no cost too heavy. Not one member of the Commonwealth feels that in this union there has been any loss of independent autonomy, of sovereign rights. May we not hope that the idea of that Commonwealth's united efforts may be extended to what I have called the Federal Union? It is the hint, I think, for the co-operation that is to come. There will be difficulties, prejudices, antagonisms, to meet. There were such difficulties in the Union of the British Commonwealth, but they were surmounted.
Ever since I have been associated with this Federal Union Movement, I have been deluged with Jetters--some of them most extraordinary--from objectors. There are the objectors in Victoria, B.C., more loyal than the King, who write protesting against "sacrifice of the imperial heritage". I have scarcely read that when I get a protest from someone in the coalfields of Cape Breton, whose sentiments for a radical transformation are such as might alarm either Molotov or Stalin. I hear from Daughters of the Empire, and again from Daughters of the American Revolution, who want the same thing on totally different grounds. The Social Creditors write to crush me with some motto from a speech of Mr. Aberhart's, and before I have time to digest that, I have a missive from British Israel, telling me that Federal Union is discountenanced by some inscription of the Great Pyramid. These are obstacles we must recognize but whose gravity we need not exaggerate. A tremendous task lies ahead of us. But we should be inspired, surely now, if ever, by ideals before which obstacles fade away. (Applause.)
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Gentlemen, it is our custom to have the Chairman thank the speaker. I am going to depart from custom today and ask Mr. Hector Charlesworth to thank Dr. Stewart. Mr. Charlesworth is a friend of many years standing as a fellow-labourer in the field of radio broadcasting, and he is also a member of the Executive Committee of The Empire Club.
MR. HECTOR CHARLESWORTH: Mr. Chairman, Dr. Stewart, Distinguished Guests and Gentlemen: This is the second time on which I have had the honour to express the thanks of The Empire Club of Canada to Dr. Stewart for a most profoundly humanist and interesting address on matters of deep concern to all of us. As I said last year, I take some pride in the fact that I was to some extent instrumental in making Dr. Stewart a national figure, because I discovered nine years ago he was making broadcasts from the Halifax Herald station that seemed to me the best news comments that were to be found on the continent of North America. (Applause.) I have said that before. As a result we put him on the National Network, and we have presently found hundreds of thousands of listeners, not merely in Canada and the United States, who will agree with that opinion. Every year my conviction of Dr. Stewart's genius for illuminating public questions has grown. I have been listening to him now for nine years. I seldom miss a broadcast unless it is unavoidable, and quite recently I rejoiced in that fact that it fell to his turn to announce the news of the American invasion of North Africa-to me at least. I suppose some people listened to news broadcasts earlier in the day, but I learned of that stupendous event from an account of Dr. Stewart's. He is not only the greatest news commentator, bar none, on the radio, he is also a great corrector of the imbecilities and ineptitudes of scores of other news commentators who, I am sorry to say, are not confined in the United States of America.
Now, Dr. Stewart, as I listened to you I felt you were directing our minds to problems that every shot fired by the United Nations today are bringing closer to us, problems we must think of, and whether everybody agrees with you or not, unquestionably you have set our minds in the right direction on matters that will be dealt with within, let us hope, at least five years. On behalf of this Club, Sir, I thank you. (Applause.)
Mr. Joan C. M. MACBETH: You have heard the vote of thanks, so ably expressed by Mr. Hector Charlesworth, and joined in by the audience generally. The meeting is now adjourned.