The Basis of Peace
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Apr 1931, p. 132-142
Churchill, Randolph, Speaker
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Item Type
Three principal schools of thought by which various people are trying to achieve this universal goal of world peace, and to establish it on a practical basis. Efforts by the League of Nations; the Kellogg pact; Disarmament. A brief discussion of each, with the speaker's response to each effort. Seeking the qualities of leadership. Comments on the recent Imperial Conference in England. An examination of what is happening in England and India in terms of politics and government. Peace as the greatest interest in the world today. The need to find some new form of leadership in order to progress. The necessity for closer union within the Empire, and for the cooperation of the United States in order to guarantee any permanence against war. The Empire of the future: the Empire of the English-speaking people.
Date of Original
23 Apr 1931
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Full Text
23rd April, 1931

PRESIDENT STAPELLS introduced the speaker. MR. RANDOLPH CHURCHILL was received with applause, and said:-I must first thank you for the all too kind way in which you have introduced me, and I must then say what a high honour I consider it, to have been invited here today, and how deeply touched I am at the kind manner in which you have received me. The emotions of an Englishman who has come along that line which was traversed by the United Empire Loyalists when they came to Canada may be left for you to imagine. It is like coming home. I have spent the last six months in the United States-that great land of the almighty dollar-and I can assure you that from every standpoint it is most refreshing to come to the Dominion of Canada. I do not wish you to imagine that the people of the United States have not been kind in attending to my comfort in every material manner. I do feel, in spite of the kind way in which they adverted to my youth, that I owe you a serious apology, for I came to this great continent because I had been assured on every side that it was the land of opportunity for youth, and I must confess that I have been somewhat chagrined and mortified at how untrue this appears to be. I have been astounded at the unkind" uncharitable remarks that have been made about me in some papers in the United States, but the curious thing is that I have never yet been criticized for anything I have said because, luckily, no one takes any notice of that. (Laughter). I have been criticized exclusively on the ground of my youth, but I always console myself by repeating some words my grandfather once spoke. I think he was the first of my family to be attacked on the ground of being what is called "a young man in a hurry," and when he was thus attacked he said: "Youth is no doubt a great calamity, and appears to excite all the worst conditions of human nature amongst those who no longer possess it." (Laughter). Since you have done me the honour of soliciting my immature opinions upon the subject of World Peace, it would be indeed churlish of me if I were not to give them with candour and sincerity.

I believe it is always a good plan in every public discussion to have a common basis upon which one can agree, and this is very hard to find. I have, therefore, selected a basis which is of such a platitudinous character that no one can object to it-the basis of peace. I do not like talking about peace, because people get so tired of it. We hear so much about it from such a great man as Ramsay MacDonald. People imagine they have to make speeches which will bring about the millenium, and vast years of peace will therefore stretch before us. I cannot hold those views. I feel that we of the younger generation owe an everlasting debt of gratitude to those of our fathers and older brothers who sacrificed so much such a short time ago in the defence of the liberties of the world-(applause)-and I am certain we are determined that that, for which so much in blood and treasure has been outpoured, shall not be cast away; and it behooves everyone of us as citizens of the British Empire to examine with great care this most urgent problem that confronts us.

There are at the moment three principal schools of thought by which various people are trying to achieve this universal goal of world peace, and to establish it on a practical basis. In the first place, there is a League of Nations. I would not say a word against the League of Nations. I think it is splendid to have some place like Geneva where we can send all the old men of the

world who have perorations on their chest and wish to get them off. They can let them off on each other without boring us. I think it is excellent. (Laughter) Nevertheless, it is true that the League of Nations has accomplished work of a valuable character, and the efforts of that body are much to be encouraged; but the people with whom I join issue are those who imagine that the League of Nations gives us any great security from war. They will come to you in that moderate manner which is the affectation of all extremists, and say: "Oh, but is it not much better to talk over your dispute around a table than fight about it?" Of course it is; but the point is this: What guarantee have we in the sanctions of the League of Nations that people will thus act in times of crisis? Of course, they will not! If the United States were to join the League of Nations the benefits of that body would be enormously increased, but even then we should have no final guarantee. Secondly, there is the Kellogg pact. Fifteen great nations sent their delegates to Europe,, and for many days they made a lot of boring speeches in a pompous manner, and then what did they do? They signed a piece of paper whereby they solemnly said that war was wrong and wicked. Of course it is refreshing to see such high purpose in the world; but what does it mean? It means nothing! In 1914 Germany was under most solemn treaty obligations to respect the integrity of Belgium, but when she thought it was to her benefit to forget, she referred to the treaty as a piece of paper. I must confess that, from the little I have observed of human nature, if you tell people not to do something they are rather more inclined to do it. (Laughter). Therefore I say in regard to the Kellogg pact it is too much to hope that it will be quite as efficacious as the 18th Amendment. (Laughter and applause) Finally, we have the school of thought which pins its faith on disarmament. We are assured that disarmament is the great goal, that only through it can we obtain universal peace. The extremists of this school say: "Would it not be wonderful if we got rid of all the armies of the world-have a completely disarmed world; then there would be absolute peace." Wars do not happen because people have armaments; they used to fight before there were machine guns. Even in the modern 20th century, if you abolished armaments, and people wanted to fight, they would fight with their fists and teeth. You might say that would not be as bad. Believe me, it would be infinitely worse. The most peace-loving nations of the world-the British Empire and the United States-have a virtual monopoly of the most intense forms of warfare, but we have not a monopoly of fists and teeth. You might be all right here in Canada; but think how we should feel in Europe with no armaments whatever. But there is the subject of limited disarmament, which is of more importance to anyone who takes an interest in world affairs today, and our latest and best specimen of disarming is the London Naval Conference. What happened at the London Naval Conference? One thing happened there, but no one seems to know about it, and few people who know about it seem to agree. Only one thing happened-the United States, Japan, Italy and France agreed to have larger armaments, and all agreed that England should have a smaller navy. I do not think I need to apologize for saying England instead of Britain; I am never allowed to say that at home, but here I think I can speak of England. The history of the British Empire throughout the centuries has shown that the British Navy has done more than anything else to preserve the peace of the world. How did she do it? Solely by the size of her navy. That enormous naval power was used almost exclusively in the interests of the human race.

All these enlightened men, world idealists, masters of the. art of what they call in New York "bologna" (laughter)-come to us and say, "Here is the low-down on world peace; this is the way to prevent war-scrap the British navy and we are all right." It makes me positively sick to see the way in which democracy takes things lying down. Survey the great democracies of the world today and see who is at the head guiding them. Why, they are men looking around to see who will support them; devoid of the qualities of leadership. If you look to Europe you will find three great leaders. In Italy you will find Mussolini; in Greece, Venizelos, and in Turkey, Hassan. I am making no plea for these forms of government in our country, but what I do most urgently bring before you is this: Here are three men of vastly superior intellect, men trained in better qualities than any we have produced either in America or anywhere in the Anglo-Saxon world-of infinitely greater character and ability. We have produced second or third-rate men, and therefore it is not seemly for us to pat ourselves on the back in regard to the merits of democracy. I believe we were told by the Americans that we were fighting to make the world safe for democracy. One of the urgent problems confronting us today is to make democracy safe for the world.

Another good type of conference to which I wish to draw your attention-and I say it with due respect to all parties concerned-is the recent Imperial Conference in England. To my mind-I am young and ill-informed--it seems extraordinary that prime ministers from dominions should travel a vast distance, at great cost of time, to London, where all the executive officers of the British Empire are,, and when they get through, what have they done? They agree that the dominions shall have the right to secede. That is the only thing about which they can make up their mind! It does seem rather deplorable. Is this all our great leaders can do? Yet they come back with this small result, which does not seem of great importance. I am not attaching blame to any particular person in the matter. I was impressed by the stand that Mr. Bennett took, and I thought-seeing it from outside, as I was in the United States-that he was most uncivilly treated by all concerned; but that is all you can expect from a lot of politicians. (Laughter). Nevertheless, I would like to say this: That every one has interpreted Mr. Bennett's proposals as having been intended to please, and make it easier for the Conservative party in England; but I think it is most unlikely that if the Conservatives had been in office, even under Mr. Stanley Baldwin-that great and good man-that the terms which Mr. Bennett proposed would have been accepted. We have heard nothing but Empire free trade in England for the last two years. That great gift from Canada, Lord Beaverbrook-(laughter)-has been most prolific on this subject, and this is the only thing that has emerged: What the dominions want is for us to put a high tariff against all countries, and to bring wheat in free, and to get no concession in return. That is not Empire free trade. (Laughter) Empire free trade, if it means anything -and I very much doubt if it does-means that we will take your wheat and you will take our manufactured goods. But as soon as you mention taking manufactured goods, the dominions in every part of the world hold up their hands and say "Oh, think of our native industry!" It seems to me that unless people are prepared to make sacrifices on both sides no advantages can accrue to either.

When I was here in 1929 I remember reading in the papers about the Doukobours--those wild Russians you have here who go about with no clothes on. That seemed to me a very curious choice for your immigration authorities to make when they were selecting future citizens of Canada. (Laughter.) In the past, every component part of the British Empire has always said to itself, "How much can we get out of the Empire?" Unless the policy changes in the future to that of-"How much can we do for. the Empire?" (hear, hear)-we are going to cease to exist as a firstclass power. People are always talking about the British Empire disintegrating. On every side you hear "Look, the British Empire is breaking up!"

"The only thing they achieved at the Imperial Conference"-they said in America-"was the right of secession." I think one can see clearly there is no real danger, because not only are there ties of sentiment, but what is more important, our interests remain the same. We enjoy a unique identity of interest. After all, the British Isles would be nothing without her Empire; we should rapidly degenerate into a second-rate power; but how much more true would that be of your position, or that of South Africa or New Zealand! We should no longer have any say in the conduct of world affairs; but together we are still--and increasingly--the greatest factor in world and international policies. (Applause.) The solid work that the British Empire has performed in the past must be continued in the future.

But at this juncture, when we have only recently emerged from the greatest test of all history, when we have justified the unique position we hold in the world, what do we do? We start screaming of policies of defeatism and surrender. In no country in the world will you find such a weak and vacillating government as we have in England. It makes me ashamed to stand before you here today. No one seems to care; no one seems angry with them; but do we feel happy about it? Their policy at home has been deplorable. Having promised to give everyone work, they have thrown another half million people out of work. What has been their policy abroad? One of the two greatest things that faced them was the question of the navy. So they sit back and say: "We do not know anything about the navy, we had better let the Americans decide how large our navy will be." In regard to the Empire they said to themselves: "We have no knowledge of government; how can we possibly govern the great Empire that was built up? The only thing to do is to give it away." They are trying to give Egypt away. What do we see happening in India? A deplorable policy! Here is this man Gandhi, who is not the head of the Hindus, let alone the Mohommedans, breaking the law, indulging in a civil disobedience campaign, and at the same time hob-nobbing with the Viceroy. This is the state that the might and majesty of the British Empire have come to. The whole policy in regard to him has been wrong from the start. The Viceroy should have said to Mr. Gandhi, "So long as you are breaking the law we will have no truck with you. Call off your disobedience campaign, and we will discuss the thing through suitable envoys." But the idea of the Viceroy receiving Mr. Gandhi in a loin cloth! It makes one ill to see it. When they asked him to send fifteen delegates to the Round Table Conference in London he said: " We don't need fifteen, we only need one"-that is, himself. That is what they call democracy in England.

Our greatest interest in the world today is peace. We pat ourselves on the back and refer to the Anglo-Saxon race as the most peace-loving of the world. Why are we? Because we could not gain anything by future wars. We were not so very peace-loving in the 18th 'century, if I read aright. But now that we have all that we can possibly get out of the world, we pat ourselves on the back and make ourselves more righteous and peace-loving than any other people. Let us face the fact that we are peace-loving because we have carved up for ourselves all the best chunks of land in the world. All that we need in order to manifest throughout the British Empire the greatest era of prosperity that the world has ever seen is a long-continued period of peace. Are we going to achieve it through the League of Nations, through the Kellogg pact and disarmament? No! The union of a lot of weak disarmed dominions is nothing; but so long as we have the finest navy in the world it still means something. That is why I say that we must put aside all these sob-stuff notions and ideas. The world cannot be governed by idealism, particularly if the ideals are not adequate in themselves.

We must find some new form of leadership if we are going to progress. What the Empire needs so much at this moment is leadership. If this leadership should come from anywhere I suppose it should come from England. Mr. Bennett's stand at the Imperial Conference was, I think, partly caused by his feeling that there was no leadership, and he certainly stood out as more of a leader than any man we could produce at the Conference. (Applause.) There are all sorts of steps that we should take, which are much more efficacious if we act jointly. Take the question of Russia. I dislike Bolshevists very much indeed; I disapprove of them. (Laughter.) What is the point of trading with these people; what are we going to get out of it? You here, I must say, pursued a much more logical course in regard to Russian trade than we did. We trade with them one day,, and then the next day we turn their diplomats away, and the following day we ask them to come back again. Think what it would mean to Russia if we could get the United States and the British Empire to say simultaneously: "We will do no trading whatever with you until you start behaving like decent members of society, until you start paying your debts, and until you stop your propaganda." They would come to us on bended knees, and give us every guarantee that they would accomplish that.

I spoke of the necessity for closer union within the Empire, but even that is not enough to insure world peace in our time. In order to make that effective we must have the co-operation of the United States. There may be combinations of powers in the world that could disintegrate the British Empire; there may be combinations of powers that could overthrow the United States; but there is no combination of powers that could overthrow the British Empire and United States if they were on the same side. There we see that our interests are identical with those of the United States. They have also carved out for themselves a good chunk of land; they do not need any more; all they want is to live in peace and go on making more Ford cars. (Laughter.) We do not want to stop them, but there are people who might like to interfere with their progress, and there are people who might occasion us trouble, so I do feel it more than urgent that we find some general working agreement with the United States in regard to facing this problem of war. Think what it would, mean if, when any country threatened, we are able to say: "All right, you have got to take us all on." Think, also, how easy it would be to keep other people from fighting, because there would be no good in living in peace if wars were going on everywhere else. That is the only way you can stop wars; you cannot stop wars merely by sending a lot of old men to talk about peace and ideals; the only thing people understand is force. It is quite clear that only in some arrangement like that could we have any permanent guarantee against war.

Finally, I would say this: That we are at the moment passing through an economic crisis and I should have thought this is the time when the minds of our leaders would be revolving some great plan to bring us more closely together and work out our difficulties in common. At the moment we are completely lacking in leadership. Not one constructive suggestion has been brought forward by our present socialist government at home. It would behoove the Empire and the various Dominions to be more articulate, so that we could get some feeling expressed as to your distaste for the government we have at home. (Laughter.) It would be most encouraging to these constructive and conservative forces in England, which have the interests of the British Empire at heart. These socialists are in power today, but what have they ever done for the British Empire? In every major crisis that the British Empire has ever been through these men were on the side of England's enemies. I feel that the whole Empire must arouse itself and make its views felt; let the people at home see how unwarranted and absurd these socialists are, and after they have been thrown out some man may arise who will be able to lead us back to better times, and put new spirit into the Empire. If we can in some way coordinate the Empire more closely, and at the same time find some agreement with the United States for the outlawing of war, we have before us measureless rewards.

I say to you, in conclusion, that I stand before you as an ambassador-youthful indeed, and self-designated-of the greatest Empire that the world has ever seen, the Empire of the future, the Empire of the English-speaking people. (Great applause.)

The President voiced the thanks of the Club to the speaker.

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The Basis of Peace

Three principal schools of thought by which various people are trying to achieve this universal goal of world peace, and to establish it on a practical basis. Efforts by the League of Nations; the Kellogg pact; Disarmament. A brief discussion of each, with the speaker's response to each effort. Seeking the qualities of leadership. Comments on the recent Imperial Conference in England. An examination of what is happening in England and India in terms of politics and government. Peace as the greatest interest in the world today. The need to find some new form of leadership in order to progress. The necessity for closer union within the Empire, and for the cooperation of the United States in order to guarantee any permanence against war. The Empire of the future: the Empire of the English-speaking people.