SIX SIGNIFICANT WEEKS IN WORLD HISTORY
AN ADDRESS BY MR. JOHN C. DIEFENBAKER, K.C., M.P.
Chairman: The President, Mr. Eric F. Thompson
Thursday, March 28, 1946
MR. THOMPSON: Gentlemen-in recent weeks, this club has been favoured by addresses from two of the Dominion's Cabinet Ministers and today we are honoured by the presence of one of Canada's most outstanding parliamentarians.
Born in Ontario, a fourth generation Canadian, whose ancestors on his paternal side were Dutch and maternal side, Scottish, he received his early education in Greater Toronto, at Plains Road School, Todmorden, where his father was the principal.
The family moved to Saskatchewan in 1903 and our speaker continued his schooling there, graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with the Degree of Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science.
During World War 1, lie served overseas and, on his return, again attended the University of Saskatchewan, obtaining the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was called to the Bar in 1919 and created a Kings Council in 1929 and today conducts one of the largest law counsel practices in Saskatchewan.
From the time he entered University, where he majored in Political Science. he has shown an aptitude for politics. For a time he was the leader of the Provincial Conservative Part), in Saskatchewan and today represents the riding of Lake Centre in the Federal House as Progressive Conservative candidate.
Known as a fearless but fair critic of government policy, a man of high integrity, he has no patience with those who fail to live up to the principles by which they were elected.
A keen student of World affairs, a great believer in the Commonwealth and Empire, he will address us on the subject "Six Significant Weeks in World History".
Gentlemen, I have great pleasure indeed in presenting to you, Mr. John Diefenbaker, K.C., M.P.
MR. JOHN C. DIEFENBAKER: The past six weeks have been the most significant and momentous since 1933, in the history of man's quest towards peace. There has been a pronounced growth in the development of international law, as evidenced by the trials at Neurnburg. The UNO Conference at London performed its mechanical duties, the General Assembly elected the members of the Security Council and of the Inetrnational Court of justice; the Atomic Energy. Commission was set up to control the danger of world suicide. The Security Council, hampered though it was by the veto power, for the first time in history dealt with diplomatic matters in an open manner and Bevin and Vishinsky spoke to one another with such clarity that had they done so ten years ago, war would have been the inevitable result.
International disputes which otherwise might lead to war were dealt with-the Greek question raised by Russia the Indonesian question raised by the Ukraine, the Persian dispute by Persia. There in brief is the credit side of the ledger.
The weaknesses of the United Nations Organization have become apparent and it can only succeed by the practice of tolerance and of mutual respect, and strict regard by all nations for international obligations. It can succeed and become a milestone in mankind's march to better things, if each and every nation is willing to make sacrifices and show the same courage for the achievement of peace that brought victory in war.
Will it succeed and will there be achieved the dream of San Francisco? I shall never forget the opening day in that Conference, when the great of many nations walked through the door-way of that hall up the steps and into history. There I saw a scene which I described when speaking in the House of Commons in these words
"I saw a silent moving-picture which will never be erased from memory. Outside that opera house a large crowd of people were held back on the street by a cordon of police and among them was a woman wearing the gold stars of sacrifice. She who had sacrificed tried to enter; but the opportunity of being in the conference, which was called to ensure the culmination of the things for which her loved ones had died, was not to be hers. She could not enter; but she made her contribution when she, in the presence of thousands of people, knelt in silent prayer. That woman will have no place to history, along with the great of all the nations who fashioned this charter, she the unknown mother who, in the humility of unuttered prayer, gave inarticulate expression to the prayers of the world's billions who had representation at that conference. Hers was the expression of the hope of peace not for our time but for all the time, and it came from the depths of her own sacrifice."
The truth of tomorrow is hidden in the news columns of today. This week the United Nations faces its greatest challenge. The liberty of the weak, the pledged Word of nations, the principle of the Atlantic Charter will be at stake--yes, its very existence--and fearful though the prospect may be, unless its authority is recognized and accepted the hope and dream of mankind will have been dissipated possibly beyond recovery.
At this point, it might be worth while to read the wording of the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations:
"WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED TO SAVE succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
AND FOR THESE ENDS to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS."
A great declaration--and a casual reading is sufficient to show the departures that have taken place from the eternal principles it enunciated a short 10 months ago.
The world faces a crisis in security. Either the United Nations will have the power and central authority that cannot be challenged by any nation, and a new peace and new prosperity and freedom from fear will be the result; or we shall have a world in which aggressor nations tempted by the dream of world power and impelled by avarice and ambition, will await favourable opportunities to conquer the world. We shall either have a world in co-operation under law which is the basis of the UNO, or we enter a world controlled and dominated by autocratic power, wherein liberty and freedom will be but memories in the pages of history.
The weaknesses of UNO have become apparent. The veto power denies the right of the Security Council to proceed by armed force against any one of the 5 major powers, and the result is that today Russia in her search for security is surrounding herself by satellites of her own sponsorship and philosophy which in turn by reason of their alliances with Russia are themselves freed from the danger of being proceeded against for acts of aggression.
What is the picture we see unfolding to us. Our enemies in the last war overwhelmed; Britain being treated as a lesser power at Moscow last fall than ever before in three centuries, and faced throughout the world by difficulties in Palestine, in Egypt and in India; starvation and death the certain end of millions in Europe and in Asia; a world ripe for the dissemination of Communism, and the substitution of materialism for spiritual values; half of Germany under Russian occupation, and Communism proceeding apace; the establishment of Communistic satellites all over Europe; in the Balkans, Bulgaria and Romania with regimes sponsored by Russia; in Albania a Communist government with Russian officers in charge of the army, established within the past six weeks.
The last six weeks Russia has pushed on to all the oceans, and the principles of the Atlantic Charter being swept aside, and in particular the one that reads "no territorial changes except with the freely expressed wishes of the place concerned."
In Greece the demand by Russia that Britain remove herself, thereby permitting the establishment of bases for Russia on the Dardanelles; the demand by Russia for a sole trusteeship over Tripolitania, whereby Britain's life line would be endangered; the tacit demand by Russia for the cession of the Kars Plateau by Turkey; the present situation in Iran, where oil is one aim, but a naval outlet for Russia on the Persian Gulf is another; the demand by Russia for bases on the Red Sea and Persian Gulf by establishment of a protectorship over Eritrea; the control by Russia of the Kuriles Islands and its joint control over Port Arthur and the port of Darien and the Manchurian Railway under the secret agreements arrived at at Yalta.
On February 4th--the former President of the USSR Kalenen attacked what he called reactionary socialists and social, democratic parties in France, Britain and Belgium. On the same date Molotov used these words, in a speech
Russia "can solve all the tasks it sets itself it the pack of aggressor hounds is kept checked". (these were the statesmen of other nations whom he also denounced a "the warring groups of adventurers of some other countries found in the ruling classes." (Imperialists).
From all of this it appears that the Bismark plan of control to the gateway of India may now be in process of being achieved. The control of the Mediterranean and the control of Europe politically spells the end of Britain's control of her life line.
The past 6 weeks has indicated that Russia's aim is a world-wide Communism achieved by what is called "security" or in other words an "ideological hegemony" which extends Russian influence from Norway through the Baltic States and Czechoslovakia across Europe to Yugoslavia and Albania, and thence towards the East. Over the whole of Europe and Asia and even Africa, this power which meant so much to our victory during the days of war is now casting a dominating shadow.
What a change from the last war. After the last war the world wanted disarmament and naval limitation; now the estimated military preparations for the coming year will amount to 20 billion dollars, and great nations will have tremendous peacetime armies--Russia 5 million, the United States 2 million, and Great Britain 750,000.
On February 9th, Marshal Stalin in a speech announced the Soviet preparedness plan, a program for the nation's future. In that speech he averred that war was not the fault of some statesmen . . . it was, as he said, "The inevitable result of the development of the world economic and political forces on the basis of monopoly capitalism."
He said too, "Our Marxists declare that the capitalist system of world economy conceals elements of crisis and war", and then he set forth his belief that "the Soviet social system has proved to be more capable of life and more stable . . . and . . . is a better form of organization of society than any non-Soviet social system."
Stalin announced the 5 year plan, under which Russia will be economically secure and militarily secure "against any eventuality." It is a tremendous plan, and under it in 5 years' time the USSR will be producing 75% of the steel produced by the United States in 1945, 90% of the pig iron, and even more significant will control 58.7% of the oil resources of the world.
This is a picture that compels thought, and when one realizes that in 20 years the population of Russia will be 430 millions, and her military-age manpower strength only slightly less than that of the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy-the truth for tomorrow is indeed hidden in the news columns of today
The world scene is challenging but not hopeless. Marshal Stalin spoke on the 22nd of March; showing a spirit of conciliation when he stated that no nations want war, and he affirmed his confidence in the UNO as a "serious instrument" for preserving peace. He admitted that there is a current fear of war, and expressed the hope that the United Nations Organization would succeed.
It must succeed, otherwise the world faces the danger of two ideologies facing each other in two armed camps. Marxism is the direct antithesis of the principles of Christianity.
Tolerance and clear-eyed statesmanship are needed to diminish Russian suspicion. The world cannot afford to despair of peace or of the success of the United Nations Organization. Iran's dispute I trust will be but one of many examples where great nations in their relations with small will fulfill their pledges to assure international security under law.
UNO must succeed or the hopes of the world will be dissipated and the international diseases of fear, distrust and suspicion will have destroyed the only instrument now existent between survival and the destruction of mankind.
The United Nations Organization must succeed, for to use the words of Sir Robert Borden, after the 1st war
"If, out of its limitless sacrifice, mankind may not gain redemption from such unendurable horrors in the future, where can we see one ray of hope to lighten the pathway that lies before the nations?"
Then too an organization was set up for peace by men with the same hopes, the same aspirations and the same dreams that are mankind's today. It failed-the reason being the vague responsibility that rested on the nation: making up the organization. The League of Nation: failed because it lacked the responsibility of all nation: to keep peace because it decided each for itself when and where to cooperate.
The member nations of the League of Nations failed to underwrite world security absolutely and unequivocably; they underwrote it conditionally and partially.
The attitude of nations in the last few weeks has shown that they intend to assure that weakness to act now may not spell the beginning of the end of peace. 1 emphasize the necessity for a full realization of collective security, but I point out now that we must never forget that between 1931 and 1939 to maintain collective security it was necessary to have Commonwealth relations as well as cooperation with the United States.
I want to see developed within the British Empire and Commonwealth a solidarity in the days to come that was not ours in the matter of collective security in the days before the last war. Field Marshal Smuts, the author of the preamble of the United Nations Organization, used these words, which apply today as they did when spoken in the Union Assembly of South Africa:
"Whatever emerges Assembly the San Francisco conference, whatever world order may be established or whatever method of achieving security is reached, we shall not make the mistake of not looking after our own defence."
I believe that Canada's hope of survival is in strict adherence to the United Nations Organization and in closest cooperation with the Empire and Commonwealth. Fraternization, geography, sentiment and our own interests demand today as never before that everything be done on our mart towards strengthening our Empire and Commonwealth, an example to the world of "unity in diversity" without which there can be no success in the United Nations Organization.
Canada has assumed tremendous responsibilities under the United Nations Organization, and if she is to remain the middle power and influential in world affairs, she cannot maintain that position by withdrawing troops from Europe at a time when Canadian troops, no less than British and United States troops are tired of being on duty. Canada has a moral obligation with other nations collectively, to maintain peace, and I fear very much by 'withdrawing at this time she may undermine the faith of other nations in the maintenance by her of strict adherence to her commitments.
It is natural that there should be pressure for the removal of the men who are overseas. They should come back, but the permanent force should take their place. Removal at this time suggests isolationism, retreat to the position that we took after World War I, when in 1918 the armies of United States and Canada left Europe at the earliest moment and left others to clear up the mess. That flight was the first indication of a spirit of isolationism that prevented a stable peace.
In my opinion a limited liability for the maintenance of peace on the part of Canada holds little hope for the future.
The United Nations Organization and the League of Nations are merely steps on the road to world government, the conception of which is to be found in the mechanics of the British Commonwealth and Empire. There will be failures-there will be difficulties. The individual state which is the highest form of organization known to man was not evolved without generations of experimentation and experience. The world state can only be achieved by consent, cooperation, tolerance--it cannot be achieved by force, as the history of Athens, Rome, France under Napoleon, and Germany under the Kaiser and Hitler show.
Anthony Eden at San Francisco said the Organization was "mankind's last chance". Dr. Soong said the aim was "human liberty within a commonwealth of people".
The last 6 weeks have been dark, but they must not fill the peoples of the world with disillusionment--they should fill us all with determination. Disillusionment will lead to apathy and isolationism--determination will lead to finding a. way out of the difficulties that exist.
The United Nations must succeed, for if it does not a precarious peace outside of the United Nations Organization will lead to world war. Passions, prejudice and intolerance must be curtailed. Dark has been the path in recent weeks, fearful the prospect for the future, but that mother in San Francisco represents men and women everywhere in this world and pray for peace with "infinite passion and the pain of finite hearts that yearn".