- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 2 May 1944, p. 477-487
- Garbett, Most Reverend and Right Honourable Cyril Foster, Speaker
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- Item Type
- Why we went to war. A brief review of the war situation for Britain. Stress now on the building up of a new order when peace comes. The need for a better international order, if there are to be social reforms at home. The cost of the threat of war while nations have to spend enormous sums of money on rearmament. The menace of insecurity. The skepticism of those who went through the last war when speaking of creating a new world or peace. Reasons for the disillusionment and disappointment after World War I. The need for some machinery which will enable treaties to be revised and changed without appeal to force. Problems with the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles. A fundamental reason why we failed to preserve peace: the peace-loving peoples of the world were not really prepared to make sufficient sacrifices for peace. Facing an imperfect world, ready to suppress aggressor nations if need be through force. Various schemes to answer the question of how force is to be used. The speaker's belief that the greatest hope lies in the continued co-operation in the days of peace of the three great Allies: the British Commonwealth, the United States, and Russia. Looking forward to a larger fellowship.
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- 2 May 1944
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- WAR AIMS AS SEEN FROM GREAT BRITAIN
AN ADDRESS BY MOST REVEREND AND RIGHT HONOURABLE CYRIL FOSTER GARBETT, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK.
The Retiring President, Mr. W. Eason Humphreys.
Tuesday, May 7, 1944.
MR. HUMPHREYS: Your Grace, Gentlemen of The Empire Club and Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen of the radio audience: You remember Kipling's line: "Or walk with kings nor lose the common touch". With some humility, yet justifiable pride, The Empire Club is today greatly honoured to be host to a great man--a man so well described by Kipling: The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Cyril Foster Garbett, Archbishop of York.
We are proud to be even a small part of the great mission embarked upon by His Grace, not only in North America, but, as is well known, elsewhere, a mission to draw the Church of England closer to sister churches across the seas.
His Grace occupies an exalted ecclesiastical position, but does so only after working many long years with the people-people whose life and circumstances are the least fortunate in material matters, although the Battle of Britain has proved them very rich in spirit.
For upwards of forty years, our guest worked with and worked for the people of Portsmouth, then with those in prisons as His Majesty's Prison Chaplain, and later in South London's dense slum area as Bishop of Southwark. Then Dr. Garbett became Bishop of Winchester. It was in 1942 that our guest was appointed to the ancient Bishopric of York and installed as Primate of England.
Among the many books written by His Grace are these: The Call to Christians, The Challenge of the Slums, In the Heart of South London, Secularism and Christian Unity, The Church and Modern Problems.
Your Grace, we welcome you on this your first visit to Canada, albeit a most strenuous one, in the cause to which I have referred. Gentlemen: The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Cyril Foster Garbett, Archbishop of York.
His GRACE: Mr. President and Gentlemen: I am most grateful to you for the very warm welcome you have given me and for the honour you have conferred upon me in asking me to address this, one of the most famous Clubs in the British Empire.
I am indeed glad to be able at last to visit Canada. We owe to you all a very great debt of gratitude, and the Mother Country sends to you the utmost affection knowing that the present ordeal through which we are passing has drawn us closer one to another.
I propose to speak to you about our war aims as seen from Great Britain. A different emphasis has been placed on our war aims at different periods of the war. Through out we have held to the same purpose, but the emphasis, as events progressed, has been different.
We went into the war with the very simple and straightforward purpose of saving the freedom of Europe. Statesmen might say we went into the war so as to pre serve some balance of power, or that we know that sooner or later: Germany would turn her attack upon us, but to the great majority of the ordinary people of Great Britain there was one purpose and one purpose alone in going into the war, and that was to arrest the advance of a cruel tyranny and to preserve freedom among the peoples of Europe. The ordinary man in the street was quite convinced that a stand had to be made against the aggressiveness of Germany. The man in the street had learned to hate the cruelty of Germany, not only towards the smaller nations surrounding her but also towards the minorities in her midst.
And so, when the challenge came, the whole nation was united in response to it. There was no difference of opinion in the nation as a whole. Never had the nation been more united than when war broke out in 1939.
But after Dunkirk the emphasis was somewhat different on our war aims. We had not realized fully how powerful our enemy was, nor did the majority of us feel that our country would be in any acute danger, but after Dunkirk it became plain that there was imminent danger of invasion. Some of us know that we were practically unarmed. The whole nation at once began to prepare to resist invasion. We then laid the stress not so much on the freedom of mankind as on defending our own country, on self-preservation, on survival. Those months were indeed very remarkable. I think that one of the greatest decisions ever made in the history of the British Commonwealth was the decision that though we were alone we should continue the war. (Applause.) We had and we have the great war leader, Mr. Winston Churchill! (Applause.) I shall never forget hearing that speech of his--I was in the Gallery of the House of Commons and was able to hear it--when he proclaimed that if need be we would go on fighting alone, and that we would fight on our beaches, in our lanes, in our fields, but we would not surrender!" And in that utterance he was voicing the opinions not only of Great Britain but of the whole of the British Commonwealth throughout the world. (Applause.)
We set ourselves to prepare to resist invasion. There came into existence the Home Guard. Our villages barricaded themselves with wires, blocks put across the roads. Ditches were dug in every kind of direction. Everyone wanted to do something. But during those days of strain and anxiety I can never remember ever hearing anyone speaking of the possibility of defeat. We were convinced that we should be able to repel the invader, and we were convinced that even if he did make a landing before long we should be able to reject it. During that period the stress of the war aims was laid on Survival-the Defence of our Country.
But when the immediate danger passed away and the war went on and we heard more and more of the conditions of the people in the countries which had been occupied by Germany, another war aim made itself heard, and that was the war aim of Liberation--of the Liberation of the Peoples of Europe, who are now groaning under the tyranny of the Nazis. It is difficult to realize I think how terrible that tyranny is. We all of us have heard of the German atrocities: they have been appalling. The treatment of the Jews has been a crime unparalleled in the history of mankind. And that is true of the deliberate cruelty perpetrated on nation after nation, especially on the people of Poland.
But quite apart from these glaring and awful atrocities, there has been the day-by-day oppression of these countries. She deliberately limits their food. If more food was sent in, it would merely mean that Germany would reduce the ration she has laid down for these countries, and while there is not actual starvation, in many of these countries there is semi-starvation. Great hunger. Millions literally, millions of children are suffering from under nourishment. And in addition there is the horror of enforced labour. Tens of thousands have been carried away from their homes so as to labour in Germany at the behest of their tyrant.
There are millions in Europe who today are groaning under this tyranny. In various underground ways they are resisting the tyranny. They are ready to rise the moment the great invasion starts. But meantime we must keep clearly before ourselves that one of the war aims which has become more evident in recent years is the war aim of Liberation, of liberating Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, the occupied parts of Russia, Belgium, France, Holland and all the other countries, rescuing them from the horror of Nazi oppression. And that of course is true of the countries which are now oppressed and treated with such appalling brutality by the Japanese in the Pacific.
But now, more recently, stress has been laid on another war aim, and that is the Building up of a New Order when Peace Comes. In Great Britain all classes are talking of and discussing the New Order which they hope may be created when the guns cease firing. There is the desire for the New Order at home. The Prime Minister has expressed this in the watchword of "Work, Food and Homes for All!" We are beginning to plan on the lines of the Beveridge report, and on the lines of other important commissions which have recently issued their reports. We are looking forward to a better and more just social order within Great Britain. It is not a revolutionary movement. We are not revolutionary people, as you know quite well, but we do desire to see carried through various social reforms so that the citizens of the country, irrespective of birth or wealth, may have the fullest opportunity of making the best of their lives. (Applause.)
But we recognize quite clearly that we cannot have these social reforms at home unless there is a better international order. While there hangs over us the men ace of war, and while nations have to spend enormous sums of money on rearmament, it will be impossible for them to carry out the reforms which are so urgently desired in their own country. We are all feeling the necessity, the absolute necessity of preventing from recurring again, the appalling insecurity in which the world was living during the ten years before the outbreak of war. That insecurity was a menace, that insecurity brought unhappiness and uncertainty to millions, and we are determined that no effort shall be spared to secure a peace which will bring to us not only momentary security but a security which abides for generations and which substitutes law for violence and justice for force in the dealings between the various nations. (Applause.)
Now when we speak of this, of creating a new world in which there is peace, those of who went through the last war are inclined of ten to be skeptical. They say-and they say not unnaturally--"We have heard all this before: we shall soon, after the first flush of victory, drift back into the old ways." Now we did meet with a great deal of disillusionment and disappointment after the last war. I think there were some definite reasons for that. Let me give you three or four.
The first was that the League of Nations was not a practical instrument for preserving the peace of the world. Now I saw this as one who has been a very strong sup porter of the League of Nations and who recognizes fully the splendid work which the League has done in various directions. But the League was not the practical instrument for maintaining peace. It did not have force behind it-the unanimity which was required of all its members, made any decisions almost impossible, and the great nations of the world were not really heart and soul behind the League; and when there arose any crisis in the affairs of nations Geneva became a hot bed of intrigue and rumours of all sorts and kinds. Splendid as was the work done by the League in many directions, the League proved ineffective as an instrument of peace, and if we are to make any progress we have to recognize that quite f rankly.
Then next, in the treaties of the past, there was no provision made for the revision of treaties. A treaty may be quite just or quite necessary at some special period, and then that treaty becomes out of date. It may have been expedient to make a treaty at one period. Ten years later that treaty may have in it revealed defects which were not suspected before. How then is that treaty to be revised? In all probability one country wishes the revision, writes note after note; its statesmen make speeches after speeches, and nothing happens. And so the disgruntled nation begins to arm, and to the reason appeal adds the threat of force.
If there is to be peace in the future some machinery must be devised which will enable treaties to be revised and changed without appeal to force.
Then the Treaty of Versailles had one great fundamental defect running through it. I should be quite prepared to defend many of its political provisions. On the whole, its political terms were sensible and reasonable, but it paid hardly any attention to economics, and it largely broke down through the failure of the framers of that treaty to recognize how important, how vast a part is played by economics in modern world history. And any treaty in the future will have to be made by men who take into the fullest consideration the economic condition of the world and the economic policies of the nations. Unless economic policies are taken into fullest consideration, a treaty, however excellent it may be on the political side, will soon be discovered to have been built upon sand and will be swept away at the next serious economic crisis.
But there was another and I think even more fundamental reason why we failed to preserve peace. The peace-loving peoples of the world were not really prepared to make sufficient sacrifices for peace. We made great speeches about peace. We denounced war. We signed endless pacts. We passed pious resolutions. We, all of us, declared that we loved peace. We were hypnotizing ourselves by our wishful thinking, not noticing, or refusing to notice, that only a few hundred miles away nations were arming to the teeth, ready to make their attack at the moment most convenient for themselves. It was unpopular to speak of rearmament. We hoped to keep the peace of the world by pious phrases. And more than that, 'very frequently resolutions were passed-I don't know about your country, I am speaking of Great Britain--resolutions were passed which gave the impression that they would accept any kind of injustice rather than fight to defend what would be honourable and right, and the result was that the aggresive nations came to the conclusion that there was no risk of war.
I am quite certain, though I am a lover of peace, a lover of peace by my profession and by conviction, I am quite certain that in an imperfect world you can not have peace unless force is used or force is ready to repress the aggressor. (Applause.) Within the nation, behind the laws there is force to be used if necessary--our police forces exist for that purpose--and the more certain the action of that force the less likely is it that the law will be broken. And the same is true of the international world. There is nothing wrong in force in itself. People sometimes speak as if there was something evil in force. That is mere confused illogical thinking. Force can be used evilly and force can be used rightfully. The judgment you pass on force must depend on the way in which force is used. It can be used and has been used horribly for the sake of tyranny, but force can be used for the preservation of freedom throughout the human race.
So therefore I am sure we have got to face the fact that in the imperfect world which will confront us after the war we must be ready to suppress aggressor nations if need be through force. To speak of peace without force is merely to speak of a dream in the present world. I remember that convinced pacifist, Lord Allen of Hurtwood, who in the past war had been imprisoned more than once as a conscientious objector. I remember him saying to me when we were re-arming, that this re-armament of Great Britain was bringing the first hope to the smaller nations of the world for they knew that we would use our force to protect them from losing their freedom.
But now how is this force to be used? There are various schemes. There are of course some who believe that any one nation might be strong enough to keep the peace of the world. Well, there were days, I don't mind saying it though it may be old-fashioned to say so--there were days, glorious days, when the British Empire through its fleet kept the peace of the world. (Applause.) Those days are gone and will never come back again, and I don't believe that any nation will ever by itself be strong enough to keep the peace of mankind. If such a nation were strong enough to do this, it would be at the price of guns always instead of butter for its own people, and it might use its power tyranically over the other nations.
There are others who draw attractive blueprints of a Federation of Nations of the World, all the nations united together in a great federation, a Parliament of Mankind. Well that may be possible in the future, and I know how attractive some of these schemes are, but I doubt very much if such wide-reaching schemes will be practical for many generations to come. I doubt if nations which are enjoying their independence will care to hand over so much of their independence to an international body. You can't draw a clear and cut line between foreign politics and home politics in these days. Again and again they cross one another.
I think we must proceed along lines which are sensible, but which I believe will be much more effective. I believe the greatest hope lies in the continued co-operation in the days of peace of the three great Allies, the British Commonwealth, the United States and Russia, and if these three great powers can work together for the peace of the world we shall do more to secure peace than these many other attractive schemes would ever do, even if they were partially carried into effect.
I mean that these three great powers would have to consult with one another when the peace of the world was threatened, and these three powers would have to agree together if any nation attempted by force to gain its will.
I mention these three great powers, the British Commonwealth with its dominions and dependencies united under the Crown; I mention the United States, a great freedom-loving people; I mention Russia which has such boundless resources at its disposal and which is fighting so heroically against the Nazis. I mention these three because at the end of the war for some time to come, these three will undoubtedly be the most powerful of all the nations. We look forward to China taking her place in due course among the great nations. Her heroism has been magnificent. We looks forward to the restoration of Europe and France. Europe and the world will be imperfect if France is not restored. We look forward to other nations gradually recovering their strength, and one by one taking their place in the great alliance which will originally be formed by the three great powers. But meantime under the shield of these three great powers, economic co-operation and co-operation in other directions, will be fostered and encouraged, so that the nations learn increasingly to trust one another, to rely on one another, until at last co-operation becomes the natural way instead of bitter rivalry, which may break out into war, which again rends the human race.
It may be premature to talk of this co-operation continuing into the days of peace between these three great powers, but I believe that is the way of fellowship, and out of that there will eventually come a much larger fellowship and agreement between all the nations, through which peace will be secured.
I am speaking to you of course not as a statesman or politician. I am neither. I am speaking to you as a Christian, a Christian who definitely believes that it is God's will that all nations should live under the one Father, each nation having its own independence, each nation enabled in peace to make its special contribution to the building up of the life of the whole family. It is my belief in the fatherhood of God and in the fellowship of nations which makes me so passionately eager to see the nations of the world work together in the greatest possible harmony. But-and this is my last observationas we all must recognize that all these hopes of fellowship and co-operation and security in the future will come to nothing unless Germany and Japan are completely and utterly defeated. (Applause.) We in Great Britain stand for complete victory. There is no talk on the part of any responsible person of a negotiated peace. The great mass of the people are not anxious for a negotiated peace. They want to see this horrible tyranny in the East and the West broken, smashed entirely, and we know that in the days to come we shall be called upon, as you will be called upon, to suffer great sacrifices. The citadel of Europe will not be conquered without tremendous effort and heavy losses, but we shall be prepared to endure these losses and to bear these sufferings if we have clearly before us our great war aims--Freedom, Security, Liberation, and a New International Order, in which the nations dwell together in peace and justice. (Applause.)
HIS GRACE, ARCHBISHOP D. T. OWEN, Primate of All Canada, tendered the thanks of the audience to the speaker for his inspiring address.