POLICY AND VICTORY
By STEPHEN KING-HALL, M.P.
THE sad, sorry and sickly debate on that anaemic affair, the Ministry of Information, was an occasion on wtuich the Executive mocked Parliament. Members of all parties, dis- satisfied with our lack of adequate propaganda, had demanded a debate on the Ministry. Mr. Duff Cooper was known to feel the futility of his position as a kind of gramophone turn- table, confined to the function of revolving beneath records provided by the Foreign Office, Service Departments, B.B.C, &c. The permanent officials in the Ministry were tired of being mere needles. The records played different tunes, and in the case of the Service Departments were often silent records.
The Government went into travail on this matter and after labouring for many days were delivered of a minute infant which midwife Sir John Anderson was instructed to display to the faithful Commons. The indignant members saw that the changeling was of the same sickly breed as before. Sir John did his best ; Mr. Duff Cooper swallowed his pride ; the Government's decision was criticised by every other speaker, and greeted with derision in the Press. The worst aspect of the business was the clear proof it afforded of the fact that the Government has a low opinion of the value of political war- fare as a weapon of war. This is exceedingly unfortunate, because unless we do make political warfare in a large and vigorous manner we may not win the war, and we shall cer- tainly lose the peace.
Those who, like myself, are deeply convinced that active and sustained political warfare is essential to victory, care not over. much whether the headquarters of that war are set up in Bloomsbury or Whitehall. We are certain that to dissipate control of political warfare between the M. of I., the B.B.C., the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Economic Warfare is ludicrous, and would be offensive to common sense were the conditions needed for effective political warfare in existence. But, and this is the important point, they do not exist. They will not, they cannot, exist until H.M. Government, which means the Prime Minister, sees fit to announce our War/Peace Aims. It is not possible to conduct effective political warfare in Germany or in occupied territories until the Minister in charge of those operations can tell our friends and our foes what we intend shall be the consequences of victory.
The object of war is to produce a change in the enemy's mind. This simple fact is sometimes overlooked in the heat of the struggle. Military operations against the enemy's body are only a means to an end, and that end is to make him change his mind. Hence the importance of what is called morale. The decisive battlefield in war is the brain of the enemy. Hitler has always understood this fact ; he probably learnt it from reading Lenin, who may have noted that Napoleon .said: "There are but two powers in the world, the Sword and the Mind. In the long run the Sword is always beaten by the Mind."
The war in which we are now engaged is much more than a struggle between sovereign states. It is a revolution. It is an ideological struggle. Last Saturday, Mr. Eden said: "There is no room on the earth's surface for Hitler's way of life and ours." How right that is. How true it was in 1936, in 1937, in 1938 and 1939, when many Ministers (some stilt in office) were sneering and jeering at the " jitter-bugs " who were trying to warn the nation of what was coming. How often did we hear from the lips of our leaders in those days that it was "not our business" what form of government existed in Germany and Italy. Now we know better. But are we prepared to apply our knowledge in practical form?
Mr. Eden also said: "We must begin to fashion a truly new order for Europe, for ourselves and for all who will freely join it." Excellent sentiments. But where is the blue-print? Where is the charter? What are the broad outlines to look like? What is to be Germany's and Italy's place in our New Order? Are all the little States of Europe to be sovereign in our New Order, with the power to set up tariff-walls against their neighbours? What about Russia? What will the U.S.A. do towards giving our New Order its support on the security side? These questions raise formidable difficulties. In fact our Prime Minister—the best propagandist we have—as good as said to the Conservative Association that the reason we could not get beyond the stage of pious platitudes and general principles was because of the need of maintaining national unity.
Nevertheless the difficulties mixt be faced and overcome. Why must this problem be solved? Because until we do pro- duce a reasonably concrete plan for a New Order we cannot conduct political warfare on that scale and with that vigour needed in order to create a political atmosphere in Europe (including Germany) favourable to our military operations Surely it is realised that the military defeat of Germany can certainly be accelerated by disintegration of the German home front through a psychological offensive. Supposing that It should turn out that military victory depends upon our pres- sure from without being supported by pressure from within, what then? Military operations are full of uncer tainties. Russia hangs like a question-mark in the Eastern sky. There is another in the Far West. I shall refrain front prophecy, but I defy anyone to be bold enough to assert tha our military outlook is so rosy that we can afford to neglect any means open to us of bringing about that change of mind on the part of the enemy which, as I have observed already, is object of war.
Some people say that it is useless to conduct political war fare until one has achieved military victories. Hitler exposed this nonsensical fallacy. Fortunately for the Germans, but unfortunately for us, he never rose above the rank of corporal during his army career. Hitler has grasped the fact that total war there is only a difference in tempo between "Peace and "War." With Hitler there is merely Policy which pursues with propaganda, quislings, sabotage, Fifth Colu ists, Panzer divisions, U-boats and the Luftwaffe, according to the particular needs of the moment. With Hitler, political preparation, the psychological bombardment in depth on that decisive battlefield which is the brain of his enemy, usually precedes military operations against the body of his enemy. We are still fighting this war with a mentality which was out of date in 1914. This was plainly revealed by the Government spokesmen in last week's unhappy debate. Did the House of Commons realise that on July 3rd, 1941, it was discussing a military disaster as serious as the Norwegian fiasco? The Government would no doubt regard such a sug- gestion as absurd. The relentless march of events will show whether or not I am right in my belief that each day which passes without the setting up of a Ministry of Political War- fare armed with a policy, and power to put the policy across, is a day of grievous loss to our total war-effort. We have got to produce a counter-blast to Hider's New Order, and it must be positive in character. Men and women, from Great Britain to Central Europe, are not going to accept a return to the social, political and economic conditions of 1919-1939. They look to the British Government to lead them to better things. The requirements in concrete form are : A Minister for Political Warfare in the War Cabinet, with his chief executive sitting on the Chief of Staffs Committee; a programme of War and Peace Aims (which are one and the same thing). And the Minister for Political Warfare must be given the necessary powers to co-ordinate and control all our propaganda, so that the policy can be put across in a big way.