13 AUGUST 1954, Page 5


NOW that a ' relaxation of tension ' prevails, for the moment, in the cold war, colonial skeletons come jangling out into the open to keep the West on the hop. Here the opportunities for apparently respectable


ly 0,j IC,' defeatism are unlimited. The very word ' colonialism,' which is no more than the loosest of 'loose covers for a heterogeneous collection of situations and attitudes and responsibilities, has been so assiduously presented as a sort of obscenity that a•sense of guilt drags at the thoughts of people otherwise capable enough of taking each case on its merits, as it should be taken, and thinking straight about it. In the political climate of today no one could successfully revivify the concept of the civilising mission of the West, except in territories where it is clear that the withdrawal of Colonial authority would be followed at once by a total lapse into barbarism and bloody savagery; and even in such cases, in that of Kenya for example, there is no lack of advocates of abandonment. But if the European colonial powers have of necessity become more modest of late, that is no good reason why they should or must abdicate their responsibility. On the contrary, there is everything to be said for a return to straight thinking, straight speaking, and firm action wherever it is required.

The three colonial problems now in the forefront may give , the overriding impression that it is the mythical ' colonialism'' that is under fire again. In fact, they are essentially distinct and must be so regarded. Consider the case of French North Africa. When M. Mendes-France had shed the burden of the war in Indo-China, he, turned, as he had promised, to the French Colonies in North Africa. Surmounting without hesitation the obstacles which had scared every former Government into a dither of indecision, he made straight for the one acceptable solution and forced it into being. But The granting of internal autonomy to Tunisia encouraged the nationalists of Morocco to fresh excesses, and heightened the tension already growing as the anniversary of Sultan Sidi Mohammed's deposition came round. There are those in France who would like to see M. Mendes-France apply forthwith to Morocco the same brisk treatment as that from Which Tunisia has already benefited. Certainly the idea is attractive to sentimentalists outside France iilio are not in the habit of making distinctions. But any such policy would be ' abandonment ' with a vengeance, for MorOcco would be Plunged into a civil war between the Arabs of the towns and the Berbers of the hills. Yet the present situation—in which the Moroccan townsfolk are constantly on the point of riot against the French, and El Glaoui's tribesmen are ready for a massacre of the inhabitants of the towns, and the Moroccan Jews are being murdered when nobody is looking—cannot long be tolerated: The declared aim of French policy—self- government within the French Union—is unaltered. But any- One who imagines that this can be brought about rapidly is !Po ready to believe in miracles. Whatever moves M. Mendes- France makes, to keep the peace in Morocco or, beyond that, In liberalise the regime, he will have to back them with force. Somebody; in short, will have to be repressed. It is as well e !_1`) be clear about that in advance before the anti-colonial bloc begins to give tongue again. , Just as M. Mendes-France's new deal for Tunisia was bound to spur on the terrorists in Morocco, so did his agree- Tent to abandon the sovereignty of Pondicherry and Karikal, the remaining French settlements in India, encourage Indians 1 the manoeuvres against the Portuguese enclaves. It would d if Is is IC a S.

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ly ly be exceedingly unrealistic to suppose that the sovereignty of Goa must not pass, sooner rather than later, to India. Portugal stands upon her rights with a dignified stubborn- ness (which attitude contrasts sharply with India's undignified wriggles), but Portugal, for all her dreams of old glories, must recognise the inevitable. The issue is less the future of Goa than the attitude of India in tacitly condoning, for so it appears, the far from non-violent' tactics of Indian com- munists and others who masqueraded as Goanese for Free- dom.' It has been remarked before on various occasions that the expression of righteousness which Mr. Nehru turns towards the world outside can be peeled off like a mask when he turns to internal problems; but when he disowns respon- sibility for the recent disturbances in Goa is he not being too disingenuous even for those who have it that India can do.no wrong? The Portuguese note, asking for agreement on a commission of neutral observers, jabbed India in a sensitive spot by expressing the hope that the Indi'an Union, which values its prominent international position so highly and claims the role of a peacemaker in the concert of nations . . . will not want to show itself to the world . . . in the light of a power that engages in or promotes aggression.' India's pained protestations of innocence in its replies to those countries, Britain among them, which had formally expressed their con- cern ring the more hollow for its insistence that the neutral observers should observe only from the Goanese side of the border. India has evidently been shocked to learn that her conduct has cost her something in prestige. Such jolts are good for the soul. Of course it was Britain's- note which especially upset Mr. Nehru and his colleagues, and it has been said that the sending of it was particularly unfortunate at a time when Indian support for, or good will towards, the co-ordination of anti-Communist defences in the East was so anxiously sought. It was indeed unfortunate. But it would have been more unfortunate if Britain had kept quiet in the face of India's mistaken attitude. Membership of the Common- wealth is a reciprocal relationship, not a conspiracy of silence.

Will India be silent when the question of Cyprus comes up before the United Nations? This is the third of the colonial problems which are claiming attention and- in many ways it is the most unfortunate, being the most confused. The impression is widespread, in Britain and elsewhere, that virtually the entire Greek-speaking population of Cyprus hungers for union with Greece (with which country Cyprus has had no formal connection since Byzantine days) and that the entire population of Greece is equally impatient for union. But, on the one hand, it is not at all certain that the 'Enotist fanaticism of Archbishop Makarios and his ethnarchy and (paradoxically) of the Communists is shared by a majority of Cypriots; and on the other hand, it is a fact that Greece was nowise interested in Cyprus until the incessant and violent propaganda of the ecclesiastics virtu- ally forced Enosis on its Government and press. Thus Greece is forced into what is essentially a false attitude; and Britain is forced to declare explicitly once again that no` change in the sovereignty of Cyprus can be contemplated; and as if things were not bad enough' already, the confusion must be further confused by two extraordinary examples of tactlessness on the part of Britain. What prompted tho decision to enforce more strictly, *here enforcement seemed necessary, the sedition law? Clearly it was the hope that moderates would have the chance of considering in relative calm the merits of the proposed new constitution, which would set Cypriots on the way towards the management of their own affairs. (Archbishop Makarios and his Communist allies have piercing voices.) But could it not be foreseen that Britain would immediately be presented to the world as tyrant and oppressor? Archbishop, Makarios was not slow to liken Britain to Nazi Germany. And why, all this being so, did Mr. Lyttelton, for his last tactlessness as Colonial Secretary, choose to .blurt out in the House of Common that there could be no question of handing over Cyprus a link of the greatest importance in Britain's strategic chain —to an unstable, though very friendly, Power' ? There are,„• certainly, reasons why a policy of abandoitment should not, be gaily applied to Cyprus; but it is sad that the Government should have allowed them to be obscured from the eyes of the world by a propaganda dust-storm of its own creation,