17 DECEMBER 1943, Page 1


MHE story of the three historic conferences in the Middle East- ' in Cairo, in Teheran and in Cairo again—lost none of its impressiveness as told by Mr. Eden in the House of Commons on Tuesday. It involved no light physical strain for the British Prime Minister and the American President, fresh from a conference with the Generalissimo of China, to journey on from Egypt to Iran to visit the head of the Soviet Union, and back again for other talks with the President of the Turkish Republic. For German propaganda these events have been regarded as a grand display of movements and words designed to startle and frighten ; as described and interpreted by Mr. Eden they are the prelude of actions which will take place on many fields of battle, and soon. He affirms that the first result of the meeting at Teheran will be that the war .will be shortened. That result will be achieved because every plan that each had worked on separately is now complete and concerted ; the attacks by all the Allies against Germany in all spheres of war are to proceed as combined operations timed for appointed dates. And Mr. Eden wove the stories of these three conferences into a single story in which two wars were seen in perspective—the war against Germany and that against Japan. He insisted once again that we are as deeply committed to the conquest of Japan as to the destruction of Hiderism in Europe ; and not merely by the fact that we are pledged to fight side by side with the United States till Pearl Harbour is avenged, but because an aggressive Japan is a menace to the security of the British Commonwealth—Britain will not be more backward to stand by Australia and New Zealand than they were to stand by us. The first Cairo Conference laid the plans for the fight-to-a-finish with Japan. The Teheran Conference planned the knock-out blows on Germany. The second Cairo Conference brought agreement on the undisclosed part Turkey is to play. The plans have yet to be carried out. Mr. Eden did not neglect to emphasise the sternness of the conflict that lies ahead.

But these conferences and Mr. Eden's speech concerned peace as well as war. Our own Prime Minister and General Chiang Kai-shek, with their so different backgrounds, spoke, as the Foreign Secretary put it, the same language of determination and readily understood each other ; and Mr. Eden's personal conversations with the Generalissimo's staff convinced him of the desire of the Chinese for political co- operation after the war. He was equally emphatic in stating his confidence that the Teheran meeting had strengthened the under- standing between Russia, Britain and the United States, and made him certain, as he could not have been certain before, that the foundations have been laid for co-operation in creating an inter- national order after military victory has been won. Yet Mr. Eden was careful to show that the future is not the concern of the four Great Powers alone. He obviously could not say much about the conversations with Turkey, but what he did say was reassuring. Emphasising the fact that the Allies are interested in a conciliatory solution of the problem in the Lebanon, he paid a tribute to the people of France, and expressed his conviction that they would recover from the blows they have suffered. Doubtless Mr. Eden is not less conscious than General Smuts himself of the duty of leader- ship laid upon Britain, America and Russia ; but he is aware of the necessity of widening the picture, and insists on the part that has to be played by each and all of the United Nations.

The Russo-Czech Alliance

The treaty between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia has been long ready for signature, and it is satisfactory that it has been signed at last. Neither of the two contracting parties was responsible for the delay, and it is hard to think the obstacles raised in other quarters were justified. As for the contents of the treaty, they are immune from criticism, at any rate in this country, for they follow precisely the lines of the treaty contracted between Great Britain and Russia in May, 1942. The essence of the agreement is that the two countries undertake to co-operate in war, and for at least twenty years after the conclusion of the war, on a basis of non-aggression towards one another, and mutual assistance if necessary against Germany and her satellites. Such a treaty is clearly an element of stability in Eastern Europe ; it obviously strengthens Czechoslovakia to be certain of Russia's unconditional support—the pre-war Russo- Czechoslovak treaty only became operative if Fiance went to war in defence of Czechoslovakia—and it is hardly less important for Russia that the States to the west of her should be closely bound to her as barriers against any future German aggression. That con- cerns other States than Czechoslovakia—in particular Poland—and the new treaty deliberately and intentionally leaves room for further adhesions. There is a door open here which must not be shut. Just how wide open it is can only be discovered by exploration, and it is unfortunate that diplomatic relations between Russia and Poland are at present suspended. But diplomatic relations between Poland and Czechoslovakia are not, and a third party contemplat- ing association with the treaty can as well open negotiations with one

of the two original signatories as the other. At the same time, it is no use ignoring difficulties. The question of Poland's eastern frontier would have to be decided before Poland could become a party to the new treaty, and it may well be best that that question should remain in abeyance for a little longer.

The Divided Yugoslays

Though little progress has been made towards 'clearing up the misunderstandings among the Yugoslays, it is evident that a great advance has been registered towards Anglo-Russian agreement on a Balkan policy. Mr. Eden's statement in the House on the Russian decision to send art official military mission to the Partisans supports this view. At the same time the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed the British attitude to the question of recdgni- tion of any particular Yugoslav group by saying that "it is up to the Yugoslav people as soon as their country is liberated to choose freely the form of government they prefer." The Yugoslav situation is still obscure, and it is sometimes forgotten, even by sections of the British Press, that most of their information about the Partisans is obtained from the "Free Yugoslav Radio," a source which until very recently operated many miles from Jajce, the Partisan centre, and that this source has been proved to be more anxious for pro- paganda effect than for disseminating genuine facts. In this com- plicated situation it must also be admitted that, whatever our opinion of the Yugoslav Government in Cairo, its complaint that it has not been allowed to get in touch with its own people by radio naturally makes the Yugoslays very cynical about the talk of a "free choice" for their people at home. And while all this talk is going on, the Germans are doing their best to wipe out the Partisans. One person for whom general sympathy will be felt in his difficult situation is the young King Peter. Mr. Eden's references to him in the House of Commons on Tuesday were deservedly applauded.

India in the World

Sir George Schuster did well to develop before the East India Association on Monday the thesis he expounded recently in these columns regarding the place of India in the post-war world, for it is plain that what has been 'too generally regarded as a purely Indian problem—that of autonomy or independence—is in fact part of something far larger. Security is for every country an issue that cannot be burked. However effective the future international authority, or regional associations under the general aegis of that authority, may be, every country that requires security must make its due contribution to the establishment and maintenance of that security. India's security has been guaranteed in the past primarily by the British Navy and secondarily by a British army. What, if India claims and acquires complete independence, is to take their place? If that question is faced squat ely, the case for some con- tinuance of friendly association between India and the rest of the British Commonwealth seems conclusive in India's own interest. One arrangement obviously desirable is the establishment of sea and air bases for the Royal Navy and the R.A.F. for the defence of India on the same conditions as have permitted the establishment of American naval bases in many British dependencies. As Lord Halley put it in a happy phrase at Monday's meeting, this is a policy of "co-operation without tears." It is to be hoped that it will be studied as a practical proposition in India as well as here.

Mr. Curtin and the Empire

Mr. Curtin, the Australian Prime Minister, has returned to the question of improving the machinery of co-operation within the British Commonwealth—a matter in which there is no difference of purpose, but only as between the desirability and the danger of formal ties. Mr. Curtin insists on the full sovereignty of the Dominions. On the other hand, he does not believe that unity can be achieved unless it is very carefully concerted— and it must be remembered that for a Dominion Premier it will not always be enough to have been consulted beforehand when a decision of policy is to be taken ; he will want to have been aware of all that went before, stage by stage, so that he may have lent a hand in determining the premises as well as in agreeing to decisions arising out of them. There will be general agreement with his proposal outlined some time ago for full and continuous con- sultation, and also with his suggestion, made last Tuesday, that there should be conferences of Prime Ministers, and of other Ministers, held as frequently as possible. But, from the nature of Ministerial duties, such conferences cannot be very frequent ; it would be possible, no doubt, to establish a Standing Committee of the Imperial Conference to sit permanently, consisting of the Dominions Secretary and the High Commissioners in London, with the Prime Minister or his deputy in the chair. In fact, machinery' very much like this, initiated by Mr. Eden, does already exist ; and the daily meetings between the Dominions Secretary and the High Com- missioners are now attended also by a member of the Foreign Office staff. It may be found, then, that much has already been done to meet Mr. Curtin's wishes, and more can be done when the war is over. But there is not much evidence that Mr. Curtin's desire for changes in Commonwealth relations is felt by Canada and South Africa.

The League in Being

The meeting of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office in London this week is an event of some importance, for it represents a continuity which may yet prove very serviceable. The war has necessarily interrupted much of the ordinary work of the League of Nations ; but much, on the other hand, including that of the Economic and Financial Section, has gone on. That it has been transferred temporarily to the other side of the Atlantic is mi advantage as well as a disadvantage. The International Labour Office has been ceaselessly and profitably active, and a very valuable recent result of its labours is the publication of a volume containing what is probably fuller and more accurate information than is obtainable anywhere else on Europe's displaced populations. The I.L.O. is in a position to co-operate effectively with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Organisation, and its Acting Direc- tor, Mr. E. J. Phelan, was by special invitation present at the recent U.N.R.R.A. Conference. This week's meeting, to which Great Britain and the United States are sending 'full delegations, is the prelude to greater activity, for it will fix the agenda, time and place of the next International Labour Conference. That conference cannot by statute be held earlier than four months after the meeting of the Governing Body. It will probably take place in April.

Educating the Citizen

The appointment of Mr. Philip Morris, till now Director of Education for Kent, as Director-General of Army Education, will be welcomed by all educationists ; it would be welcomed by a much wider public if they appreciated the reputation which Mr. Morris has won as an adminitrator. In fact, of course, the appointment should have been made two years ago. During the early years of the war the late General Winans held the combined postal Director of Welfare and Education. More recently Mr. W. E. Williams has been directing A.B.C.A. (Army Bureau of Current Affairs) and Mr. Bickersteth has organised a broader system known as B.W.P. (British Way and Purpose). An immense amount of good work has been done in training units at home and overseas, as well as in hospitals and State units. The universities have co-operated freely, and thousands of lectures, brains-trusts and short courses have been held for men and women. New techniques of teaching have been stimulated, quiet rooms have been provided where books, pictures and gramophone records can be found. What has been lacking is first-class administration by a man who is familiar with the rich resources of our bewildering education machine. Mr. Morris comes at the opportune moment. His task is to bridge the gap between war and peace ; he must see the soldier as a future civilian, help to supply vocational training and to select potential teachers. He must be in close liaison with Lord Hankey's Committee, whichi is surveying the needs of post-war professions. His presence in this key position should help Mr. Butler to establish a closer link between general education, adult education, and the whole field of technical and professional training.