25 NOVEMBER 1938, Page 19


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR] Snt,—It is not easy to continue the discussion which you have so far permitted between Mr. Spear and myself, because it involves debate on a wide -range of controversial questions of strategical politics, and highly disputable issues of proba- bility. But I should like, if I may, to add a few words of comment on his last letter.

In my first letter I endeavoured to convince Mr. Spear that, in view of the importance which America's attitude in a general war would have, and in view of her present isolationist policy (as more particularly exhibited in her Statute Book), it was unsuitable that a spokesman for America should adopt the language of moral reproof.

In his reply Mr. Spear appears to say, in substance and effect, (a) that the British Government exaggerated the risks of war ; (b) that consequently American isolationism (which in any case he seems to wish to minimise) was not of import- ance ; and (c) that America is therefore not estopped from expressing moral disapproval.

Under (a) Mr. Spear decides adversely to this country all questions as to the strategic position—both those which he mentions, and, implicitly, those which he does not mention, and has perhaps not considered. Can he be entitled to do this ? Lord Rosebery's authority was quoted recently for the reasonable proposition that, while it may often be proper for an Opposition to oppose a war, it can seldom be open to it to urge war, because it has no access to the arcana regni. This is surely not less true of Mr. Spear, far removed as he is from the scene of possible conflict.

Those are matters of intense controversy ; and you, Sir, will certainly not permit this correspondence to expand into

a controversial review of all the facts and probabilities in issue. So I will, with your permission, conclude by inviting Mr. Spear's attention to the consideration that the French, Czech and Russian armies are one thing, if imagined as concentrated ; viewed as separated by hundreds of miles and by impassable obstacles, they are quite a different thing.—Yours, &c.,

21 Cranmer Road, Cambridge. M. S. Amos.