30 JANUARY 1942, Page 12

Snt,—As an ordinary reader of the daily newspapers and, occasionally,

weeklies such as yours, it has been a constant puzzle to me to account for the way in wh.ch our diplomatic and intelligence services have been

hoodwinked in the last few years over events on the Continent and farther afield. Mr. Nicolson's "Marginal Comment " in your last week's issue supplies at least a partial explanation. We owe him our deepest thanks for the revelation that some of the events which caught us napping : the real meaning of the rise of the Nazi party after the election of 1933; the attitude of Leopold of Belgium; the 'political and moral rottenness of France up to the catastrophe of the summer of 1940; the machinations of Raschid Ali; the attempt of U Saw to get some satisfaction out of the Imperial Government; all these things, of which we knew too little and too late, were to the men on the spot but as " the twittering of starlings in the thorns." We had suspected something of the kind for some time; it is interesting to have his word for it.

Net I cannot help thinking that it was perhaps unfortunate for Mr. Nicolson's contention that the ideal diplomatist " should be impartial, imperturbable, and a trifle inhuman," that the very same day his article appeared the country should be welcoming home a man who had just completed what was described, and rightly, as the most arduous and at the same time the most successful diplomatic mission in recent.years. A man, moreover, the very antithesis of his ideal. As one who sup- ported Sir Stafford Cripps as long ago as his Popular Front campaign, I have heard and read a good deal of criticism of him both as a man and as a statesman, yet I have never heard it said that he was lacking in either zeal or sympathy. Indeed the usual attitude at that time and since has been that he was too zealous, iome people went as far as to say hot-headed Yet in spite of these handicaps he comes back with the knowledge of having done a good job of work the conse- quences of which the orthodox diplomatists will be the first to acknow- ledge and reap the benefits of. It may well be, on the other hand, that his success has been due to a surplus—by Foreign Office standards —of mental capacity; but of that Mr. Nicolson, as an ex-diplomatist himself, may be a beam judge than I.

His passing reference, in an earlier paragraph, to the " more back- ward countries," throws a still more vivid light on the mentality of these diplomatic Bourbons. I am willing to wager my next month's hard-earned income-tax against Mr. Nicolson's that in his heart of hearts he has considered up to now mat the Japanese were in that same sense a " backward people." Surely the time for such arrogance, whether conscious or unconscious, has passed.

With regard to the main contention of his article, the relative value of" men and-women in public life, there is only one thing a man can do that a woman cannot In deference to those women readers The Spectrum may still have left, I will not be too specific about it, but will leave it at that.—Yours faithfully,

153 Sylvia Avenue, Bristol 3