3 FEBRUARY 1956, Page 4


T1BE Government's decision to prepare to jam Athens Radio, if it is considered necessary, shows to what an impasse British Middle Eastern policy has led. Sir John Harding's television interview had already revealed clearly enough that 'self-determination some time' marked the British intention of keeping Cyprus as long as it is needed as a• base. Enosis is excluded, because, even if the Greek Govern- ment were to lease Britain bases, those bases could not be used for purposes of which the Greeks might disapprove. What this means has recently been made clear by the dispatch of paratroops to Cyprus following on the disturbances in Jordan.

Cyprus, with its complement of British troops and aeroplanes, is to be used as the off-shore aircraft carrier, to keep the countries of the Levant in order. But British policy, being what it is, it will take more than bases or aircraft carriers to keep the Levant in order. The. riots in Jordan are a case in point. They were brought about by a blunder on the part of Great Britain. To say that the remedy to such mistakes is a perma- nent base with troops held ready to intervene seems a counsel of despair. The remedy is a more skilful foreign policy. It is doubtful if Arab nationalism can be won over to the West, but suspicions of Western intentions on the part of Arab states- men will hardly be lessened by the knowledge that an air-borne sword of Damocles is suspended over their heads. The Foreign Office had better make up its mind what it believes about the Middle East. If States like Jordan and Iraq are reliable allies, then to implicitly threaten them is foolish and insulting. If they are not reliable allies, if a small pro-British clique is clinging desperately to power, then what is the value of the card houses so laboriously constructed by British diplomacy? In the latter case, it would be better to base a policy mainly on Israel and Turkey rather than to lose our way in a land of fantasy. As it is, Great Britain is now in the position of bolstering up bad policies by worse policies. While there is no need to regard the jamming of broadcasts as unjustifiable in all cases, it does not seem likely that agitation in Cyprus will die down, even if Athens Radio is eliminated. Regarding jamming as a matter of expediency, the balance of the argument is against it in this instance.