7 JULY 1950, Page 5

Fu-Manchu Diplomacy

Plenty of fatuous accusations have been bandied backwards and, forwards in the course of the cold war, but usually they are unofficial and can be ignored. Some notice, however, must be taken of the East German (or rather Russian) claim that American aircraft have dropped Colorado beetles in the Russian Zone or Germany, because the claim has now been put on record in a diplomatic Note. As an essay in sensational fiction the Russian Note suffers from overwriting ; Sax Rohmer or Stanley Weymati could have done better. It may have been a good idea to accuse the Americans of dropping Colorado beetles in order to damage the East German potato crop, but to suggest that this was at the same time a preparatory exercise in bacteriological warfare and a sales stunt for an American-controlled insecticide is a bit too much. The Communists' tradition of conspiracy gives them an extraordinarily distorted idea of the way the minds of other people work, and this failure of comprehension is one of the most depres- sing aspects of the tension between East and West. The Russian Note must be primarily regarded as an example of the degraded use to which the processes of diplomacy are put by Communists. Diplomatic exchanges and propaganda have become identified ; indeed, it is dot unusual for a document to be received by the Press before it reaches the Government to which it is addressed. As for the purpose behind the propaganda, on this occasion the obvious explanation—that it is designed to prepare the East Germans for a bad potato crop—is possibly the right one. But it is equally possible that the protest is a prelude to an attempt at curtail- ment of the Western Powers' unquestioned right to fly to Berlin over the Russian Zone.