29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 13

MR. CHAMBERLAIN SIR,—Your admirable article expresses, one feels, the views

of the bulk of the British and American peoples about the foreign policy of Mr. Chamberlain. No doubt his strenuous efforts at Munich gained Great Britain a year to rearm. Yet, as you point out, he having been the second member of the Cabinet for seven years, was fully responsible for the appalling defencelessness of Britain. Sir revile Henderson has just stated that Britain in 1938 had no Spitfires, only one or two Hurricanes, and only seven modern A.A. guns out of the 40o needed to defend London. Germany, it is clear, could have destroyed London, and knocked out Britain, had she attacked then. Mr. Chamberlain is pitied by some as an honest man deceived by +Hitler. But it appears not a case of being deceived, but of shutting the eyes, ostrichlike, to what one does not want to face. What statesman had any cause for being deceived when Hitler had made no secret of his contempt for pledges and of his intention to dominate Europe, and had for years prepared armaments to this end?

Other criticisms suggest themselves. No doubt a fight with Germany some time was probably inevitable, but what was the sense of guaranteeing to defend Poland—a country which, by the by, had seized after 1918 much territory to which she had no real claim— and thereby involving Britain in war at a time when we had no Army or Air Force strong enough to give Poland any effective help? Such boasts by Mr. Chamberlain as the one that " Hitler had missed the 'bus " gave this country a profound shock when Hitler then proceeded to sweep all before him. Mr. Chamberlain's weak surrender of the Irish naval ports is proving a deadly menace to this country. His putting through at Ottawa the policy of Imperial Preference_ was an abandonment of Britain's traditional and peace- promoting policy of seeking no monopoly or semi-monopoly of trade in her overseas dominions, and has, in the view of not a few business men, by striking hard at Germany's foreign trade, especially with India, given Germany no small reason for seeking the downfall of the British Empire.

Mr. Chamberlain's later career seems to support your doubt whether business men, with their bargaining instincts, restricted out- look, and absence of flair for foreign affairs, make suitable Prenu-ers for an Imperial country like Great Britain, whose worldwide responsi- bilities must always make her foreign policy more important than her domestic affairs. His predecessor, Mr. Baldwin, also a business man, confessed he did not in 1935 tell the people the truth about the German rearmament because " nothing would have made the loss of the election from my point of view more certain." One would think that Premiers drawn from the professional or administrative classes would probably be more successful. But the weakness of our nation has more than one cause. A people gets the government it deserves. Democracies tend to be self-indulgent, want public money spent on domestic services rather than defence, and shrink from sacrifice of either money or their citizens in the continual preparation necessary for even defensive war. Accordingly their statesmen fear to tell them unpleasant truths. Unless this weakness can be remedied by readjustment both in constitutional structure and moral fibre, it is difficult to see • how democracies can withstand carefully planned attack by virile and disciplined totalitarian nations possessing ample resources of men and materials. The classic example of Philip of Macedon and the Athenian Empire is still significant.