2 SEPTEMBER 1972, Page 4

The consequences of Amin for Britain

It is distaseful, when the Ugandan Asians are preparing for their flight from the country in which they have made their lives, and founded their hopes for so long, to advert to the larger consequences of this new migration. The human problems involved in the migration are so immense; the character of the welcome in this country for our own people fleeing from oppression so uncertain; and our sense of the crude brutality of General Amin and his surrogates so acute, that we are encouraged to forget, in our preoccupation with day to day problems, what the actions of the Ugandan government, and the response to that action by the rest of the world, bodes for the future of international relations, and the future of international institutions in particular.

Give or take a few practical criticisms the United Nations Organisation has been taken, over the years since the last war, to •summarise our — and by our we mean the world's — views on international morality, and our aspirations towards the definition of such an ideal. The week before last that illusion of international perfectability which the UN embodies was destroyed, without reclaim. It was destroyed when the United Nations sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities met. That body, despite their title, and the implications of that title, felt they were not empowered to condemn, or even comment upon, General Amin's actions in respect of the Asians living in his country. They felt so because they believed they existed only to purvey the facts about race relations in the world, and not the implications of those facts. They felt this, in spite of the fact that they had, in the past, given judgement on the Republic of South Africa and its system of discrimination in race relations; and upon the illegal regime in Rhodesia, and the practice of its controlling white minority in respect of the coloureds and blacks in the Rhodesian community. There is something rotten in this United Nations Organisation.

It was said, not too long ago, that the United Nations was ineffective because the General Assembly Was subject to veto by the Security Council, on which the Great Powers were so manifestly and powerfully represented. The General Assembly is representative of the conscience of the UN as the Security Council is representative of the power which lies congealed in that organisation. Once, we could believe that the General Assembly represented some kind of universal truth or humanity; even if the Security Council represented only the selfishness of those countries strong enough to make themselves felt, or lucky enough to be in on the founding of the organisation. No longer can we cling to those idylls. The Assembly, and all the most consequential -in the sense of publicity — organs of the UN have been taken over by the caterwauling Black African states, and their few Asian accomplices. Where we — and by we we mean here the Western states — have hitherto believed in the humanistic Morality put forward •as a cloak for their purposes by the states of the Third World, to be something fine, and worthy of striving, we now see it to be no more than a cover for tribalism. The black Ugandans want to throw the Asians out. Other black countries in Eastern Africa may deplore this, as a matter of practical politics. But no black voice is heard at the United Nations denouncing General Amin's savagery. From this phenomenon we may draw certain conclusions.

The most important of these conclusions states the inefficacy of the United Nations itself. If there is to be an international organisation of states, the judgements of which transcend the interests of the nation states who are members of that organisation — and that view of the situation is enshrined in the UN Charter which gives an individual legal identity to the UN — then it must be capable of Stating finer aspirations than the states composing it are capable of. Now, when tens of thousands of Asians are to be thrown out of East Africa, when their livelihoods are to be taken away, and their property confiscated, When an immeasurable amount of human suffering is to be endured, we find that it is not that splendid organ of organised humanity, the United Nations, which comes forward to tackle the situation, but one, small, post-Imperial state — Britain. The UN is silent where it does not prevaricate. It is dishonest where it does not have the courage to admit its majority is racialist. And it has not even the brass face of its hypocrisy. As we have learned to forget the practical use of international organisations, so we can learn to forget their pretended humanity as well.

And, then, what are we left with? We, in this country, and with the particularly noticeable and noble help of Canada, are left with the problem of absorbing a new population, a problem made no less difficult ,in its practical aspects by our acknowledgement of our moral debt to the Ugandan Asians. That problem we can handle. We must look further on, to the next time •when Britain is faced with •a conflict between her interests and the spurious obligations imposed on us by international morality. We receive the Ugandan Asians because they are our people, our citizens, our family. We do so because we feel that is what we ought to do. The moralists of the United Nations are silent on the suffering to which we are so sensitive. Let them, therefore, be silent on other subjects on which, in the future, they would challenge us. Let them be silent on Rhodesia; or arm's sales to South Africa; or on what side Britain should take in the Middle East. Let them be silent on all these things because we in this country have found, when a challenge is presented, that we can rise to morality; when the organised hypocrisy Of a United Nations cannot.

The new certainty which conviction about both the quality of our judgement and the nature of our interests should lead to in our foreign policy is already in evidence in Sir Alec Douglas-Home's decision to freeze the £10 million aid programme for Uganda. It was already past the time for this action when the Foreign Office announced that it had been taken. Henceforward, we can abandon the pretence that we owe something, in money or help, to nations and people not allied to, or at least friendly with, us. We will have in the future in Britain a multi-racial community — we already have one, whether we like it or not; whether prevision could have averted its creation or not. The growth of such a community will require, not the dissolution, but the re-affirmation of the traditional historical and moral character of our culture, so that the stranger is absorbed and digested, so that all our communities come together to foster the strength of the nation as a whole. Nothing will be more important to the achievement of this necessary end than an assertive, de finite and confident foreign policy. The Government have begun well in the creation of such a policy by their combined humanity in receiving the Asians and decisiveness in ceasing to pamper General Amin.