Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 10. June 1st, 1950
I Choose "I Choose Peace"
I Choose "I Choose Peace"
In The Penguin series, excellent as they always are, there has been something of a tendency over the last couple of years to become removed from the sense of closeness to present affairs which characterised their beginnings.
This is remedied—though it is only a minor criticism—by the issue of Konni Zillicus' "I Choose Peace." The author, in bad odour with both the Labour Party and the Communist Party (the Tories have never been lovers of his views as you will see if you read the thing) wrote it, we suppose, in the spare time afforded him after his expulsion from the Labour Party last year.
It is a sane, level headed documentation of his views on world affairs—dating back to 1917, but chiefly since the last war. It is not an orthodox Communist viewpoint—he comments that there has often been in Russian foreign policy a singular ineptness which critics have been [unclear: swift] to seize on: the critics will be bad enough without providing them such openings as the dispute over the Russian wives.
But Zilliacus sees most of Russian policy as being understandably somewhat cynical about our attitudes to them—since the Archangel expedition tried to squash them in their inception it has been ever present, but they made countless honest attempts, particularly with Litvinov, to come to understanding with the West. We wanted little of it. How did the Russians feel about our talk of "Anglo-Russian friendship" when it became clear that in 1941 before America was in the war but after the German attack on Russia, we tossed high level secret information on the atomic bomb over to neutral USA but not to our ally, USSR! Zilliacus couldn't have seen an article by Hanson Baldwin in the latest issue of Readers Digest which underlines the point. It is made clear that America should regret that it didn't follow Churchill's lead in trying to invade through the Balkans in 1944 rather than through France. He wanted expressly to "be armed for Russian expansion" but Roosevelt was more concerned with winning the war than jockeying for position in the [unclear: ti] Russian rush. This attitude to Russia is traced clearly by Zilliacus; so clearly that it is impossible to refute his argument that we rather than the Russians, started this cold war business.
His second argument is that it is our policy rather than Russian policy which is aggressive. In Greece we started by refusing to allow a fair political activity: we have continued to regard Greece as a base for our own millitary actions in the Middle East. British policy in Palestine suffers from the same outlook—that of preventing right of access to warm water ports. Zilliacus criticises Bevin's policy from start to finish, and notes that it was Bevin rather than US diplomats, who started the "get tough with Russia" policy.
On the subject of the Atlantic Pact he has amassed an amount of information: the conclusion is clear that it operates in complete disregard of the obligations under the United Nations Charter. This book is throughout well documented. Some diplomats will possibly think that he is being a little unfair in reminding them of the things they said a little way back.
The final summing up of the needs of future policy is sane in the extreme. Unfortunately, it appears that our need for prestige rather than peace is likely to prevent any genuine steps being taken to achieve peace: and the equally insane desire to attack any criticism of our society as "communist" inspired directly from the Kremlin, is the fuel which keeps the cold war going.
Zilliacus is mostly concerned to criticise the present attitude of British foreign policy towards Russia, and to suggest ways by which the present tension might be relaxed. We can only bewail the fact that none of the existing leaders of world opinion—except that almost last refuge of hope, Trygve Lie—shares any of the level-headed lack of bias which Zilliacus displays.
The book is well worth reading: the information contained in it is very well set out, and there is a great deal of it—the stuff which is fact, not abuse. Penguin Books are to be congratulated on affording to one who is, by newspaper standards, beyond the pale, the right to remind the majority of its insanity.
Lost from Women's Common Shelves between 5th and 20th April approx.
20 Women's Gym Tunica.
Will the present holders retura as soon as possible since the lack of Tunica is proving very embarrassing to the girls—J.N.J.