Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 3. April 13, 1946
Debate on Soviet Policy Draws Large Audience
Debate on Soviet Policy Draws Large Audience
The gymnasium rocked and bulged on a recent Friday evening when over two hundred students and visitors packed in to hear the first debate of the year: "That the present foreign policy of the Soviet Union is a menace to world peace." Nigel Taylor, newly elected chairman, appealed to the interjectors to be witty and apposite. Professor Lipson, the club's new president, judged the speakers. It was soon evident that the audience was getting far more fun than the debaters, who were subjected to torrents of wisecracks, inevitably followed by loud, raucous laughter.
Mr. O'Brien, vigorous and confident, opened with concise definitions and then proceeded to divide his subject into three rather arbitrary sections—military, economic and co-operative of which his seconder was to take the second. His main criticism centred round the suspicion that is aroused by the Soviet policy of creating a circle of buffer states, of refusing to pool vital Information, and adopting an obstructive policy in UNO. Since he reduced his speed Mr. O'Brien has become a plausible and interesting speaker.
Mr. Orr showed that the foreign policy of any country is connected with its economic policy, and inferred from this that Russia's protectorates are being exploited to provide for the domestic policy of expansion of industry. His manner of presentation was too restrained for such a boisterous audience.
Miss Kelly, cleverly concealing her own opinions, pointed out the significant fact that the argument could not be confined to Soviet policy alone. She quoted Stalin: "Peace, Bread and Love." A voice: (obviously Doomle is one of the 800 freshers.) "Wot, no beer!" No subsequent speaker was able to contradict her statements that General Eisenhower acknowledged substantial interchange of information with the Russians, and that there are only 2,600 Russian troops in Persia.
Mr. Neuberg: "There will be no war because you don't have to fight for Socialism nowadays—most of the, leaders of UN are socialists."
Mr. Earle gave first-hand evidence of Russian aggression in Poland. He has seen the way the entire Polish social and economic structure was sabotaged by the Russians in 1945.
Mr. Poole and Mr. Daniell: "The Soviet Union does not want war but its actions are not in the interests of peace. Mr. Poole produced the UN Charter in support of his arguments.
Mr. MacCreary: "That strange monster, the Soviet Ambassador's car. . . What country seeking war would sink its resources in such a phenomenon?"
Mr. Saker, the kindly cynic: "What foreign policy has ever been dictated by altruistic motives? Listen not to the idealistic nonsense so often talked on University debating platforms."
Mr. O'Flynn: "The yardstick is the UN. USSR is not pulling its weight in the five-oared boat or the 51-oared galley. British troop's are in Indonesia by UN agreement. There is a commission on Palestine." We are pleased to welcome Mr. O'Flynn's vigour and drive back on to the VUC platform.
Mr. Winchester: "Some of the speakers seem to be in a state of nervous pregnancy. UN has refused to recognise Governments dominated by the USSR.
Mr. Campbell (Dad and Dave): "It will be a disgrace to this Society if the motion is passed."
After the two leaders had summed up without adding anything to the discussion, the motion was put and carried by 6 votes on a count of members of the Association. When put to the whole house, however, it was lost by a similar narrow margin. There were about 16 visitors present.
Mr. Cohen pointed out that Soviet foreign policy is only understandable in the light of past events. He surveyed the attitude of the Western Powers to the USSR since 1917, with special reference to the obstruction placed in the way of Soviet requests for anti-Fascist co-operation. He failed to develop the point fully, probably through lack of time. He was factual, but not particularly persuasive.
Mr. Collins: "Even that notorious scandal-monger Churchill has said that Soviet prosperity is dependent on peace. Surrounded by unfriendly powers, she must protect her frontiers, not as a threat to others, but to safeguard herself." This dialectic logic was the best argument produced by the speakers for the negative. Mr. Colllins's force and challenge contrast favourably with the tentative opinions brought forward by the majority of VUC debaters.