Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 12, No. 3, April 6th, 1949.
Atlantic Pact Overboard
Atlantic Pact Overboard
The Debating Society opened its 1949 session with the record number of 23 speakers debating the question that "The Atlantic Union Pact is a step towards World Peace." Eleven speakers led by Messrs. M. O'Brien and B. Talboys supported the motion, and twelve led by Messrs, C. Bollinger and J. Milburn opposed the motion. It was encouraging to see the large numbers—almost half—of new speakers on the V.U.C. platform. The speakers were judged by the Rev. Martin Sullivan, who in his concluding remarks stressed the need for conviction—real or faked—in order to get one's ideas across to the audience. He placed the first five speakers as Messrs. Talboys. Gunn, K. O'Brien, M. O'Brien and Milburn in that order.
The Meeting defeated the motion by 34 votes to 27.
Mr. M. O'Brien opening the debate for the affirmative, defined the subject told us that as we did not know the precise terms of the Pact. his arguments would necessarily have to be based on surmise, and then spoke of the grave necessity for continuance of world peace. He told us that UNO had failed, that direct negotiations had failed. It seemed to him that the answer to the question of peace lay in a system of regional organisation which Could be joined into one united world.
Mr. Bollinger replying for the negative said that not only was he prepared to oppose the motion as it stood, but he was quite willing to support a motion that the Atlantic Pact is a step towards World War. He analysed Mr. O'Brien's analysis of the situation and tried to explode the "logic of his argument. The affirmative were looking at the world as an orange, and in order to put it together they wanted to cut it into pieces and perhaps at a later date put it together The Atlantic Pact was a direct split of the United Nations and as such was a step towards destroying the Peace UNO had been set up to preserve.
Mr. Talboys looking like the disciple of the U.S.A. he confesses himself to be, stated that the United Nations is no more capable of dealing with aggression than was the League of Nations. He quoted article [unclear: il] of the U.N. Charter which, he said, made allowance for regional military alliances such as the Atlantic Pact. The U.S. was like Santa Claus, assisted by a few G.I.'s whose main interest was a few young women with no principles, trying to help her poor friends in Europe and and thus help peace throughout the world. The audience was amused.
Mr. Milburn, with sesquipedalian polysyllables, then proceeded to oppose the motion. The Atlantic Pact, as the affirmative had said, was aimed at the U.S.S.R.. which, as one of the countries most devastated by the war, and as one which has not the monopoly of atomic power, is not likely to want to start a war. "The USA's aim Is peace." said a later speakers and "The largest place possible," retorted Milburn.
Of the speakers from the floor, those who supported the motion seemed mainly concerned with the supposed Communist plan to dominate world from Moscow. They all made the same points in a repetitive manner. Among them. Mr. Curtin created a diversion by mounting the steps to address the meeting and Mr. Cook carried Mr. Bollinger's vegetable illusion further by suggesting that the Western Powers "knew their onions" in joining forces to oppose the march of the Eastern barbarians on Western civilisation.
New arguments were introduced by some of the speakers for the negative. Mr. Gunn. "the gentleman with the politically significant hair" 'Jermyn' deprecated this idea of all the world being for or against the Soviet Union. Alliances such as the Atlantic Pact are based on the false premise that if you want peace you prepare for war, and it' is the job of the military leaders to postulate the enemy, in this case the U.S.S.R.. in order to create the alliance. The sooner we realise that we will not prevent war by preparing for it, the sooner peace will be a possibility. Mr. K. O'Brien claimed that the Atlantic Pact was a pact for mutual assistance against Eastern Europe. As the issues dividing the world are fundamental, the pact is a step towards neither peace nor war. Mr. Evison pointed out that the only countries carrying out aggressive campaigns since the end of the war were all signatories to the pact:—U.S.A. in Greece and China. France in Indo-China, the Netherlands in Indonesia and Great Britain in Malaya.
The affirmative took it for granted that the United Nations was already a defunct body, and working from that idea, put their faith in the brainchild of the U.S.A. The negative, supported by the meeting, re-affirmed the conviction that the only hope for peace—a lasting peace—lies in a full support for the United Nations.