Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 6. April 9, 1968
The Menon View of History
The Menon View of History
It would be unfail in say that Mr. V. K. Krishna Menon blamed Winston Churchill for the last two world wars, and Queen Elizabeth I for all the rest of mankind's troubltes—but . . . .
In a sweeping survey of world history he blamed European influence for all African and Asian problems at the opening of the Peace, Power and Politics conference.
Mr V. K. Krishna Menon, a former Minister of Defence in the Indian Cabinet, is considered the man chiefly responsible for the destruction of India's defence capability.
Under Krishna Menon's influence, the Indian armed forces ceased to be one of Asia's most powerful defence systems.
They lapsed into ludicrous incapacity.
They were reduced in power to a point where the only enemies they could defeat were tiny enclaves such as Goa, Daman or Diu.
Their only other function was to enforce Mr. Nehru's will on the subject people of Kashmir.
When India was attacked by China, Mr. Menon's army was utterly defeated. It was defeated because for years Menon emphasised that the threat to India came from the Western nations, not China.
Krishna Menon is no longer Indian Defence Minister. No longer needed by the Indian people, who have lost their faith in China, he remains willing to assure us of China's friendly intentions.
Menon was introduced to the conference by Mrs. Freda Cooke, of the Foreign Languages Institute, Hanoi. Mrs. Cooke also brought fraternal greetings from the National Liberation Front representatives in Phnom Penh.
She then explained the difference between N.Z. Finance Minister Muldoon's "attempted supression" of the conference, and President Ho Chi Mind's order that the penalty for criticism of his regime was death.
The Conference delegates learned, in respectful silence, of the infinitely greater freedom of speech obtaining in Hamoi than in Wellington.
Krishna Menon began by stating that "neither a hungry audience, nor a hungry tiger, are satisfactory to ride for long". His introductory speech lasted 2½ hours.
Speaking, he said, as "a back number in public life, representing nobody", he gave his own unique interpretation of world history, roaming from the origins of the present tribal war in Nigeria—caused, he said, by Jack Hawkins and Queen Elizabeth I—to Talleyrand at the congress of Vienna. From Talleyrand he went to Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan, and from Japan swept through Asia.
Blaming Hawkins for carrying slaves from Nigerian ports, he ignored the fact that Arab slavers depopulated entire regions of Africa in their efforts to sell them.
Menon described the Arab states as suffering "aggression'' from Israel. "Whether they were democratic or not, they were nations", said Menon. He then outlined Arab justifications for perpetrating another Auschwitz in a genocidal attack on Israel.
Passing briefly over the character of Sir Winston Churchill—"the greatest war-maker in the world"— Menon moved on to some views on the press. "Freedom of the press—freedom for the owners, huh", left his audience in no doubt of the more democratic aspect of a press controlled by the government
"Economic penetration means political power: today the empires are trying to come back, they are ripping into our entrails."
This declaration was swiftly followed by an appeal for aid, from, of course, the USA.
"Aid is not charity. Aid is rarely the repayment of plunder taken from poorer nations." The amount of plunder America had taken from India was not mentioned.
The underlying theme in Menon's speech, more basic than resentment, was hatred.
It was all too clear that this man resented being beholden to European civilisation for his country being dragged out of the gutter of human backwardness.
The feeling expressed by Menon when he said: "People would sooner have their own bad government than other people's good government" has been common at the Peace, Power and Politics Conference.
Until the petty nationalism exemplified by Menon is swept away,Asia will remain a child biting the hand that feeds her. Luckily for Asia, Krishna Menon is, in his own words, "representing nobody" in his anthem of hate.