Iron Curtain speech

I am glad to come to West­min­ster College this after­noon, and am com­pli­men­ted that you should give me a degree. The name „West­min­ster“ is some­how fami­liar to me. I seem to have heard of it before. Indeed, it was at West­min­ster that I rece­i­ved a very large part of my edu­cation in poli­tics, dia­lectic, rhe­to­ric, and one or two other things. In fact we have both been edu­ca­ted at the same, or simi­lar, or, at any rate, kin­dred establishments.

It is also an honour, per­haps almost unique, for a pri­vate visi­tor to be intro­du­ced to an aca­de­mic audi­ence by the Pre­si­dent of the Uni­ted Sta­tes. Amid his heavy bur­dens, duties, and respon­si­bi­li­ties – unsou­ght but not reco­i­led from – the Pre­si­dent has tra­velled a thou­sand miles to dig­nify and mag­nify our mee­ting here to-day and to give me an oppor­tu­nity of add­res­sing this kin­dred nation, as well as my own coun­try­men across the ocean, and per­haps some other coun­tries too. The Pre­si­dent has told you that it is his wish, as I am sure it is yours, that I should have full liberty to give my true and fai­th­ful coun­sel in these anxi­ous and baf­fling times. I shall cer­ta­inly avail myself of this fre­e­dom, and feel the more right to do so because any pri­vate ambi­ti­ons I may have che­rished in my youn­ger days have been satis­fied bey­ond my wil­dest dre­ams. Let me, however, make it clear that I have no offi­cial mis­sion or sta­tus of any kind, and that I speak only for myself. There is nothing here but what you see.

I can the­re­fore allow my mind, with the expe­ri­ence of a life­time, to play over the pro­blems which beset us on the morrow of our abso­lute vic­tory in arms, and to try to make sure with what stren­gth I have that what has been gai­ned with so much sacri­fice and suf­fe­ring shall be pre­ser­ved for the future glory and safety of mankind.

The Uni­ted Sta­tes stands at this time at the pin­nacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the Ame­ri­can Demo­cracy. For with pri­macy in power is also joi­ned an awe-inspi­ring accoun­ta­bi­lity to the future. If you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done but also you must feel anxi­ety lest you fall below the level of achie­ve­ment. Oppor­tu­nity is here now, clear and shi­ning for both our coun­tries. To reject it or ignore it or frit­ter it away will bring upon us all the long repro­a­ches of the after-time. It is necessary that con­stancy of mind, per­si­s­tency of pur­pose, and the grand sim­pli­city of deci­sion shall guide and rule the con­duct of the Eng­lish-spe­a­king peo­ples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove our­sel­ves equal to this severe requirement.

When Ame­ri­can mili­tary men appro­ach some seri­ous situation they are wont to write at the head of their directive the words „over-all stra­te­gic con­cept.“ There is wisdom in this, as it leads to cla­rity of thou­ght. What then is the over-all stra­te­gic con­cept which we should inscribe today? It is nothing less than the safety and wel­fare, the fre­e­dom and pro­gress, of all the homes and fami­lies of all the men and women in all the lands. And here I speak par­ticu­larly of the myriad cot­tage or apart­ment homes where the wage-ear­ner stri­ves amid the acci­dents and dif­ficul­ties of life to guard his wife and chil­dren from pri­vation and bring the family up in the fear of the Lord, or upon ethi­cal con­cep­ti­ons which often play their potent part.

To give secu­rity to these count­less homes, they must be shiel­ded from the two giant marau­ders, war and tyranny. We all know the fright­ful dis­tur­ban­ces in which the ordi­nary family is plun­ged when the curse of war swo­ops down upon the bread-win­ner and those for whom he works and con­tri­ves. The awful ruin of Europe, with all its vanished glo­ries, and of large parts of Asia gla­res us in the eyes. When the designs of wic­ked men or the aggres­sive urge of mighty Sta­tes dis­solve over large areas the frame of civi­li­sed soci­ety, hum­ble folk are con­fron­ted with dif­ficul­ties with which they can­not cope. For them all is dis­tor­ted, all is bro­ken, even ground to pulp.

When I stand here this quiet after­noon I shud­der to visu­a­lise what is actu­ally hap­pe­ning to mil­li­ons now and what is going to hap­pen in this period when famine stalks the earth. None can com­pute what has been called „the une­sti­ma­ted sum of human pain.“ Our supreme task and duty is to guard the homes of the com­mon peo­ple from the horrors and mise­ries of ano­ther war. We are all agreed on that.

Our Ame­ri­can mili­tary colle­a­gues, after having proc­lai­med their „over-all stra­te­gic con­cept“ and com­pu­ted avai­la­ble resour­ces, always pro­ceed to the next step – namely, the method. Here again there is widespread agre­e­ment. A world orga­ni­sation has already been erec­ted for the prime pur­pose of pre­ven­ting war, UNO, the suc­ces­sor of the Lea­gue of Nati­ons, with the deci­sive addi­tion of the Uni­ted Sta­tes and all that that means, is already at work. We must make sure that its work is fru­it­ful, that it is a rea­lity and not a sham, that it is a force for action, and not merely a fro­thing of words, that it is a true tem­ple of peace in which the shields of many nati­ons can some day be hung up, and not merely a coc­kpit in a Tower of Babel. Before we cast away the solid assu­ran­ces of nati­o­nal arma­ments for self-pre­servation we must be cer­tain that our tem­ple is built, not upon shif­ting sands or quag­mi­res, but upon the rock. Any­one can see with his eyes open that our path will be dif­ficult and also long, but if we per­se­vere toge­ther as we did in the two world wars – though not, alas, in the inter­val between them – I can­not doubt that we shall achieve our com­mon pur­pose in the end.

I have, however, a defi­nite and practi­cal pro­po­sal to make for action. Courts and magis­tra­tes may be set up but they can­not function without she­ri­ffs and con­stables. The Uni­ted Nati­ons Orga­ni­sation must imme­di­a­tely begin to be equip­ped with an inter­nati­o­nal armed force. In such a mat­ter we can only go step by step, but we must begin now. I pro­pose that each of the Powers and Sta­tes should be invi­ted to dele­gate a cer­tain num­ber of air squadrons to the ser­vice of the world orga­ni­sation. These squadrons would be tra­i­ned and pre­pa­red in their own coun­tries, but would move around in rotation from one coun­try to ano­ther. They would wear the uni­form of their own coun­tries but with dif­fe­rent bad­ges. They would not be requi­red to act aga­inst their own nation, but in other respects they would be direc­ted by the world orga­ni­sation. This might be star­ted on a modest scale and would grow as con­fi­dence grew. I wished to see this done after the first world war, and I devou­tly trust it may be done forthwith.

It would neverthe­less be wrong and impru­dent to entrust the secret knowledge or expe­ri­ence of the ato­mic bomb, which the Uni­ted Sta­tes, Great Bri­tain, and Canada now share, to the world orga­ni­sation, while it is still in its infancy. It would be cri­mi­nal mad­ness to cast it adrift in this still agi­ta­ted and un-uni­ted world. No one in any coun­try has slept less well in their beds because this knowledge and the method and the raw mate­ri­als to apply it, are at pre­sent lar­gely reta­i­ned in Ame­ri­can hands. I do not believe we should all have slept so soundly had the posi­ti­ons been rever­sed and if some Com­mu­nist or neo-Fas­cist State mono­po­li­sed for the time being these dread agen­cies. The fear of them alone might easily have been used to enforce tota­li­ta­rian sys­tems upon the free demo­cra­tic world, with con­sequen­ces appal­ling to human ima­gi­nation. God has willed that this shall not be and we have at least a bre­athing space to set our house in order before this peril has to be encoun­te­red: and even then, if no effort is spa­red, we should still possess so for­mi­da­ble a super­i­o­rity as to impose effective deterrents upon its employ­ment, or threat of employ­ment, by others. Ulti­ma­tely, when the essen­tial bro­ther­hood of man is truly embo­died and expres­sed in a world orga­ni­sation with all the necessary practi­cal safe­gu­ards to make it effective, these powers would natu­rally be con­fi­ded to that world organisation.

Now I come to the second dan­ger of these two marau­ders which thre­a­tens the cot­tage, the home, and the ordi­nary peo­ple – namely, tyranny. We can­not be blind to the fact that the liber­ties enjoyed by indi­vi­dual citi­zens throu­ghout the Bri­tish Empire are not valid in a con­si­de­ra­ble num­ber of coun­tries, some of which are very power­ful. In these Sta­tes con­t­rol is enfor­ced upon the com­mon peo­ple by vari­ous kinds of all-embra­cing police gover­n­ments. The power of the State is exer­ci­sed without restra­int, either by dicta­tors or by com­pact oli­gar­chies ope­ra­ting through a pri­vi­le­ged party and a poli­ti­cal police. It is not our duty at this time when dif­ficul­ties are so nume­rous to inter­fere for­ci­bly in the inter­nal affairs of coun­tries which we have not conque­red in war. But we must never cease to proc­laim in fear­less tones the great prin­ci­ples of fre­e­dom and the rights of man which are the joint inhe­ri­tance of the Eng­lish-spe­a­king world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Cor­pus, trial by jury, and the Eng­lish com­mon law find their most famous expres­sion in the Ame­ri­can Dec­la­ration of Independence.

All this means that the peo­ple of any coun­try have the right, and should have the power by con­sti­tu­ti­o­nal action, by free unfet­te­red electi­ons, with secret ballot, to cho­ose or change the cha­rac­ter or form of gover­n­ment under which they dwell; that fre­e­dom of spe­ech and thou­ght should reign; that courts of jus­tice, inde­pen­dent of the execu­tive, unbi­a­sed by any party, should admi­nis­ter laws which have rece­i­ved the broad assent of large majo­ri­ties or are con­secra­ted by time and cus­tom. Here are the title deeds of fre­e­dom which should lie in every cot­tage home. Here is the message of the Bri­tish and Ame­ri­can peo­ples to man­kind. Let us pre­ach what we practise – let us practise what we preach.

I have now sta­ted the two great dan­gers which menace the homes of the peo­ple: War and Tyranny. I have not yet spo­ken of poverty and pri­vation which are in many cases the pre­vai­ling anxi­ety. But if the dan­gers of war and tyranny are remo­ved, there is no doubt that science and co-ope­ration can bring in the next few years to the world, cer­ta­inly in the next few deca­des newly tau­ght in the shar­pe­ning school of war, an expan­sion of mate­rial well-being bey­ond any­thing that has yet occurred in human expe­ri­ence. Now, at this sad and bre­athless moment, we are plun­ged in the hun­ger and dis­tress which are the after­math of our stu­pen­dous stru­g­gle; but this will pass and may pass quickly, and there is no rea­son except human folly of sub-human crime which should deny to all the nati­ons the inau­gu­ration and enjoy­ment of an age of plenty. I have often used words which I lear­ned fifty years ago from a great Irish-Ame­ri­can ora­tor, a fri­end of mine, Mr. Bourke Coc­kran. „There is enough for all. The earth is a gene­rous mother; she will pro­vide in plen­ti­ful abun­dance food for all her chil­dren if they will but cul­ti­vate her soil in jus­tice and in peace.“ So far I feel that we are in full agreement.

Now, while still pur­suing the method of rea­li­sing our ove­rall stra­te­gic con­cept, I come to the crux of what I have tra­velled here to say. Nei­ther the sure pre­ven­tion of war, nor the con­ti­nu­ous rise of world orga­ni­sation will be gai­ned without what I have called the fra­ter­nal asso­ci­ation of the Eng­lish-spe­a­king peo­ples. This means a spe­cial relati­on­ship between the Bri­tish Com­monwealth and Empire and the Uni­ted Sta­tes. This is no time for gene­ra­li­ties, and I will ven­ture to be pre­cise. Fra­ter­nal asso­ci­ation requi­res not only the growing fri­end­ship and mutual under­stan­ding between our two vast but kin­dred sys­tems of soci­ety, but the con­ti­nu­ance of the inti­mate relati­on­ship between our mili­tary advi­sers, lea­ding to com­mon study of poten­tial dan­gers, the simi­la­rity of wea­pons and manu­als of instructi­ons, and to the inter­change of offi­cers and cadets at tech­ni­cal colle­ges. It should carry with it the con­ti­nu­ance of the pre­sent faci­li­ties for mutual secu­rity by the joint use of all Naval and Air Force bases in the possession of either coun­try all over the world. This would per­haps double the mobi­lity of the Ame­ri­can Navy and Air Force. It would gre­atly expand that of the Bri­tish Empire For­ces and it might well lead, if and as the world calms down, to impor­tant finan­cial savings. Already we use toge­ther a large num­ber of islands; more may well be entrus­ted to our joint care in the near future.

The Uni­ted Sta­tes has already a Per­ma­nent Defence Agre­e­ment with the Domi­nion of Canada, which is so devo­tedly atta­ched to the Bri­tish Com­monwealth and Empire. This Agre­e­ment is more effective than many of those which have often been made under for­mal alli­an­ces. This prin­ci­ple should be exten­ded to all Bri­tish Com­monweal­ths with full reci­pro­city. Thus, wha­te­ver hap­pens, and thus only, shall we be secure our­sel­ves and able to work toge­ther for the high and sim­ple causes that are dear to us and bode no ill to any. Even­tu­ally there may come – I feel even­tu­ally there will come – the prin­ci­ple of com­mon citi­zen­ship, but that we may be con­tent to leave to destiny, whose out­stret­ched arm many of us can already clearly see.

There is however an impor­tant ques­tion we must ask our­sel­ves. Would a spe­cial relati­on­ship between the Uni­ted Sta­tes and the Bri­tish Com­monwealth be incon­si­s­tent with our over-riding loyal­ties to the World Orga­ni­sation? I reply that, on the con­trary, it is pro­ba­bly the only means by which that orga­ni­sation will achieve its full sta­ture and stren­gth. There are already the spe­cial Uni­ted Sta­tes relati­ons with Canada which I have just men­ti­o­ned, and there are the spe­cial relati­ons between the Uni­ted Sta­tes and the South Ame­ri­can Repub­lics. We Bri­tish have our twenty years Tre­aty of Colla­bo­ration and Mutual Assistance with Soviet Rus­sia. I agree with Mr. Bevin, the Fore­ign Secre­tary of Great Bri­tain, that it might well be a fifty years Tre­aty so far as we are con­cer­ned. We aim at nothing but mutual assistance and colla­bo­ration. The Bri­tish have an alli­ance with Por­tu­gal unbro­ken since 1384, and which pro­du­ced fru­it­ful results at cri­ti­cal moments in the late war. None of these clash with the gene­ral inte­rest of a world agre­e­ment, or a world orga­ni­sation; on the con­trary they help it. „In my father’s house are many man­si­ons.“ Spe­cial asso­ci­ati­ons between mem­bers of the Uni­ted Nati­ons which have no aggres­sive point aga­inst any other coun­try, which har­bour no design incom­pa­ti­ble with the Char­ter of the Uni­ted Nati­ons, far from being harm­ful, are bene­fi­cial and, as I believe, indispensable.

I spoke ear­lier of the Tem­ple of Peace. Workmen from all coun­tries must build that tem­ple. If two of the workmen know each other par­ticu­larly well and are old fri­ends, if their fami­lies are inter-min­gled, and if they have „faith in each other’s pur­pose, hope in each other’s future and cha­rity towards each other’s short­co­mings“ – to quote some good words I read here the other day – why can­not they work toge­ther at the com­mon task as fri­ends and part­ners? Why can­not they share their tools and thus incre­ase each other’s wor­king powers? Indeed they must do so or else the tem­ple may not be built, or, being built, it may collapse, and we shall all be pro­ved again unte­a­chable and have to go and try to learn again for a third time in a school of war, incom­pa­ra­bly more rigo­rous than that from which we have just been rele­a­sed. The dark ages may return, the Stone Age may return on the gle­a­ming wings of science, and what might now shower imme­a­su­ra­ble mate­rial bles­sings upon man­kind, may even bring about its total destruction. Beware, I say; time may be short. Do not let us take the course of allowing events to drift along until it is too late. If there is to be a fra­ter­nal asso­ci­ation of the kind I have descri­bed, with all the extra stren­gth and secu­rity which both our coun­tries can derive from it, let us make sure that that great fact is known to the world, and that it plays its part in ste­a­dy­ing and sta­bi­li­sing the foun­dati­ons of peace. There is the path of wisdom. Pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure.

A sha­dow has fallen upon the sce­nes so lately ligh­ted by the Allied vic­tory. Nobody knows what Soviet Rus­sia and its Com­mu­nist inter­nati­o­nal orga­ni­sation intends to do in the imme­di­ate future, or what are the limits, if any, to their expan­sive and pro­se­ly­ti­sing ten­den­cies. I have a strong admi­ration and regard for the vali­ant Rus­sian peo­ple and for my war­time comrade, Mar­shal Sta­lin. There is deep sym­pathy and goodwill in Bri­tain – and I doubt not here also – towards the peo­ples of all the Rus­sias and a resolve to per­se­vere through many dif­fe­ren­ces and rebu­ffs in estab­lishing las­ting fri­end­ships. We under­stand the Rus­sian need to be secure on her wes­tern fron­tiers by the remo­val of all possi­bi­lity of Ger­man aggres­sion. We wel­come Rus­sia to her right­ful place among the lea­ding nati­ons of the world. We wel­come her flag upon the seas. Above all, we wel­come con­stant, frequent and growing con­tacts between the Rus­sian peo­ple and our own peo­ple on both sides of the Atlan­tic. It is my duty however, for I am sure you would wish me to state the facts as I see them to you, to place before you cer­tain facts about the pre­sent posi­tion in Europe.

From Stet­tin in the Bal­tic to Trieste in the Adri­a­tic, an iron cur­tain has descen­ded across the Con­ti­nent. Behind that line lie all the capi­tals of the anci­ent sta­tes of Cen­t­ral and Eas­tern Europe. War­saw, Ber­lin, Pra­gue, Vienna, Buda­pest, Bel­grade, Bucha­rest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the popu­lati­ons around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are sub­ject in one form or ano­ther, not only to Soviet influ­ence but to a very high and, in many cases, incre­a­sing mea­sure of con­t­rol from Moscow. Athens alone – Gre­ece with its immor­tal glo­ries – is free to decide its future at an election under Bri­tish, Ame­ri­can and French observation. The Rus­sian-domi­na­ted Polish Gover­n­ment has been encou­raged to make enor­mous and wron­g­ful inroads upon Ger­many, and mass expul­si­ons of mil­li­ons of Ger­mans on a scale grie­vous and undre­a­med-of are now taking place. The Com­mu­nist par­ties, which were very small in all these Eas­tern Sta­tes of Europe, have been rai­sed to pre-emi­nence and power far bey­ond their num­bers and are seeking eve­ry­where to obtain tota­li­ta­rian con­t­rol. Police gover­n­ments are pre­vai­ling in nearly every case, and so far, except in Cze­cho­slo­va­kia, there is no true democracy.

Tur­key and Per­sia are both pro­foundly alar­med and dis­tur­bed at the claims which are being made upon them and at the pres­sure being exer­ted by the Moscow Gover­n­ment. An attempt is being made by the Rus­si­ans in Ber­lin to build up a quasi-Com­mu­nist party in their zone of Occu­pied Ger­many by showing spe­cial favours to groups of left-wing Ger­man lea­ders. At the end of the fighting last June, the Ame­ri­can and Bri­tish Armies withd­rew west­wards, in accor­dance with an ear­lier agre­e­ment, to a depth at some points of 150 miles upon a front of nearly four hun­dred miles, in order to allow our Rus­sian allies to occupy this vast expanse of terri­tory which the Wes­tern Demo­cra­cies had conquered.

If now the Soviet Gover­n­ment tries, by sepa­rate action, to build up a pro-Com­mu­nist Ger­many in their areas, this will cause new seri­ous dif­ficul­ties in the Bri­tish and Ame­ri­can zones, and will give the defe­a­ted Ger­mans the power of put­ting them­sel­ves up to auction between the Soviets and the Wes­tern Demo­cra­cies. Wha­te­ver conclusi­ons may be drawn from these facts – and facts they are – this is cer­ta­inly not the Libe­ra­ted Europe we fou­ght to build up. Nor is it one which con­ta­ins the essen­ti­als of per­ma­nent peace.

The safety of the world requi­res a new unity in Europe, from which no nation should be per­ma­nently out­cast. It is from the quarrels of the strong parent races in Europe that the world wars we have wit­nessed, or which occurred in for­mer times, have sprung. Twice in our own life­time we have seen the Uni­ted Sta­tes, aga­inst their wishes and their tra­di­ti­ons, aga­inst argu­ments, the force of which it is impossi­ble not to com­pre­hend, drawn by irre­sis­ti­ble for­ces, into these wars in time to secure the vic­tory of the good cause, but only after fright­ful slau­gh­ter and devastation had occurred. Twice the Uni­ted Sta­tes has had to send seve­ral mil­li­ons of its young men across the Atlan­tic to find the war; but now war can find any nation, whe­re­ver it may dwell between dusk and dawn. Surely we should work with con­s­ci­ous pur­pose for a grand paci­fi­cation of Europe, within the structure of the Uni­ted Nati­ons and in accor­dance with its Char­ter. That I feel is an open cause of policy of very great importance.

In front of the iron cur­tain which lies across Europe are other causes for anxi­ety. In Italy the Com­mu­nist Party is seri­ously ham­pe­red by having to sup­port the Com­mu­nist-tra­i­ned Mar­shal Tito’s claims to for­mer Ita­lian terri­tory at the head of the Adri­a­tic. Neverthe­less the future of Italy hangs in the balance. Again one can­not ima­gine a rege­ne­ra­ted Europe without a strong France. All my pub­lic life I have wor­ked for a strong France and I never lost faith in her destiny, even in the dar­kest hours. I will not lose faith now. However, in a great num­ber of coun­tries, far from the Rus­sian fron­tiers and throu­ghout the world, Com­mu­nist fifth columns are estab­lished and work in com­plete unity and abso­lute obe­di­ence to the directi­ons they rece­ive from the Com­mu­nist cen­tre. Except in the Bri­tish Com­monwealth and in the Uni­ted Sta­tes where Com­mu­nism is in its infancy, the Com­mu­nist par­ties or fifth columns con­sti­tute a growing challenge and peril to Chris­tian civi­li­sation. These are som­bre facts for any­one to have to recite on the morrow of a vic­tory gai­ned by so much splen­did comra­de­ship in arms and in the cause of fre­e­dom and demo­cracy; but we should be most unwise not to face them squa­rely while time remains.

The outlook is also anxi­ous in the Far East and espe­ci­ally in Man­chu­ria. The Agre­e­ment which was made at Yalta, to which I was a party, was extre­mely favou­ra­ble to Soviet Rus­sia, but it was made at a time when no one could say that the Ger­man war might not extend all through the sum­mer and autumn of 1945 and when the Japa­nese war was expec­ted to last for a further 18 mon­ths from the end of the Ger­man war. In this coun­try you are all so well-infor­med about the Far East, and such devo­ted fri­ends of China, that I do not need to expa­ti­ate on the situation there.

I have felt bound to por­tray the sha­dow which, alike in the west and in the east, falls upon the world. I was a high minis­ter at the time of the Ver­sailles Tre­aty and a close fri­end of Mr. Lloyd-George, who was the head of the Bri­tish dele­gation at Ver­sailles. I did not myself agree with many things that were done, but I have a very strong impres­sion in my mind of that situation, and I find it pain­ful to con­trast it with that which pre­vails now. In those days there were high hopes and unboun­ded con­fi­dence that the wars were over, and that the Lea­gue of Nati­ons would become all-power­ful. I do not see or feel that same con­fi­dence or even the same hopes in the hag­gard world at the pre­sent time.

On the other hand I repulse the idea that a new war is ine­vi­table; still more that it is immi­nent. It is because I am sure that our for­tu­nes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the oppor­tu­nity to do so. I do not believe that Soviet Rus­sia desi­res war. What they desire is the fru­its of war and the inde­fi­nite expan­sion of their power and doctri­nes. But what we have to con­si­der here to-day while time rema­ins, is the per­ma­nent pre­ven­tion of war and the estab­lishment of con­di­ti­ons of fre­e­dom and demo­cracy as rapi­dly as possi­ble in all coun­tries. Our dif­ficul­ties and dan­gers will not be remo­ved by clo­sing our eyes to them. They will not be remo­ved by mere wai­ting to see what hap­pens; nor will they be remo­ved by a policy of appe­a­se­ment. What is nee­ded is a sett­le­ment, and the lon­ger this is dela­yed, the more dif­ficult it will be and the gre­a­ter our dan­gers will become.

From what I have seen of our Rus­sian fri­ends and Allies during the war, I am con­vin­ced that there is nothing they admire so much as stren­gth, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weak­ness, espe­ci­ally mili­tary weak­ness. For that rea­son the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We can­not afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow mar­gins, offe­ring temptati­ons to a trial of stren­gth. If the Wes­tern Demo­cra­cies stand toge­ther in strict adhe­rence to the prin­ci­ples of the Uni­ted Nati­ons Char­ter, their influ­ence for furthe­ring those prin­ci­ples will be immense and no one is likely to molest them. If however they become divi­ded or fal­ter in their duty and if these all-impor­tant years are allowed to slip away then indeed cata­stro­phe may overwhelm us all.

Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-coun­try­men and to the world, but no one paid any atten­tion. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Ger­many might have been saved from the awful fate which has over­ta­ken her and we might all have been spa­red the mise­ries Hit­ler let loose upon man­kind. There never was a war in all his­tory easier to pre­vent by timely action than the one which has just deso­la­ted such great areas of the globe. It could have been pre­ven­ted in my belief without the firing of a sin­gle shot, and Ger­many might be power­ful, pro­spe­rous and honou­red to-day; but no one would lis­ten and one by one we were all suc­ked into the awful whi­rl­pool. We surely must not let that hap­pen again. This can only be achie­ved by rea­ching now, in 1946, a good under­stan­ding on all points with Rus­sia under the gene­ral autho­rity of the Uni­ted Nati­ons Orga­ni­sation and by the main­te­nance of that good under­stan­ding through many pea­ce­ful years, by the world instru­ment, sup­por­ted by the whole stren­gth of the Eng­lish-spe­a­king world and all its con­necti­ons. There is the solu­tion which I respect­fully offer to you in this Add­ress to which I have given the title „The Sinews of Peace.“

Let no man underrate the abi­ding power of the Bri­tish Empire and Com­monwealth. Because you see the 46 mil­li­ons in our island haras­sed about their food sup­ply, of which they only grow one half, even in war-time, or because we have dif­ficulty in restar­ting our industries and export trade after six years of pas­si­o­nate war effort, do not sup­pose that we shall not come through these dark years of pri­vation as we have come through the glo­ri­ous years of agony, or that half a cen­tury from now, you will not see 70 or 80 mil­li­ons of Bri­tons spread about the world and uni­ted in defence of our tra­di­ti­ons, our way of life, and of the world causes which you and we espouse. If the popu­lation of the Eng­lish-spe­a­king Com­monweal­ths be added to that of the Uni­ted Sta­tes with all that such co-ope­ration implies in the air, on the sea, all over the globe and in science and in industry, and in moral force, there will be no qui­ve­ring, pre­ca­ri­ous balance of power to offer its temptation to ambi­tion or adven­ture. On the con­trary, there will be an overwhel­ming assu­rance of secu­rity. If we adhere fai­th­fully to the Char­ter of the Uni­ted Nati­ons and walk for­ward in sedate and sober stren­gth seeking no one’s land or tre­a­sure, seeking to lay no arbit­rary con­t­rol upon the thou­ghts of men; if all Bri­tish moral and mate­rial for­ces and con­victi­ons are joi­ned with your own in fra­ter­nal asso­ci­ation, the high-roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time, but for a cen­tury to come.

© 1997 - 2024, Václav Němec
Všechna práva vyhrazena
Design: StudioSCHNEIDER & Jakub Oubrecht