§ 3.52 p.m.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, with the permission of the House I will make a statement on the situation in Jordan, and make it in the words of the Prime Minister, who is making a similar statement in another place.
" Within a matter of minutes after the end of the debate yesterday I was given a telegram from Her Majesty's representative in Jordan. This contained the first news that we had had that King Hussein and the Prime Minister of Jordan had made a request for the immediate despatch of British forces to Jordan.
" In making this request, the King and the Prime Minister said that Jordan was faced with an imminent attempt by the United Arab Republic to create internal disorder and to overthrow the present régime, on the pattern of recent events in Iraq. They went on to say that Jordan's territorial integrity was threatened by the move of Syrian forces towards her northern frontier and by the infiltration of arms across it. They had information that a coup organised by the United Arab Republic would be attempted to-day "—the 17th July.
" I asked the Cabinet to meet late last night to consider this request. From our own sources we had received up-to-date intelligence which clearly showed that the apprehensions of the Jordan Government were well-founded and that an attempt was indeed being organised for to-day. The Government accordingly decided to accede to the request, and British forces are in fact being sent by air to Jordan from Cyprus.
" The purpose of this military assistance is to stabilise the situation in Jordan by helping the Jordanian Government to resist aggression and threats to the integrity and independence of their country. We have made it clear that it is not our intention that these forces should operate outside the frontiers of Jordan. Our troops will be under the orders of the local British commander, who will act with the agreement of the King and Government of Jordan.
1284 " The Jordan Government have made a similar request for help to the United States Government, who are considering it urgently in the light of their other commitments in the area. Her Majesty's Government's decision was taken after full consultation with the United States Government, and our action has the full support and approval of the United States Government.
" The decision of Her Majesty's Government is being reported to the United Nations, and we are making it clear to the United Nations that if arrangements can be made by the Security Council to protect the lawful Government of Jordan from the external threat and so maintain international peace and security, the action which we have taken will be brought to an end.
" We have informed the other Commonwealth countries and also the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council of the action we have taken and the reasons which have led to the Government's decision. I have deliberately limited my statement to an objective account of the facts. I appreciated that there would be a desire for a debate, and arrangements have been made through the usual channels."
Those were the words of the Prime Minister speaking in another place, but I would say to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition that I should, of course, be willing to accede to any suggestion that he has to make in the Parliamentary situation which we have to-day. That, my Lords, is the statement that the Prime Minister has made in another place.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, we have listened to a very important statement indeed, which follows upon the statement which was made just recently with regard to intervention in the Lebanon, a matter which was debated in another place yesterday. I feel that it would be unwise for us not to debate the matter now, and that if we had a long series of questions upon the statement it would probably leave most of us without any real satisfaction because of the difficulties of the situation. It would be far better, if the House agrees, that I should move the adjournment now, so that anything which I may have to say on the matter will not 1285 be said in circumstances which will prevent anyone in another part of the House who wishes to comment on it from being able to do so at once and freely. If, therefore, it is the wish of the House, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
But I must still make the Motion.
My Lords, in our international relationships we have reached a stage which think is regarded by members of all political Parties in this country as of the most vital importance, and we have reached it in such conditions as will, I am sure, persuade all of us in our hearts that what we have to say should be said with calmness and steadiness and, so far as we see it in our views, with the greatest sense of responsibility. No one can view the events of this week, for example, without having recollections of individuals involved. Whatever we may have to say about the events in Iraq, I must say that I have felt great personal grief at the shocking assassination of the Crown Prince and General Nuri es-Said—
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
—with both of whom not only myself and my noble friend, Lord Attlee, but other Members of your Lordships' House have had both personal and official relationships and negotiations. The general situation seems to me to be one of considerable difficulty, requiring a great deal of heart-searching as to what is the real view of our country, of the United States, and of other freedom-loving countries as to the operation of the United Nations Organisation, and in what manner we should proceed having regard not only to the statements made in the Security Council in the last two days, but also to those made in the course of the debate yesterday. I should like to make it clear at once to your Lordships that my noble friends, so far as I have been able to consult them, take strongly the same view upon these matters as was stated, I think with great reserve and calmness (and it was so recognised by the Prime Minister himself), by the 1286 Leader of the Opposition in another place yesterday.
All our experience in the past, whenever dealing with grave national and international issues, has been that, unless it cannot be avoided, we ought to do nothing which would divide the nation. We had our experiences of that in 1935–36 and in 1938 especially. When questions come up which involve human rights and international justice and there is connected with them the possibility of great dangers arising to our own security and that of our comrades in the Empire and Commonwealth, we have to be full of concern that nothing we say from our point of view might wrongly divide the view of the nation as a whole. Nevertheless, when it comes to a question of dealing with the rightness and wrongness of policy antecedent to any possible future conflict, we should be lacking in conscious presentation of our minds if we did not speak reasonably freely. I have recollections, particularly of the years preceding the last Great War, through which we unfortunately had to go, of speeches made by Sir Winston Churchill and others who did not belong to our Party which made an enormous impression upon the country and had a great influence on the world at large. I do not think we can depart from that practice to-day.
I think that we have reached the state when we must clearly say that the statement just read by the noble Earl the Leader of the House confirms the grave doubts and fears which members of my Party have been collecting in their minds during the earlier part of the week. We have come to a very grave issue among the nations at large. I am aware that the Government in this case and the United States in the case of the Lebanon at once informed the Security Council of the United Nations of the action taken, but there must be a very strong view in many parts of the country, in spite of the emphasis placed yesterday by the Foreign Secretary on the need for speed in these matters, that it would be much more advisable to act through the United Nations first before any such interventions were made unless we were able to prove to the nation that the action so taken was not only inevitable but in the end likely to secure results, not merely for our prestige but also for the 1287 future stability of the Governments of the other countries concerned and the freedom of the people in those countries.
One of the most urgent questions we have to consider is exactly what the Government hope to achieve here by the intervention of the United States with our support or by our intervention with United States support in Jordan. It seems to me to be necessary to examine—and I will do it as briefly as I possibly can—what actually has happened. There has been a long-drawn-out dispute in the small but independent State of Lebanon which has been anxiously watched by people in all countries and in all Parties. No doubt there has been propaganda, but when it was thought that there was going to be real danger, the United Nations was invoked and they took action, of a sort which was indicated by our Foreign Secretary yesterday, when he quoted the resolution of the Security Council on what ought to be obtained by United Nations intervention, by observers in the first place, in the Lebanon. Unfortunately, we have had various accounts of what the position has been since.
It is true that the first report of the observers showed that only about 18 kilometres of the 270 kilometres of frontier was adequately covered at the time the report was written, but yesterday in another place the Foreign Secretary indicated that the Government had evidence—and the Prime Minister stated last night in the other place that he could assure the House because he had the evidence—that infiltration had been going on which amounted to aggression. Surely if evidence of that kind were available to the Government, that evidence should have been laid before Parliament and the public. If one looks at the situation in regard to the Security Council, first of all, there was the report of the Secretary of the United Nations Organisation based apparently not only on the first report but also on a subsequent visit to that area and also later information, to the effect that he considered that the work of the United Nations Observer Corps was adequate for the task of meeting the requirements that were laid upon it and reaching the objective of so far as possible stopping infiltration over the frontiers.
1288 Moreover, there is considerable dubiety on another point—that is, that the request to the United States, and perhaps to other friendly countries, from the Lebanon for intervention seems not to have been made with the will of the Parliament of the Lebanon. If Press reports are to be accepted, there seems to have been a communication from the Lebanese Parliament to the effect that they did not wish for intervention and that they wished the troops to be withdrawn. Could we know some more details about that? What are the facts about that situation? Look at the reasons, which I certainly am not going through in detail, given by Mr. Eisenhower in his statement earlier in the week.
One cannot hide from one's mind the fact that one of the reasons which the Foreign Secretary gave for the intervention was that the new state of affairs in Iraq was a factor in their deciding to intervene, not in Iraq, but in the Lebanon. It seemed, therefore, to many people—and if this is not so, exactly what the facts are ought to be explained to the House—that this was only the beginning of a much wider venture in the Middle East than merely to enter into the Lebanon for the purpose, as was suggested, of the maintenance of the sovereignty of that country. These are all very mixed reports that we have to deal with, and I think that Parliament and the public at large ought to be informed as to what are the facts. So, on that particular point, let us have an answer to the question: who really asked for the United States intervention in the Lebanon?
I would say, before I come to speak of Jordan, that I am wondering what it is that the Government—who, I am sure, from the reports in the papers, have given long and anxious thought to these problems as they come before them—hope to achieve in the Middle East by a separate intervention in these or indeed any other countries? In the face of the situation as the world at large has come to know and understand it, nothing can hide from our minds the fact that this is certainly a part of a great resurgence of Arab nationalist feelings; and however much people may have suspicions and make insinuations here and there, I agree with my honourable friend who spoke in another place last night that no 1289 factual evidence has yet been placed before the public that this trouble has been initiated or inspired by the Soviet Union—although, as my honourable friend said, they might perhaps want to make use of it. This is much more likely to be just a part of what has become a wide resurgence of Arab feeling, thought, desires and objectives.
I entirely agree with what was said by the Ministers in another place last night, that this country of ours, that we all love so much, has, of course, no need to be ashamed of its record in the past: of how it has sought to bring recognition, where it was necessary, of nationalist uprising feeling, and to meet those feelings by speeding independence, thereby securing the maintenance within those territories, not only of a permanent and lasting friendship for this country, but also what we all most desire in a changing world, the certain promise that their Governments will be democratic and representative of their peoples at large, the only possible way, in the long run, of securing freedom for all their individual citizens. I recognise that all Parties in the House have had some share in bringing about that state of affairs whereby countries within our control in the past have been given future hope and have been given self-government.
But when we come to consider the position in the Middle East to-day, what is our objective now? What do you hope to achieve by military intervention in these separate countries? That is the great difficulty that I see. I cannot, for the life of me, believe—and I am not without experience in discussing strategic and military matters, as the House knows—that in the present state of Arab feeling in the world you are going to be able to maintain a pocket here and there of Arab independence from all the rest of the Arab nationalist feeling, or that you will be able to stay there yourself for any reasonable length of time unless you can obtain control, certainly as a minimum, of all the bases you formerly occupied. What is the result then? You may set up and you may maintain now temporarily a Government which is friendly to you, and keep it so by armed force; but when you are bound to withdraw, for one reason or another, then the people concerned soon fall to the general wave of nationalism which is around them. There is no permanence in such an arrangement 1290 as that. It is certainly necessary, however much some of your Lordships may disagree with us, that we should state our views on the points I have made in that connection.
Now I turn to the statement which has just been delivered to us by the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I do not want to excite passions or create any excitement at all in anybody else by dealing at any length with legal or moral issues; I think we should be better confined, at this stage, at any rate, of what may afterwards prove to be only the preliminary to many repeated debates on these matters, to what is wise and what is prudent. The Prime Minister himself, although he dealt with some legal questions last night, was not averse from making those points which he felt he had to answer. Nevertheless, in the case of Jordan I think it is proper to observe at the start that we in the old days had very high moral and legal obligations to the State of Jordan. We were under treaty with them. We had a considerable expenditure of our taxpayers' money here to maintain them, to build up their reasonable minimum military defences and to help their economic salvation, so far as we could. That relationship does not now exist; but it was no action of the British Government that brought it to an end. There is no obligation, legal or moral, on the basis of those questions at any rate, that remains to be used as a justification for our military intervention at the present time.
Looking at the situation, therefore, from that point of view, want to ask the same question as I asked in the case of the Lebanon: what is it you think you are going to achieve? I am glad to see that the noble Earl, the Leader of the House in his statement to-day has, in mentioning the reference of this matter, after we have taken action, to the United Nations, expressed the hope that we shall be able to withdraw our troops if the United Nations make arrangements which are satisfactory—though satisfactory to whom I am not sure: whether it has to be satisfactory to the United Nations Security Council, as a whole, or whether it has to be regarded as satisfactory only by the United States and ourselves. Well, that is certainly a reasonable objective. But I must draw attention to what is likely to be one of the most important world debates that has ever yet taken 1291 place: the debate must come, first in the Security Council, and then, if the result apparently is not satisfactory there to either the United States or ourselves, in the General Assembly of the United Nations. There must be a great debate as to whose writ runs in circumstances where there is considered to be a danger to peace. Is it the writ of the one who says, "I will go in and help A or B", or is it the writ to which we have all promised to adhere; that is, support of the general Covenant of the United Nations and the administration of that body in accordance with that Covenant?
My Lords, that is the position as I see it. Upon that debate, and upon what the result may be, will depend to a large extent whether our country, our dependencies, our free nation relationships in the Commonwealth, our businesses, our homes, our families, our children and our grandchildren can look to the future with any real hope at all. There have been occasions when, no doubt, we were filled with a sense of devoted patriotism, and when we have been faced with an immediate challenge in those matters. Often the Government and Opposition have been divided. But yesterday in another place my right honourable friend who leads the Opposition, speaking, as I have said, quite calmly, but with a sense of great responsibility, referred to certain matters, including this last démarche in Jordan. He gave what I thought to be a very mild but considered warning, that if in fact there is to be a division in the nation on these matters it will be no division of our making but a division which will be caused by a revulsion of feeling against the action of the Government, as the responsible Government, and against the attitude of those who believe that it is only by these actions that either the immediate danger of war or the possible wider extension of a conflagration of the character of a world war can be prevented.
I could say a great deal more, but I do not wish to take up your Lordships' time. I beg the Government to consider not only the matters that I have put before them, but also what is going to be the future relationships of this country with the various countries, independent or federated, in the Arab world. What will be the outcome of the conflicts which have now actually commenced? 1292 We shall have great difficulty in persuading many of our fellow-countrymen that we are justified in going into much wider military operations for the sake of the preservation of oil in this limited sphere of the world, although, of course, it is a vastly important subject if considered only in the terms of oil. We have to consider what are the results generally of our actions upon our economic status in the world. It is not only a question of whether we may not have to suffer much higher costs for fuel; we shall have to consider what becomes of the other end of our market. What happens to the supplies from these areas for our aircraft engineering, civil engineering, and all the other matters in which we have been so vitally interested—and not without profit to ourselves? Therefore, is it a wise and prudent decision which has been arrived at?
I hope that I have not spoken without responsibility, and that I have not talked in any excited and specially partisan way. I think that of all the things I love most in the world I would put my own country first. I have been round the world two or three times, and there is no place in which I like to be so much as this country. There are no people whom I like to meet like people that I know in my own country. But I am bound to say this: that if one had to fight in any case for the literal defence of one's own country, one would like to think that we were defending ourselves because we were right to defend ourselves, and because we had some hope of reaching a future which would be to the benefit of our homes, our families and our children, and not contrary to the general human rights of man. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the House do now adjourn.—(Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)
§ 4.25 p.m.
My Lords, the question that this House do now adjourn has come to your Lordships rather unexpectedly and left some of us rather at a loss. But in view of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in another place last night, which I think was welcomed by most of us as a moderate and helpful speech, I am a little taken aback, though very pleased that the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition here is not taking a 1293 more severe and antagonistic attitude than the simple Motion, That the House do now adjourn. That Motion, I feel, we on these Benches should support, although not in any sense of criticism of the Government, because we do not for a moment consider that this very grave situation to-day is in any way parallel to the Suez situation of which we did disapprove.
I am not prepared at this point to make any criticism of the Government's action up to now. But we should all like to have further information as soon as it is available, and in saying that I should like to assure the noble Earl the Leader of the House that some of us are conscious of the great difficulties under which the Government are working now, and which are not always realised—particularly, I think, in the matter of intelligence, which comes through what one might call unconventional channels. To ask for those channels to be disclosed, and for its source to be disclosed, would be a fatal thing to do. It is quite obvious that if you are going to destroy the sources of your information you will find yourself at a great loss.
There is one other point—possibly a more trivial one—and that is that we must bear in mind the awkwardness of the difference in time between this country and the United States. I have very great sympathy, if I may say so, with the noble Earl and his colleagues, who are finding messages arriving at ten or eleven o'clock at night which require to be de-coded and then have to be talked about and debated, and on which action has to be taken immediately. There are some things, some trivial and some important, which make the Government's position rather difficult, and I am not prepared to criticise at this moment, when it has only just been disclosed to us that our troops have gone into Jordan. I prefer to await developments before making up a final opinion. Naturally, we all hope that this matter will be dealt with through the United Nations and N.A.T.O., partly because we have pledged ourselves always to act in that way, and partly because the people of this country are more likely to be welded together into one opinion, and not divided—which, as the noble Viscount has said, would be a tragedy—into two opinions or more, as they will be if we do not work with our 1294 friends and Allies throughout the whole of this unfortunate business.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am going to say only a very few words, partly because, like the noble Lord, Lord Rea, who has just addressed your Lordships, I had no notice that this debate was to take place; moreover, I do not want to anticipate what will have to be said in the fuller debate which I hope and think must occur within the next few days.
I feel that there are one or two things that must be said from this side of the House. As the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, rightly pointed out, we have come to a situation of the greatest gravity, and it behoves us all to speak with all responsibility. I entirely agree. And, if I may say so, I should like to welcome very warmly the temperate and restrained speech which the noble Viscount has just delivered to us. I should like to say a word about the latest events in Jordan, and in particular to congratulate Her Majesty's Government most warmly on the courage and resolution with which they have faced an entirely unforeseen crisis in that country.
Of course we all appreciate what was said by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition about the possible implications of the present position. But what was the situation with which, I imagine, Her Majesty's Government were confronted last night? It was the immediate subversion of the legitimate Government of Jordan—and I think there is no doubt that it is the legitimate Government of Jordan—the entire collapse of the whole Western position in the Middle East, and with it the upset of that balance of power on which world peace rests. In those circumstances, could it really be argued that any responsible Government should refrain from taking such steps as are possible to avert so great an evil as that?
Membership of the United Nations Organisation—and we are members of the Organisation—surely should not inhibit such action in anticipation of reference to that body. If it did inhibit it, that would, I believe, be a fatal weakness in the Charter, because it is not credible—and we must all know it in our 1295 hearts—that the United Nations could have acted soon enough to prevent the immediate catastrophe of which King Hussein warned us. Hours, and possibly days, must inevitably have passed before any definite action could be taken; and during that period the whole position might have crumbled away.
Moreover (and now I refer both to Lebanon and to Jordan), that unity of view between us and the United States of America, which is so essential if the balance of world power to which I have referred is to continue, on this particular occasion, though it has not always done so in the past, happily exists. What folly it would have been if at this time it had been we who had hung back! It might well have destroyed for ever the whole basis of Western unity. I feel that there was just as great need this time of immediate Anglo-American action as at the time—it is years ago—of the Berlin airlift, when, if I remember aright, the Labour Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin, acted so swiftly, and also, I believe, without prior reference to the United Nations. That saved the situation in Europe and stabilised it, and that stability has remained up to the present day. I do not want to say any more this afternoon, but I should like again to welcome warmly the courageous action of the Government which I believe history, when the history of our time comes to be written, will commend.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, everybody should speak with a sense of responsibility, but it is necessary to be responsible to one's own conscience. I should consider myself a guilty man if I left this debate to-day without saying what is honestly in my mind. This is a turning point in world history. We had the United Nations. It was understood that disputes must be referred there and discussed there and action taken unitedly, and here are two matters, Lebanon and Jordan, which are decided by us and the United States; then we call in the United Nations to do their part. When they do their part, when they send an observer to the Lebanon and when he makes a report which says that this is an internal affair, then the Minister elsewhere makes a speech decrying the report, saying there is not 1296 much in the report, and then the Government take an action which overrides and destroys the whole policy of the United Nations by sending these troops to Jordan.
I wish that this was the end, but it is not the end. I am pretty old. I was very small when we bombarded Alexandria; we were told time and time again it was only for a short time and we should be out of Egypt. Mr. Gladstone gave that assurance to Mr. Bright. Since that time our whole Middle Eastern policy has been wrong, based on the idea that by force, by arms, you can hold the position. You may say that that is a bold thing for a Back-Bencher to say in your Lordships' House. But what is the history? Millions and hundreds of millions have been spent in Egypt. The noble Viscount, Lord De L'Isle, will remember when he was at the Air Ministry the last effort, and the result of it was that we touched off the Egyptian revolution, and it is the policy of the British Government of force which created Nasser.
If you ask what, in a vague and foggy way, is behind the mind of the Government and others, it seems to me that what is in their mind is that this man Nasser has got to be brought down somehow. Then we had the ghastly failure of the Suez policy. And now Nasser is supposed to be the foreign power that is creating all this trouble. In point of fact, I think a study of it—I have been in and out of the place for many years—will show that what is at the root of it is Arab pride, not Jordanian pride or Iraqi pride, but Arab pride, and Nasser has secured leadership of the pride of the Arab. So long as he has that, nothing we can do will be effective.
This is done with the New Theory. That is another reason why this is a turning point in our history. The New Theory is this: if a Government of which we approve asks us to send troops, it is legitimate that we should send troops, and therefore we say it is right to send troops to the Lebanon and Amman. But the Question which I tried to put this morning to the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, is: is the Government of the Lebanon in favour of this movement? The situation in the Lebanon is as follows. President Chamoun was elected for six years. Those 1297 six years expire next week. There is only one Chamber in the Lebanon. On Thursday of next week the Lebanon Chamber is to elect his successor, and we are told that the day before yesterday the President of the Chamber, the Speaker, sent a telegram protesting against the landing of the troops. That is what we are told, and I have repeatedly tried, and my noble friend, Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough, has tried, to get an answer to the question: did the Government know that that telegram had been sent, and, if so, why was it not mentioned in the debates? We talk about free Parliaments, political freedom, and we then act against the views that are put forward. It was broadcast last night and it was in The Times this morning, and on that I hope the noble Earl, Lord Home, will give us a definite answer.
There are many points. This must be the first of many debates as this disaster goes step by step deeper into the morass. What about other countries? Have you noticed that Greece will not give air transport to American machines? There is some difficulty there. Have you noticed that Austria has protested to the United Nations against the abuse of her air space by these vast fleets of Globe-masters flying over in connection with this operation? Does it mean nothing, that we should permit, that we should be a partner—because we are a partner in all this now—in all these policies?
We had the great honour in the war of introducing the atomic weapon into Asia; it was exploded in Hiroshima. I should like to ask the Government this question: are these troops, particularly the American troops, armed with tactical atomic weapons? We ought to know. I have every reason to think that that is so. I do not know enough about the technical side, but I read about the different bombs and the different machines, and I believe that it is so.
Again, we are always asking the noble Earl who is the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, "What does the Commonwealth think about this?"; and he always says, "I am constantly in touch." The Prime Minister said in his speech "Look at the Sudan." The immediate result was that in the Press this morning there was a repudiation by the Prime Minister of the Sudan of the inferences drawn from what had been said. Let me ask this most important question, 1298 because the whole of the moral and ideological structure of the Commonwealth is at stake. Will the noble Earl really stand up and say that the Indian Government has anything but disapproval of this proposal? India has 30 million Moslems. I do not know what Pakistan thinks. They are in the Baghdad Pact. But is it not a most serious thing that, by your policies, not only are you excluding India from your Asian defence system, S.E.A.T.O., but now you do this thing which must incense every Moslem in India and which has already been criticised in harsh terms by Mr. Nehru? Are these considerations not worth the attention of this House?
Here are people who are old and have experience, people who have a responsibility. But it is not a responsibility to support a Tory Administration that has brought this country into disaster many times; it is a responsibility to tell the truth in the light of the experience that we have. My Lords, that sounds sufficiently violent. There are many other things to come from time to time. But I would ask your Lordships not to say, "This man is just an extremist; he stands always for opposing the Government." I believe that you cannot have a foreign policy unless it is based on justice, and you cannot have justice if you are going to impose the will of a foreigner by force. These are the feet of clay in the whole of our policy in the Middle East.
I share in full the sense of responsibility of my noble Leader, but I would ask for answers to just two questions. First of all, is the noble Earl going to tell us exactly what is the source of the appeal from Jordan, and supported by what facts? I do not at all agree with Lord Rea that because some "policeman" has said something it behoves us all to ask no further questions. We are being asked to send troops to Jordan, and we are being asked to send them on the strength of some secret information which must not be examined. That is the first question. The other is this: is it a fact that any communication was received or published from the President of the Lebanon Parliament—which is in the key position, because that same Lebanon Parliament next Thursday has to elect a new President of the Lebanon? If there are any answers available, I think they will help us along. But there 1299 will be many debates, and I hope that the sincere feelings and the wide experience of many noble Lords here will do something to put the brake on this disastrous rush.
§ 4.43 p.m.
My Lords, I must say that I entirely disagree with the views of the noble Viscount opposite on the Middle East, and I should like to add my support to Her Majesty's Government on the action that they have taken. I would say that those who disagree with the Government must really have their heads in the sand. I would say, too, that this is the last chance to preserve freedom in the Middle East, and that the present troubles might well never have happened had we received the support that we should have received during the Suez crisis. I suggest that events in Iraq are one more example of that feeble, fatal policy of "peace at any price" which is always put forward by our pacifists in this country, and I am delighted that Her Majesty's Government have taken the courageous action which they are taking now. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any information about loyalist troop movements outside Baghdad. I think that would be important information for the House to have.
We have heard a great deal about Arab nationalism. It is true that it is a great and growing force. But I would say that to recognise it does not mean that we must excuse its excesses and condone its crimes. Surely if Arab nationalism damages our interests, steals our property and murders our people, it is our duty to act to preserve order and save lives. I think there is little doubt that the sinister hand of Russia is behind all this insurrection, and in my view we must do all we can to break this web of Communism, and accept the grave risks we run by our intervention in Jordan. I am sure that all your Lordships are delighted at the full support we are receiving from our Allies, the United States.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I am sure that the strong views of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, are based on an honest assessment of the situation, and on long experience; but, of course, not everybody is bound to assess 1300 the situation in quite the same way. When your Lordships debated the Middle East last year I ventured to submit that the assassination of Nuri Said and the overthrow by force of the Iraq Government was a possible event which might happen at any moment. Now that this tragedy has occurred, I should like to say what a grievous loss the Arab world has suffered by the death of this wise statesman, whose great services to his country have now been ended by his murder.
I also ventured to submit to your Lordships a point that will not be so universally agreed with, and certainly not by the noble Viscount; that if the Americans had not stopped the Suez operation, or if it had been able to continue for another forty-eight hours, then this tragic drama which is now coming to a head in the Middle East would never have developed. Finally, I suggested to your Lordships that the Americans, who were so largely responsible for the grave deterioration of the position in the Middle East, were sometimes a little quicker to learn from their mistakes than were many people in this country.
I think the Americans have learned something in the last eighteen months. I think they have learned that the Arab Nationalist movement is not a liberal, progressive movement like the Italian Nationalist movement under Garibaldi, or the Hungarian Nationalist movement under Kossuth. The Arab Nationalist movement is militaristic; it is reactionary, it is murderous; it is tyrannical; it is undemocratic; and in many respects it is like the National Socialist movement under Hitler—its excesses are encouraged and not mitigated by appeasement, and moderate elements who are threatened by this movement may easily be encouraged by firm, decisive action from outside. This crisis which has now come to a head may be a thing on which the survival of freedom in the world will depend—I think it is as important as that. And whilst we all deeply regret that it should have happened in this tragic way, I am at least glad that at last Her Majesty's Government have achieved some unity of foreign policy with the United States of America.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I think that the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition did well in moving the 1301 adjournment of the House in order that we should have this short debate. I should not have intervened were it not for my profound disagreement with what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. I think I am the first lawyer to intervene in this debate. I should like to say at the outset what nonsense it appears to me to be to suggest that it is never right, proper or legal for a Government to take action in an emergency without consulting the United Nations. After all, the purpose of this debate is to consider whether Her Majesty's Government were right in responding, as they have responded, to the appeal that was made by Jordan.
Let me put to the House this simple test. What would any noble Lord in any quarter of the House have wished to happen had a similar appeal been made by the late King of Iraq, if he had discovered in time the plot by which apparently he and that great man, Nuri, have been murdered? Tributes have been paid to Nuri from many quarters. It would be improper for me to say much, for I only once had the pleasure, many years ago, of spending an evening in his company; but I join with what has been said by noble Lords in all quarters about the magnitude of the loss the world has suffered by his death.
What would have been the response had an appeal come from Iraq in time? Would not every noble Lord have wished that such an appeal should have been met, as the appeal from Jordan has now been met? And would not the world be, in a very much happier and much less dangerous position? Of course nobody disputes that there are grave dangers—there are always grave dangers in action. But are there less grave dangers in inaction? Should we be in a safer position if the whole Middle East were yielded to Nasser's murderers?
A lot of nonsense has been talked about Arab nationalism. Of course Arab nationalism is a great force and, as was made clear by my right honourable and learned friend, the Foreign Secretary, in another place, we are not opposed to nationalism as such. But that does not mean that we have to pretend that murder and subversion are respectable. The Foreign Secretary yesterday gave a formidable list of plots some of which had been discovered just in time. There was a remarkable unity of 1302 source and inspiration for these various plots. In Iraq the plot succeeded—or has succeeded so far—to the great loss of the world and of the cause of freedom, and I believe of peoples everywhere, including the Middle East.
This appeal came to Her Majesty's Government last night. It is true that we do not know what will be the result of the help that has been given, but can we have any doubt at all about the disastrous result if help had been refused, and if the information of the plot given to us by the Government of Jordan last night proved as accurate as similar warnings would have proved in the case of Iraq, had we received them? The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, I believe, asked: what would be thought of the action of Her Majesty's Government in many other countries of Asia and of the Middle East? The answer to that question will be better known to Her Majesty's Government than it is to me, but my guess is that the action of Her Majesty's Government will bring great comfort to many countries.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, has the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, read the speech of Mr. Nehru, which was printed in The Times this morning?
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I was not surprised at the reaction of Mr. Nehru: I very seldom am. But the countries of which I was thinking were Pakistan, Persia and many others immediately threatened; and I shall be surprised if in those and many other quarters the action of Her Majesty's Government is not welcomed.
I did not intend to detain the House for so long. I would only say this, in conclusion. If there is anybody who thinks that the cause of world peace, or the cause of international law, will be served by always refusing action until it can be taken in obedience to the United Nations, when everybody knows that over a great sphere of policy there is very little chance of the United Nations acting at all, or anyhow of their acting in time, I believe he is profoundly mistaken. I am grateful to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition for giving us the opportunity of this short debate, and I should like to say that on the evidence available, whatever may be the dangers of the course on which Her Majesty's Government have started, they took the right decision last night, and the dangers 1303 of any other course would have been much greater.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I cannot help wishing that some of the views we are hearing to-day had also been voiced on that side in the years before the war, when a legitimate, elected Government in Spain was overturned by military men who are still in charge. The other side acquiesced, and that ruler is still in charge to-day. This matter is an extremely difficult one, as everyone must know. I cannot help remembering that we had an Alliance with Jordan, that we gave Jordan great assistance, and that Jordan rejected our help, broke up our Alliance and sent General Glubb about his business. Apparently they did not want our help then. Now things have turned round.
I believe that we have to take very great caution in the matter of supporting what is regarded as a legitimate Government in places where democracy has not taken any very serious root, because we are then liable to be supporting someone against the will of the people concerned. We have seen a good deal of that in this world, and it is very dangerous. We have seen more or less puppet people put up, and they are always powerless against national sentiment. Very often there is the idea, "Let us get in some respectable people," but respectable people are generally powerless against a nationalist movement.
No one deplores more than I do the murders of Nuri Pasha and the Crown Prince, whom I knew well, and who, I believe, according to their lights, did better service in Iraq for their people than has been done in any other Arab State. So far as one can see, the trouble is that they failed to get the support of the people. It is extremely doubtful whether, in a country where a Government cannot control their own people by their own troops, troops should be poured in from outside, and that we should agree to go.
Admittedly it is very difficult to know what are the real springs at the back of all these moves. In America they rather tend to assume that it is always the Soviet Government. Here, more up to date, it is assumed that it is Nasser. But looking over the world as a whole, I believe that it is a false deduction to 1304 think that over this wide expanse of the world these nationalist movements which are coming up are due to the intrigues of someone outside. I think that all the evidence goes to show that this Asiatic feeling, Pan-Asiatic feeling, Pan-Arab feeling or whatever it may be, this rising which can so easily be represented as being inspired from Soviet Russia, has its existence in the demand for the equality of these people. I do not think that necessarily you are going to get anything better just because, say, some Generals take over in Iraq from Nuri Pasha. I do not think you will necessarily get a democratic régime.
What I do think is this: that wherever you step in from outside and try to force rulers, you merely foment the nationalist movement and the anti-colonial movement. And that is the danger of the step we are taking. We do not know, if things go against us, that the Americans are really welcomed by the mass of the people in Lebanon. A remarkable speech was made in another place yesterday by Colonel Banks, who knew the Lebanese well, and he explained the problem, as he saw it, of the population of Lebanon. It appears that in Lebanon there was a President, and that—as Presidents so often do; they tend to dislike the time when it comes for them to drop power—he was unconstitutionally trying to continue his power, with the result that there was naturally a revolt against it.
It is difficult to know what the position is exactly in Iraq. The danger, as I see it, is that if we interfere, so far from getting the support of the people, the fact that we are an outside Power supporting a régime makes that régime unpopular and lessens our support in the whole of that region. I think we have to make terms with Arab nationalism sooner or later. The less we intervene in their internal squabbles in these times, the better. It is difficult to find out what the facts are. It does not look as if our intentions have been frightfully good in these matters. We seem always to be taken by surprise by these events, and I think it is far better that we should keep out of them. I know that the sentimental appeal can be made: "After all, these people were our friends." In principle, they were. But the fact is that Jordan repudiated our Alliance and 1305 went to Arab nationalism; and now that they are getting into trouble we are supposed to go in and put it right. We should be wiser to stay outside.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I do not intend to detain the House very long, but I thought, in view of the fact that for most of last year I was engaged on trying to write the life of Nuri Pasha, that perhaps some word from me about his work towards what has been referred to as "Arab nationalism" might not be out of place. A t the same time, I should like to take the opportunity to put the question of Arab unity—as the noble Earl referred to it, "a great Arab nationalistic resurgence "—in some perspective.
As I see it, from 1917 onwards Nuri Pasha, more than any man else in the world, was working towards real Arab unity. If I raise the question of Israel, it is in no sense of controversy, but merely in an objective sense, to say that the defeat and frustration of his life's work came with the creation of the State of Israel. Compare that with the attitude of Nasser, who is regarded to-day as the focus of this alleged unity. Nasser regarded the State of Israel as his shortcut to that leadership. It was not anything to do with his life's work. And in so far as he has used that position to establish himself in leadership, and in so far as he is the focus of an alleged unity, that unity to-day, as I see it, is not quite so substantial as but rather more flimsy than we have been led to believe. There was a time when it was reality. I believe that time has gone. For example, Nasser has frequently spoken of an Empire stretching from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. The other day the leader of the Algerian Resistance Movement, Ferhat Abbas, had to admit at the Tangier Conference that he could not talk Arabic. I think we are apt to over-estimate the reality of this Arab unity. Arab nationalism perhaps is another matter.
In so far as the Lebanon is concerned, I want to make only one criticism which seems to have rather escaped notice, and that is that when the United Nations observers arrived, surely the first thing that any sensible leader would have done would have been to instruct his agents not to be caught out. I imagine that the 1306 very first instruction that was given from Cairo would be, "For Heaven's sake, do not be caught!" But that is not to say that there was not a great deal of infiltration before those observers arrived. I think that that aspect is somewhat overlooked.
The Opposition yesterday in another place, as I see it, laid great store by the argument that they would not support British entry into Jordan if that position was used perhaps to restore the situation in Iraq through Jordan. It is, of course, overlooked that, in fact, the King of Jordan is also King of the Federation of Jordan and Iraq. I would not go so far as to say that if the King of Jordan could prove that he was still acceptable to the people of Iraq we should deny him further assistance to the Federation; in other words, the King would be justified in asking for assistance for the Federation just as he has asked for assistance to his own Kingdom of Jordan.
I suggest that we should be wise not to commit ourselves in any way in regard to the future of Iraq. The whole history of Iraq is to the effect that this kind of thing has happened before. In 1936, General Jaffer Pasha was lured outside Baghdad and assassinated in exactly the same way as has happened to-day, and there was a counter-march on the capital such as might well happen again to-day. The whole position in Iraq is surely open and we should be ill-advised to commit ourselves. But I would say this: there should be every prospect of that young King appealing to the people of Iraq—I am thinking more of the countryside than of Baghdad itself—bearing in mind that wonderful tradition dating from King Feisal I, a tradition of wisdom and leadership and responsibility from that great man. There is no reason whatever, as I see it, why his descendant should not capture the imagination once again of the people of Iraq.
I would add only one word—and I am surprised that this aspect of the situation has not yet been referred to—and that is about the prospect of Soviet intervention. Your Lordships will remember that the threat when the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was in trouble was that if we took action in Southern Persia, the Soviet might enter Northern Persia. It might well have happened. But I pointed out 1307 at the time that if that happened we should not have been fighting about oil at all, but about an entirely different issue. I think on all sides it is admitted that the Soviet do not want a third world war; but I would suggest that if there was an extension or threat of extension of war through the present situation, we might well again say to ourselves, "It is Soviet responsibility for extending the war", and that therefore, once again, we should not be fighting about an issue in Baghdad or an issue in Amman; we should be fighting against an issue which sooner or later we should have to face.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat has obviously raised a very important point—that of possible Soviet intervention. I should have thought that the action of the United States and Her Majesty's Government during the last days was exactly calculated to cause Soviet intervention if anything was. And it seems to be quite typical of the confused and illogical thinking which seems to be dominating the speeches of noble Lords opposite that after we have landed troops in Jordan to-day and the Americans have landed troops in the Lebanon the day before yesterday it should now be suggested that it really somehow gives us a cause of complaint against the Soviets all the time. I have never heard a more illogical argument, and it seems to me to be typical of the arguments which have been addressed to us during this short debate. I should have liked to put the whole of this problem into the conspectus of foreign affairs generally, in the debate which we are to have very shortly, but it seemed to me, after so many speeches had been made from the Benches opposite—particularly those attacking my noble friend Lord Stansgate—that I, at any rate, who entirely agree with him, ought to signify that I do so. I simply cannot understand the point of view of Lord Conesford when he suggests that whenever you are in a difficulty you should take action, whatever the action may be.
§ LORD CHORLEY
The noble Lord was advocating that one should always take action. Surely that is what got us 1308 into the dreadful difficulties in connection with the Suez adventure: that we took action on the spur of the moment without reflecting about the position properly, and then we had to withdraw. If we had not taken action so precipitately the whole situation would quite clearly have been different.
§ LORD CHORLEY
If the noble Lord will allow me to continue my observations, I should like to suggest that the real reason why events are always going against us in the Middle East in the way that they have been over these years is that we have from the start been backing the wrong horse, if I may use an expression of a famous Prime Minister of the Party opposite. At the end of the First World War we broke up the region which had been ruled by the Ottoman Turks for a very long period of years into a number of stupid little States, putting several little Kinglets in Jordan and Iraq and these other places, and ever since then we have been backing feudalism and autocracy against the people in those parts and against the rise of the more enlightened outlook on the part of those people who did not want to have a régime of that sort fettered round their necks in the way it has been fettered round their necks by the Western Powers. That has been our mistake from the beginning, and we are now trying to swim against the tide as a result of it.
It is no doubt true that Nuri es-Said was a great man who did his best according to his lights, and in his time he no doubt rendered valuable services to Iraq; but as The Times—which, after all, is not a particularly Left-wing paper—pointed out in its leading article on Monday, he was behind the times. My Lords, that was an unconscious pun, but nevertheless very true. He was unable to adjust himself to the requirements of the present situation. It was because of that, I am sure, that he met his death and that the régime which he supported so ably for many years in Iraq has now fallen.
Surely we have to recognise that there is going to be a build-up of a large Arab State in this part of the world. In fact, it would, I suggest, be in the long-term interest of humanity itself that this should be brought about. It could, in my view, have been brought about in agreement 1309 with the U.S.S.R., as I have suggested in several speeches made in foreign affairs debates in your Lordships' House during the last two or three years. But in spite of invitations from Mr. Khrushchev and from other leaders in the U.S.S.R. to enter into discussions with them in regard to the difficulties in the Middle East, we have always rebuffed those suggestions, and the result is that we are now in this difficulty.
I think it should be perfectly clear that it is just as much to the interests of the U.S.S.R. as it is to our interests that we should come to some sort of settlement in regard to these problems. Marching with these Mohammedan Arab States along the southern borders of the U.S.S.R. there are a number of so-called autonomous republics which are almost entirely inhabited by Moslems and on which the events in Iraq and Syria cannot fail to be making some sort of impression. I should have thought that it is perfectly obvious that it is just as much to the interests of the U.S.S.R. as to our own interests that we should try to come to some sort of arrangement by which these very explosive forces could be controlled and guided into more peaceful paths. I am sure that the course which we are now adopting is not calculated to direct them into peaceful and constructive paths. The only result will be that when American troops are seen marching up and down the streets of Beirut and British troops are seen marching up and down the streets of Amman, it will cause a revulsion of feeling. You have only to think of what you would feel yourselves if foreign troops were in the streets of London.
§ LORD MOYNE
We have often had Allied troops in London, and we have always regarded them as our friends. We have never felt any shame about it.
§ LORD CHORLEY
If the noble Lord can imagine their landing in London in the sort of way that the American Army has been landing in Beirut during the last few days, and can seriously make that suggestion, I cannot imagine how his mind works.
§ LORD CHORLEY
As my noble friend Lord Stansgate pointed out, they were 1310 invited by a President who was on the point of having to go, and they were invited in the first place simply for the purpose of keeping him in power and quite obviously against the desires of the elected members of their Parliament.
§ LORD CHORLEY
If the noble Lords could only retain their objectivity in these matters, they would see that it is so abundantly clear that it is hardly necessary to argue about it. The difficulty that the noble Lords opposite have is that they can never put themselves into the shoes of the opposite party. They are all so concerned to pursue what are the short-term interests of this country that they cannot take the long-term view. They have got us into the mess in which we now find ourselves, and I cannot see how they can be prevailed upon to take a more objective and sensible view of the situation.
§ 5.19 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition for the procedure which he suggested for our debate to-day and for the responsible way in which he and the noble Earl—and naturally we would expect it of him—have conducted their speeches; and, indeed, for the responsibility of all the speeches which have been made in the House where, for the greater part of the debate, a high standard has been maintained.
Throughout these dangerous months, when it must have been clear to any observer with any knowledge of the Middle East that the situation was becoming more and more tense, Her Majesty's Government have sought to make it clear, in another place and in this House, that any action we might have to take—because it was clear that action might have to be taken—we should take within the United Nations Charter and according to the practice of international law. The noble Viscount was really concerned about that, as the House will be concerned. For although it is true, as my noble friend Lord Conesford said, that there is no obligation upon a member of the United Nations in all circumstances to wait upon that body, nevertheless, as civilised 1311 nations we have all undertaken to work within the framework of the United Nations Charter and according to its rules.
What, then, have the United States and United Kingdom Governments, both members of the United Nations and both responsible democracies, done? They have answered an invitation to send help which was issued by a friendly nation that felt itself in danger. That is the simple fact. I think that there can be no doubt in any quarter of the House that, by every test of morality or legality, that was a request to which the United States and British Governments were fully entitled to respond. I could not help recalling to myself, when the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, was speaking just now, that the Americans are here in the United Kingdom on our own invitation—
§ LORD CHORLEY rose—
THE EARL OF HOME
I will certainly give way in a moment, but if the noble Lord will allow me to complete my sentence, perhaps then he will not ask me to give way. The Americans are in the United Kingdom on our own invitation. As a matter of fact it was the Government of the Party opposite who invited them into this country, and we have never had any indication that that was a cause for anybody's concern, still less that it entitled the Russians either to object or to take any adverse action because of that concession. This is a perfectly simple proposition. The United States and the United Kingdom have been invited by the Governments of the Lebanon and of Jordan to come in and help them. The invitations, in answer to the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, came in one case from the President of the Lebanon and in the other case from the King, the Government and the Parliament of Jordan.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I am very anxious to have one answer. Did the noble Earl know that the Speaker of the Lebanon Parliament had sent a protest; and, if he knew it, when did he know it?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, we did not know it, and we still have no 1312 actual knowledge of it, though it was in The Times and it is probably so. What we do know is that the Parliament of the Lebanon have not met, so it cannot have been sent from the Parliament, although it may be from one Member of the Parliament or from the President of it.
I think that the House has fairly faced the situation which the Government have to meet, but I should like to remind the Opposition of the circumstances. First of all, in the Sudan a few months ago there was an attempt by Egypt to overthrow the legal Government. It did not get very far. It was nipped in the bud owing to the vigilance of the Sudanese. Secondly, in the Lebanon there was an attempt at a coup, inspired by Egypt and in which Egypt was deeply implicated, which was frustrated. Only the other day, as we know, in Iraq the lawful Government, whatever one may think of individuals in it or of the dynasty, was overthrown by murder and by arms: and we know that that was the result of a conspiracy.
Exactly on that deadly model, Jordan was faced with a three-pronged coup, involving external aggression from Syria, arms infiltrated through Syria and an attempt to overthrow the King and Government in Amman. That evidence has been given to us by the King and Government of Jordan and, as I said in my statement earlier this afternoon, it has been corroborated by our own information. If the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, or anybody else wants any further information, I might tell him what the radio in Baghdad was putting out last night. In a broadcast repeated several times, Baghdad radio said that the Jordanian people would rise to-morrow in a great revolution to destroy the Monarchy. There is the clearest evidence beyond doubt that this has been a coup planned with scrupulous care, a second barrel of which failed to go off when the Iraq coup took place, because the King of Jordan managed to get notice of it. There is no doubt at all about the evidence of this coup.
The wisdom of our action is one thing, but on this occasion I trust that we have acted in time. If the United States and the United Kingdom had allowed this procession of nations which Egypt wants to swallow simply to be gobbled up, one by one, and their legal Governments to be upset by murder and subversion from
1313 within, incited from without their borders, the whole basis of civilised living and of organised society in the world could go. The noble Viscount asked me what is the British interest in all this and I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, also raised that point. We shall return to this matter on another occasion, and after I have had more time to consider what I have to say I will come back to the various aspects of the British situation in this. But I am going to answer the noble Lords to-day in three simple words. The British interest is that law should rule. Unless somebody puts a stop to this process which the United Arab Republic is fomenting in this part of the world, then not only shall we see the whole of the Middle East go, but the rot will spread to Africa, and far beyond.
What, then, have been the immediate purpose and the longer-term purpose of the United States and the United Kingdom in these operations? First of all, in the case of the Lebanon the objective has been to secure the frontiers between the Lebanon and Syria until a United Nations force effective to do the job is able to take the place of the Americans who are there now. Secondly, in the case of Jordan it has been our immediate purpose to bring stability, to protect the legal Government and the Sovereign and to help the Sovereign to bring stability into the internal situation and resist this aggression from outside, again against the day when the United Nations Organisation can organise an effective system of security in this Middle East area.
I do not believe that anybody, as think one of my noble friends said, could seriously suppose that the United Nations, as at present organised, could deal with the situation such as we were faced with in the middle of the night. I remember Mr. Hammarskjoeld—and nobody has done more to try to bring peace to this area—saying in an address which he made a short time ago:The United Nations cannot assure evenhanded justice in the settlement of disputes mainly because it does not have the power to enforce its recommendations.It is the hope of Her Majesty's Government and of the United States Government that we can put into the United Nations the force and the authority which are necessary to deal with aggressions of this kind. That is one of the shorterterm 1314 projects of the two operations in the Lebanon and in Jordan.
What of the longer-term purpose to which both the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, made reference? Can we, as the noble Viscount put it, restrain Arab nationalism, which is a force which may grow in this area? Ought we, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said, to make terms with it and learn to live with it? I make a distinction which I hope is not too fine: that Arab pride and patriotism is one thing with which you could make terms; but when patriotism degenerates into armed nationalism, that is a deadly danger which may bring civilisation to an end. Surely, the murder of Nuri, the founder, if I may remind your Lordships, of the true modern Arab patriotism, and the murder of the King, cannot be said to be an expression of true Arab nationalism! It is nothing less than an international conspiracy of murder directed from outside.
The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, said that it is impossible to have a foreign policy unless it is based upon justice. Is Egypt's foreign policy based upon justice? Is Nasser the enlightened statesman of the world, and Nuri a person who should he liquidated because of his narrow views? The noble Viscount will know that that is a picture which nobody will sustain.
The appeal to the United Kingdom and the United States by Jordan was made not only by the King, as I have said, but by the Government and by the Parliament of Jordan, representing the Jordanian people. I must ask noble Lords: if they had been faced by that appeal to come to the assistance of a nation threatened from outside in order to restore stability and give the United Nations time to deal with the situation, would they have refused? If they will not give me an answer to-day, I hope that when they have thought it over they will come to the conclusion that they could have done nothing else than we did last night.
I have had to make a rather hurried reply to this debate, after, I am afraid, many hours of standing on my feet, which does not lead to particular coherence, but I do want to add this. I trust that the free world finding the United States and the United Kingdom, who are together leading and responsible democracies, answering these appeals from legal 1315 Governments, will find that we have done something to halt this new and deadly form of aggression, which the United Arab Republic and the Communists are using, and to put in its place the rule of law, to assert the authority of the United Nations and make it a reality.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, it would be quite wrong, in view of the reasons for which I introduced the debate, to make another speech. I will say only that we shall study with great care and attention the answer of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. We shall have to examine carefully where we stand if the United States and our country are to become more or less the arbiters as to what is the rule of law in these places. We will look at it, and no doubt at the end we shall be leading up to circumstances where either the international situation will have been reduced, as I hope, in temper, and we can have an ordinary foreign affairs debate, or, if not, and this crisis continues, we shall have continued debates so that we may have the combined wish of Parliament in shaping any policy that is to be adopted. I beg to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.