§ 11.43 a.m.
LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the international situation, with special reference to the situation in the Middle East; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. It is only two weeks since the military revolution took place in Iraq. Within a few days The Times correspondent was able to write from Baghdad:
Whether the Iraquis are going to get the sort of Government they want remains to be seen, but the public generally appear to think they have got it, and there is no question but that it has a large measure of popular support…
On the day on which the dispatch from which I have quoted was published, we debated in this House the action of Her Majesty's Government in sending armed forces into Jordan, hard on the heels of similar action taken in Lebanon by the United States. In both cases the action was in response to a request from the head of the State concerned to safeguard its territory from indirect aggression from outside. My noble friend the Leader of the Opposition and my noble friend Lord Attlee challenged the Government's action as politically unwise and a dangerous gamble.
§ At that stage this country seemed again to be on the point of Parliamentary and national disunity in a situation fraught with the gravest possibilities. Doubts and anxieties and critical concern were expressed in many quarters. Was the world being taken towards the brink? Was the worst yet to come? What is certain is that an explosive situation existed, and the world watched anxiously, with one eye on the United Nations and the other eye on Soviet Russia, to see which way the precarious balance between peace and war would be tipped.
§ My Lords, the crisis is not over, but our debate today is taking place in a world atmosphere that is far less charged. The danger of armed conflict has lessened, and there has been created a reasonable chance of moving safely away from the brink of war. Government and Opposition are no longer divided. Parliament, Press and people are ranged 242 behind the policy of an early meeting of heads of Governments within the framework of the United Nations, and under the procedures provided by Article 28 of the Charter. The existence of national unity on this policy, which is directed to securing a constructive solution of the Middle East problem, is a significant fact. In the search for a constructive settlement at New York there will be difficult discussions and hard bargainings, and the Prime Minister will be able to operate from a position of political strength and national unity. That is an asset of the greatest value. We expect that in all he does, or seeks to do, the Prime Minister will take care that he carries a united Parliament and people along with him.
§ The important thing now is to get the conference going, and soon. Time-wasting is no cure for a crisis. The British and the United States Governments acted swiftly enough when it was a question of sending armed forces to Jordan and Lebanon. They should be able to act quickly when it is a question of arranging a conference to hammer out a peace settlement. The Prime Minister displayed both initiative and persuasiveness in proposing a meeting of heads of Government under United Nations procedures. We agree that it is unrealistic to think that any effective settlement could be found outside the United Nations.
But when is the meeting going to take place? That is the question of the moment. When I read the latest United States letter to Mr. Khrushchev, I found it difficult to understand the purpose of the statement that
it is not yet certain that such a meeting "—
that is, of the Security Council—
is in fact 'generally desired' although that may prove to be the case.
How long is it going to take to find out? If it needs a meeting of the Security Council first, that should present no real difficulty. The permanent representatives are in New York. If it means a decision by each individual Government represented on the Security Council, the Secretary General should surely be able to obtain replies in a matter of a day or two. I want to ask Her Majesty's Government: Are the Government in a position to indicate the date? If not, can we have an assurance that the date will be fixed and announced before
Parliament goes into Recess on Friday? In my view it would be wrong for Parliament to disperse unless an announcement has been made that the heads of Government will meet, and on a fixed date.
§ It is, of course, obvious that there should be a limit to the size of the conference if it is to do real business. We do not want an enlarged Security Council that is almost a limited General Assembly. Under Article 31 provision is made for participation by non-members of the Security Council whose interests are specially affected. Under this Article, Colonel Nasser, Mr. Ben-Gurion or any other head of Government specially concerned can be brought into the discussions. Here, let me suggest that whatever agreements or agreed recommendations may be arrived at by the heads of Governments should be reported to the General Assembly, as provided by Article 24 of the Charter, and that the Prime Minister and other heads of Governments attend and personally recommend endorsement by the General Assembly. On this basis the agreements will carry the full weight of the United Nations as a whole, and that is very important.
§ But the heart of the matter is, of course, what are the heads of Government going to decide. None of us wants to see the conference degenerate into an exercise in propaganda. We need not assume that that is the aim of Mr. Khrushchev. The Soviet Union has nothing to gain by allowing the Middle East situation to continue to bedevil the international situation and endanger peace. We want the Prime Minister to go with a plan of positive proposals. He must be prepared and ready to give a lead—and I assume that that is the Government's intention. I am not going to ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House, to tell us what are the Government's intentions because I know from experience that I should almost certainly receive a reply to the effect that they cannot disclose the Prime Minister's hand until he has played it. I do not take strong exception to that, but I hope that we may be told that, in working out their own plan for a settlement, the Government are bearing in mind the four suggestions made by Mr. Bevan in another place on behalf of the Opposition. We regard those suggestions as a constructive contribution and as indicating the right broad outlines of a settlement.244
§ Stated in summary form, the proposals are as follows: first, the Powers to agree that the Arab States of the Middle East should form an area in which they would not seek military allies or foster the promotion of military blocs; second, the existing frontiers of the area, including the State of Israel, to be guaranteed by the Powers—that is, of course, under the United Nations—against alteration except by mutual consent; third, willingness to facilitate the coming together, by peaceful negotiations, of any Arab States wishing to do so; and, fourth, the setting up of an economic commission with adequate resources to assist in the economic development of the area. And may I say, as regards the second point, the guarantee of frontiers, that there is in my view a strong case for including the Sudan, which has already experienced an armed probe by Colonel Nasser and whose continued independence is a matter of great importance to peace throughout the whole of that part of the world.
§ My Lords, it must be recognised by all of us that the West can no longer act as though the Middle East is their exclusive concern. While Western, and particularly British, influence and authority have been on 'the decline there, Soviet influence has grown. There can be no real settlement for the Middle East so long as the great Powers are at loggerheads about it and fail to remove it from their clash of interests. Political instability and social unrest are a constant danger to the security of our oil supplies, and so long as it is an area where the big Power blocs compete there will be no end to political instability.
§ We cannot restore the old power and authority of Britain in the Middle East by force, even if we wanted to do so. But we can build up influence and confidence if we make it crystal clear that it is not British policy to thwart the upsurge of Arab nationalism; that we do not seek to prevent this area from adopting a status of neutralism, as others have done, between the giant Power blocs, and that it is not our purpose to bolster up unwanted régimes—in short, that we want to have relations of trust and friendship in which we can co-operate together to mutual advantage. For years we have failed to read the signs of deep-seated changes in the Arab world and have been too slow to adapt our policy to those 245 changes. We now have a chance to bring our policy up to date, and we ought not to lose the opportunity which the forthcoming conference will provide of demonstrating that we stand for a new and fair deal for the Middle East.
I should like to ask what is going to happen when the British Forces are withdrawn from Jordan. The Times Middle East correspondent wrote on July 21:
Since King Hussein's coup de main (April 1957) Jordan has had a military Government representing, perhaps, one-third of the country's people.…The rest of the people have been subdued by a permanent state of martial law and repeated political arrests.
The correspondent went on:
.…This situation has, at its best, an ominously permanent look of a bankrupt and divided country, supported in isolation from its neighbours by the Western Powers who arranged for its creation.
This country used to subsidise Jordan to the tune of£11 million or£12 million a year. Egypt and Saudi Arabia undertook to assume this liability if we were turned out. We were turned out, but they defaulted. What is to be Jordan's economic future? Her frontiers can be guaranteed in common with the frontiers of the other States in the area, but the people of this non-viable State cannot be left in perpetual economic and social helplessness, doomed to live under martial law in a State that is nationally bankrupt. Here is a classic illustration of the need for an Economic Commission on the lines suggested by Mr. Bevan. We have from these Benches on several occasions urged the need for a sort of Colombo Plan for the Middle East and that the provision of economic aid should not be restricted to the machinery of the Baghdad Pact. That suggestion, however, has been ignored as often as it has been made. It can surely be ignored no longer. It is considered necessary that Europe should co-operate economically. Surely it is essential also to develop a system of Middle East economic co-operation with the active assistance of a United Nations Economic Commission for the whole area.
§ My Lords, the Ministerial Council of the Baghdad Pact is meeting in London to-day. I imagine that we shall be given no information about its work until the meeting is concluded, but there are two specific matters which I hope are receiving the Council's urgent attention. The 246 first is a decision to recognise the new Iraq Government. That decision should no longer be postponed. The second matter is that the membership of Iraq in the Baghdad Pact has been a constant source of friction and hostility in the Arab world. If the Powers are to disengage themselves militarily from the Arab nations, it would be wise to remove an existing source of inter-Arab conflict, by having no Arab country in the Pact. I know that Iraq has not yet denounced the Treaty. I suggest that it would be wise if the other members would consider the desirability of offering to release Iraq from the Pact obligations which their predecessors undertook under the Baghdad Pact defence arrangements. The Pact would be strengthened by the United States becoming a full member, and in the light of the new attempt to find a stable settlement in the Middle East, continued membership by Iraq might well prove a serious stumbling block to progress.
In this connection I want to call attention to King Hussein's recent statement. At his Press conference last week, he stated:
We are preparing, and with the aid of our friends, in the free world. I hope very soon we will be able to help Iraq from what it has fallen into, and that is the Communist orbit.
This sort of thing is playing with fire. King Hussein should be warned in the clearest terms that the British and American Governments will not stand for such folly. That is not the way to solve the Middle East crisis, and it is not the way to ensure the independence of his own State. There is urgent need to freeze the present position in the Middle East, so that the guns do not go off on the eve of or during the coming meeting of the heads of Government.
§ Arising out of what has been called the "holding operation" by the two Western Governments, there are two matters which I wish to draw to the attention of the House and of the Government. The claim that indirect aggression was in train against Lebanon and Jordan was a chief part of the justification advanced by the United States Government and by Her Majesty's Government for their armed intervention. I think it is true to say that indirect aggression from outside is not a new international danger. Subversion, the infiltration of agents and of arms, incitement 247 to internal violence and hostile radio outpourings have become part of the pattern of international and localised cold war operations in the post-war period. What I think is new is that it has been adopted as a reason for appealing for external aid and for providing external aid outside the United Nations. Once it is established that indirect aggression from outside justifies armed intervention in one part of the world, a precedent is established which others may decide to follow in other parts of the world. International law can no doubt be cited to justify what may be wrong as well as to sanction what is right.
§ The Charter of the United Nations deals quite specifically with the right of individual or collective defence against armed attack. But it is conceivable, as the matter stands at present, that the activities of indirect aggression might become a potentially graver and more frequent threat to peace than direct armed attack. It is a more subtle form of threat because, being undefined, it can be defined to suit the aggressive Government's convenience and designs. The Charter does not mention indirect aggression. The Chanter does not define it. The Charter does not proclaim it to be unlawful action which may lead to a breach of the peace; and the Charter does not make any provision for dealing with it. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether this is not a matter with which the United Nations should become actively concerned. What constitutes indirect aggression which threatens a nation's independence and integrity, and therefore endangers peace, needs to be defined, so that it will be possible for the United Nations to take appropriate measures to deal with it whenever indirect aggression occurs.
§ My Lords, my last point is that the resort to indirect aggression in the Middle East, and the armed intervention which the United States and British Governments considered it was their right and duty to make, emphasise the need for the establishment of a United Nations permanent armed force. This proposal has been strongly put forward in Parliament on many occasions, but the case for it is far stronger today. The two intervening Governments reported their action immediately to the United Nations, and 248 they have since made it clear that they would be ready to hand over and withdraw as soon as the United Nations was in a position effectively to take over the responsibility. The inference is that if the United Nations had been in possession of adequate forces which could have been moved promptly to the danger spots, the two Governments would not have felt called upon to adopt the course they took, with its serious attendant risks.
§ If individual national action is to be avoided in the future, there must surely be made available an adequate and properly equipped permanent force, at the disposal of the United Nations, to be used—let me make this unmistakably clear—not to interfere in the internal affairs of the receiving country, and not to protect unwanted régimes, but exclusively as an armed force to ensure that indirect aggression from outside does not have freedom to destroy or undermine a nation's independence or territorial integrity.
§ My Lords, I would add only this. I believe that the Middle East crisis has brought the world to one of the crossroads of post-war history. There can be no settlement and no pacification without the agreement and the assistance of the Powers. We ask the Government to press on with firmness and resolution to get a heads of Government meeting started without delay, and at the Conference to throw the whole weight of a united Parliament and people behind a constructive policy that will put an end to the political chaos of the Middle East and open up for its peoples a new era of social and economic advancement. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 12.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, when he speaks on these occasions on foreign affairs. He is very well instructed; he speaks with moderation, and in this case he expresses what is the bipartisan policy of the country. In the last foreign affairs debate that took place here I ventured to urge the value of a bipartisan foreign policy. Difficulties were then expressed against it as a general proposition, but today, at least, we have it for a specific purpose, and it is no less valuable on that account.
249 I find myself in agreement with practically everything that was said by the noble Lord. I noticed in particular that he did not make against successive British Governments the charge that our Middle East policy had been a terrible mistake; that we had dictated to Iraq and had propped up reactionary régimes. I am glad that he did not make that charge in the case of Iraq. I happen to have had a good deal of experience of Iraq in the old days. For many years I was Secretary of State for Air when the Kingdom of Iraq was first formed; and I can say that at that time and in the years that have followed never did we dictate to the Iraq Government; never did we attempt to prop up an out-of-date régime. What we did try to do, consistently during all those years, was to make it possible for the Iraqis to govern themselves.
I remember in particular the system that the late Lord Trenchard and I started in Iraq, which was called "control without occupation." A very limited number of air squadrons was kept in the background away from the cities and in no way capable of interfering in the affairs of the country. That was symbolic of our general attitude to this new Kingdom. The result was that that kingdom progressed and produced in King Feisal I one of the best of the Arab leaders and in Nuri es-Said, a great friend of mine, one of the most remarkable Arab statesmen. That was due not to our dictation but to the help that we gave to this new country. So far, therefore, from standing in a white sheet and confessing that we have made a series of terrible mistakes, I claim that this is a chapter of history that does credit to the British Empire. It is in the tradition of what we have done in so many parts of the world in making it possible for other peoples and other countries to manage their own affairs.
That being so, I come to the next chapter on which we are only now entering. What is to be our attitude to it? In detail my answer would not differ from that which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has just given, but I propose to deal not in detail but rather with certain broad principles upon which, I believe, we should face the future. First of all, I would say that we ought to act true to British traditions. By that I mean that we should not get overexcited, that we should not act either in 250 passion or panic. If I may be pardoned a personal recollection, I remember very well that when I was in Spain in 1940, at a very difficult moment in the war, when the British Embassy and the British community there were being subjected to every kind of Nazi-inspired provocation, I became very annoyed and maybe very irritable. I remember at that time having an interview with a very remarkable Spanish intellectual. He was the rector of the Catholic university in the Philippines, and when I poured out to him my many complaints, he said to me: "Do not on any account lose your temper. If the British people lose their temper, the world is lost."
I am inclined to think that that incident has a wider application now than it had to me at that particular moment in Spain, and that in the present crisis, when no doubt we have received every kind of provocation, we should maintain this British imperturbability. Being of a younger generation than I am, my noble and learned friend, Lord Hailsham, would use a more modern expression and would speak of "un-flappability". My Lords, whatever word one uses, we have to keep calm and to go into this Conference not in a state of emotional excitement but in a state of confidence in the great influence in the world that we still possess.
Let me pass to certain other considerations that strike me with reference to the Conference. We have to show our readiness to be friendly to any Government that is prepared to be friendly to us. In the case of Iraq that does not mean a reversal of our policy. We have always been friendly to the existing Government, and provided that the new Iraqi Government is prepared to be friendly to us I see no reason why satisfactory relations between us should not be given and continued.
Let me here interject an observation on what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, about recognition of the new Government. I have always taken the view that the presence of missions in a foreign capital does not imply any moral support of a particular country. On that account I thought it was the height of folly when the Allied Governments withdrew their missions from Spain. I would have said, in spite of my strong opinions about the Franco Government, that it 251 was just when relations were unsatisfactory with a country that one needed a mission the most. I hope, however, that there will be no unilateral action in the matter of recognition; I should like to see the recognition emerge as a joint act out of the meeting of the Baghdad Pact representatives. But be that as it may, I see no reason, judging from the statements that have already been made by the new Iraqi Government, why we should not enter into not unsatisfactory relations with them. We shall judge them by facts, just as they must judge us by facts.
Next I would make this observation: I say that we must be scrupulously loyal to our Allies. I have in mind particularly Jordan, Turkey, Persia and Pakistan. That does not mean that we are not ready to discuss the effect of new conditions upon our Alliance. It may be that one of the results of the Baghdad Pact discussions will be that the Baghdad Pact, in that form, will come to an end. Whether that be so or not, let us give no impression that, excited by this crisis, we are wavering in the loyal suport that we give to our Allies, particularly in the matter of Jordan. I am most keenly alive, as is the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, to the difficulties of the future of the Kingdom of Jordan. In the early days when I had to do with the Kingdom of Jordan we had the great advantage of having a very experienced and cautious Arab king on the throne in Abdullah. Now there is this young king—so far as I can see, a young king of fine, high mettle and great courage, and suffering under the terrible blows that have been inflicted upon his family. What will be his future, what will be the future of his country, I do not pretend to prophesy. But I do say this: whatever be the arrangements that are made, on no account must we allow him to be sacrificed to his enemies.
I come now to my third point. I hope that we shall not enter this Conference in any attitude of apology. I feel, on the other hand, that we must enter it in a spirit of great confidence. We are apt sometimes to underrate our own influence in the world. I think that we can easily push this attitude too far. I believe that we still count a very great deal in the world; and at this particular conjuncture, with our experience—an experience a 252 great deal longer than the experience of the United States—it may be that we can play a culminating part in what is happening.
I wonder whether any of your Lordships read a remarkable article that appeared last week in the Manchester Guardian by the Bombay correspondent of the Manchester Guardian, a lady named Taya Zinkin. Whether she is a British subject or an Indian subject I do not know, and that does not affect my point. Perhaps if she is not a British subject the article is all the more remarkable. This lady came back to England after a long period in India. She had read in India many accounts of what was happening here and she had gathered the impression that we had become a decadent people; that we had ceased to have any influence in the world; and that the day of our greatness was past. Yet what did she find? I would ask noble Lords to read her answer. Instead of a decadent country, in which the young men looked back with anger and the old men looked forward with fear, she found a people filled with vigour, filled with hope and enterprise, determined in the changed conditions of the world to adapt themselves to so many things that are new.
My Lords, that is a very significant article to come from someone who, I imagine, is identified with the Left rather than the Right. I have read her articles in the past and they have all had a Leftward tendency. I believe that what she said is absolutely true, and I believe that at this moment, with this Conference starting, we have the opportunity of showing that it is true. To-day I wish the Prime Minister every success in his mission; I am glad to think that he seems to represent so well the imperturbability of the country; and I congratulate him on having taken the initiative he has taken in one of our most difficult moments.
§ 12.28 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I do not think that I can remember a time when there was a more crying need for the statesmen of mankind to offer prudent guidance or, by a like token, when it was perhaps more difficult to assess exactly what the right thing to say may be and, possibly more important, what the right thing not to say may be. I do not know of a better guide to what I may seek to put before your Lordships this morning than 253 that which has fallen from my noble friend who has just sat down in the first of the pieces of homely wisdom with which he delighted us: not in these moments of anxiety to become overexcited; not to yield to panic or to passion; and, above all, never to lose one's temper. I do not think that I could seek a better example, as my noble friend reminded us, than the Prime Minister in his conduct throughout these difficult days.
I think he can claim no small share of the credit for the fact to which the noble Lord who opened this debate drew our attention—a fact upon which I think we are all entitled to look with a certain measure of satisfaction—namely, the calmness and restraint of public opinion, both in Parliament and outside, and the obvious desire on the part of everybody, I think, whilst not minimising differences of opinion which do and perhaps should exist, to achieve the maximum degree of national unity. I think that is something which reflects a certain amount of credit on all concerned, and I must say that I hope it will be continued for as long as possible and over as great a range of policy as possible. The international barometer is far too unsettled at the present time to allow us to indulge in divisions or, indeed, in angry passions.
This spirit of restraint and calmness is something which I believe is showing signs of spreading beyond Great Britain, and the policy which we have tried to pursue of constant consultation, of refusal to take offence when rather polemical and unacceptable things are said, of acting in consultation with our allies and with the Commonwealth within the framework of the United Nations, has borne a certain amount of fruit. I think that that again is something upon which all Parties in this country can look with a certain measure of satisfaction.
To my mind, at any rate, there is something else which is satisfactory. Speaking absolutely personally, I may say that ever since the war I have thought that not enough people were taking the Middle East seriously. I have always thought it about public opinion here. I felt perfectly certain of it with regard to public opinion in Europe and amongst our friends in America. I believe now that the importance of the Middle East is at least beginning to emerge, and although I would not pretend that this 254 was a step towards the solution of its problems, it is at least a pre-condition to their solution that the importance and seriousness of the situation there should be generally appreciated. I also think it is possible to believe that the difficulties of the Middle East problems are beginning to be understood. The facile solutions and the rather rigid attitudes adopted by those who proclaim them are beginning to look a little shabby in the light of contemporary events. Here is an area where the loyalties of men seldom coincide with frontiers but are commanded by race or religion, language or way of life, with Jew and Arab, Moslem and Christian, Druze and Maronite, living side by side, owing allegiance to their own communities. In it, none the less, political boundaries have somehow to be drawn and their stability has somehow to be maintained if the happiness and safety of mankind is to be ensured.
My Lords, we are sometimes asked what is our interest in the Middle East. That is a very legitimate question directed to the inhabitants of an island off the north-west coast of Europe. I would say that we have no interest there so much as peace and tranquillity, and the stability and ordered progress of its people—people who have known poverty since the dawn of time and across whose face the history of the human race has left the mark of Cain. The maintenance of this interest must presuppose some degree of justice, some standards of ethics amongst its Governments, some certainty in contracts, some assurance of human life, and some continuity in the economic arrangements whereby it is kept alive. I would agree with the noble Lord who opened this debate that the time has long gone by when the people of Britain have either the desire or the power to achieve these objects over the whole of this vast tract of territory, but they are objects which we can continue to promote by other means within our limited resources and to the extent of our special obligations, and which I must say that we have no shame whatever in avowing.
Apart from any other consideration, I should say that it would appear from his series of messages that Mr. Khrushchev entertains these objects, too. He recognises, or claims to recognize, the danger of a local conflict in the Middle East having a wider range and more 255 serious implications. That, I think, is sufficient title for any Power with the international obligations of our own country to take an interest in what goes on. How far can we discuss this? That must emerge as we go along. There can be no limits laid down a priori, but provided the aspirations for peace and stability are genuine I would say that there were very few limits. Sometimes we have been tempted to suspect that subversion and instability were the objects of some policies which have been pursued. In that case, of course, the limits will emerge; but one thing we can be certain of, and that is that if these discussions founder it will be no fault of ours.
This brings me to the question of the upsurge of nationalism to which the noble Lord referred. With the virtually unanimous assent of all classes and Parties, since 1945 alone Britain has given complete freedom to India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Ghana, the British Caribbean Federation and the Sudan. Why on earth have we done this if we were not ready to come to terms with or to live with nationalism? We have no desire for any relations with other peoples save those of complete equality and good faith. In Egypt, we terminated the rule of the Sirdars; we negotiated the successive treaties; we evacuated the Canal base, and we recognised the revolutionary Government. Why so, if we did not desire to come to terms with nationalism, and in particular with Arab nationalism?
Perhaps it is not inapposite to remember, as my noble friend reminded us a few days ago, that Arab nationalism began in its modern form because the Husseini family, with us, fanned the flames of Arab revolt against the Turkish Empire in 1915, with the co-operation of Colonel Lawrence and Nuri es-Said, now dead. Look at the dams and hydro-electric stations, the hospitals, the schools, the gradually emerging social institutions, and the very armies themselves which have been the vehicles of revolt and revolution. How can it be said in the face of these that we do not favour, on a level far higher than that of political partisanship, permanent and friendly terms with Arab nationalism?
256 But I cannot, of course, say this without one word of qualification. I know that to some people the analogy with prewar Europe is unpalatable, but nationalism has an evil side as well as a good. In my lifetime—and I have not yet lived so long as the noble Viscount who addressed us last—nationalism in its perverted form has decimated Europe and convulsed the world. Are we to learn no lessons from this? I feel that all the suffering we have been through will have been to some extent in vain if we are not to learn from it. Nationalism is capable of supporting an overweening personal ambition. It is possible, in the name of national unity, to murder Herr Dollfuss, to produce a Henlein and to carry "Sieg heil-ing" mobs into Czechoslovakia, Poland, and even into the Ukraine. It is possible to see in every pocket of territory speaking a particular language a piece of terra irredenta. It is possible to see an enemy of the people in every legitimate ruler who has exercised any kind of authority. In the Middle East, where very few people and so far no Government enjoy democracy in the sense which we do, where there are no Gallup polls and as yet no polls of a free character as we understand freedom, although we hope to see them and believe that they are there in embryo, it is easy to say of any given Government that it is an unwanted régime; and one must be on one's guard, I think, against such claims where they are designed to undermine stability and peace and good faith between legitimate authorities.
When nationalism takes the form of xenophobia, of unlimited aggrandisement, however much we might desire to live with it and to come to terms with it, hoping in some way to lead it into the comity of nations, there comes a time when these qualities will lead to disaster to themselves no less than to others. We cannot afford, therefore, to give an unqualified blessing to everything which is done under the name of nationalism.
Like my noble friend, I have an uneasy feeling that this is indeed a moment of history when statesmen can find it possible to arrest a drift to disaster which might otherwise take place, and that our time for so doing may not be very long. We have already passed beyond the phase of discussing our own and American's actions in Jordan and the Lebanon on their merits. The Prime Minister 257 described these decisions as among the most difficult of his life. I can echo that, I think, for all of us. It is not a question here of legality or morality, but a question of carefully balanced arguments, of decisions that were taken with the greatest reluctance and the greatest sense of responsibility. Rightly or wrongly, we came to the conclusion that the dangers of inaction were probably greater than the dangers of action, and although we could not foresee all the consequences of action, we had to admit that we could not foresee the consequences of inaction either.
There must be no one of your Lordships who has not asked the question, "Well, what next? Where do we go from here?" As the noble Lord said, this is but a holding operation. Its short-term consequences have been satisfactory. Our troops have been well received. The two countries to which troops went have not been overthrown by aggressive infiltration or subversion. Turkey and Israel remained quiet. But if we are asked, "Where do we go from here?" then I would say that we go from here to the council table. That is the object of a holding operation; and the object of the council table, I hope within the framework of the Security Council of the United Nations, is to provide us with the opportunity to meet at one time or another and in one way or another all those whose interests are at stake in this matter, all those who may be able to give in one way or another a contribution towards a lasting solution. It is better to hold a Congress of Berlin before having a war, instead of having a war, than afterwards. That, at any rate, is our idea. We like to think that in this we are supported by both the political Parties in this country and by our Allies outside and by the Commonwealth.
Our aim is to secure this object, to see that a meeting is held and, so far as in us lies, to see, if it is held, that it is a success. And if it is not a success, it will be no fault of ours. I tend to place my hopes on the underlying community of interests between the Middle Eastern peoples and ourselves. They need to sell their oil. They need—and how they need!—to improve their standard of living. We need to buy their oil. There is nothing immoral or improper in such 258 a relationship, which should redound to our mutual advantage. The wealth of nations is built up by the legitimate exchange of goods. Understanding and peace can well follow in the wake of advantageous trade. There is no Power on earth with whom we would not live in friendship, in accord with those principles my noble friend suggested. Nor is there any governmental authority, whatever its antecedents, whom we would not welcome into the comity of nations provided we are satisfied of its ability to honour bargains, of its desire to make them and of its intention to keep them.
A number of specific questions have been asked, to which I think it would be imprudent for me to offer specific replies. So far as recognition of régimes is concerned, I should say that there is probably no difference between the two sides of the House or between myself and what my noble friend said about the general principles on which it should be accorded—namely, that an ability to maintain order and to offer some stability, and not moral approval or disapproval of any particular régime, are the main criteria to adopt. In this particular case, I should have thought that it would have been right that this should be considered with others who have an equal interest and who have friendship with ourselves. So far as the Charter of the United Nations is concerned, I know that at the end of the debate my noble and learned friend will say something in answer to the noble Lord who began it. I can only say to those who have taken part so far that the Government are grateful for the tone in which the speeches have been delivered and I hope that they will have no fault to find with the tone in which they have been answered.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, we have now arrived at a point where I think, looking at the list, it should be possible to adjourn for three-quarters of an hour or an hour—perhaps after the noble Lord, Lord Strang, has made his speech. I believe that the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Jellicoe, does not mind whether he speaks before or after lunch.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I should like to agree with that arrangement, if it suits the noble Lord, Lord Strang.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ LORD STRANG
My Lords, now that Her Majesty's Government have set their general course for the immediate future in regard to this Middle East crisis, and since they have secured, I believe, pretty general agreement at home for that course, there does not seem to me to be any great call for a protracted dissection either of their policy or of the events that have led up to the crisis. What we have to do now is to see how the representatives of the various Governments at New York resolve the many and difficult procedural questions involved.
The Prime Minister, it seems to me, will find it hard enough to steer his course in New York without being embarrassed by too much "back-seat driving," and therefore I do not propose to say very much about the immediate problems that face us. I do, however, want to say that I support the action which Her Majesty's Government have taken, both in sending forces into Jordan and in working for the opening of talks in New York. In Jordan, we made an honourable response to an appeal from Amman which could not well have been disregarded. But there is more to it than that. No one imagines that we and the Americans, by the action we have taken in Lebanon and Jordan, are going, in any sense, to solve any long-term problem of Arab countries. But if what we have done gives a breathing space, a time for reflection, and if our readiness to act has had a steadying effect on other small nations and a deterrent effect on trouble-makers, as I think it has, then it will have served a useful purpose.
Jordan, as we all know, is a divided country, with the Palestinians on one side and the Bedouin on the other. It cannot live without financial support from outside. If changes are to occur in Jordan it seems to me to be important that they should come about in good order. Given time, we may, I think, find a tolerable solution, perhaps on the basis of economic assistance and an international guarantee through the United Nations. We need not assume that Nasser is always going to win all along along the line or that his régime is eternal. For the moment, he is riding high; and, of course, nothing succeeds like success. But his rise is founded more on personal ambition than on devotion to the 260 Arab cause; more, I think, on an appeal to mass opinion than to statesmanship. The masses may demonstrate for him in their hundreds of thousands, but in the end their stomachs have to be filled. That is Nasser's real problem.
As for the meeting in New York, I confess that I have never been an enthusiastic advocate of Summit Conferences. They had their uses in the war, but they have in the past, whether at Yalta, at Potsdam or at Geneva in 1955, left a trail of misunderstanding behind them. If there is the will to agree, agreement can be reached just as well, if not better, and certainly more accurately, through the normal channels of diplomacy. When that has been done, the heads of Governments can come along and set the seal of their approval upon what their subordinates have agreed upon. It seems to me contrary to good sense that statesmen should have to juggle with the lives of their countries in conditions of intense publicity. In point of fact, happily so, our Prime Ministers, by their training in the House of Commons, are well qualified to contend in public in the international forum. Some other countries are not so fortunate in that respect. But since there is obviously a keen and compelling demand for a Summit Conference, democratic statesmen, it seems to me, have no alternative but to fall in with it; and if we have decided to go for a Summit Conference, then I would say let us go for it in earnest.
Perhaps I may now pass to one or two more general topics. To see the latest events in their perspective, it is well to look at them in their historical context. The two dominating events of our time are the continuing Soviet threat to the free world and the progressively developing revolution in Asia and Africa. As for the Soviet threat, I do not propose to dwell upon it. I tried, four years ago to-day, to describe it to your Lordships as I then saw it; and having read my speech again, I would not change a word of it. I do not think the Russians want war rather than peace. As things are, war would be an incalculable risk.
I would go with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, so far as to say that the outbreak of violence in other countries does not necessarily always suit the Soviet book. Of course they would rather have peace, but it would have to 261 be peace on their terms. Such a peace might be disastrous for the free world; therefore we have to be on our guard, whether at the summit or anywhere else. It is true that the threat is political and economic, perhaps even more than military, but the threat that is so deeply disturbing is still the potential military threat. If the Soviet Union did not possess great nuclear armaments and an overwhelming superiority in conventional weapons, together with an aggressive political doctrine and a record of ruthlessness in pursuit of their ends, we should none of us worry nearly so much.
As to what our policy towards Russia should be, I can state it quite shortly. It would be to maintain, with the Americans, the nuclear deterrent and, collectively, the conventional shield, until such time as we can get a comprehensive and effectively controlled system of disarmament; and to be ready to talk to the Russians about anything, at all levels, including the summit. The Soviet Union is a great world Power and ought to be treated as such. There is no reason, it seems to me, why we should not talk to the Russians about the Middle East, even though we may know quite well that their objective is to strike at our influence there and to imperil our supplies of oil.
I have said that the second dominant fact is that Asia and Africa are on the move. They are on the move down the paths of nationalism and industrialisation, paths which have been marked out for them by the thought and experience of the Western countries themselves. I believe that both processes are irresistible; but to say that is not to say very much. Asian and African countries do not follow these paths in the same way. In China, industrialisation is proceeding by compulsion; in India it is proceeding by consent. In South and South-East Asia, emancipation from Western control and influence has, on the whole, followed constructive lines. In the Middle East, it is marked by a reckless and sterile appeal to mob violence, which seems to be the mark of modern Arabism. It is sometimes said that we ought to have come to terms earlier with this new Arabism before it turned so sour on us. That is easy enough to say. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will remember how anxiously the late Mr. Ernest Bevin strove to find a way to resolve that dilemma. Were we to make agreements with old- 262 fashioned régimes which would serve our interests well, so long as they lasted? Or were we deliberately to promote the replacement of those régimes by new-fashioned Governments which we believed would be likely to act against our interests.
At one stage the Americans, who had a freer hand in these matters and less at stake than we had, toyed with the latter kind of approach, with not very happy results, in Persia and in Egypt. In both cases in course of time they came to backpedal very sharply. The best solution we ourselves could think of at that time was to hold to our existing agreements but, at the same time, to offer what economic, financial and technical assistance we could afford, and to encourage development schemes based on oil revenues, as in Iraq. Cumulatively, the assistance which we gave in this way was very considerable and well conceived. But it had no commensurate effect in improving relations. It has to be confessed that economic assistance is not of much avail, in an adverse political climate, in winning friends and influencing people in international affairs.
But now that these régimes are establishing themselves, and there does not seem to be any likely alternative to them, we should try to see in what way and at what time we can reach an accommodation with them. Iraq may provide a test case. It is true that the leaders of the new administration in Baghdad may not have willed the slaughter by which the origins of the new Government have been deeply stained. We may suspend judgment on that. But they took their revolutionary action and must bear the responsibility for the full consequences. These things cannot be easily forgotten. But in foreign affairs Governments deal with hard facts and concrete national interests. If the new Iraqi Administration should prove itself to have clearly established its governing authority in the country as a whole, we shall have to deal with it, and in due course we shall no doubt think it right to treat it as the legitimate Government by common agreement with other interested Governments. On this I agree with what has been said by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson.
We do not yet know what the new Iraqi Government's policy will be. It has professed a desire to maintain normal relations with the West. It has shown no sign 263 of wishing to disturb the existing arrangements for maintaining the flow of oil. So far as public information goes, there has been no disposition to interrupt the various links, economic and financial, which it has with a variety of Western firms who are engaged in the vast development schemes now being carried out. Iraq is still a part of the sterling area. These things may change; but that is still the position.
As regard the Baghdad Pact and Iraq's special parallel arrangement with the United Kingdom, all that one can say is that Iraq's position has, so far as we know, not yet been declared, although it is true that the military clauses of these instruments would hardly suit the new alignment of Iraq with the United Arab Republic. I do not disagree with what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said on that point. On the other hand Iraq has not joined up with the United Arab Republic. Baghdad has made its peace with Cairo and Damascus, but there is as yet no sign that it is willing to subordinate itself to them. For Nasser, Iraq is a much tougher proposition than Syria, and the question is whether Iraq, while conforming to the new Arab movement, will wish at the same time to maintain her economic and financial, though perhaps not her military, links with the West. If that were so, it would be very important indeed for the future and might serve as an example for Nasser himself. It would certainly not be unwelcome to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. On the other hand, if the Iraqi Government were to adopt these moderate policies, Nasser might well turn against them and threaten another military coup of a more extreme form.
There should thus, it seems to me, be a strong common interest between ourselves and the Iraqi Administration, and our policy, I suggest, should be directed towards promoting the recognition of that common interest and to seeing it worked out in practice. If, meanwhile, the position in the Gulf States can be held steady, by putting in forces if necessary, then the way might be open for dealing with the economic situation of the Middle East as a whole. It is very important that that problem should be tackled now. It might be done through the United Nations machinery, which is well adapted for that purpose. It might be done on the basis 264 of funds provided in part from outside and in part from the domestic oil revenues.
Certainly before the Middle East can hope for political stability or for general economic progress on that or any other basis, three things, at any rate, seem to me to be necessary. First, the maldistribution of oil revenues as between Arab countries ought to be adjusted. Why should not the oil of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia help in some measure to harness the waters of the Nile, or to settle the refugees? The kings and rulers might not find this too heavy a price to pay for the stability of their thrones. Secondly, within each country the benefits of the exploitation of oil resources must be spread more evenly throughout the population as a whole. And, thirdly, the foreign Powers chiefly interested must at least try to work together instead of in rivalry and competition, and must take the Middle Eastern countries into equal partnership, as to some extent we have already done. That is an opportunity which now offers itself, and it should not be missed. There would be no better way to tame Nasser. Like everyone else he has his difficulties, and they will not grow less. Underlying and underpinning all this there would have to be guarantees against aggression, direct or indirect, from within or from without the area, and guarantees of established frontiers.
History has a long arm, and wisdom is sometimes justified of her children. The West still has abounding vitality and inventiveness. If we can deter and outlast the Communist régimes, and if we can ride the Afro-Asian storm, we may yet see most of Asia and Africa following the Western paths to which they are already committed, but doing so in ways which are more in harmony with the best that the West has to offer. We may at least hope that this will be so. But even if these difficulties could be overcome, one difficulty would remain. The mere existence of the State of Israel renders any real reconciliation between the Arab States and Great Britain and the United States extremely difficult, to say the least. This is an intractable problem which we and the Americans have created for ourselves, and we shall have to go on paying the price.
§ [The Sitting was suspended at ten minutes past one o'clock, and resumed at two o'clock.]265
§ 2.0 p.m.
My Lords, seated as an observer, as I have been on the rare occasions on which I have been able to attend your debates, I have found your Lordships kindly and benevolent, even avuncular. Standing, as I do to-day on the first occasion on which I address your Lordships, I find that you present a more formidable and intimidating spectacle, parental—even, if I may say so, grandparental. My diffidence is increased by following a former "boss," the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and I am glad that there was forty minutes' interval between his speech and my own. I crave your Lordships' indulgence for my first speech. I should like to admit a special interest in to-day's discussion. Until recently I had the honour to be a member of the Foreign Service. My last post was in Baghdad, and I was there as Deputy Secretary-General of the Baghdad Pact. It is for those reasons that I find myself in my present and most unpleasant predicament. I do not wish to give your Lordships my amateur recipe for the Middle East. Better "cooks" have already done so, and will do so again to-day. I should like to restrict myself to Iraq and to the Baghdad Pact.
Having lately lived for a year or so in Baghdad I confess that I have not been untouched by the charm of that ugly yet fascinating city, and, if I may say so, of the diverse peoples of Iraq. It is perhaps natural for us now, as things are, when we think of Iraq and Baghdad to think of the recent and repellent scenes of mob violence there. There is, however, another side to the picture, and that side is the courtesy, the kindliness and the hospitality of the Iraqi people. May I give your Lordships a homely example? I used to do my shopping in Raschid Street, which is the Regent Street of Baghdad—the street, incidentally, through which, according to the Press reports, the body of the Crown Prince Abdul Illah was dragged. Never in all my experience in Baghdad have I met in that street, from the shopkeepers and the street hawkers, and the rest of the varied plumage of the Arab world, anything but courtesy and kindliness.
There is one other aspect of the Iraqi character on which I should like very briefly to dwell. Fortunately, they do not possess, at least to any large degree, in 266 their relationship with the West one disadvantage which is rather common in nations that have recently gained their independence: the Iraqis do not, so far as I know, possess an inferiority complex towards the West; and that, I think, is a psychological factor which should be in some measure a help to us in establishing a new relationship towards the new Iraq. I myself should like to think that that fact—and I believe that it is a fact—is a tribute in its way to the very remarkable line of English men and English women who have done so much to lead Iraq to nationhood, and whom no doubt the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, had in mind in his speech.
May I also make quite clear my position in regard to the recent events in Iraq? Like all your Lordships, I felt, and feel, a deep sense of shock, indeed revulsion, at the brutal butchery of the young King and his family, and of that great, and greatly human, statesman, Nuri Pasha. I have also been shocked by the tendency which one sees current at the moment to write off the Nuri régime as decadent, feudal and corrupt. That picture, in my view, is a travesty of the truth. The truth is that the Nuri Governments, at least of the past years, were virile, forward-looking and quite remarkably clean and honest. At a moment when so much is being done to besmirch Nuri's memory, I feel that those simple facts are worth saying. But, my Lords—and I think it is a big "but"—it is equally true that the old régime in Iraq was unresponsive to public opinion. Nuri neither courted nor received popularity; and my impression, based on my own brief and inadequate experience of Iraq, is that at least 75 per cent. of political opinion in Iraq when I was there was hostile to a greater or lesser degree to the Nuri régime.
What of the present régime? While we must all admit that we know very little about it, my own feeling is that the new régime, at least temporarily, is broadly representative of public opinion in Iraq. It also seems to have installed itself very efficiently in the saddle of Government, and my hunch would be that it is likely to remain there for some time to come. It is against this background that I feel we should judge the statements of the leaders of the new Iraq Government, particularly those of the new Prime Minister who seems to be—again one 267 judges on totally inadequate evidence—a forceful and remarkable personality in his own right. We have all noted—and the noble Lord, Lord Strang drew attention to it—the statements of the new Government. Those expressions by the new Prime Minister and of his Government of good will and good intentions may, I know, have been said with tongue in cheek. But, of course, they may not; and in my view it would be far wiser to assume they were not. We have everything to gain by normalising and modernising our relations with the new Iraq, and because of this we have everything to gain, in my view, and nothing to lose, by treating the new Government as sincere and honest unless and until they are proved to be insincere and dishonest.
I should like to make three suggestions as to how we should or might set about the process of normalising our relations with the new Iraq Government. The first is this. As your Lordships know, the Baghdad Pact powers, less Iraq, are meeting, I think at Lancaster House, to-day. There have been reports in the last week or so that intervention of some kind against the new Iraqi authorities was being given some kind of consideration in some places. I believe those reports to be unfounded, if for no other reason than that that intervention would have been, and would be, contrary not only to the spirit but also to the letter of the Baghdad Pact. Article 3 of that Pact states:The High Contracting Powers undertake to refrain from any interference whatsoever in each other's internal affairs.Nevertheless, these reports of intended intervention have circulated. They are, I am sure, the common currency of the bazaar. For this reason I believe that it would be helpful if the Baghdad Pact Powers' meeting to-day could make a specific and absolutely clear-cut statement that no such interference has been, is, or will be contemplated.
My second point concerns recognition. I should like merely to add my voice to those of noble Lords who have already spoken in saying that I think we stand to gain by a speedy and complete recognition of the new Iraqi régime. I think it would be most unwise to make a problem, a hurdle, or a difficulty of recognition. After all, the new Iraqi government fulfils the two criteria which I think 268 we apply in these matters: it appears to control the country and it appears willing to discharge its international obligations. I should therefore like to add my voice to the other voices in this House, and to express the hope that the Baghdad Pact Powers, meeting in London, may be able at the conclusion of their meeting or before to announce their joint decision to recognise the new Government of Iraq. On this issue I may be wrong—the noble Lord, Lord Strang, I think, mentioned the desirability of recognition in due course. I do not quite know what is meant by "in due course"; but it seems to me that for "in due course" one should read "now". I myself feel that the psychology of these matters is important and that by not recognising now, we shall lose the advantages of recognition and incur the disadvantages of non-recognition.
My third suggestion is much less specific, and I find it difficult to put it into words. I feel that one of the disadvantages we have laboured under in Iraq for some years is that of having been the old Mandatory Power. May I put it in this way? Even though Iraq has been independent for quite a long time—and I fully agree with what the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, has said on that subject—the Iraqis themselves have not always felt themselves to be independent. They have somehow suspected that the British were in some way still running the country.
I can give a simple example. As part of the admirable development programme which the Nuri régime was carrying through there was a large schools programme. These schools were built for the purpose your Lordships might expect—to educate Iraqis in. But the Iraqis did not believe that; they thought—it was a very widespread belief which one could not eradicate—that these schools were camouflaged barracks intended for the British Army when they reoccupied Iraq. These are the sort of "ingrowing toenails" in the Iraqi consciousness which I feel we must try to eradicate, to draw out. It may be that with Nuri, with all his long and loyal associations with the West, this would not have been possible; but now I think it is. Therefore, I feel that we should be wise to try to work towards the sort of diplomatic relationship with the new Iraq Government that we so successfully established in Persia, 269 when our Embassy went back after the collapse of the Mossadeq régime. I find it difficult to express in words the sort of relationship I have in mind; I can only say that it seems to me the reverse of the mandatory relationship, admirable and rewarding though that was in its way and in its day.
My Lords, for a "new boy" I have already spoken too long. But I should like to say just a word or two about the Baghdad Pact, in the Secretariat of which I served until recently. The points I wish to make are very simple. The first is this. There is a tendency now to dismiss the Baghdad Pact as a broken reed. I believe this view to be quite wrong, and I was glad to see that it was not in any way pressed by the noble Lord who opened this debate. It is possible, though not yet certain, that Iraq will leave the Pact. I feel that that is a question in the first place for Iraq. But if Iraq does wish to leave the Pact I entirely agree with the view which has been expressed in this House; that the other Baghdad Pact Powers should be accommodating. There is supposed to be a year's delay. I think that that should be waived in this case, if that is a technical difficulty.
If Iraq does leave the Pact it will, of course, leave the other Pact countries of the region the more exposed and vulnerable. They were all very helpful to us at the time of Suez, and we should certainly not desert them now. Moreover, I should have thought that recent events in the Middle East have illustrated the great dangers which would arise if there were no physical barrier between the Arab nations and the Soviet Union. Turkey, Iran and Pakistan present this physical barrier. Accordingly, in my view, the greater the vacuum, the greater the desire for neutralisation in the Arab countries, the more necessary it is that this cordon sanitaire to the North should be maintained. So far as I know, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan have no desire to be neutralised. If this is so, then in my view there is every ground for strengthening, not weakening, the Baghdad Pact. How can this be done? On the military side, I feel quite incompetent to proffer any suggestion. I should only add that I trust that everything is being done to strengthen, under the auspices of the Pact, the radar defences of the Pact regions. This is 270 clearly necessary (there are, or were, gaping voids) and clearly defensive. But I feel that a much more vigorous impulsion could, and should, be given to the economic work of the Pact. I know a little of the difficulties, but the plans are sensible and realistic, and the planning itself has been a valuable experience in regional co-operation.
Ministers sometimes suggest that the Pact is the main vehicle to which our policy in the Middle East is hitched. If so, it seems a little odd to me that it should be a vehicle which we should wish to run "on the cheap." I consider that we, and above all the Americans, should not hesitate to spend more to keep the economic work of the Pact humming. And whilst on this subject I should like to offer one suggestion. Your Lordships are doubtless aware that it is possible to be a member of one or more committees of the Baghdad Pact yet not to be a member of the Pact itself. Should Iraq wish to opt out of the Pact, I trust that we, and our other Pact associates will invite the Iraqis, and possibly other Arab countries too, to remain associated with its economic work. I shall not expand on this point, except to say that the Pact could form a nucleus, a pilot project of the sort of regional economic scheme which the noble Lord. Lord Strang, has sketched out.
Much, of course, turns on the American attitude towards the Pact. I admit that I have long found this attitude hard to understand. It is hard to understand why the Americans should accept membership of all the main committees of the Pact and then jib at membership itself. If, as I suspect, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan wish the Pact to continue; and if, as I hope, we and the Americans decide that it should be reinforced, then I trust that this difficulty of American non-member-ship can be overcome. If, in fact, we and the Americans have a joint policy in the region, then neither of us should allow this sort of obvious anomaly to continue.
To conclude. Whatever views we may hold about the wisdom of the American action in the Lebanon or of British action in Jordan, I am sure that all your Lordships welcome any evidence of a concerted Anglo-American approach to the problems of the region. This time we and the Americans must evolve a concerted, constructive and comprehensive 271 policy to the problems of the region; and there is so little time. It may be tempting to wait until the dust has settled, but the dust does not settle in the Middle East; and if we wait we are lost. There is much sand, my Lords, in the Middle East, and that sand is being driven before a rising gale.
§ 2.20 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, it falls to me to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on the speech which he has just delivered to us. The noble Earl bears a famous and honoured name and I am sure all your Lordships would agree with me that the thoughtful speech that he has delivered to us shows very clearly how worthy he is to bear it. He has spoken, with a personal knowledge and a warm sympathy, of those far-off parts of the world which are to-day under discussion, and by what he has said he has, I am sure, given to all of us a new understanding of the position and has illumined the subject with which we are concerned. I should like, if I may, to congratulate him most warmly on a notable contribution and I hope we shall very soon hear him again.
As your Lordships know, it has for a good many years been the custom in this House—and a very admirable custom—to discuss foreign affairs just before we separate for the Summer Recess. When times are quiet, such debates, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will agree, have resolved themselves into little more than a mere formal canter over the ground and it has often been quite difficult for speakers to find any new event sufficiently important really to justify the debate at all. But that is certainly not the case on the present occasion. To-day, as we all know, we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis—a crisis of the utmost urgency and complexity; a crisis, too, which changes from day to day and almost from hour to hour.
That crisis was caused by the recent revolt of officers in Iraq which led to the brutal murder of our most loyal friends in that country, who had risked their lives to honour their friendship with us: the King, the Regent and Nuri Pasha. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Jellicoe, said what he did, for Nuri Pasha, whom I knew over a good many years, was a noble character and it would 272 be a sad thing if we in this country did not pay due tribute to him. As I am sure your Lordships will all agree, this event, which has changed the whole situation in Iraq, has also profoundly altered the position in the Middle East and indeed throughout all the world; and, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has rightly said, the situation is still seriously disturbed. It is to that part of the world, therefore, that I shall devote the whole of the remarks I propose to make to your Lordships this afternoon.
In a speech which I delivered in this House on May 14 this year I was bold enough to express the belief that the continuance of world peace depended largely on the maintenance of a balance of power between the two main blocs of the East and West: and I went on to express a fear that this balance was gradually but steadily being tipped over against the West. If that was true two months ago, how much truer is it now, when one of the main sources of oil on which the West depends has fallen into the hands of men who if not actually hostile to us—and that is at present a matter of doubt—are at least not quite such dependable Allies as were their predecessors.
As a result of these events it would appear that the balance has swung considerably further against us, and the main question in all our minds is: What should be the West do now—if there is anything to be done—to redress it? I believe there is at any rate one good feature which we can record and which has received the support of such authorities as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, to-day. The immediate steps which were taken by the British and American Governments, and which had to be taken at very short notice, immediately and without any further consultations, seem to have held the position temporarily, not only in Jordan and the Lebanon but possibly in Iraq too.
Evidently it was the intention of those who instigated what I may describe as the "plot"—ultimately, the leaders of the new Moscow-Cairo Axis—to make a clean sweep of all the friends of the West in the Middle East at one fell swoop. The absorption of Iraq was to be followed by coups in the Lebanon and Jordan, and then probably, at a later date, by further action in Kuwait and 273 Bahrein; and no doubt it was confidently expected that the West, faced with a fait accompli, would have little option but to accept the position. As has happened in other countries, the friends of the West would have been ruthlessly exterminated, and the way would then have been open for further expansion into North and Central Africa. That was no doubt the plan. It has all the signs of the broad strategy that they were pursuing; and it was a plan on the grandest scale, very similar to those with which we used to be familiar in the days of the Berlin-Rome axis before the war. But, for the moment, at any rate, the plan has been held up by the determined response of the United States and Britain in landing troops in the Lebanon and Jordan.
As recent history has often shown us, firm action by democracies is always apt to take dictators by surprise, and this appears to be no exception to that general rule. The swift and resolute Anglo-American action seems to have been entirely unexpected by the Egyptians and the Russians, and it put the rulers of those two countries in a position of considerable embarrassment. They were faced by a situation in which they had either to adopt a tougher, more dangerous, line than they had intended, with at least the risk of a general war, which, I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strang, they did not want, or they had to accept a position which involved a serious set-back to Russian and Egyptian prestige in an area where they can least afford a set-back.
That, I suggest, is the main reason for Mr. Khrushchev's urgent demand for a Summit Conference. I do not believe that, up till now, the Russians ever really wanted a Summit Conference. For them, talk of such a Conference was merely a weapon in the war of nerves on which they were engaged. First, they would raise the hopes of the peoples of Europe and America; then they would depress them. Keeping one's opponents on tenterhooks in that way is very characteristic of the whole pattern Of Soviet propaganda. But now they really do want a Conference; for they see it as the only possible way out of their dilemma. They want a Conference and they want it quickly.
274 As your Lordships know, Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States have now agreed to the Conference, although they put forward certain amendments as to the character and place of the meeting, and in particular they stipulated that it should be within the ambit of the United Nations. Whether they have been right to suggest this I do not know; but at any rate it has had, I think, one very valuable result in this country. For the first time for a good many years, it has given the country a united front. On the other hand, my Lords, it has provoked further counterproposals from the Russian side, and at present it looks—perhaps the noble Earl the Leader of the House will be able to tell us more—as if the Conference that eventually emerges will be very different in character from the original proposal, and, it may be, rather large and unwieldy for practical work.
However, we must all wait to see how that pans out; and in any case I feel, like the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that the Western countries were quite right to accept the invitation to the talks. For otherwise, Mr. Khrushchev might have been driven back on to those more extreme alternatives which he himself was so clearly anxious to avoid if he could. Indeed, to my mind, this reluctance on the Russian part to take a dangerous line is the final proof, if proof is needed, of the value of the nuclear deterrent. I believe that we should have seen a far rougher Soviet attitude if they had not been aware of the great nuclear strength of the Western Powers and particularly of the United States.
Be that as it may, however (and I do not know whether everyone would agree with what I have said), I am sure we are all glad that the Conference is to take place. And, like the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, I hope that it will take place as soon as possible; for if Russia hopes to get something out of it, so do we; and it would surely be folly to neglect any chance of getting agreement over the Middle East, however slender the chance may be. But success—and by "success" I do not mean a one-sided victory on our side; I mean a result acceptable to all the parties concerned—success, I repeat, will be achieved only under certain conditions; and I should like, very diffidently, to suggest what 275 they are. First, as I see it, we (and when I say "we" I mean the Western countries) must be clear-sighted about the basic facts of the present position; secondly, we must make up our minds, and stick to our conclusion, as to what is the minimum that we can accept, without further unbalancing the world position; and finally, absolute prior agreement must be reached between the Western Powers, and especially between Great Britain and the United States, as to the policy which we are to pursue at the Conference.
If your Lordships will bear with me for a few minutes more, I should like to say a few brief words on all those three propositions. I expect we shall hear a great deal in forthcoming weeks from the Russian group about Arab nationalism, as represented by the United Arab Republic, and as to the triumph of democracy in Iraq. We are indeed hearing quite a lot on those subjects already in various speeches in this country. But though we must take full account of Arab nationalism, which is of course a very important element in the position, I hope we shall not make it the one and only overriding consideration in all our thinking. As the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, knows far better than I do, the Arabs have never been a single nation; they have always been deeply divided; and even to-day, as I understand it, in the opinion of many authorities, Arab nationalism is not really a wholly natural movement but is largely the result of artificial stimulation by propaganda from Cairo.
Nor, if I may take the other Russian thesis—and if I refer here briefly to past events I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that it is not because I agree that they are now so important in themselves, but because they illustrate to some extent the broad point that I want to make—nor is there any reason, I believe, to suppose that what happened in Iraq, the overthrow of the monarchy and of the régime that existed, was necessarily democratic. According to such accounts as I have read from journalists and other people who have come out of Iraq, it was not a popular movement. It was, on the contrary, a conspiracy by what may be described as a junta of officers who were more inclined to the 276 views of Colonel Nasser than they were to the views of the West, and who were therefore hostile to the Government of Nuri Pasha, which favoured close relations with the West.
The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, speaking with very great knowledge of the country, has said to-day, if I understood him aright, that he believes the new Government to be broadly representative of Iraqi public opinion; and I have no doubt, if he says so, that that is the fact. But I am sure he will agree that it would be a mistake for us to assume, as a general proposition in the Middle East, that in supporting the friends of the West in those countries, we shall necessarily be going against the general feeling of the countries concerned. We need not necessarily assume, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, tended to do, that we shall be "bolstering up unwanted régimes". The real truth, as I understand it, is that there is no united national feeling in most of the countries of the Middle East of the type that there is, say, here. There are those who are attracted to one bloc of Powers and those who are attracted to another; but neither of those groups is more democratic than the other as we understand that word in this country.
In Iraq our friends, the ones who sympathise with our type of Government, have now been unhappily destroyed: but, as I see it, we can learn a lesson from their fate, and it is this. If we do not support those who think as we do, and the Russians and Egyptians always support those who think as they do, the Russian bloc will inevitably, sooner or later, win the cold war in that area; and that means, my Lords, in plain terms, that, in the long run, the whole of Western Asia and a very large part of Africa will be ultimately drawn into the Communist bloc. Unless we remember that, and unless we cease to give an inflated value (the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, rightly warned us of this to-day) to purely propaganda phrases like "nationalism" and "democracy", which in the mouths of dictators can be prostituted to mean almost anything that they wish, the Conference will fail to achieve all that we have in mind for it.
As I see it, the best hope seems to be that we should concentrate on producing some practical scheme for preserving the 277 independence of the Middle East countries. To that extent I am in full agreement with the views of Mr. Bevan, as described by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, this afternoon, though I should like to look at the details rather further before I could subscribe to all of them. Of course, it is not going to be easy, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, himself pointed out, to advance on the lines Mr. Bevan has in mind. For it raises the whole question of subversion from outside—what the Foreign Secretary has called "indirect aggression"; and to which, as he rightly pointed out, no solution has yet been found and to which moreover, politically immature people, like the peoples of the Middle East, are particularly vulnerable.
But some such plan might very likely be welcome to some of the Middle Eastern Governments themselves, and even to the new Iraqi Government. Perhaps even that Government would like to have some independence from Colonel Nasser. Their declarations on relations with the West, such as I have read during the last few days, have been strictly guarded, and, as other noble Lords have said, on the whole not unfriendly to the Western bloc; and the violent declaration of Colonel Nasser, which was reported on the wireless this morning, to the effect if I remember it aright, that any Arab State that entered into an agreement with the West would be regarded as a traitor, may well be a significant indication of the measure of his anxieties over the future of Iraqi policy. On this aspect I am sure that we shall wish to consider with more care than has been possible tip to now both the wise words that were spoken by Lord Strang—who made so statesman-like a contribution to the debate this afternoon—and also the equally wise words of Lord Jellicoe about the Baghdad Pact.
My Lords, if we could achieve the neutralisation of the Middle East against indirect aggression, that would be a tremendous step forward towards giving the countries of that area that real independence which they must know, in their hearts, Egypt and Russia will never give them. But it is not going to be easy. For, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, pointed out, there is no definition in the Charter of "indirect aggression". He seemed to draw the conclusion that, that being so, there was nothing that we could 278 do about it. My Lords, I was at San Francisco at the time when the Charter was originally drafted, and, if I remember aright, the reason why there is, in the Charter, no clear definition even of "aggression", and certainly not of "indirect aggression", is a very simple one: it is an extremely difficult thing to define. But I would not, for that reason, accept the conclusion—and I see by the nod that he gives that the noble Lord agrees—that there is nothing that can be done about indirect aggression; on the contrary, I very much hope that this Conference will do something about it. Indeed, the discovery of some means of dealing with it seems to me vital to the success of Mr. Bevan's plan.
§ LORD HENDERSON
If I may interrupt the noble Marquess, that is precisely what I recommend; that the United Nations should now proceed to define what is meant by indirect aggression "and should provide the necessary powers to deal with it when it occurs.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It may be impossible to define "indirect aggression", yet the Conference may still be able to devise some means of dealing with the results.
§ LORD HENDERSON
At any rate, they must know what is meant by "indirect aggression "before they can take action under that head.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
We all know what it means; the difficulty is to define it in words. At any rate, as I see it, it is to that end that we must work. Above all, I hope that, at the Conference, this country will not put its name to any agreement that represents, or could be regarded in Asia or Africa as representing, a victory for Russia and Egypt. For if the Russians and the Egyptians register a victory at this stage of their plan, they will, we may have no doubt, proceed immediately to their next objective—Kuwait, Aden, or even North Africa; and having twice given way it will become progressively more difficult for the West to stop them. That, I submit, is no mere academic observation. It is the inescapable lesson of events between the wars. It would have been easier to stop Hitler at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland than at the time of the invasion of Austria; it would have been easier to stop him at the time of the invasion of 279 Austria than at the time of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and it would have been easier to stop him even then than it was at the time of the attack on Poland. And when we did at last make a stand, as we did ultimately, it was impossible to avoid a war of a most disastrous kind.
What I am about to say will, I know, be controversial; but I am quite convinced in my own mind—and I think more and more people in this country are coming to recognise it—that the right moment to have stopped the aggression of Nasser was at the time of the Suez Canal. That was a crucial opportunity which may prove to be one of the turning points of history; and that opportunity was lost. But, my Lords, do not let us make the same mistake again now, and hand over the whole Middle East, too; or the next time that Nasser and the Russians make a move forward it will be even more difficult to halt them. Moreover, if it is the intention of the Government—and I understand a good many noble Lords with knowledge of that area think it would be the right thing—at some date, early or late, to find a modus vivendi with the new Iraqi Government, whether in the form of a recognition of that Government or in some other way, I am sure that they are far more likely to succeed in that purpose if the countries of the Middle East, and Iraq herself, think that the Western Powers are strong and resolute than if they think that they are weak and vacillating.
I know I shall be told that this is not a matter for us alone—that it is a matter for all the other Western countries too, and in particular for the United States of America. That is, of course, quite true, and the responsibility of the United States in particular is very heavy indeed. Their firmness in the Lebanon has already had an immensely stabilising effect. But can they keep it up?—that is what a great many people in this country are asking. Personally, I hope and believe that now, having taken the first resolute step, they will not draw back. They must realise, as I think all of us do, the extraordinary change that has come over this strange new world in which we have been born to live. It is indeed, my Lords, a very great change.
We all of us remember—not so many years ago—Mr. Baldwin (as he was then) 280 being taken to task for saying that the frontier of Britain was on the Rhine. Yet, to-day, I think it would be almost true to say that the frontier of the United States is on the Euphrates, so closely knit has the interconnection of all these distant parts of the world become. Indeed, the real truth—and we all know it—is that nowadays non-involvement, as it has come to be called, is not a possible policy for any great nation to-day. In a world of conflict such as that in which we are all at the present engaged—whether it be a cold war or a hot war—defeat anywhere is a defeat everywhere.
I would (and this is the last thing I want to say) commend that thought to those people in this country—and there are, I believe, some in all political Parties—whose only object seems to be that we should keep out of trouble, at whatever cost to the world. My Lords, they are the new isolationists. Last year they said: "Don't let us get involved over the Suez Canal". This year they are saying: "Don't let us get involved over the Middle East". Next year, we may have the same cry over Kuwait or over North Africa. "Keep us out of it"; they say. "Push it off on the United Nations. Push it off on someone, anyone, so long as we are not involved." We all know that there are people who, in their heart of hearts, take that point of view. Yet, were that view to gain ground now in any influential quarter, either in this country or in the United States, the most dangerously wrong impressions could be created and irreparable harm done to the prospects of this Conference, on which all our hopes are fixed. However, I hope and think that no responsible person would now be so foolish as that. For, after all, so far as I know, there is nothing imperialistic or jingo about the Western attitude to-day. As I said earlier, we do not seek a glittering victory in this Conference. That is not in any case on the cards, and it would probably only further heighten tension if it were. We shall be perfectly content with an honourable settlement which satisfies our own essential needs and safeguards the security of our friends. That is what we want, and that is, as I conceive it, what we must try to obtain; and if, with our Allies, we stand firm and united now, I still have hopes that we may get it.
§ 2.50 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, may I join in congratulating the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on a remarkable maiden speech, full of knowledge and extraordinarily, surprisingly, constructive—I say "surprisingly", because when I knew him in the Middle East his activities were entirely destructive. He was engaged in blowing up all sorts of things. Because we are trying to be fair to the new in the Middle East countries, I was glad he reminded us that we should also be fair to the old.
It is right that we should pay tribute to one who was a great statesman, Nuri Pasha, who was a friend of this country in the worst hours of the war—a man modest and simple in his personal relations, and a great patriot. We should pay tribute to the Prince Regent, Abdul Illah, whose only concern through his life was to serve his country and to pave the way for his nephew to take the throne—a person of charm and gentleness and goodness. And we should also pay tribute to a young King whose fault, if he had one, was that he was insufficiently suspicious of the forces working against him. I think that in this House we should pay tribute to three men who were great friends of many Members of this House.
After what occurred in another place a week ago, I should not have thought that reflection would have produced such unanimity as we have seen in the debate to-day. I think that there is broad support for the intervention which was made by the United States in the Lebanon. Whatever we may feel about a particular country, there is nothing to be said for the Government of a country being upset through indirect foreign intervention. At the same time, there is nothing less possible in the long run than to try to prop up an unpopular régime against the wishes of the people of the country. Therefore, the policy of the United States must clearly be to give the Lebanese people an opportunity to select their own President, in an atmosphere of calm, uninfluenced by foreign attacks, and then to accept the result loyally.
The same principle must surely apply to Jordan. We were absolutely correct in preventing an outside directed coup against the Government, but in the long run the monarchy of Jordan must 282 depend on popular support or not exist at all. It must become a democratic and Parliamentary monarchy, and not as it is, alas!at the moment, one depending on extra-Parliamentary support. In the long run, such a monarchy could not exist; and if we tried to prop it up, we should be weakening ourselves in the whole of the rest of the Middle East. Let us give sufficient time for things to settle down and then use all our influence for the establishment of democratic procedures. I think that the criticism which has been made about our Diplomatic and Intelligence Services, that they did not know about this coup, is invalid. On the contrary, I think that British observers and, indeed, Nuri Pasha himself were aware of the weak foundations of popular support for the Iraqi Government. But it is one thing to say that there is a danger of fire in the warehouse, and quite another to say exactly when somebody is going to drop a match.
Events have shown that the best intentions and the most forward social and economic policies, in which the Iraqi Government was a model, compared with many other countries, were insufficient against the emotional nationalist forces with which they were faced. There has been, and is, a great heart-searching about how we must evaluate the force of Arab nationalism. Anyone who knows the Middle East has to search his heart and conscience, because it is terribly hard to judge. We have ever before us the mistakes we made before the war in trying to evaluate the situation which arose in Europe. We have seen articles by Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick and Sir David Kelly; and we have just heard the powerful speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in which it is taken that there is now an effective alliance between Arab nationalism, as embodied in Colonel Nasser, and Russia; that it is nothing but a long-term blow of power, with perhaps an extreme Right and an extreme Left take-over, and we have to fight it at all places where it raises its head.
I have taken all the trouble I can to see some of the younger English officers returning from the Middle East, and to meet officers and some of the younger members of the Sheikhly families of that part of the world. Their opinion is 283 unanimous that this feeling of nationalism is a real thing, neither Communist nor Russian directed; that it is the result of the artificial boundaries made by the Treaties of 1919, of the artificial régimes which were set up and of the foreign support given to these régimes. I think it is, as Glubb Pasha says, that an Arab recognises only two things—the brotherhood of all men under God, and his family. All intermediate loyalities are purely man-made and of no inherent validity.
The Arab régimes since 1919 have never had an inherent validity in the hearts of the people. The people have always felt that they have been foreign-supported régimes; for them Colonel Nasser is the symbol of a deep feeling which is perfectly genuine and is not being stoked up from outside. Those who come back from Iraq and know the people well say that they are not Communist: that the last thing they want is to be dominated by Egypt. Most of them are British-educated and have learned from us the desire for self-government, independence, nationalism and national pride. We have to face the fact that this Iraq revolution is a fait accompli. The speed at which it was accepted by Iraqi diplomats abroad, and by students and officers serving abroad, shows, I think, that it represents the majority opinion of the country. Therefore, nothing will be gained by withholding recognition or by any delay whatsoever.
The next thing is to try to get inside the minds of the Arab people. In the past our official contacts have naturally been mainly with the ruling groups in those countries. Now we must find what these people want and see if we can work with them to satisfy them. We must also see whether we can re-establish diplomatic relations with Egypt. At the moment, even private individuals who go to Egypt are rather frowned upon. Yet unless we can establish a modus vivendi with Egypt, our relations with the rest of the Arab world will still be bedevilled. We cannot by-pass the nettle (if one can by-pass a nettle); we must grasp this nettle of Palestine. In the eyes of the Arabs it is not a question that is closed and done with. They still feel that it is an open sore in their world and that here they have had an injustice inflicted on them.
284 When they see that Israel, with fewer than two million people, has had twice as much American aid as the whole of the rest of the Arab countries put together, they feel that the cards have been stacked against them. One of the reasons why Nuri Pasha fell was that he tried to get a settlement with Palestine and had begun talks on the basis of the 1947 League of Nations boundary recommendations. He had hoped to get a further political triumph which could have re-established his position in his own country—that is something he said very often. It may well be that with these changes the Arabs may be more, rather than less, accommodating about Palestine. If there is a greater unity of the Arab countries they will feel more inclined to try to reach a settlement dealing with refugees, boundaries and communications, which will enable the ports of the Mediterranean to flow to those Arab countries, Jordan and so forth.
It is a terrible question, bristling with difficulties—the classic tragedy of the conflict of right and right. But unless we resolve it, our relations with Arab nationalism will be perpetually difficult. Arab unity is in some ways almost of our creation. After the war it was we who gave impetus to the Arab League, which broke down over Palestine. But if Arab nationalism and Arab unity are ever greater, they have inherently a greater common interest with the West than with any other régime. Finally, I would say, let us remember our friends, and particularly the position of Pakistan. The Pakistanis have been loyal to us under great difficulties. When Mr. Khrushchev suggests that Mr. Nehru should attend, it is absolutely up to us to see that the Pakistani Government is equally represented. Otherwise, they will get the feeling that we undervalue the friendship of what is, after all, the fifth biggest country in the world.
§ 3.3 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, as long as I have been in Parliament I do not think I ever remember a debate on foreign affairs which has been entirely convenient for the Government of the day; it has always been just at an awkward time. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is always so well-informed, careful and responsible in moving, as he frequently does, Motions on foreign 285 affairs, that he helps your Lordships and, indeed, the country to understand the situation; and this debate shortly before the closing of Parliament will, I feel, be of assistance not only to your Lordships but to those outside.
The debate has been particularly worth while so far because of the maiden speech which we listened to from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. He began by saying that he was diffident. Well, he has no need for diffidence. Then he said that he was intimidated by the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Strang, his previous leader at the Foreign Office. I did not notice that the intimidation lasted very long. But the rest of us, I am bound to confess, are a little intimidated that so much wisdom should be concentrated into one Cross Bench in this House. However, it does at once provide a justification for the existence of this House that two noble Lords with such practical knowledge and experience of these masters are able to come and talk to us and to help us in our debates. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, is clearly a most acute observer of Arab character, and the advice he has given us is wise. It is sometimes a formality that speakers following a maiden speech say that they hope the noble Lord will contribute on many following occasions, but in this case I would assure the noble Earl that we wish to hear him very often, whether he has been previously stabilised by luncheon or not.
In a series of speeches on foreign affairs and defence in the last few months I have sought to discover whether, behind the inevitable Parliamentary skirmishes in which we indulge from time to time, we could find a common assessment of British interests and a close enough identity of purpose to allow us to formulate a foreign policy which had behind it a united Parliament and a united nation. I have done so not because I have in any way lost faith in the Party system (I still believe that our system, with all its imperfections is the best), or because I believe that it is possible to insulate foreign policy from political philosophy or political passion: these matters of life and death cannot be separated off in that way.
Nor would I for a moment countenance a situation in which the Government of the day diluted, for the sake of domestic political convenience, decisions which they thought to be right. I agree with what my noble friend Lord Templewood said 286 earlier: that in this field of British interests and of British Commonwealth and foreign relations a particular duty is laid upon Government and Opposition to identify those British interests, and to see together how best they can be promoted—because a national and a continuing foreign policy adds immeasurably to the stature and authority of Britain in the world. It was therefore a great encouragement to me—and I know those who have spoken have emphasised this—that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and indeed all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate to-day, have sought to find a joint approach to these problems of the Middle East, which have always held within them the seeds of peace or war. Therefore, I should like for a few moments to see how far we can agree between Parties on what are the essential British interests in the Middle East and how far they coincide with the interests and principles for which the countries of the free world stand. In an impromptu reply to a somewhat rhetorical question, I think from the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, when we were debating our intervention in Jordan the other day, when he asked, "What is the British interest in all this area?", I said it was that "law should rule." My noble friend Lord Hailsham, in better and more closely-thought-out words, again emphasised that the main British interest in this area is continuity and stability, not only political but economic. And the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, with his knowledge of the area, has emphasised the latter fact: that without ecomonic stability, political stability is unlikely to rule.
It was in this conviction—if I may now move from the Middle East to the world scene for a moment—that with the example of the dictators and the dictators' aggression fresh in our minds, the United Kingdom took the lead in framing the Charter of the United Nations, not as is, I believe, sometimes wrongly thought, to preserve the status quo—that was not the purpose of the Charter—but to insist that if changes should take place, as for instance changes of frontier in any area, those changes should be negotiated and should not be achieved by the use of force. The Charter provided at the same time—and I think the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, will remember these negotiations very well—that when disputes were irreconcilable, the Security 287 Council was provided for the purpose of helping to solve them.
That system, whether it is in the Middle East or outside, could have worked and could still work. I do not say what I am going to say in temper—not at all. My noble friend Lord Templewood was quite right when he said that we must be cool minded in this matter. I say it merely as fact and history that the reason why this system has not worked is that it has been thwarted by Russia. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said that one of the great facts of which we must take notice in these post-war years is that Russia is a great Power and Russia has great influence extending to the Middle East. That is true. But it is not only the fact of Russian power that should be taken into account but the use of Russian power. So far it is Russia that has prevented peaceful solutions. In fact, the only sanction that there has been against direct aggression across frontiers in the last thirteen years has been the benevolent power of the United Kingdom and the United States. We hope that that will change. But this is basic to the whole matter, whether it is in the Middle East, in South East Asia or in any other area.
We can progress from New York to a Summit meeting and another Summit meeting, and consider all these questions. But they will be solved only if there is a basic change in Russian will and if Russia means to make the Charter of the United Nations work. That is really basic and fundamental to all these questions. So far we have avoided direct aggression and a major war, but in recent years a new, most sinister and most deadly technique of aggression has been devised and perfected—first of all, to undermine the existence of the independent States from within and then to by-pass the United Nations, because the United Nations, as at present organised, cannot act against this type of aggression in time. The pattern is regular. It is the softening up by propaganda of the position of the legal Government. We may not approve of the Governments; all Governments have their faults. But this is a deliberate softening up by propaganda from outside, followed by infiltration of arms, followed by incitement to violence leading to civil war.
288 The Lebanon and Jordan are the immediate cause of our debate and the immediate cause of the situation with which we are all faced. In order to illustrate—not to raise the temperature in any way—coldly and factually this technique of aggression and how it is being used, I want to give your Lordships two recent extracts from the Cairo Radio. They were directed at the Lebanon:Chamoun, beware of the blood bath, not for the sake of the people of Lebanon on whom you have declared war, but for your own sake. You will be the first to drown in the blood bath.Then again:Chamoun alone represents every enemy of the Arab people and peace, so strike and strike again, oh beloved people!This kind of thing cannot be dismissed as the ravings of the irresponsible. It is a cold, calculated policy exercising and employing this new type of aggression. If we are all to stand aside—and the United Nations is in the meantime powerless—and watch independence being ended in this way in one State after another, then we are heading straight for world anarchy.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, asked whether the Charter could be amended, because he quite rightly believes that in the end of the day it must be the United Nations who deal with this new technique of aggression. In fact, it does cover this type of aggression, because it was foreseen. There were two resolutions, one in 1949 and one in 1950. One was the "Essentials for peace" resolution, and the other the "Peace through deeds" resolution. I would take only one example from them, but it shows the way in which those who framed the resolutions were thinking. They say:Fomenting civil strife in the interest of a foreign power is the gravest of all crimes against peace and security throughout the world.I would remind your Lordships of two things. Those resolutions were adopted by all the nations of the free world except the Soviet bloc, and so until now the Soviet bloc has countenanced this form of aggression.
That leads me again to underline to your Lordships the fact that only a change on the part of the will of the Soviet Union can relieve us of this new type of aggression. The type has been repeated and the technique was repeated, as I reminded your Lordships a week 289 ago, in Lebanon, in the Sudan, in Jordan and in Iraq; and because the United Nations could not act in time, in the case of Lebanon and Jordan somebody had to stop this rot, and the United States and the United Kingdom decided to do so. I believe that in the terms of the resolutions which I have quoted we were not only morally but legally entitled to do so. Of course, these instances that I have quoted, and this new technique of aggression, raise these much wider questions: What are Russian objectives and, indeed, what are the objectives of Nasser, who for the moment is close to the Communist camp? I shall return to that point in a moment, but I think that in this House to-day, at any rate, we can agree among all of us that to reassert the rule of law, to guarantee the independence of nations in the Middle East, is a British interest, a world interest, and unless it is done the life of the United Nations is finished. So I hope that at least we are agreed on that.
The second British interest in the Middle East is oil, and it is better to face frankly that this is so. I do not know whether the people of our own country yet understand our full dependence on this area from which between 70 and 80 per cent. of our oil supplies still come. However much coal or atom power we are able to harness in the future, we shall still need all the fuel for our industrial expansion, both here and in Western Europe, that we can lay hands on. Nor can we afford to pay dollars for our oil; nor, indeed, could we afford to forfeit the sterling which we get from the sales of our oil. So 121 everybody in this country understand the effect which the loss of this oil in this Middle East area would have upon the economy of the United Kingdom and the lives of everybody in it, and not only that but on Western Europe, too.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, perfectly rightly, reminded us that the Middle East is not our exclusive concern. That is perfectly true, but our stake in the oil and our interests in its commercial exploitation is high. It is a proper commercial interest, legitimately based on a respectable commercial enterprise. There should be no conflict whatever, as I see it, with Arab interests; quite the contrary, because Arab oil and the good currency of the West should be able to join together in harmonious and mutually 290 beneficial arrangements. Indeed, I would claim that the arrangements between the oil companies and the sheikhdoms of the Gulf and the Arab and Moslem rulers can continue to mutual advantage, in mutual trust and in mutual respect. That is certainly so in the case of Iraq, and it is our wish to maintain our good commercial relations with them.
Nor should there be any conflict in this area between the great Powers. Russia has no vital commercial interests in this area at all. It would seem to me that although she naturally has a political interest—we do not deny it—there should not be any conflict between the great Powers in this area. But should a third party, whether it is Russia or Nasser, seek, by calculated, deliberate policy, to deprive us of our oil supplies, and to deprive Western Europe of its oil supplies, and thereby to put a veto on the industrial expansion in the Western World, then it is well to make it plain and unmistakable that that situation could not be tolerated by the United Kingdom.
A good deal of attention has been given—and, indeed, my noble friend Lord Astor sought to underline it—to the question of Arab nationalism. Is there any reason why Arab nationalism should conflict with British interests? We have no wish to interfere in the internal affairs of any Arab State. The Arab States are perfectly entitled to their own form of Government. The only thing in this case in which we have an interest, and we have a legitimate interest, is to insist, as a member of the United Nations supporting the Charter, that assassination should not be directed from without and the legal Governments of independent countries undermined. We are not the enemies of Arab patiotism. Indeed, in some ways we may claim to be the founders of Arab independent States. As my noble friend Lord Hailsham reminded us, we did much to release them from the Turkish Empire. Indeed, we are anxious and ready to come to terms with Arab nationalism in that sense.
But, as my noble friend and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, reminded us, we have seen nationalism corrupted. The natural and proper patriotism of the German was corrupted by Hitler into Aryanism. The natural patriotism of the 291 Russian was steered by Stalin into Communism and international Communism. In the name of distorted German nationalism and international Communism we have seen terrible deeds done, like the slaughter of Austria and the rape of Hungary, and recent events only a few weeks old. Therefore (and this is the point I should like my noble friend Lord Astor to consider) if an unscrupulous person gives a twist to Arab nationalism, so that, for instance, it is directed to such purposes as wiping Israel off the map or destroying the oil supplies of Western Europe, or spreading anarchy from the Middle East into the continent of Africa, then it must be halted or it will destroy civilisation. So while I hope that Iraq and all Arab countries will understand that we can easily make terms, and indeed are anxious to make terms, with their proper national pride and patriotism. I equally hope that the House will think closely about this problem of nationalism corrupted and turned to purposes which could be designed to set the world on fire.
That then, my Lords, is the setting in which I put the United States and United Kingdom action in the Middle East: that legitimate interests should be safeguarded, that stability, political and economic, should be secured and that nationalism, so long as it does not seek to overthrow the perfectly proper legal Governments of other countries, can be lived with. The United Kingdom and the Americans have acted together to prevent general anarchy in this area, which was most certainly planned. We have acted in particular to bring stability to and preserve the independence of two small independent nations which have the right to their own existence. We have acted, on our own initiative but within the Charter of the United Nations; and having acted we have placed the responsibility for permanent settlement where it must belong, in the Security Council of the United Nations, of which the United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members.
I have been asked, and noble Lords have asked in the debate, what are our immediate objectives. The immediate objective, of course, as I have said, is to produce effective machinery so that the independent status of Jordan and 292 Lebanon may be preserved; and if at the Council table to which this dispute is now brought Russia shows herself willing to co-operate in that aim there is no reason whatever why we should not—and the United Kingdom will be as willing as any other country—go forward to try to find solutions to the more intractable problems which have been mentioned by many noble Lords and which have been a part of the Middle East scene for so long. A permanent United Nations force for the area is one idea; the neutralisation of certain countries another; and a political commission to supervise the area and an economic commission to organise development another. But if we can at New York in the next few weeks find an answer, with Russia's co-operation, to secure the independence of the Lebanon and Jordan from this new technique of aggression, then we shall hope to go forward not only to further solutions for the Middle East but to further summit meetings where the question of disarmament and other great questions affecting the peace of the world might be solved. Certainly we are prepared to go and to talk with the Russians, and to hope that they now have a change of mind.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the noble Marquess asked me if I could give any forecast of the nature of the meeting. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, I think, that we did not want to see it expanded into what he called a minor Assembly. The noble Marquess thought that on Mr. Khrushchev's and other interpretations it might well get out of hand. That is why we have insisted that the meeting should be held strictly within the machinery of the Security Council, and we believe that, with the power to set up committees, and with the power to co-opt, the meeting can be made businesslike but sufficiently flexible to bring in parties who are interested in the final result.
As to speed, we want no unnecessary delay. I was impressed by a phrase, which I think I noted correctly, of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, when he said: "The dust does not settle in the Middle East." And consistent with preparations we want to get on with the job. But consultation, I think, has already paid dividends. It seems that we have reached the stage where we have a united Parliament, and I hope a largely united 293 country; where we have a united and almost, if not quite, unanimous Commonwealth, and where we are at present consulting our Allies in the Baghdad Pact and our friends in N.A.T.O. So I hope that we shall find that patience has been well worth while, and will allow us to go to the meeting fortified in the knowledge that we have the support of our friends and allies who play such a large part in preserving the security of the free world. Whatever New York may bring, one development is certainly a British interest and certainly an interest of the free world; that is, that, over the whole Middle Eastern scene, the United States of America and the United Kingdom should move forward step by step together. It is that situation which I think we have reached now.
My Lords, our Prime Minister is bearing a particularly heavy responsibility and handling these matters with a sure hand, but it will immensely fortify him if he can go to New York and talk these problems over, and reach forward for a settlement knowing that he has behind him a Parliament united in purpose and in policy.
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I, at the outset, as I think the first speaker from these Benches since the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, spoke, associate myself with what has been said by other speakers in the House with regard to the value and importance of his maiden speech to-day? It has already been said so well in praise of him that I do not intend to repeat it; I simply say that we on these Benches shall greatly welcome listening to him again. The debate on which we are engaged to-day has come at a time when not only all our own people but the whole of the world have their eyes upon the conference which is taking place in London to-day and the likely outcome of that conference, as well as of the discussions, notes and exchanges that are going on between the great Powers with regard to the original Khrushchev invitation.
In the last few days some stress has been laid upon the achievement which has been arrived at—we certainly thought it was arrived at in another place on July 22—of a reasonable common policy for Parliament and the people in this 294 country. I should have thought that that is fundamental when we deal with such a crisis as exists in the world to-day. I greatly hope that nothing will be said in the remainder of the debate which would be likely to detract from that gradual approach to unity which has had to be built up during the last three weeks. There was not unity three weeks ago; that must be remembered. Whilst there have been ample grounds for thinking that that Parliamentary unity could still be preserved—this was my feeling as I listened to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and to what I thought was the remarkable speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham (we did not quite expect what we got from him, but he deserves praise for it; and in view of the controversies that there have been between us from time to time I think it is only right to say so): and the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe and others have tended that way—yet I am bound to say, speaking as I feel on my reflections on the debate so far, that I was rather disturbed by one or two passages in the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I was moreover riot altogether happy, if he will excuse my saying so, at some of the approaches of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in the speech to which we have just listened.
I think, therefore, that I might restate one or two things. First of all, we in the Party that I represent, and our people in the country, are not in any sense pro-Communists. I think everyone in this House knows that. But I am bound to say this too: that if one once labels a great nation like the Russians, together with their satellites, in the way that they have been labelled this afternoon, one is likely not to get the results one wants from the Summit Conference, even if it is held. I felt a little anxious about that. Of course we do not agree that either the United States or this country did the right thing, or were justified in acting as they did without going through the United Nations machinery. I am not going back to that now. At the time that that happened, despite what the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, said, there was no agreement generally in this country on the point. He seemed to think that everybody accepted that it was the right thing for the United States to go 295 into the Lebanon. They are not agreed in the United States. One has only to study the views of prominent Senators like Senator Morse and others, and to hear the matter debated by Americans themselves in high Parliamentary spheres, to know that that is not so.
I do not want us to get away from the measure of coming together that we have had in our general approach to the subject within the last nine or ten days; I want to keep to that national unity which we have been building up regarding the action we have to take. Let me take the view expressed by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, this afternoon, that in fact we were quite wrong not to have gone on in Suez; that the moment of Suez was the point at which to stop the dangers which we now see—and to stop them, apparently, on the single intervention of France and ourselves. I really must have this put right on the record of the House, and I do not mind listening if a correction is to be made. The noble Marquess said that we were right to go into Suez in the way that we did, and that apparently if we had stayed there and gone on with the job, then everything would have been well and the dangers would have been stopped.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think the noble Viscount is misrepresenting what I said—perhaps I put it too briefly for the purposes of saving time. I have often explained in this House—I do not wish to weary the House with it again—that I thought there were two crises over Suez: there was the crisis caused by the nationalisation—or the de-internationalisation—of the Suez Canal and there was the crisis caused by the Israeli-Egyptian war. We went in over the Israeli-Egyptian war. Whether or not it was right for us to have done that is a matter of opinion. I believe we were right. But that was not what I meant by my remark. I meant that the great moment to have stopped Nasser was at the time when he seized the Suez Canal, contrary to obligations into which he had entered. In fact, we did not go in then. My criticism was that there were in this country large numbers of people—and I went out of my way to say they were not merely 296 those of the Party of noble Lords opposite—who thought it would have been quite wrong to have done that. I believe that had we gone ahead then, and been supported by all Parties and by the United States, that would have been the great occasion on which to have got rid of a dictator who is becoming daily more dangerous.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, the noble Marquess says that that was not done then. But, in any case, apparently, when the later troubles came, before we, in company with France, went in, we made no attempt at all to take the matter to United Nations. That must not be forgotten.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, we took the other problem to the United Nations, but on this occasion it was important to take immediate steps to prevent the war from spreading; and at any rate in our view that action was in accordance with the spirit of the Charter.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, if we are to get reasonable national unity on these matters I think it is essential that we do not overstate the case on one side or the other. In the last few weeks we have been brought to a state of support of the present approach of Her Majesty's Government, as I had hoped, because they have responded to the invitation of Mr. Khrushchev in such a manner as to do away with fears we had three weeks ago. I do not want to depart from that, but I would be highly nervous about the maintenance of that unity if we had to come back and to examine with a miscroscope what has been said by the noble Marquess in your Lordships' House this afternoon, and also some aspects of the approach of the noble Earl the Leader of the House—although, as a rule, he is the last one to give me anxiety on matters and situations of this kind.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I very much hope that the noble Viscount in his speech will tell me of anything that I have said by which he feels unity might be impaired. I hope that in fact I did not say any such thing.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I will certainly do so. Another matter to which I should like to refer was the approach of the 297 noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, to the attitude of Russia and how it is accounted for to-day. The noble Marquess placed very great stress on his feeling that it was fear of the deterrent that had enabled us to win so far in these approaches, and to have carried things as we have. I must say, again, that I have great nervousness when that kind of argument is handed out.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, is the noble Viscount suggesting that we can have national unity only if everybody agrees with him? That is really the suggestion. The basis of national unity which exists is over the question of whether it is a proper thing for Her Majesty's Government to go into this Conference with the Russians. That is the main point of policy, and upon that there is agreement. While there are many points on which we do not agree, we can go ahead on that.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I do not approach this question from a personal point of view but from the point of view of holding together the main bodies of opinion in this country, for that is what is essential; and as we have come along so well in the last few days I was very much hoping that that spirit would last.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Strang, spoke very much as I did about the nuclear deterrent. I understood him to say that he believed in the nuclear deterrent and I do not know why the noble Viscount singles me out on this particular point.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, perhaps it is because in regard to his Parliamentary position and record in this House it is more important to me to single out the noble Marquess on this occasion, and that is why I did it. I must say we are playing with a very dangerous fire if in the process of negotiation we use an argument of that kind in respect of a Power much more widely armed in these respects than we ourselves are, and if we are to have even local sections of conflict arising when apparently we ourselves have already started on unilateral disarmament in conventional weapons. I really think we ought to be more restrained in language of that kind if we want to go into negotiation with any 298 reasonable chance of success. By the way, I would add this note on what was said by the noble Marquess. I gathered he meant that at this point we must show the strength of the West. That is to say, he thinks that in our diplomacy, even in these days of the horrific weapons available to both sides, we can run the risks of merely displaying a show of strength in order to carry our diplomatic aims. I believe the world is in much too dangerous a state for us to take that as a guide.
I come now to the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I have been rather taken to task for referring to one or two historical events, but I thought that the restating of the history of the United Nations Organisation with special reference to the U.S.S.R. was also a little unfortunate at the present time. I believe the noble Earl the Leader of the House said that the United Nations system had been thwarted only, apparently, by the U.S.S.R. Of course, if we total up the number of occasions on which the Veto has been used by Russia I should say at once that that would be an absolutely clear statement; but if it is suggested that no one else has had anything to do with interfering with what might be the proper and true course of the United Nations or even a wise and diplomatic course, then of course that would not be true.
I believe, for example, that taking the position of the United States of America in relation to the conduct of business at the United Nations, it cannot be said that on occasion they have not made it more difficult for us to proceed towards the kind of peaceful channels we want. I suppose they are as responsible as anybody for the non-recognition of the right to a place in the United Nations of Communist China—that vast nation with all the potentialities it has for the future—although we ourselves, as a nation, have recognised Communist China de jure as well as de facto for a long time past. We have to remember the attitude taken there to what would have been a sensible and progressive United Nations policy.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, cites Suez. We can hardly have been said, in our Suez policy, to have been acting in strict obedience to the tenets of the United Nations Organisation; but apparently there we were only to go in as a 299 kind of police force, to stand between the two opposing parties—the Israeli army and the Egyptian forces. Instead of that, there was, of course, the heavy attack on the one side. I believe that before we point the finger we ought to make quite sure that we are without stain ourselves in these matters; though I grant at once that the method which has been adopted by certain other nations of the world, of interference by propaganda, is wrong—and I do not think any propaganda in the world has been worse than that we have been getting from Cairo this last year or two, since Suez especially.
Then I think we should make quite sure that we get all our people to urge the Government to go into this conference now, with the right feeling and the real desire to make peace. I know that the noble Earl the Leader of the House said that the Government very much hope that Russia will take the points of view which he has laid down this afternoon on what should be achieved and, if so, then it would be all right; but if not, then there is no agreement. But there must be two sides to a conference, and I should think that in these days in which we live there should be a reasonable approach to the matter on the basis of "Give and take," and not of "Take everything and give nothing." I hope we are not going into this Conference on the basis that there can be no flexibility on our side; because if it is a sin in the case of the Communist countries always to have adopted this kind of inflexibility, we ought not to damage the possibilities of a peaceful agreement by taking the same kind of course ourselves.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I think that the noble Viscount, when he reads my speech, will not find the kind of things he rather suspects are there. I want to make it quite clear that when we go into negotiation we shall go with the desire to get a settlement with the Russians. Let that be understood everywhere. There is an obligation upon all of us, and particularly upon the Russians, to make the United Nations Charter work as it was meant to do. Perhaps I might put it like that.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, it will be all right so long as we also make it clear that it is incumbent upon us also at all times 300 to do it. I felt as I listened to the noble Earl the Leader of the House that he was saying that if in future there is indirect aggression of the kind he quite accurately described in his speech, we should have a perfect right to go in again and again, and have crisis after crisis. I think if he will do me the honour of reading his own words on that subject again he will see at least what I am troubled about; and I want to get the record absolutely right.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount whether the point he is making is that the crisis begins only when we go in? My impression was that the crisis had in fact begun before we went in.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, certainly there was the danger of it. Then it comes to the question of how we deal with it: whether it is dealt with by a single nation or a small group of nations intervening or whether we work through the United Nations machinery. Either you signed the Covenant because you believed in it and wanted to support it, or you did not.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I should think we must do our best to make it work, and there have been cases where it has worked. I think that if you were to follow the views given by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, this afternoon, in that admirable speech in which he submitted the Motion, you would find there are ways and means of bringing that about; although of course, we know that it is going to be difficult to persuade every Power in the world to adopt it. We do not want to reach the position in which everybody says that everybody is going to do what he likes in these matters. My noble friend asked that there should be a conference, an inquiry, set up to ascertain how we as a collective body in the United Nations were to deal with that kind of indirect aggression in the future. That is what we propose and what I think should be carried to a successful conclusion. Then we should be able to deal with such a situation, not as individual peoples like ourselves suddenly being launched into a great military danger, but having the proper arrangements made 301 through the United Nations Organisation. That is how it is that we think matters ought to go.
I want to say, apart from that, that I personally, and I am sure my colleagues, have been very grateful in the last two or three weeks for the manner in which the views which have been expressed by the Parliamentary Opposition in both Houses have really been met by the Government. They have been met very well. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in his speech said that he gave credit to the Prime Minister for the way in which the matter had been dealt with. Although difficulties have occurred and, as I said just now, there has been a good deal of running to and fro between the different embassies, and many notes exchanged, nevertheless, there is a reasonably good hope that a Summit Conference within the framework of the United Nations Organisation can be held; and, if it is approached properly it may well lead to a great step forward to progress in the direction of peace. That is what we want. As long as that is pursued with urgency then, believe me, the Government will have all Parties in the House behind them; but we must have those assurances.
I did not hear any reference in the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in answer to my noble friend's request, as to whether or not he can state the kind of date on which it is hoped to have the Summit Conference. If we cannot be given the date to-day, which of course we hardly expect, can we have a statement made to the House this week before Parliament disperses, so that we in the House and in the country may know what the position is likely to be? On that point, when I hear speeches like that made by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor (who I am sorry is not here at the moment), about having people behind this, that and the other, I find myself in this position, having read the Press every day. If the Press are expressing what is the general opinion of the country, I find that there is a great deal of impatience with the long-drawn-out goings on about this proposed conference; and in the minds of the public the blame is by no means placed on Russia for the delay. It is placed on other things that have been going on which have been making for the delay.
302 If your Lordships have read the leader in the London Times this morning you will have seen a reference to the danger of setting up a position of "Here we go round the mulberry bush". I think that is a fair interpretation of what the people are feeling. Even that very outspoken journal, the Daily Mail, finishes up an article this morning by saying that if the statesmen of the world do not take this chance, there may never be another one. I think that that is very greatly stressing the urgency of the matter and represents what is going through the minds of all people of all ranks and of all classes in the country to-day in their great anxiety that something should be done to bring this situation to a close.
I agree with all that has been said in the course of the debate upon the need to distinguish between the true and the false upgrowth of nationalism. I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, put forward a proper and true picture of the different types of nationalistic movements we have had in the past. I would only say this as a warning, so far as one can give it, to anybody who goes into the question of dictatorships, of whatever kind. I do not find anywhere in history a dictatorship which has grown and lasted for any great period of time and which has not proved always to have had at least the seeds of death in it, because man will be free and he will fight until he is free. In the evolution of the human race, a dictatorship is bound, in my judgment, to bring its own downfall, because man will be free; and I think this warning should go out to all, in any country, who feel that a dictatorial nationalism is likely to get them where they want to be.
In the meantime, however, I feel very strongly indeed that we should think carefully and urgently over the question of the recognition of the new Iraqi Government. I myself have been a little hesitant about it, though I was very interested to hear the support that came from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on the question of urgent recognition. I was interested in what I would call the favourable reception by the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, to the idea of fairly early recognition. But, of course, whatever we do—whether we recognise straightaway or whether a little later on; whether we recognise unilaterally now 303 or collectively with our allies and friends later—I shall be very anxious to see how this particular form of Government does turn out and what its real motives are in the revolution which has taken place. I will not say more than that on it to-day.
There is a very great desire on the part of my Party in both Houses, and right through the country, to have the greatest possible unity on the courses that we have to pursue in trying to come to an agreement at this very dangerous stage in the world's history. That is our desire, and it is absolutely essential at the same time, if that is so, that we must put to the Government at all times where we think they are likely to go astray from that position where they could get that united support. I will read the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House again, and if I am wrong I will certainly withdraw or apologise. But, if I am not wholly wrong, then perhaps on the next occasion when we are dealing with these matters—perhaps to-morrow—he may be able to give a different interpretation from the words which have given me some little trouble when considering them on the spur of the moment. In the meantime, let the Conference be held at the earliest possible moment. Let it be held with all the blessing and support of the United Nations Organisation, but let us also remember that the common people of the whole world to-day wait with anxiety and urgent expectancy for us to bring them peace and not war.
§ 4.2 p.m.
My Lords, after the speech of the noble Viscount I will endeavour to be brief. Before I depart from the noble Viscount's speech, there are perhaps a few comments that ought to be made upon it. First of all, I confess that, for somebody who seems so anxious to preserve Party unity at a time like this, the noble Viscount made a very curious speech. If it were possible to drag out every controversial issue over the past three years and to parade them before your Lordships' House, the noble Viscount certainly did his best. Why he thought it necessary to go into a long dissertation about my noble friend Lord Salisbury's views in regard to Suez, and what reference that had—
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Do not misquote me. I was complaining about the views he expressed to-day.
It seemed to me, quite frankly, that the noble Viscount did his best to have a minor debate on Suez. Further, the general burden of the noble Viscount's speech seemed to me to he that, although he and his noble friends reserved the right invariably to point out to the Government when they were wrong, it did not apply vice versa; and that seemed to me to be not the way to get Party unity. However, I pass from the noble Viscount's speech.
My Lords, all I want to do is to say just a few words about the Arabs, with whom I have had a little to do in my life, both during the war and since. My intention is not to add to anything the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has said, because I am not so up to date as he is, but he has given us, I think, an admirable and extremely interesting speech this afternoon, with much of which, if I may humbly say so, I agree. I think that the Arab hostility to the West, and particularly to this country at the present time, is one of the tragedies and, perhaps, one of the most ironic things in present history: people like Lawrence, Sir Ronald Storrs, my father, and others who had a great hand in launching the Arab revolt in 1916 would be quite astonished if they could see the situation to-day.
After all, my Lords, as has been said before (and I make no apology for saying it again), there is perhaps no country to which the Arabs as a whole owe more than this country. We liberated them from the Turkish rule; we created the existing States, and we gave them their independence. It was we who discovered the oil, which is their only wealth in an otherwise howling desert, and it was we who developed it. One may argue about percentages, but we have also given them not an ungenerous return on that industry. Finally, we collectively—the West—are their best customers. Indeed, in a sense we are their only customers. To-day, as always, their interests must economically and in every other way lie with the West. Therefore, although it would be foolish—and it is always foolish in human relationships, and particularly in international relationships—to expect any gratitude, it is perhaps slightly astonishing to find the 305 real bitterness which seems to exist at the present time.
!I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that it is highly important to try to make up one's mind as to what is really at the bottom of all this, and why it has happened; and I think that it is extremely dangerous to reach preconceived conclusions or half-truths. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in a speech on this subject about a week ago, said something on that occasion which seemed to me, quite frankly, to fall into all those pits. He said that the real truth of the matter is that we have been backing the wrong horse for years—I am paraphrasing him. I have in my hand a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT, but if I am paraphrasing it incorrectly then the noble Lord can correct me.
He said that our great mistake, after the fall of the Turkish Empire, was that we had set up a lot of "tin-pot" kingdoms. He said that we had consistently backed feudalism and autocracy against the people of those parts and against the rise of the more enlightened outlook of those people. I will not quote his speech in extenso, because I do not want to waste the time of your Lordships' House. But that statement has just enough truth in it not to be nonsense, and yet it has not enough truth in it to be the real fact. I should like to put to the noble Lord what I think is much more nearly the truth. Let us deal with the situation after the Turkish Empire. The noble Lord is probably aware that basically, even today, the Arabs are a race of tribes. That situation is altering rapidly, but it was the set-up then; and the one thing that created Arab unity in those days was Turkish rule. Once that was removed, it was almost impossible to create at that time a united Arab State; and that is how this present set-up came about.
Secondly, the noble Lord says that we have consistently been backing feudalism and autocracy. Up to a point, of course, we have been backing autocracy, because autocracy was all there was in the Arab world at that time. But, with great respect to the noble Lord, I do not think there is any real democracy, as we understand it, in Arabia to-day. It does not exist as we understand it. Maybe it will come. Therefore, we are bound to back an autocracy of sorts. To take the example of Iraq, we backed Nuri es-Said and the 306 King. Many tributes have been paid to Nuri: he was a very great man. Like any other autocracy, no doubt that had its faults; but as the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has said—and he knows better than most—it also did great things for Iraq.
I dare say that it is true—in fact, it obviously is true—that Nuri may have been out of touch with popular opinion. But, equally, it would be a bold man who would characterise this coup by an Army junta in Iraq as a great sweeping popular movement. I do not think it is anything like that at the moment. There may be support for it, but basically that support comes from constant propaganda from Cairo and constant incitement from Saut el Arab. Therefore, although we may have got rid of one autocracy, I do not think that we have yet got democracy. Nor do I think that we can put it all down to nationalism and the desire to be independent. I felt much in agreement with the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, when he said that we had all the natural disadvantages of having been the mandatory Power. The fact is that there is nothing which will stop the Arabs from ultimately uniting, except perhaps old antagonisms which still exist, the reluctance of the "haves" to share with the "have nots" and the divisions and feuds that have always existed in Arabia. I have always believed that Arab unity would be a good thing for the whole of Arabia, if it could be brought about, and I see no solution to the problem of Jordan without Arab unity. Jordan is not viable as it is; it must have another country to support it. I am sure that this is something for which we ought to work.
All these things have something to do with what is going on in the Arab mind. The two biggest things, of course, are Israel and Nasser. Curiously enough, it was Israel, perhaps, that made it possible for Nasser to do what he has done. There is no doubt whatsoever that every Arab believes that the creation of the State of Israel was the greatest betrayal ever perpetrated by this country, and I venture to say that I believe there is a great deal in what they say. Certainly all those who negotiated with the Sherif at the time of the Arab revolt, if alive to-day, would agree with me. But whether it is true or not, that is what 307 every Arab believes, and that is what matters. I do not think that people realise the depth of bitterness that is felt, or the loss of faith in us that it caused. That has to be countered. Nor do they realise the feelings inspired in the Arabs by the refugees, chased from their native lands to live wretchedly and half starving in Jordan—a wicked thing which has never been put right.
I am convinced that in the Arab lands there is a real fear of Israel, a fear of the less sophisticated and industrially developed for a sophisticated, rather aggressive, able and brilliant people who, the Arabs fear, might do to other Arab nations what they have already done to Palestine. That fear has to be laid if we are ever to have proper relations again with the Arabs. Some limit has to be set to Israel's ambitions and frontiers, and the refugee problem has to be tackled. This problem has to be tackled urgently. I remember a debate six years ago when noble Lords said that this problem "brooked no delay". It is "brooking it" still.
I do not believe that, without the focus and catalyst of Israel, President Nasser would ever have done the damage that he has done. It is Israel more than anything else that has united all these countries in bitterness and hostility towards the West and towards this country. Nasser is no General—he was beaten conclusively by an Israeli army half the size of his. He relies on propaganda. The deterioration of our whole position in the Middle East has been brought about to a remarkable extent by propaganda, and by radio propaganda. We must remember that most of the people in these countries are still illiterate, but if one goes into the hinterland, as I did only two years ago in the Aden Protectorate, one finds that every little village has a radio with the voice of Cairo Radio coming out of it the whole time.
What are we doing to counteract that position? We have a magnificent case to put over. It is in the interests of the Arabs to be on good terms with the West; but, as has been said before, our propaganda—or, if you like, the presentation of our case—is truly lamentable. We cannot counter Cairo Radio with the B.B.C. That is impossible. Something better has to be devised. I put it to the 308 noble Earl the Leader of the House that this is a matter which I hope the Government will look into urgently once again. We must put over our case—and we have a good one—for our future relations with the Arab nations.
One noble Lord referred to Nasser as the leader of Arab nationalism. I believe that to be an entirely false conception. Nasser is an Egyptian. The Egyptians are not Arabs, and the Arabs have always despised the Egyptians—and rightly so, I think. Nasser has nothing to give the Arabs, and they have everything to give Nasser. Nasser would like their oil; he would like their money. And what has he to give them? Yet they follow Nasser because he has been successful, and in the Arab world nothing succeeds like success. Broadly speaking, it was we who made him a success. We allowed him to get away with Suez, and until the time of Suez Nasser was of no great importance. But he is the man who succeeded, whereas those who supported us in the Middle East, and those who are in favour of the West, are either dead or on the way out.
That, I believe, my Lords, is the story of our position in the Middle East. I agree with noble Lords who say that we must help our friends and that it is no good trying to do a deal with Nasser. I do not believe that we can do a deal with him. He is a man of no honour and no scruples, and I do not believe that it would be in the interest of the Arabs, to whom I am devoted, that they should continue to be in partnership with Nasser, if it is possible to detach them from him. All our endeavours should be to try to detach them from Nasser and show them once again where their true interest lies.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, has done me the honour to criticise carefully and trenchantly some remarks which I addressed to your Lordships last week, and I want to take up what he said in due course, in that part of my speech where I think it would be most appropriate, so I hope that he will forgive me if I do not deal with his speech at once. We have had an interesting and instructive discussion this afternoon and we are grateful to my noble friend Lord Henderson for once more having given us an opportunity of discussing these vital problems. 309 I was much impressed by the unusual amount of agreement which has marked the speeches which have been delivered, and found myself much more in agreement than I normally am with the speeches made on the other side of the House, although I agree with everything said by my noble Leader about the controversial aspects of the speeches of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I have the same feeling: that from time to time they reached the edge of truculence, which did not augur well, especially one of them coming from a leading member of the Government, for the success of the approaching discussions in New York.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me, I really must make this clear. I hope I said again and again that we were going into these discussions with a desire to get agreement and with a flexible mind. But we have to face the realities of the situation. It is not going to be easy, and we shall all have to try to make the United Nations Charter work. If I said anything which caused apprehension in the minds of noble Lords, I certainly did not mean it.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, perhaps I may intervene for a moment. I had the same feeling as my noble Leader. I do not want to start a discussion at this moment, but I did propose to return to some of the statements made by the noble Earl and I think I should give him warning of it.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I will not say anything more about it. I only hope that when what has been said in this debate is brought to the notice of Mr. Khrushchev, as it undoubtedly will be—I have a good deal of evidence to show that he studies the leading speeches made in this Parliament—he will pay more attention to the noble Earl's disclaimer than to the earlier part of his speech.
I was interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said about the revolution in Iraq, because it seems to me that what has occurred there is, in fact, a revolution. There is rather a tendency in the newspapers, and there was in last week's debates in your Lordships' House and in another place, to describe it as a rebellion and to treat it as the normal type of coup which continually occurs in the smaller States of 310 Central America where one General replaces another. No doubt every revolution involves a rebellion, and to that extent that view of the situation in Iraq is a true one. Our own Parliamentary revolution in the seventeenth century was described by the most eminent of its historians as "the Great Rebellion". It was. And yet it was perhaps the most significant Parliamentary revolution which has ever occurred in the history of the human race. I think, therefore, that the use of the word "rebellion" is a little misleading, because it misses what seems to me to be the basic social character of the events which have recently occurred in Iraq.
I should like to say this at once about the Iraqi revolution. The air of shocked surprise with which it was received in this country does not really speak very highly for our political intelligence. Surely a revolutionary situation has been endemic in Iraq for, at any rate, something like twenty years, and, in my view, it was bound to come sooner or later. I think the noble Lord opposite quoted me a moment ago as saying that we have for a substantial period of time been backing the wrong horse: that is the feudal landowners represented by General Nuri es-Said. Just as the feudal landowners were unable to stand up to Cromwell, representing the middle classes here, so after a long period of time the middle classes in Iraq have now come out on top of the feudal landowners there. And just as that happened in England, and later, in the following century, in France, and 100 years or more later again in Russia, so that is the sort of event which seems to me to have been happening in Iraq during these last weeks.
Would the noble Lord allow me to clarify the situation? What I was trying to get at is what horse he would have backed.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I admit that the situation has been a difficult one, and it was not unnatural, in the circumstances as they existed in 1918, particularly because of the part which the French played—which was an unfortunate one, as I will explain in a moment—that we should have taken the course we did for a certain period of time. But I should have thought that of recent years it had 311 become clear that the middle classes, the merchants and nascent industrialists in Iraq, were the party who would gain the upper hand. I was interested in what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe: that during the period when he was serving there it was clear to him that 75 per cent. of the people were against Nuri's autocratic government. Here I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Earl on his most interesting maiden speech. I feel that what your Lordships' House has gained the Foreign Office have lost, and it is a pity that a man of his ability and insight is no longer working in the diplomatic service.
I was going to say, when the noble Lord interrupted me, that it is a great pity that these revolutions cannot be carried out without bloodshed, because, particularly to a people like ourselves, who have become sensitive to these matters, it has thrown the Iraqi revolution into a bad odour. But bloodshed, unfortunately, seems to be one of the inescapable facts of history in relation to these revolutions. After all, the warrant for the execution of King Charles is one of the most important historical documents we have in the Library of your Lordships' House; and in each of the other major revolutions I have mentioned, a king was killed—murdered if you like: sometimes it was carried out in accordance with the form of law but in other cases it was just a question of shooting down. But inevitably the bloodshed is, I think, in a large measure, due to the determination of those who had been wielding autocratic power to sit on the safety valve until the very last moment. That is exactly what the late General Nuri es-Said did.
It is all very well to describe the Iraqi revolutionaries as a set of murderers, as they were described, particularly last week—I have been interested to notice the distinct change in the tone of speeches made from the Benches opposite this afternoon, and, indeed, almost the cooing of the dove, a most unusual approach, on the part of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham. I have never before listened to a speech by the noble Viscount with every word of which I agreed. It shows that there has been since last week a distinct change in opinion, not only in your Lordships' 312 House but in the country as a whole: people now, I think, are prepared to appreciate that the revolutionaries, if they were to succeed, could probably succeed in no other way. In what way short of violence could they win the opportunity to change the policy of their country except by overthrowing General Nuri es-Said in the way it was done? Tragic as may have been his end, and great as his services may have been, he was quite clearly a dictator. I think the matter was particularly well put in a letter to The Times a few days ago by a professor in the Institutes of Fine Arts at Baghdad, Professor Qadhi, who said:The truth is that the Nuri Government was a dictatorship founded upon the power of the large landowners.It was a dictatorship. General Nuri on several occassions suppressed by violence the attempts of those who wished to obtain power and put their policy into force, and in the course of that many of them lost their lives. In the end, he himself succumbed to the same sort of violence. In circumstances of this sort violence is inevitable; it is unfortunate, but there it is.
It is certainly ridiculous to suggest, as was plainly hinted at by one or two of your Lordships earlier this afternoon, that there was some sort of genuine Parliamentary Government existing in Iraq, and that the sort of conditions which prevailed there were what we should call of a constitutional character. Indeed, nothing of the sort existed, and it seemed that nothing short of a violent revolution could put the other representatives of power elements in that country into control. It certainly does not require the heady doctrine of Communism to create an explosive situation in countries like Iraq, and I think it is ridiculous to bring in the Communist bogy in the way that has been done during the past weeks and, indeed, during this discussion in your Lordships' House this afternoon.
The noble Earl who leads the House tried to make our flesh creep at one point by referring to the sinister, underhand methods of Moscow, of which he was going to give us two conclusive illustrations, but which turned out to be broadcasts from the Arab radio station, Cairo—they had nothing to do with Moscow and, it seemed, as little to do with Communism. Those who have been doing 313 this seem to me to have been deliberately fishing in very dangerous waters, and some of them have been doing so with a reckless dishonesty which personally I find appalling, because it might well have touched off the very war which all of us dread so much.
But while I believe there is no reason whatever to suppose that Communism was a factor in the recent Iraqi revolution, the sort of situation which exists over much of the Middle East, where vast profits made by oil exploitation are going into the pockets of a comparatively small number of people, obviously provides a fertile field for Communist propaganda. It should be our policy not to be identified with it, as we too often have been, of course. I was particularly interested in Lord Strang's suggestion that we ought in future to insist on some sort of a régime being established in those parts which would divert a great deal of these profits to fructify, so to speak, in the pockets of the people as a whole, rather than simply going into the coffers of a few wealthy men.
It is always difficult for settled States to adjust themselves to revolutions in other States, particularly those where it is to their economic interest that stable conditions should continue to exist. In the State of Iraq, of course, it has been particularly so for Great Britain, and it has been particularly upsetting because in my view this revolution has destroyed the very axis of the policy which we have been pursuing over these last forty years—not only in Iraq, but over the Middle East as a whole. Although during the last few years it has become only too obvious that this policy had been shaken to its very foundations, its sudden fall seems to have taken the Government by surprise and has resulted in the precipitate landing of American and British troops in Lebanon and Jordan. It is interesting to observe (and I think this is a point which has not so far been touched upon in this debate) that these landings have had a bad reception pretty well throughout the Continent of Europe, not only in France, but in Western Germany and also among the smaller States. That seems to me to be a significant thing, and goes a long way towards proving that these landings have not been so completely beyond reproach as noble Lords opposite have been trying to make out this afternoon.
314 I should like at this stage to support very strongly what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, as to the advisability of establishing a United Nations expeditionary force as quickly as possible. I personally, as, I am sure, were many noble Lords on both sides of the House, was gratified by the statement of the Minister of Defence in another place on, I think, June 10, when he seemed to give the support of Her Majesty's Government to the setting up of such an expeditionary force. It is quite obvious, as Lord Henderson said, that if such a force had been in existence at this time it might well have obviated the need for the landings by American and British troops. I quite agree that the Government were faced with a difficult situation, and I can understand how they came to the decision they did, although it is one with which I personally do not agree. What one hopes is that the Government, having seen their old policy founder in this way, will now think out a new policy for the Middle East, and not try to carry on any longer a sort of hand-to-mouth existence in what one might call the outhouses of the Lebanon and Jordan, now that the central building in Iraq has come crashing to the ground. If the Iraqi revolution can bring about a sensible and forward-looking policy on the part of the Western Powers in the Middle East, it certainly will not have occurred in vain.
I criticised our own policy pretty severely in the debate to which the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, has referred, and I do not want to qualify in the least degree what I said on that occasion. My argument was a little later on put much more effectively and, indeed, brilliantly by a Mr. Ionides in a letter to The Times. I would agree that the policy was in its inception more intelligent than it afterwards turned out to be, because it did envisage a substantial Arab State stretching from the Mediterranean to Baghdad under the leadership of King Feisal. That was afterwards broken up, as a result of French ambitions in Syria and the Lebanon, which it was very difficult for us to resist at the time, although I am sure that in the conditions of the twentieth century these French ambitions were exceedingly foolish and, even now, after they have ceased to exist continue to bedevil the situation in those parts.
315 The petty State of Transjordan was not at that stage, of course, envisaged at all. I was interested to see how far the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, went towards agreeing with me this afternoon when he conceded the point that Jordan is not really a viable State. The strange thing is that the Foreign Office should have apparently gone on with this policy right up to the outbreak of the revolution in Baghdad only a week or so ago. Were they putting their heads into the sand, or were they just holding on, trusting to Nuri es-Said, and hoping for the best? Or do we feel ourselves under some sort of an obligation of honour to go down with our protégés the Hashemites? Judging from some of the speeches in the recent debate, even this last fantastic course seems to be quite a possibility.
We have certainly, in my submission, done all, indeed more than all, that honour required of us in the direction of supporting the Hashemite dynasty. After all, the family did pretty well out of the 1914–18 war, as the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd (I think it was), agreed. It was not, after all, that they were fighting for us; they were fighting for their own interests, and they got two kingdoms, although it is true they have turned out to be rather gimcrack kingdoms, out of the affair. Really our own obligations of honour arising out of the 1914–18 war were discharged long ago, and it seems to me quite ridiculous to say, forty years later, that we are under an obligation to prop up these Hashemite Thrones. It is the march of events in the Middle Fast which has destroyed or is destroying this dynasty.
King Hussein is obviously a man of ability, shrewd and energetic. His dismissal of General Glubb was dictated by a just appreciation of the situation as it existed in Transjordan; but, of course, he was playing for his own ends and not concerning himself with our interests. By getting rid of General Glubb he succeeded in placating, no doubt, a section of his own community, but, as The Times correspondent, whose dispatch was quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, pointed out, he has still only one-third of his citizens behind him. Yet in an interview with the Sunday Times correspondent he seriously suggested that we 316 should take the war into Iraq in order to re-establish the old régime at Baghdad. This project, I suggest, is really quite criminal, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give us a categorical assurance that in no sort of circumstances will they agree to carrying it out. It is quite obvious that King Hussein thinks his own position in Amman would be a great deal more secure if some war of that kind could be initiated.
My Lords, I am concerned particularly this afternoon with what should be our long-term Middle East policy. But before coming to that I should like to say a word or two about the immediate situation, and to say what a great relief it was to me, as to others on these Benches, to find that the Prime Minister was prepared to accept, and in doing so to bring a good deal of pressure to bear on the State Department of the United States, Mr. Khrushchev's proposal for a meeting where these matters could be threshed out. There is a great deal to be said for dealing with the situation through the United Nations, and I do not in any way quarrel with the decision to use this method, though when the noble Earl who leads the House talks about making effective use of the United Nations machinery I thought how much more effective it would be if we could only get rid of Formosa on the Security Council and put into its place the People's Republic of China, which quite obviously ought to be there.
Nevertheless, there is a good deal in the criticisms which General de Gaulle has advanced against handling this matter through the Security Council. I will not go over them, but obviously there is a good deal in what he said. One of the drawbacks is that it perhaps deprives us of the chance to come to an understanding with the U.S.S.R. over the problem of the Middle East. I regard this as one of the primary purposes of an effective Middle East policy. I have been stressing this matter, of course, in speeches in Foreign Affairs debates in your Lordships' House for quite a long time, certainly since 1955. I have not had much sympathy; I have never really had any answer from the Government, and from the tone of the noble Earl's speech this afternoon I do not suppose that any more sympathy will be forthcoming this afternoon.
It does seem to me, however, that our policy of excluding or, rather, attempting 317 to exclude the U.S.S.R. from the Middle East has been a quite obvious mistake. Indeed, it was practically impossible to carry through. The astonishing thing is that there are some people who feel that it can be done. There was a letter in The Times or the Manchester Guardian only the other day from a gentleman, writing from Beirut, who said he hoped that the Western Powers would see to it that the U.S.S.R. were kept within their own borders and not in any way allowed to interfere in the Middle East. What an absurd attitude to take up!Yet it is an attitude which, if not exactly taken up 100 per cent., has been largely followed by Her Majesty's Government since the end of the war. I have stressed in the past the historic interests of Russia in these parts of the world. Naturally, in the period between the wars, when the revolutionaries in Russia were consolidating their position, they were not very much in evidence in the Middle East. But it should have been obvious that after they had established themselves in the last war as one of the great Powers of the world they were not going to be excluded from this essentially important strategic region.
Here I think it was Mr. Ernest Bevin who was at fault. We made a great mistake at the end of the war in more or less warning the Russians out of the Middle East, as was done towards the end of 1945 by Mr. Ernest Bevin in a speech in another place. That speech was very strongly criticised in a talk on the B.B.C. by Mr. A. J. P. Taylor, the Oxford historian, early in 1946 in terms which seem to me still apposite. He said:The Russians are no more prepared to allow us sole control of that great bridge, which do not forget is also the bridge into Southern Russia, than we would allow them sole control. We cannot abandon it. Only two alternatives remain, it seems to me; one is to fight and the other is to share.It is this policy of sharing which seems to me to be the obviously right one, and it is the Russians who have over the last years been making attempts to persuade us to meet them so that the matter can be discussed. Their approaches have received no sort of sympathy from Her Majesty's Government and, of course, even less sympathy in the United States. Yet voices which were voices in the wilderness are now becoming part of the chorus: even Mr. Walter Lippman, the well-known columnist in the New York 318 Herald-Tribune, in an article published only last week, said that this part of Asia is just as essential to the U.S.S.R. as Central America is to the United States itself, and the U.S.S.R. is no more likely to agree to be excluded from it than the United States would agree to be excluded from Central America.
It is quite clear that the U.S.S.R. is, in fact, going to take part in Middle Eastern politics, and if that is so it is much better that we should try to come to an understanding with them, rather than continue to fight and quarrel with them, as we have been doing over these last years. I am glad to see that there are signs, if not in Her Majesty's Government, in some parts of the British Commonwealth, that that view is beginning to be accepted. I was interested to read a speech by the great Canadian statesman, Mr. Lester Pearson, only a few weeks ago, from which I gathered that he had come to very much the same sort of opinion as that which I have been endeavouring to express.
The noble Earl who leads the House was at pains to point out that there are no basic economic differences between us and the Russians existing in the Middle East. I think that that is so, because our main interest there, the interest of oil, is one which does not really concern the Russians: their own reserves of oil are enormous and, so far as can be seen, they do not require oil from the Middle East at all. But even if there are no economic conflicts there, that does not mean that there are not psychological conflicts. Lord Salisbury's remark that the frontiers of the United States were on the Euphrates, brings to mind the real feeling which exists in the U.S.S.R.: that the Americans and their armed forces ought not to be so close to the Russian frontiers. What should we think if it were said that the Russian frontiers ought to be in Nicaragua or on the Panama Canal, or something of that kind? We have now, as it seems to me, a good opportunity of coming to some sort of arrangement with the Russians. The Baghdad Pact is obviously greatly shaken by recent events. It seems to me that it has never had any real military value and that it would be a good thing to get rid of it, in return for which I am quite sure that 319 the Russians would be prepared to make important concessions. So much for trying to get an understanding with the U.S.S.R.
I should like now to say how much I welcomed Lord Henderson's constructive proposals for assisting a genuine Arab State. I hope that the new Iraq, rather than Egypt, will form the nucleus of a genuine new Arab State. I entirely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, said about Egypt having no natural affinity with the Arab States, her connection being purely of an artificial character. If the leaders in Baghdad develop the qualities of leadership and power which will enable them to take over the leadership in that part of the world, what a fine and a prosperous State might well be built up, in which Jordan and Syria might be merged and perhaps, eventually, Saudi Arabia as well!I think we might play a great part in assisting such a country to become a strong and prosperous State. But such a State might well be tempted to attack Israel.
I should like to conclude my speech by making a few remarks upon that important matter, which has been touched upon by several speakers at earlier stages in this debate. A great deal of nationalist Arab feeling has been worked up against Israel and, as Lord Astor said, it is a very real nettle that has to be grasped. I noticed that Lord Strang drew attention to it, but had no solution to offer for dealing with it. If a diplomat of his experience and ability has not a solution to offer, obviously it is a difficult problem.
That, of course, brings us again to the subject of Arab nationalism, which has been touched upon so often this afternoon. I agree very much with what Lord Hailsham said about it. Obviously, it is a genuine feeling b among the Arabs. On the other hand, I think there can be no doubt that a good deal of it has been worked up with a view to distracting the minds of the ordinary illiterate Arabs from the social problem which exists throughout the Middle East. I think to some extent it was because Nuri es-Said scorned to get "on that bandwagon" that eventually he was overthrown and met his death. It is interesting to note that the Sheikh of Kuwait seems to have taken a lesson from Nuri's fate and has been at 320 Damascus attempting to see whether he can get "on the bandwagon" in due course. In my view, if a large reasonably prosperous Arab State comes into existence, work and homes must be found for the refugees from Israel, whose plight was referred to in such moving terms by Lord Lloyd. I think that is an essential point, because as long as these refugees are not dealt with, undoubtedly this sore, this feeling about Israel, will go on. I think we must insist, in return for any assistance which we give to a new State, that this matter be dealt with, and that homes and work be found for these unfortunate people. It seems to me that if that can be done the enmity against Israel will begin to decrease.
In the meantime, we have to get through a dangerous period. I agree very much with what was said by Lord Henderson about the importance of guaranteeing the frontiers of Israel. I think if it is known that we and the Americans have guaranteed the frontiers of Israel that will certainly have a great effect; and, conversely, we must also be prepared to guarantee the frontiers of Israel's neighbours who, as Lord Lloyd said (I entirely agree with him), are also apprehensive about the ambitions of the Israelis.
No doubt Israel is a sort of anomaly in that part of the world. But it is an anomaly of great value to the world as a whole, as well as to that part of the Mediterranean. It is an anomaly the permanence of which must be recognised. It must be recognised as a Jewish National Home—that is, as a cultural unit and not as a modern national State, with expanding boundaries. Of course, it is as a modern national State, possibly with expanding boundaries, that the neighbouring Arab States view it with such alarm. Its preservation as a Jewish National Home must be regarded as an essential element in any forward-looking policy far the Middle East, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will find themselves able to make a firm statement in support of this view. My Lords, I feel that if the problem of Israel can be handled in this way, and if a prosperous and strong Arab State can be built up with the nucleus of Baghdad, we shall be well on the way to solving this problem which has proved such a canker and difficulty over the past years.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, as the last speaker in our debate this evening, I think it would be the wish of your Lordships that I should be as brief as possible and that I should do perhaps little more than dot the i's and cross the t's, thus leaving the slate clean for the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, to re-open the third and final phase of our debate to-morrow morning. I think there is no doubt that the second phase started with the speech of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition. If he will forgive me for saying so—and I would apply my remarks also to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, and my noble friend Lord Lloyd—the second phase has been somewhat more controversial than the first. Nevertheless, I think I may say that there has been rather a remarkable atmosphere in your Lordships' House during the course of our debate to-day, and as far as I am able I should like to close in a non-controversial spirit.
We have, of course, heard a certain amount of the Suez situation. If your Lordships will forgive me, perhaps I may say that I have the feeling that this is where I came in, because it was just over eighteen months ago, in a Suez debate, that I had the privilege of making my maiden speech; and while I believe in the sound advice given by the noble Earl the Leader of the House not so long ago that we should forget our speeches as soon as we have made them, perhaps a maiden speech is one which most noble Lords remember for quite a long time afterwards, and remember, too, the circumstances in which it was made. As the last speaker this evening, I can assure the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, whom I should like to congratulate very much on his admirable maiden speech, that the circumstances in which I made mine were considerably more turbulent than those in which he has made his this evening. I should like to congratulate him also not only because of the similarity of the occasion but because he is a brother officer, although we did not have the privilege of serving in the same battalion.
I remember that on that occasion I referred to the quarrel over Suez as being between two groups of idealists, one group believing that the peace of the world could be saved by moral values alone, and the other, on this side of the House, believing that effective action was 322 necessary to maintain and support those moral values. I do not think it at all remarkable that since that time, despite those divergencies of opinion, those two groups have come so closely together without, in fact, abandoning either their previous opinions, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, made quite clear in his speech and perhaps necessarily and advisedly so, or their principles. None the less, it has been possible to reach the position where we now have a united country and, I think one may fairly say, a reasonably united policy. In that respect I believe some noble Lords at least know I hold fairly strong views on the necessity for a nonpartisan approach (I would not call it bi-partisan, for that is impossible) in relation to our Colonies; and I believe it is no less necessary that whenever possible we should achieve a non-partisan approach to our foreign policy.
If as a very junior Member of this House I may do so without appearing to be presumptuous, I should like very much to pay a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, for his opening speech and the tone which he set to-day; and I feel that it would not be inappropriate if we in this House were also to pay a tribute to the spirit which has prevailed in another place. Nobody has been more forward in promoting that spirit as a valuable contribution to this country than the right honourable and learned gentleman who happens to be the brother of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson.
A second improvement over the Suez situation unquestionably is the fact that we have acted in co-operation with our American Allies. I believe two prerequisites for a successful foreign policy for this country are unity within the nation and unity with our strongest Ally—the United States of America. Incidentally, I am sure those two things are necessary for a stronger United Nations. Whatever differences we have had on this matter in the past, I believe noble Lords on both sides of this House can agree this afternoon that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and of Her Majesty's Opposition and the Liberal Party on the Left, to strengthen and support the United Nations.
There is one matter which has not been mentioned in regard to acting in unity with our Allies. It is a matter 323 which is important and should not be overlooked. I refer to our Allies in Western Europe, particularly the French. It has become clear that General de Gaulle, has somewhat different views from ourselves and the Americans. He has visited Rome and I believe the Italian Prime Minister is now on the way to Washington. It is clear that we have to take account of the views of our European Allies, and I hope it may be possible for the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, when he winds up this debate, to give us some assurance or information as to steps that are being taken in this regard. We know very well that we are acting in the closest consultation with the United States, but we have heard somewhat less of France, Western Germany and the rest of Europe, and I feel it is most important that that aspect should be cleared up to the satisfaction of all the Allied Powers. If there is any besetting sin from which our American Allies suffer, it is that they are apt to believe they are more right than anybody else on foreign policy. It is a sin from which we ourselves have not been entirely free, especially in the past; and it is worth recalling, perhaps, that had we taken the advice of France before the last war that war might have been averted.
I come now to my only other main point: the question of Israel. The noble Earl the Leader of the House has given the impression that the discussions in New York would be limited, in the first place, to the solution of the problems of the Lebanon and Jordan, but I believe it will be very difficult to avoid discussing Israel; and if nothing is settled on the first occasion I hope that at least a firm date will be set in order to resolve that problem in the early future, for noble Lords who have spoken on that subject probably carried the House with them in saying that without a solution of the Arab-Israeli problem there can be no peace in the Middle East. I believe that that perhaps is where certain ideas put forward by the Opposition, and notably by Mr. Aneurin Bevan in another place relating to guarantees of frontiers, will have to be discussed. It is rather interesting that many of the opinions or suggestions put forward by the Opposition have been very largely supported by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and I have no doubt that that fact will be noticed and 324 inwardly digested by Her Majesty's Government.
At the same time, I believe we should be rather careful about guaranteeing frontiers, for that has not been a great success in the past. It was not until the last frontier was breached in Poland—which was the least easy to defend—that we lived up to our promises; and I should not like to see any such repetition in the Middle East. It appears that the new way of permanently guaranteeing frontiers, will be through the United Nations and with a United Nations emergency force. I hope that that is a facet which might be commented upon by Her Majesty's Government, and that it might be stated whether or not that is the idea behind their intentions. I hope so. That has certainly been put forward by the Opposition. I do not want to give them all the "plums" this evening, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Nevertheless, I feel that Her Majesty's Government will be in agreement as to the best method of guaranteeing these frontiers and—a necessity to which they have referred on previous occasions—of building up a United Nations emergency force which eventually would solve this extremely difficult problem of indirect aggression, which was brought up by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and which has since been commented upon by several other noble Lords.
I turn for only a moment to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley—not that I wish to be in any sense controversial, but I should not like certain things he has said to go completely unremarked upon. The noble Lord, I believe, said that because there was not Parliamentary democracy in Iraq (which I believe has been recognised on this side of the House as well as on the other) not only was revolution inevitable but murder could almost be excused. I do not wish to put into the mouth of the noble Lord words which he did not speak, and we shall all read with interest his exact words in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow. But I would refer him also to the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, some ten days ago in the Adjournment Debate, in recognising quite clearly that the alternative to the present régimes, in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, might not be Parliamentary democracy, for such a thing does not exist in that part of the world.
325 On the other hand, I do not think it should go out that we on this side—and I think I should say also, with confidence, noble Lords on the other side—would in any way condone murder, for any reason whatsoever. In that respect, I feel that perhaps the new Iraqi Government have made their own worst mistake by murdering the young King, who was intelligent and forward-looking, and who might well have proved the stable rock upon which the new Iraqi nation could have been founded under a constitutional monarchy. I hope that my prognostication may be wrong, but I am sure that it was a grave error and has not helped the future agreements which we are so anxious to arrive at. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, referred to the fact that it was nonsense to talk of Communism having inspired the rebellion. I am not aware that anybody on this side of the House, or Her Majesty's Government, has attributed the rebellion to Communist influence, although it is quite clear that there has been outside pressure and a great deal of propaganda in instigation to rebellion and murder, not only by the Communists but more particularly by Colonel Nasser.
My Lords, I think I can close the debate on the note on which the noble Earl the Leader of the House spoke in his speech in reiterating what he said before: "The British interest in the Middle East is the rule of law." The noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, enlarged upon that in a remarkable passage which I know all your Lordships will look forward to reading in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, He also dealt with nationalism, its good and bad sides; and I think that after the speeches of both the noble Earl the Leader of the House and the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, there can be no doubt in the minds of any of us that we are not opposed to genuine Arab nationalism, but only to the spirit of dictatorship, which was so admirably sketched by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, with the dangers lying before us if we should not do all we can, with our Allies, to prevent the spirit of dictatorship in the Middle East spreading across into Africa first of all—or, if not first of all, it would be second on the list.
I think that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, made a good point there, in respect of the inadequacy of our propaganda and the actions we are taking to 326 prevent trouble from spreading into Africa. That is a point on which, as noble Lords know, I have spoken on at least two previous occasions; and I hope your Lordships will forgive my repeating it on yet a third. In closing, I will say only that I hope I have not said anything too controversial. I believe that we may congratulate ourselves at this stage, which indeed is a crossways of history, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, in that we are able to come together in emergency and to exert our right and essential influence on the foreign policy, not only of our own people but of our Allies, and to play our part, which perhaps we have not played so well in the last ten years, with the result that peace may be reached not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Earl Attlee.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.