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Foreign News: THIS IS WHAT THE WAR IS ABOUT

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TIME

Winston Churchill recently referred to the “massive judgment” of Prime Minister Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts of South Africa. Last week this massive judgment challenged the United Nations to win the peace as well as the war. Speaking to a special assembly of Britain’s Parliament, South Africa’s soldier, philosopher and elder statesman said in part:

I call this a continuing drama because I view this war as a continuation of the last war; and the whole as perhaps another Thirty Years’ War, which began in 1914, was interrupted by the armistice of 1919, improperly called a peace; was resumed with greater ferocity in 1939; and may continue—who knows?—until 1944.

The appalling bloodletting which is necessary for Hitler’s ultimate defeat is being administered by the Russians, and they alone can do it.

In spite of their losses in men and material and territory, the Russians show not the least sign of giving in, and their bitter defense will go on to the bitter end. This impression is confirmed by all the best inside information.

The course for the Allies to follow is clear: Whatever help, in whatever form, we can give to Russia to sustain her in her colossal effort should be given in the fullest measure and with the utmost speed. She is bearing more than her share of the common burden.

The Offensive Phase. We have now reached the fourth year of this war and the defense phase has now ended. The stage is set for the last, the offensive phase.

Once the time has come to take the offensive and to strike while the iron is hot, it would be folly to delay, to over-prepare and, perhaps, miss our opportunity. Nor are we likely to do so. Of that I feel satisfied. On this point it would be unwise for me to say more and thus to set going unnecessary and perhaps harmful speculations.

The Crooked Cross. This, at the bottom, is a war of the spirit. Hitler has tried to kill this spirit and substitute for it some ersatz thing, something which is really its negation. He has trampled underfoot the great faith which has nourished the West. He has trampled on the Cross and substituted for it a crooked cross—a fit symbol for the new devil worship which he has tried to impose on his country and the world.

Behind all the issues of this war lies a deeper question, now posed to the world. Which do you choose—the free spirit of man and the moral idealism that has shaped the values and ideas of our civilization, or this horrid substitute, this foul obsession now resuscitated from the underworld of the past?

This is what the war is about.

The World Ahead. I therefore come to the question: What is the sort of world which we envisage as our objective after the war? What sort of international order are we aiming at?

Our ideas on these matters 22 years ago were much too vague and crude, and at the same time much too ambitious, with the result that when they came to be tested by hard experience they proved wanting and their failure helped contribute to the present conflict.

Certain points of great importance have already emerged. Thus we have accepted the name “United Nations.” This is a new conception much in advance of the old concept of the League of Nations.

The Nations United. We do not want a mere league, but something more definite and organic, even if to begin with more limited and less ambitious than the League. United Nations is, in itself, a fruitful conception, and on the basis of that conception practical machinery for the functioning of an international order could be ordered. Then again, we have the Atlantic Charter, in which certain large principles of international policy in the social and economic sphere have been accepted. That, too, marks a great step forward which only requires more careful definition and elaboration to become a real Magna Charta of nations.

The Citizens’ Security. Again, we have agreed on certain large principles of social policy involving social security for the citizen in matters which have lain at the roots of much social unrest and suffering in the past. We cannot hope to establish a new heaven and a new earth in the bleak world which will follow after this most destructive conflict in history. Certain patent social and economic evils could be tackled on modest practical lines on an international scale almost at once.

Then again, we have accepted the principle of international help underlying mutual aid and agreement. A helping hand in international life thus already matters in practical politics and could be suitably extended after the war.

An American statesman has called this the century of the plain man and common people. I feel that in this vast suffering through which our race is passing we are being carried to a deeper sense of social realities.

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