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Three Alternatives.

Genoa Conference. – in the House of Commons on 25th May 1922.

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There were three alternatives in dealing with the situation with which we were all confronted. It was not a question of which of the three we would prefer. It was a question of which of the three was possible. There was, first of all, the course which had been tried before, and had failed, of using force. That, no one suggested at Genoa, whatever their hostility to the present Government. The other was to leave Russia to her fate until she had a more benevolent and acceptable demeanour. The third was that which I described to the House the last time as the Pitt policy, the policy of Mr. Pitt —the policy that abhorrence of the principles and conduct of a Government should not preclude relations with it which would enable you to deal with the people under its sway. With regard to the first, I dismiss it. No one discussed it, no one suggested it. I come to the second which we have in our mind, and which we may be driven to adopt, and that is, that you should leave Russia alone to her fate. Let us examine that. No one put it forward at Genoa, and if I examine it now, it is only because it is the only possibility left.

But I want the House of Commons and the country to realise what it means, after the facts which came to our knowledge at Genoa. If you leave Russia to its fate, assuming this Government goes, what next? It is either a question of a more extreme communist organisation, or the possibility of a militarist organisation. Would a hungry Russia sit quietly whilst her children are dying? That is not the experience of the past. Is anyone ready to ensure the peace of Europe whilst that policy is maturing? There has been a very great development of insurance recently in this country, but I should like to see a journal which would ensure Europe against the risks of that policy for a single year.