Foreign Affairs

Part of Orders of the Day — Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st July 1961.

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Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton 12:00 am, 31st July 1961

The hon. Gentleman may be right. He is entitled to assume that he understands these matters a great deal better than does Mr. Khrushchev. But the rest of us are not bound to assume that he is right.

Then the hon. Member for Leeds, East suggested that it would be a jolly good thing to establish the United Nations in Berlin. That seems a very odd one to me. So long as the issue is whether Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Ulbricht should or should not control access to Berlin—and this is the issue at present, whether or not one thinks the United Nations should one day be in Berlin or should have been in Berlin in the past—and so long as it is agreed that on this issue one may at any moment have conflagration covering the Continent of Europe—it seems to me highly odd to suggest that: talk about pills for earthquakes, where is the cure for this by removing the United Nations from Geneva to Berlin. That really will not do.

The hon. Member for Leeds, East may be right about the Oder-Neisse line, although if I were a German I do not suppose that I should think so. But I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not right about the value of a disarmed area, Rapacki, and all that. I shall not show my reasons in this matter because my main line now is not its wrongness but whether it is really wise for the hon. Member for Leeds, East—even one so uncomplacent as is he—to go hawking round the world and finding matters on foreign policy which he thinks we could throw into bargaining with Mr. Khrushchev at this moment. Is that the wisest way of approaching the issue about which the hon. Gentleman was concerned; that our rights in Berlin—particularly West Berlin—are morally and legally irrebuttable and that it would be both shameful and harmful if we did not stand up for them?

The hon. Gentleman went on to say how necessary it was to have strict drafting in these matters and I would particularly draw attention to the words "negotiate" and "guarantee". I do not think that we should be ready to negotiate on this matter in the sense of being prepared to pick up and talk over every matter, however large or small, that is scattered about the international green carpet at this moment. The best meaning of "negotiate" is to give or to get value. Negotiate, in this connection, should mean the agreeing, A and B agreeing, that A should get this and B should get that and in such a way that the world sees that A honestly regards what it gets as the equivalent of what it is that B is getting, and vice versa.

That is what "negotiate" should mean if we are to negotiate about Berlin—unless we are to run the risk of it being considered that we have surrendered wherever it can be shown that we have given anything. Similarly, the word "guarantee". My noble Friend asked the other day what Mr. Khrushchev meant by "guaranteee" and "guarantor". I hope that in any negotiations now about Berlin we shall hang firmly on to the real meaning of "guarantee", which means, somehow, arranging, through persons as sureties, or goods, arms or strategic force independent of the other negotiator, making sure that whatever it is that is agreed upon is to happen—or making sure of this as nearly as is humanly possible. I believe that if we use the words in those senses, we may yet do something about Berlin, which, at least, will not do any harm.

I do not know that anyone would necessarily be a fool who was prepared at the moment to settle for Berlin being no worse a thorn than it has been for the previous ten years; but if we are not using words with that sort of strictness, and if we do not use the terms of reference of negotiators with that sort of strictness, I am sure, as the hon. Member for Leeds, East threatened us about the Common Market, we shall enter upon discussions in which we shall continually give away what we ought not to give away, in which we shall seldom gain anything, and in which there is nothing we can count on keeping, and discussions may go on forever.

I wanted to say a word or two about why Mr. Khrushchev cares so much about West Berlin. We all have ideas about this by now and, on the whole, we have probably all got roughly the same ideas. Mine are very much the same as those of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, but I should like to put them rather differently.

I am sure that one reason why the Russians are so hell-bent on Western Berlin is precisely because they have no right there. It is because of the absence of right that the demonstration of power can there be most effective. It is in Berlin that it can be most effective, it is in Berlin that it is most scandalous; and to demonstrate the irresistibility of Bolshevik power there would slam the Western gate and block out the Western windows, which are all there is in a concrete form of freedom and hope for the Eastern countries of Europe.

When that gate is shut and those windows blocked, Eastern Europe will be immured in the fortress of the People's Social Democracy—odd phrase—which perpetuates Russia's peace-loving empire over Europe and justifies Khrushchev's boast to the Americans, "All your grandchildren will be Communists." I have a rather unusually large number of grandchildren. I do not want them to be Communists.

The second reason why Khrushchev cares so much about Berlin is that it is the one place which enables the East of Europe to see what the human world is like. It is a curious thing that what the Russians cannot stand is co-existence. It is a word, I think, a conception that was invented by the Bolsheviks, but they cannot stand it. They cannot exist in Berlin or East Germany so long as any bits of the West exist there.

The hon. Member for Leeds, East spoke about Khrushchev artificially causing the present crisis, and that, I am sure, is true. To do Khrushchev justice, however—if I, too, may try; I am not sure it was quite so artificial as is generally assumed—Ulbricht must have got very near to the point where his country is not viable. If that is so, Khrushohev has not caused the present crisis only for artificial reasons. It is not for artificial reasons that Khrushchev has to do something. It is the one place where the subjects of the—what is it called?—the peace-loving People's Democracy of East Germany can see what the rest of the world looks like, and so its ruler loses subjects at a killing rate.

One effect is that a quarter of a million of them who have seen prefer what the rest of the world looks like to what they are accustomed to. It is mainly the young who exercise that preference, no doubt partly because the young are easier to move—they do not already have grandchildren, and so on. But it is rather striking all the same that it should be the young when one thinks that it is now thirty, thirty-five, forty years—I do not know how old a man must be now, born and living in Ulbricht's country, if he remembers a world which was not a dictatorship, which was not totalitarian. So that they have had had a full human generation of years in which to indoctrinate youth. Nevertheless, it is the youth that is going away and leaving them.

Another reason why the Russians care so much about Berlin is that it is the one place where a defeat of the West, as I judge, is most likely to bring a break-up of the Western Alliance. I do not see how that could mean anything short of Bolshevik dominance of the whole of Germany. I hardly see how that could mean anything short of Bolshevik dominance of Europe. Whoever here has the courage can explain to us how, if that happens, it will stop short of Bolshevik dominance of the world.

One of the mistakes that we might make here tending in that direction is one not quite so common now as it was, the one of saying that the Communists have changed. Words ending in "ism" and their derivatives are always difficult words to handle. Some hon. Members, however, remember that not long ago, one of the greatest speakers in this Chamber in my lifetime, was rather fond of telling us about how Communism was no longer Communism, how it had become a kind of ritual dance, that one must not really think that it meant anything, and all that. Indeed, in some of the remarks he made in a Fabian pamphlet some years ago, the hon. Member for Leeds, East—I am sorry he has left the Chamber—came rather near to taking that same line. I hope that we all here, at any rate, are secure against that temptation and I hope that whatever we can, we shall do to keep other people secure against that temptation.

World dominance is the aim. It has been the aim throughout. The dogma is still sovereign. It is not merely ritual, it is not merely rhetoric. But we need not credit them with a religion nor discredit ourselves with having less spirit than they have. It is less a religion they have than a magic, a magic for a governing oligarchy: and a magic that works is irresistible, perhaps most especially a magic that works for a governing oligarchy. This is a hypothesis which has worked, or must look like it to any Russian. This is a hypothesis which has worked since 1917. It has to a high value worked both as theory and as the machine of a government which has built the greatest and most feared of all empires—or, I should say, which have built the greatest and the most feared of empires, because it is not only the Government that has done that, it is the Government and the theory. Indeed, that is a part of Marxism that the Government and the theory should be thus inseparable and even unanalysable.

So long as everyone in the East has in Berlin this one window and gateway to the West, so long as the West maintains something like unity—and, I must say, the hon. Member for Leeds, East made it a little difficult. He dismissed the German Government: he did not bother to say why they were dismissible, because the Guardian, apparently, had already explained to Dr. Adenauer that his principles and prejudices were all nonsense.

The hon. Member went on to dismiss Charles de Gaulle—he did not dismiss him in one sense, I know, but to dismiss him as a person of whom one need take any great note. Indeed, all that was implicit in the stuff about the Rapacki plan and all that. We may hope, that somehow, so long, as I say, as this Berlin gate is not quite closed, as this window is not quite shuttered, that somehow, in the not too distant future, both theory and empire may dissolve or evolve or break down; otherwise, we have no hope, except in the very long run, and perhaps long after our own collapse and dissolution.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite are very fond of lecturing us about how Britain should take the lead—generally, a moral lead, I admit. Moral leads are not so easily taken as gentlemen so fond of moralism are apt to assume. Nor are they always welcomed. We can, so long as some window is left open a chink, some door left ajar, hope that under Western—liberal, if hon. Members like, although there are no Liberals here for me to suck up to—under Western or liberal influence we may hope that mere compulsion and fundamental nonsense—for that is what Communism is, mere compulsion and fundamental nonsense—cannot last very very long; but bang the door, black the window, and they can last long enough to be the end of us.

"What has changed? Nothing at all. Russia's policy is unchangeable. Russia's methods, tactics, and manœuvres may change, but the lodestar of Russian policy, world domination, is a fixed star;" and it is now by what happens in Berlin that we have a duty laid upon us to see what happens to that policy.

"Pan-Slavism is a form of Russian imperialism. It is not a movement which strives for national independence but a movement which, directed against Europe, would destroy all that history has created throughout thousands of years. This could not be achieved without eradicating Hungary, Turkey, the major part of Germany … There is only one way of dealing with a Power like Russia, that is by fearlessness."

I hope that hon. Members below the Gangway opposite recognise that. All but one short sentence in the middle came from Karl Marx.