The context is a debate in British Parliament over Hyderabad and Germany in 1948. The stage was set for India’s invasion of Hyderabad. Parallel to this, trials were going on in Germany. A passionate but a though provoking one.
My Lords, I am afraid my few short words will be put into the category of “nice, kind speeches” by the noble Marquess; but I assure him that I am trying to face the facts, although he and I may possibly look at them from a different angle. In these few words I would like to say something about the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, and especially about the form of his Motion. He wants to find a mechanism for stopping aggression. If he will not mind my saying so, I think that that formation of words nowadays is somewhat naïve and out-of-date. Is it possible to stop aggression? The words of the Motion rather suggest that a war takes place in this way: that everybody knows that at a certain date 5,000 hostile soldiers are going to arrive, and all that it is necessary to do is to have 10,000 soldiers ready to meet them. But it is not anything like that. Nowadays a nation of 5,000,000 people can quite easily conquer a nation of 50,000,000, if their scientists are sufficiently superior. There will be no time to collect forces, to put machinery into action. There will be no warning. There will just be millions devastated acres, millions of dead human beings, and millions of acres of obliterated life. If, as we suppose, atomic devilishness has increased at a corresponding rate since Hiroshima—I am sorry that the scientific Lord who sits next to the noble Marquess is not here, as he probably would be able to bear me out—it occurs to me that the only possible physical machine that we could put into motion to stop aggression now is to give the scientists in their burrows extra beer and rations.
Now to deal again with this form of machinery to resist aggression. There is only one form of machinery that can stop aggression, and that is a form which will take away from nations all the disabilities and complexes which cause it. You may have a form of machinery of force to stop aggression, but when you use it you produce an aggressor either in the person you have defeated or in someone else, as we have seen recently. The machinery of force may subdue aggressors but it creates others. The subduing of the Kaiser, for instance, produced Hitler and the Russian Revolution. The subduing of Hitler produced the second half of the present Russian bogey. It seems to me that it is the idea in international politics, if I may be rash enough to say so, that you can have a nice war, subdue your enemy, and all meet together for a happy garden party as soon as it is all over; whereas, in reality, the slaughter, the suffering and the misery involved create a decline in human morale which takes ages to put right, and if it does not make a future new aggressor of the defeated side it finds one somewhere else from among recent friends and allies.
How on earth can man expect all this frightful carnage and waste of money to produce anything but further wars, misery, disaffection and aggression? How can we affect surprise at it? We must now surely look around and see if there is not some better supported way of settling man’s differences, and substitute the words “race suicide” for “aggression” when we discuss it. Mr. Marshall said only yesterday that the chief cause of to-day’s troubles was the neglect of human rights. So it is; but surely not in the way he meant it. What about the human rights of the 10,000,000 or 15,000,000 or 20,000,000 wretched human beings killed, lacerated, invalided, suffocated, burnt and buried alive in the last war? Who considered them then? Were they not just shoved into the furnace because humanity could not find any better way of settling differences? If it is desired to stop aggression, the first thing to do is to guard the human rights of the world’s citizens; then there will not be any aggression.
May we look briefly at what the violation of human rights has produced to-day? Disease, hunger, Communism, rebellion, murder, disaffection and many other such things are rife everywhere. And yet, even with these perfectly plain evidences of the results of trying to settle international human differences by murder and destruction staring mankind in the face, once again the old fallacious bogey is gaining ground daily, that preparations must be made apace for settling the present precarious position by the same old methods which can only hasten the collapse of our already tottering civilisation and bring it nearer to its already visualisable end. No one was blind in the past to the fact that Hitler was preparing an aggressive comeback. No one is blind to the fact that there is potential danger in certain quarters now. Everyone knows that atrocities and cruelties were committed by the Germans. Everyone knows also, if they pause to think for one moment, that no one has been or will be aggressive or cruel unless they believe that, according to the foul standards of historical precedent, they have what is called “a good cause.” A good cause means revenge for a defeat or stolen land or colonies or poverty or overcrowding or some complex of that kind.
Among those causes were Hitler’s. War was the great maker and creator of war, having made these causes for him. Similarly, this last war has made most of the world’s citizens bloody-minded—if I may use that term—from sheer misery, and has turned decent men into subversive agitators, made nations difficult and unco-operative and brought a future war into the horizon. These things are war’s fault and not the fault of the Russians. The lesson of collapsing civilisation is now clear for those who wish to see it. In that I go further than the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. I say that however dangerous or cruel the disputant may be or seem to be, there must now be a different method employed for bringing him to reason, because another war will finally and irrevocably end what we call civilisation and bring the world to savagery again. So I suggest, with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, who I see has disappeared at the psychological moment—I am sure he will not mind my saying this in his absence—that he would be much more profitably employed, with his great skill and acumen, in finding methods for dealing successfully and peacefully with those whose lives and antecedents and ancestors he now so ably denounces, one after another, when they appear on a dangerous horizon, rather than in abusing them and thereby adding to the ill-feeling now so prevalent in the world, which might lead to a final debacle.
The Dean of Canterbury perhaps goes to the other extreme, but surely he, unlike the noble Lord, does seem to realise that everyone in every country is really much alike, and that all are innately directed towards a peaceful life. We are very much alike although some of us pride ourselves on being different and superior to everyone else. I believe that everyone in the world is, within five per cent. or ten per cent., much the same. They are all, I repeat, innately directed towards a peaceful life, though intense and long suffering has made their methods subversive and in many cases dangerous. Now the noble Viscount wants machinery to stop aggression. I suggest to him again that there is only one form of machinery which will stop aggression and that is one which removes disabilities from the minds of malcontents and assures them of general co-operation and co-operative desire by the rest of the world, for in this particular case everyone in the world has at one time or another been a cog in the wheel of the juggernaut of the moment.
This Russian bogey has been caused by a world-wide belief in power politics which has terminated in world wars in which Russia was invaded, over-run, and largely destroyed on two occasions. So they have become a Communist State, difficult, intractable and bitter. I suggest that they can be induced to relax only by a complete understanding of their condition and its causes, together with an abolition of the process of bear-baiting or “bomb boasting”—that is a new word, somewhat similar to bombast but not quite the same—secret meetings, threatening speeches and secret diplomacy which is now going on. In their place should be the insertion of large scale and generous co-operative offers by the Powers now in conflict with them and of whom they are probably genuinely terrified.
You may perhaps say that the Russians are entirely in the wrong. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, may have understated his case against them. They may not deserve all this. Possibly they do not. But it would cure them as it would have cured Hitler, for this reason—that everyone can resist force but no one can resist generosity and sympathy. A war just means that two people or nations have had a trial of strength and have tried to put themselves right by force. There should be a whole-hearted realisation by the world that the ethical orders of neighbourly kindness in face of all danger, all risk and all reason, must achieve their result, because they have come through a gap in the dark cloud that conceals all-powerful wisdom, If this could be put into the mechanism which the noble Viscount desires, it would bring the required result as surely, but possibly as ununderstandably, as the acorn produces the oak.
It seems to me that it is a question now of either believing in that or of throwing the whole of civilisation into the melting pot. The mechanism as such has first to decide that it will not tolerate another war, whatever happens. That is an important point. It has to be decided, once and for ever. Then, in the face of repeated failure, this mechanism has to start to break down the Russian curtain with repeated generous gestures, with which America and the other nations concerned would have to be brought into line, and continue these gestures until the great spring which began to be tightened up in 1914 begins to unwind. If suffering wound it up, so co-operation, if really genuine and unafraid, can unwind it. This is not weakness, but a sign of understanding. There strength lies, and a new example for humanity.
Finally, the mechanism must decide that a cause, however good it may be, cannot be furthered successfully by going contrary to ethical wisdom and throwing the gratuitous gifts of life on the rubbish heaps and bonfires of final dissolution. There is, and must be, an alternative. I make these respectful suggestions to one of the world’s greatest workers for peace, and I hope he will treat them as such.  The noble Viscount, if he wishes, can again call it all verbiage. But I venture to hope that before doing that he will consider in every detail the disastrous state of the world caused by so-called reality, and seek to give reality at long last its proper meaning.