Britain and the Dictators: A Survey of Post-War British Policy

Britain and the Dictators: A Survey of Post-War British Policy

Britain and the Dictators: A Survey of Post-War British Policy

Britain and the Dictators: A Survey of Post-War British Policy

Excerpt

The present volume, planned as in some sense a sequel to my recent study of British Foreign Policy from 1789 to 1914 (Britain in Europe, Cambridge University Press), cannot fail to be highly controversial in character, owing to the many still unsolved problems of which it treats and the parlous state to which the cult of rival "ideologies" has reduced contemporary Europe. We have reached a moment when the fate of the whole British Commonwealth is in the balance, and with it, I profoundly believe, the fate of free institutions throughout the world. Herein lies my excuse, if excuse there be, for my extreme outspokenness.

In our Victorian dislike for the practice of calling a spade a bloody shovel, it is not necessary to go to the opposite extreme of calling it an agricultural implement. Even so mild-mannered a man as the late Lord Balfour was not always content to speak of mere "terminological inexactitudes": and if he were still with us today, he would certainly be one of the first to endorse our present Prime Minister's view that unprecedented measures are needed for altogether unprecedented times. For myself, I have always been attracted by the phrase of Joseph de Maistre: "Je continuerai toujours à dire ce qui me paraît bon et juste sans me gêner le moins du monde: c'est par là que je vaux si je vaux quelque chose."

This book is in no sense a full survey of British policy since the War, still less of European history in that period. It is rather an attempt to extract from the crowded chronicles of the last two decades the essence of the issues involved, to seek an explanation for the present state of our relations with the principal European countries, and in particular with Germany, and to analyse so far as is possible for the uninitiated, the alternatives that lie before us. If it be contended that only those who direct affairs can really do this, and that my self- imposed task is therefore the height of presumption, I can only . . .

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