The French Colonies: Past and Future

The French Colonies: Past and Future

The French Colonies: Past and Future

The French Colonies: Past and Future

Excerpt

This book had already been written when Wendell Willkie's " One World" came off the press. Like Jules Verne's immortal hero, Philéas Fogg, Willkie circled the planet; and because he had a mighty American bomber at his disposal he completed the trip not in eighty, but in forty-five days. The observations and conclusions he arrived at are delivered to the people of the United States in a book which is really a bombshell.

When a former candidate for the Presidency of the United States, who missed being elected by only two million out of fifty million votes, sets out to decide the fate of the universe in so short a time, the fact deserves attention. In this book, however, we shall take issue only with Willkie's colonial thesis. We cannot ignore an opponent who passionately, but in all good faith, desires to impose his views on a great part of public opinion and who, thanks to his prestige, may succeed in doing so.

Willkie has made his own a formula wrongly attributed to Robespierre: "May the colonies perish rather than our principles." He demands that the United Nations condemn the colonial spirit and what he wrongly calls the "imperialism" of Great Britain, France, Holland, Belgium and Portugal, without reservation, here and now, without even waiting for the victorious end of the war. He attacks Mr. Winston Churchill for his declaration in the Commons: "We mean to hold our own. I did not become His Majesty's first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire."

Mr. Willkie says that his English correspondents, and they are supposed to be "numberless," do not doubt that this "outmoded imperialism" is doomed. As he discreetly withholds their names the question remains open as to whether they are qualified to hold the Empire of so little account.

Another declaration of the British Prime Minister that distressed Mr. Willkie was that the provisions of the Atlantic Charter do "not qualify in any way the various statements of policy which have been made from time to time about the development of constitutional government in India, Burma, or other parts of the British Empire." Some time later, on March 5, 1943, Colonel Oliver Stanley, British Colonial Secretary, said in a speech at Oxford that "he was much more interested in what Britain thought of the Empire than in what the United States thought of it," and he unreservedly rejected "any scheme for the international administration of the British colonies after the war." According to Mr. Stanley, "the first and fundamental principle is that the administration of the British colonies must continue to be the sole responsibility of Great Britain." He hastened, however, to admit that "continued British administration did not exclude the possibility of close international cooperation," and that "in their sense of humanity, their desire for progress and their attachment to liberty," the English yielded to no other people. He concluded that "sixty million people, prosperous, friendly and grateful," remained bound to the British Commonwealth, "by the unbreakable ties of common interest and common respect."

It is clear that in London's view the Empire remains intact whether the Crown colonies or the great autonomous nations . . .

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