appropriately, it was Lord Home, the Foreign Secretary, who gave the best account of the complaint made against the Belgrade nations. In a speech to the General Assembly, Lord Home said:
These remarks were preceded by this statement: “I am only going to ask this question and not attempt to answer it.”
Ah, the fairness, the decency of the approach! I am not accusing you chaps. Don’t let anyone think that. I’m only asking. Because “in the last resort” I can be relied on to be “decent.”
Those of us with a different sense of decency may feel that a man unable to speak his mind without double-talk should be the last to complain of what he calls the “double standards” of the neutralists. Lord Home then proceeded to demonstrate the way in which he feels that single standards should be applied. He accused the Russians of preparing a series of nuclear tests while negotiating at Geneva for a ban on tests. Such preparations took “months.” And Lord Home concluded: “In other words, while one side was negotiating in good faith, the other was engaged in deliberate deception . . . The world cannot survive such double-dealing.” Now, as Lord Home must know, all governments work on the basis that their scientists and soldiers must be ready to meet any conceivable contingency. Britain, for example, was able to send troops to Kuwait in a hurry not because of some “deceitful” plot but because it was the job of the military to be ready to move in any contingency. The Russian scientists and soldiers, we may suppose, had been preparing nuclear tests not for the last few “months” of the Geneva negotiations but right the way through the three years of talks, not because of “deliberate deception” but simply because it was their foul job to be ready to pull the trigger when their political masters told them.
Lord Home also had the knowledge that the American scientists and soldiers were equally ready to explode bombs when they got the order. So if Russia was engaged in “deliberate deception” and “double dealing”, then so was Lord Home’s big ally, the United States. Why, then, did he not turn and accuse America