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:
Is there growing up a code of international behaviour in which one rule is to be applied to the Communists and another to the Western democracies? One attitude to the bully because he deals in fear, another for the democrat because his stock-in-trade is reason and compromise? For instance, if it had been Britain or America who had lately conducted a series of 16 nuclear tests in the atmosphere and covered the world with fall-out, would the voices of criticism have been so hushed ? The uncommitted nations must not yield to the temptation to put public pressures on the reasonable nations because they feel that they can, in the last resort, be relied upon to be decent and give way.
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
The answer is also the answer to the charges of “double standards” made against the neutralists—namely, that our accusers are politicians who have become so enveloped in their own propaganda that for them, “double standards” are those which do not come down clearly for one bloc against the other. The fact that Lord Home made this speech before the General Assembly, where more than half the members are uncommitted, shows that he had no idea that he was talking self-evident nonsense. He could, after all, scarcely be expecting to convince the neutrals with an attack on themselves based on an obvious fallacy. He was not trying to deceive, except himself. He is an honest man who should be cherished by critics of British foreign policy, and whose speeches should always be studied carefully, because he really believes in his ideological crusade and says what he thinks. He is not just a politician playing with policies. And, unlike Mr. Dulles whom he otherwise resembles, he is not gifted with much of a brain. He is a good, solid, average representative of an attitude of mind which exists just as strongly in the Soviet bloc and which the neutrals have to understand and combat.