The sighs of relief have been let off; Wall Street has recovered; the “guilty” have recanted (like Philip Toynbee who wrote to The Times to express his “disgust at the wanton act of aggression committed in that island [Cuba] by Russia”). The pundits have instructed—not least Sir William Hayter who was convinced from the start that “there was never any danger of the Soviet Government starting an atomic war for Cuba” (then why was brinkmanship justified?); and John Strachey who, content that the Cuban crisis has confirmed his doctrine of “accommodation through mutual terror”, pays tribute to “the rock-like steadiness of the American Government”. Undoubtedly, some of the most memorable sentences (which should indeed be memorized) were spoken by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on October 30:
“. . . one could not help wondering what would happen next. There was no more we could do except wait.”
This was said in reference to the one and only letter which HMG sent to Mr. Khrushchev during that week, on Sunday, October 28; “by a strange coincidence” just before Mr. Khrushchev’s decisive statement was heard on the wireless.
Mr. Macmillan elaborated:”
“. . . we awaited with some anxiety what would happen.”
The Free World has been saved. We go on as before.
But do we? Probably yes—in various ways. The domestic problems of the alliance have not been affected: unemployment persists in the North here; White Supremacy in the Deep South over there; Dr. Adenauer and de Gaulle are still in office; the Common Market crusade continues; the editor of the Dog World assured us (recently on ten o’clock) that the British bulldog is not in decline. And, indeed, when it comes to a British underground test, HMG stand up. However fixed in their posture of passive obedience to Washington, at this point they find it convenient not just to sit and wait.