Dangers of a Great Power Peace
THE ATLANTIC CHARTER IS NO GUARANTEE
By C. J. HAMBRO, President of the Norwegian Storting (Parliament)
Delivered on the Metropolitan Opera Coast to Coast Broadcast, New York City, January 9, 1943
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 280-281.
IT is a remarkable fact that in all the suffering and terrible hardship in Norway, we hear no voices clamoring for peace at any price. People in the occupied countries know that the United Nations are going to win. But they also know that winning the war will give no security for the future unless we also win the peace. More than they fear that the war shall drag on, they fear that the peace shall come too soon. It has been a totalitarian war, and they want a totalitarian peace, dictated upon the aggressor nations according to our conception of right and justice. It has been called a people's war and they demand a people's peace, and not a politician's and diplomat's peace.
The tortured nations of Europe and Asia know that nothing is more quickly forgotten than the sufferings of others. They hear with misgiving voices lifted to proclaim that we must start with a clean slate. It is one of God's commandments to forgive those who trespass against us; but no human being has the right to forgive trespasses committed against others. That is a divine privilege. And to the peoples of the occupied countries those who have not suffered but express their willingness to forget the sufferings of others are accessories after the fact to the crimes of the Gestapo, the killing of hostages, the wiping out of innocent populations.
They do not crave any revenge, but they hunger for justice.
The United Nations are fighting this war for certain principles of right and certain moral ideas without which life is not worth living. The small nations fear that the longer the war is going to last the greater the risk of the moral issue being overshadowed by military and political issues, and considerations of immediate expediency. They fully realize the necessity of stimulating the war efforts of every democratic nation, but they cannot be blind to the danger that the propaganda machinery of big countries easily can call forth just those currents of imperialism and national prejudice which constitute the gravest menace to the peace. The war is on so tremendous a scale and can only be won by so colossal efforts of production that the small states are on the point of disappearing from the official eye; and still we know that without the heroic active and passive resistance of the small nations of Europe the war would have been lost, and all the countries mobilized against the American conception of liberty. The small nations have no unreserved faith in great power diplomacy. They are not passing through this furnace of suffering to be told by other Governments what their fate shall be. They are nor givingmore than their heart blood to resist the dictators in order to be informed by well meaning committees in any other country how their future shall be organized. It is our duty to do all the planning and preliminary work that can be accomplished; but before any final decisions can be taken the peoples themselves must be heard on their destiny.
At the International Labor Conference held in New York a little over a year ago a far-reaching resolution was adopted unanimously by representatives of 35 Governments. They demanded that organized labor and industry should be directly represented at the future peace conference. And not only labor and industry, but all the material and immaterial forces that build up a nation, should have a right to be heard directly.
Any attempt to present nations with a Great Power peace as a fait accompli would set the world back again to a state of moral anarchy. The Atlantic Charter is no guarantee against such a fatality. It is not a binding State document. It is a very wise declaration from the two greatest leaders
of democracy. But it has not been ratified by the Senate of the United States or by the Parliament of Great Britain. And we all know that sometimes the most solemn declarations of presidents of Republics and Prime Ministers of Monarchies have failed to convince or bind their parliaments.
Only if public opinion is wide-awake and prepared can we hope to win the peace. In all the occupied countries struggling men and women are looking to the United States with hope and ambition. With the ambition that the greatest democratic nation on earth shall be prepared to take the prominent part in international affairs, which it should be historically and traditionally predestined to take, and to give to the world the leadership and guidance we are in need of. With the hope that it may be realized by this people that it is not sufficient that the United States should be the World's greatest arsenal of munitions and war supplies. If we shall win the peace this nation must be prepared to be the world's greatest arsenal of democratic and Christian ideas and ideals.