Unilateral Infraction of Treaties Must End


By ANTHONY EDEN, British Foreign Secretary

Delivered before the joint session of the General Assembly, Annapolis, Md., March 26, 1943

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 391-394.

FIRST let me say that I feel at home here. From my earliest years I have been steeped in the atmosphere of Maryland. It is a keen personal pleasure to stand in Annapolis on the spot where Robert Eden once stood.

A few miles away, in the City Hall at Baltimore, now hang the pictures of the Calvert family from whom I am proud to be descended. They are friendly faces which I recognize from my childhood days, when they looked down on me from the walls of my father's house.

I am even prouder of the fact that one of the Calverts, the third Lord Baltimore, was the prime mover in the great Act of 1649, by which the early settlers were assured of full freedom to worship God according to their conscience. That was nearly 300 years ago, but our times have given new significance to that event.

Four and a half years have passed since I last stood on American soil. They are years that have changed the face of the world and brought much suffering to the human race. Some of us in Europe thought we saw the catastrophe approaching and felt the chill of the coming storm, while many, both of my countrymen and yours, were still clinging to the precarious hope of peace. This was, no doubt, excusable enough. There is always a strong temptation for countries to try to preserve their own peace of mind by turning a deaf ear to the first warnings of danger from abroad.

Hopes and Efforts Vain

We know now how vain were these hopes and efforts. So far as we were concerned, Hitler finally destroyed any possibility of illusion by his repeated violation of treaties, by his open repudiation of any rule but that of force. It was plain beyond argument that not Poland, not Europe itself, would satisfy his mad ambitions. His purpose was the conquest and domination of the world.

Thus for the second time within a generation we are at war to redeem our pledged word.

The decision to take up the challenge was a decision of a united people at home. It was endorsed at once by the Parliaments and peoples of the great overseas dominions—Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa—and by all parts of the British Empire. From that day in early September, 1939, there has been no turning back; there will be no turning back until victory is won.

We are not yet at the climax of the struggle; and I roust repeat the warning I uttered when I first arrived here a fortnight ago. We have yet far to travel before the final triumph over our enemies in the West and in the East. In the interval, there will be strains and stresses, setbacks and disappointments. But if we nerve ourselves to meet these, if we work to the utmost of our strength, the result is not in doubt.

In a struggle of this nature, it is clearly desirable that those upon whom the responsibility lies in each of the Allied belligerent States should meet in personal conference as often as they can. There is, in truth, no substitute for such meetings. Men who do not know each other well cannot exchange views by dispatch or cable to the best advantage. I was therefore happy to accept the invitation of your government to pay this visit to the United States.

Nothing could have exceeded the kindness and hospitality that have been shown to me by every one—by the President, by Mr. Hull, by the Members of Congress and by all with whom I have been privileged to work. We have done much work together and we are both well pleased at the result.

For myself I can only say this: In my life it has fallen to my lot on many occasions to visit foreign capitals, and I am sure that never in my experience has a journey been more worth while. You will not expect, I trust, sudden and sensational developments, for there will be none. But there has been a meeting of minds between us about the present and the future that will, we are sure, bear fruit.

Inspired by Experience Here

During my brief visit it has been my good fortune to spend some days in visits to your Army and Navy. I can assure you in all sincerity that I have never known a more inspiring experience. It is at once evident that your methods and organization are thoroughly well planned, but there is much more to it than this. Wherever I went, from the Deep South to the neighborhood of Washington, I found the same virile spirit of dauntless determination. Your young men are truly splendid. You have every cause to be proud of them and they to be proud of the country and the cause they serve.

Let me now for a moment look back to our experience in this war and see if we may gain from it guidance for the future. I have said that we declared war to defend the sanctity of treaties, and we have tried in the ebb and flow of battle to keep this high purpose clear and constant before our eyes. There have been some dark moments—the darkest probably being those of Dunkerque and the weeks that followed. Then for the first time in our remembered history we as a people faced national extinction. Every horror seemed possible. We walked through the fire.

Yet that ordeal strengthened us and brought us a new spirit of fellowship and of endurance and of simple living, which I pray may remain with us long after the peril is passed. We gained then, I believe, a new sense of what our national life could be. Nor shall we ever forget your sympathy and your active help in the days when it needed an act of faith to believe even in our own survival.

One incident in particular will be vivid in my recollection to my dying day. It had been my duty as Secretary of State for War at that time to call upon the nation to enroll in a new force the Local Defense Volunteers, since renamed by the Prime Minister the Home Guard.

The men responded in numbers far exceeding our calculation. They were eager to drill and to fight, but we had no weapons for them. We had not equipment enough for the divisions of our regular Army saved from Dunkerque. Our industry, though working as it had never worked before, could not meet this demand.

Armed by United States

It was then that you made your first great gesture. In a brief span, you sent us more than a million rifles, guns, machine guns and other weapons from your arsenals to arm our volunteers. I can recall today the anxiety with which we watched the voyage of those ships, and the relief withwhich we signaled each consignment safely brought to port by the gallant men of the Royal Navy and the merchant marine. Those weapons might well have meant the difference between life and death for us. Such acts of generosity and faith mean more in the history of two nations than all the speeches of statesmen or the labors of diplomacy.

In that year when we stood alone against Germany and Italy, we had to take great risks. The collapse of France, with her overseas empire, had laid bare our strategic positions, not only in Europe, but over the whole of that area loosely called the Middle East, and in the Far East also. As a result, perilously weak as we were at home, we had to take armed divisions from our undermanned citadel of Britain and send them round the Cape to reinforce our threatened defenses. Even so, we tried to keep faith with our friends.

We had given our pledge to the people of Greece, and the world will not forget their epic resistance. We, for our part, did all in our power to help them. We failed, but that was not a failure of which we shall ever feel ashamed.

It was in this same spirit that, on behalf of our Chinese allies, we reopened the Burma Road in 1941.

Let China not misdoubt us. We shall not forget how for years she resisted aggression single-handed. The Japanese brought against her all the terrors of mechanized war and she had little with which to oppose them. They burnt her cities. They tore from her large tracts of territory. They forced her armies inch by inch into the interior. But never for a moment did her resolution falter. Never has there been a thought of parley, and China no longer stands alone.

The day will come when the Burma Road will once again be open. It will carry to China an ever-increasing volume of supply, which the efforts of your country and mine are turning out daily from the assembly lines.

As I have explained, with the fall of France we lost our reserves of material which had been transported there. If we were to rearm our trained divisions and to expand our forces and equipment, our own production could not suffice.

Value of Lend-Lease

It was in such an hour that lend-lease was born, that great conception by which once again the mighty resources of the New World were called in "to redress the balance of the Old." In that hour, we knew, finally and beyond a doubt, that we were not alone in the cause for which we stood.

Lend-lease began as a one-way traffic. It brought American tanks and guns and aircraft to the battlefields of North Africa and for the defense of Britain. It brought American ships to strengthen the Atlantic life-line. It brought American supplies of every kind, wherever they could be carried and the need was greatest.

Today the picture is changing. Lend-lease has become the machinery for pooling the war effort of the United Nations, the material equivalent of the combined strategic planning of our armies and navies. It is no longer a one-way traffic. Each nation gives to the others what it can send and they need.

The United States will remain the greatest arsenal of democracy, but Britain in her turn is sending supplies to Russia, to her other allies, to the American forces abroad and even to the United States itself. But if we are glad to take our part in this common effort, we are none the less grateful for what we have received.

Life is hard for many people in Britain today. Shortages, discomforts, privations even, have been accepted by our people in a spirit of which they have a right to be proud. Yet we have still to ensure that they have a minimum ofrations required for total war. We have to supply our fighting men with weapons to wage war to best advantage. We could not do these things without the food produced by your farms and industries and exported to us by your snips.

You have been generous to those of our people who have come among you. Today we in our turn are happy to welcome your sons, brothers, husbands and your daughters, too, in our cities and our homes. We are learning from them how alike are our peoples on both sides of the ocean in the things that matter most. London, scarred and seared and blacked-out though it is, yet presents an inspiring sight today. The youth of the world is there, united in the common garb of war.

Your young men and ours rub shoulders with each other and with the young men of the nations united against a common enemy. There they achieve in a short span that national sympathy and understanding which years of diplomatic exchanges could never give. On five continents and seven seas, soldiers and sailors of the United Nations are living and fighting side by side. May they cherish in peace the friendship that they learned in war.

Burden Rests on Youth

May our young airmen who have renewed an old comradeship of the air carry that spirit with them on errands of peace. Upon them and their like, upon their friendship with one another, rests both the burden and the hope of mankind. Where our generation failed, I pray that theirs may succeed. It may be our last chance. It may be in very truth "the last best hope of earth."

In the period between the two wars the intentions of the peace-loving nations were excellent, but their practice was weak.

If there is one lesson we should have learned from the distresses of those years, it is surely this: that we cannot shut our windows and draw our curtains, and be careless of what is happening next door or on the other side of the street. No nation can close its frontiers and hope to live secure.

We cannot have prosperity in one country and misery in its neighbor, peace in one hemisphere and war in the other. And if we try to have these things we shall be back on the old road to world war. We shall never find security or progress within heavily defended national fortresses. We shall only find them by the greatest possible measure of cooperation. The United Nations, and in particular the United States, the British Commonwealth, China and the Soviet Union, must act together in war and in peace.

The greatest of all peace aims is to ensure that never again shall unscrupulous leaders be able to carry their peoples into war and bring tragedy on the world. We shall accordingly take steps for the physical prevention of this danger by the enforced disarmament of these gangster nations. We must insure that this protection of peace-loving peoples is maintained in full effectiveness for whatever period my be necessary.

Sanctity of Treaties

We must therefore be ready to protect and maintain whatever settlement we devise, and one thing, I am sure, is, above all, essential. Never again must the civilized world be ready to tolerate unilateral infraction of treaties. For that would be to sap the whole foundation of the secure international life which it is our principal purpose to restore.

We must prosecute the war to a final victory. We must determine together to take steps to make sure that neitherGermany nor Italy nor Japan can commit a like aggression again. We can do this if we will. If we do, we will fulfill the first condition of peace.

And I take this opportunity once again to make plain that we have no secret engagements with any country, nor do we seek as a result of this conflict to extend our boundaries or increase our possessions.

We in the British Commonwealth have grown up in the thought of cooperation. Some parts of the Commonwealth—the self-governing Dominions—enjoy complete independence, while others are moving toward this goal. Our enemies have looked to this war, as they have looked to the last great war, to sound the death knell of this great association. Nothing in the world is more unlikely.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary union. Its bonds are the will of peoples and races with a common past and a common purpose to travel the same way. Theirs is no static society, shrinking from change or fearful of the future. On the contrary, the British Commonwealth is capable of continuing development. We have sought to learn by our mistakes. The British Empire is the first in history to evolve the idea of self-governing Dominions. That is an entirely new conception in the world. We believe that it can help us to reach our common aim—man's freedom and self-government under the rule of law.

It is in this spirit that we shall administer our trust for the peoples in our empire, whom it is our duty and our pledge to lead to full membership of our community of nations.

Principles Not Limited

I maintain that these principles of our Commonwealth are not of limited application. They are inseparable from the kind of world for which we are fighting, the kind of world we hope to see. That hope is today gathering strength in North Africa, the Pacific, China, through enslaved Europe and on the wide plains of Russia.

Today more than ever war is one and indivisible. The enemies of your country are our enemies. A danger to us is a threat to you, as it is a threat to China and Russia. Let there be no mistake; we shall not rest upon our arms until every one of our enemies has unconditionally surrendered.

We, no less than you and our partner China, have a score to settle with the Japanese; nor shall we cease fighting until that evil growth in the Pacific has been cut back. We shall be with you in this to the end.

When the defense of one is the defense of all, security and peace have no frontiers. Our common safety demands that overwhelming force be brought to bear against the aggressor wherever he may be. And what applies to war applies even more to the peace that is to come. I can say with confidence that today the men and women of Britain are alive to the fact that they live in one world with their neighbors. Only within an international system which is backed with sufficient force can the enterprise and liberty of the individual find protection.

After the last war, the lack of power behind the international system led to the triumph of the dictators. This has more often been said than understood or heeded. On one side, we have the idea of a narrow and covetous nationalism which destroys the life of its own people first, and then the life of its neighbors.

Framework of Free Nations

On the other, we have the idea of a close-knit framework of free nations—free as we in Britain, and you here, understand the word. We believe that it is only in such a framework as this that the individual can rise to the full height of his powers and call his soul his own. And we believe that it has been the world's failure to create such a framework which has twice led to war in our time. This at least is certain: if we do not find the common ground on which to build this time, we shall not have deserved victory.

Any new international authority that we may agree to set up can only succeed if it is backed by sufficient strength.

It will not be enough for one country, or even two, to display the qualities necessary to protect the peace. The work will take all that America and Britain, Russia and China, and the United Nations can offer.

Your country is justly proud of the wide vision and the boldness and youthful vigor with which it thinks and acts. You will not find my countrymen bound by any narrower horizon.

In the common performance of this task you will find the peoples of our Commonwealth—for I am sure that in this I speak for them all—full and worthy partners. You will find in them a toughness, a resolution, an unsuspected fund of energy, a vitality of spirit, such as have more than once surprised the world.

Our joint task will be hard. But, for our part, we are proud of the company with which we march. No one flag, no one government, no one language unite the peoples of our great alliance. We have one passport, freedom; one objective, victory, total and unmistakable; and one purpose, a just and lasting peace.