SOME publications in the United States have lately been attacking Anthony Eden, British Foreign Secretary. They paint him as an appeaser, a dupe, a coward, almost a fellow-traveler—all because Eden tried harder and did more than anybody else at Geneva to find a basis for settlement between the French and the Communists in Indo-China.
Eden’s record is too well-known in this country to need any defense from us. As for his attackers, an editorial line which seems to rank Syngman Rhee above Winston Churchill is silly enough to need no rebuttal in Canada. Nevertheless, before this structure of misrepresentation is built up any higher, it may be well to remind ourselves of a few facts.
In Indo-China the French suffered a military defeat which could only have been averted by massive military reinforcements. No nation, not even France and certainly not the United States, was willing to send those reinforcements. France did appeal for intervention by the U. S. before the fall of Dien Bien Phu, but President Eisenhower wisely ignored some previous big talk by his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, and refused the French request. Defeat followed.
This was no fault of American foreign policy. In refusing to shed American blood in such a forlorn and rather unsavory cause President Eisenhower showed a wisdom which is endorsed by every Foreign Office in the Western world or the Eastern either, for that matter. He was perfectly right, but the right course he followed was the same as Eden was following.
Indeed, the same can be said of U. S. foreign policy generally over the past nine years. Everyone has made some mistakes but, by and large, United States policy has been brilliantly conceived, boldly executed and—in the vital areas—successful.
True, it was unable to avoid the unavoidable in China, but in other areas it was triumphant. The Truman Doctrine stopped Communist aggression in Greece, the Berlin Airlift foiled Communist obstruction in Germany, the Marshall Plan saved Western Europe from Communist political assault, and NATO—under the personal leadership of General Eisenhower—brought strength and unity back to a disarmed and disunited community. All these achievements had the hearty co-operation of Britain, but primarily they were fruits of American policy.
Unfortunately the Republican campaign of 1952 repudiated this proud record. Even though the policy had been bipartisan, even though both Eisenhower and Dulles had helped to carry it out, Republican campaigners committed themselves to the myth that U. S. foreign policy had been weak, inept and disastrous. They promised to follow a very different policy with much more glamorous results.
They have not, of course, been able to fulfill this promise. Now the Congressional elections are upon them, and it becomes necessary to find a scapegoat to bear the blame for this failure.
This, we suspect, is the reason behind these recent attacks on Anthony Eden. If Republican policy has been little different from, and rather less successful than, the policies of Truman and Acheson, it’s to be the fault of Eden and Churchill. If Mr. Dulles’ bold talk has not been backed up by his own or any other country, it’s Whitehall at work.
Not many, we trust, will be taken in by this preposterous claptrap.
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