People talk back; Can we live in peace with the Soviet Union?, part one
I'd like you to listen for a moment to the British Labor leader and Narron BEVAN As he approaches the trap set for him by four American journalists who want to know where he stands on the matter of the rearmament of the West of America and her allies. Mr Bevan is speaking but I think I I don't I haven't downloaded you should be would I dominate what I have argued is that you walk not to produce arms to the extent of a lowing the standard of living in the countries on which you are lying. And yes of course I've got the support of Truman who says the same thing. Under jihad I don't know who she has history with in American policy and I think if you're going to beg them to commit homicide. Ah but you are you're critically round on a spot and I thank you master you must make a distinction between what people say and what they do. Fact is that where I was they said it never the less they ask asked Are Anonymous of the program and could not be carried out without reducing the standard of living. Well as you can see he didn't exactly fall into that trap. You'll
be hearing more from Mr. Bevan. And as for American critics as they talk back to him during the next hour or so this program is another in the series that people talk back brought to you by the National Association of educational broadcasters. It was recorded in London especially for us through the cooperation of our friends of the British Broadcasting Corporation. And now I should explain who I am and what I do in this program. My name is Robert Merton. I teach at Columbia University and I have a professional interest in communications and communications research. Once again in this series I have been designated as what is called a clarifier. Let me explain what a clarifier is. First it is not his job to take sides but it
is his job to try to analyze what actually happens in the give and take of a discussion. Later in this program I'll be coming back to compare notes with you to see if we happened to notice some of the same things that have been going on in this conversation between Mr Bevan and his critics. This is Robert McKenzie speaking to us from a BBC studio in London and introducing a discussion program in which Mr. NRM Bevan answers questions put to him by four American journalists and the problem we want to discuss with her Bevan is this Can the western world live in peace with the Soviet Union. Our guest really needs no introduction since he's one of the best known members of the British Labor movement. He worked as a youngster in the Welsh coal mines and has been a Labor Member of Parliament for 23 years now. He was Minister of Health in the Labor government of 1945 58 and in that capacity he introduced the National Health Service. He served briefly as minister of labor in the second
postwar socialist government and he resigned from that government in the spring of 1051. He resigned incidentally primarily because he felt that his government had undertaken to have the a burden of rearmament. Now the question Mr Bevan we have for Americans. Let me introduce them to you. First Miss Marjorie Bremner she did post-graduate work in politics at the University of London and is now a freelance writer. Secondly Mr. Clifton Daniel a London correspondent of The New York Times. Mr Laurie Solon who has been an American correspondent in Europe these last 11 years and the fourth member of the team Mr Howard Sherman who has been a student for the last three years at Oxford and one has been one of the very few Americans incidentally to be elected president of the Oxford Union. Now I should explain incidentally that we have given Mr Bevan no advance notice of the questions we're going to put to him. Our programme is entirely unscripted and our general subject again is can the western world live in peace with the Soviet Union
now looks like lead off. Thank you I would. Mr. Bevan the heart of the matter is who is threatening world peace for the east or the West. And I would like to remind you that not so long ago you said I am quoting more or less from memory. My American friends and their economics and fiscal policies are doing more damage to Western Europe than Stellan every can do. Does that represent your view today Mr Bevan. Well the answer to the first question of who threatens peace I suppose can be paraphrased by saying who intends to make war. And as far as one can gather at the moment judging by the statements of Representative Americans and Representative Britishers no country intends to make war. In point of fact
Mr Winston Churchill and I think that Mr Dean Acheson says that he does not think that the Soviet Union wishes to make war. And what really happens of course is that nations sometimes want things that they can't have without making war that star wars occur. Now with regard to the second part of the question. I should have thought a complete vindication of that point of view is to be found in the reports that have now been handed in to the United States administration. By fission So the administration and by the opinion potential use of the administration who now say of course such so long as America continues to pursue her fiscal policies. There is no possibility whatsoever of the economies of Europe being viable. Do you mean that in the past several years since the war
American Marshall Aid American feeding priming the pump and your has actually contributed to a war. You know I had an actual I think it Marshall Aid in Europe has been an extremely useful stabilizer of the body of the European economies. And also has assisted them towards you because of it. I backed out as I once remarked to an American friend of mine and it is no use the magic of pushing dollars into pockets has cut the bottom up and therefore what we need to do is to see killer fish go to viability with a mag in other words we must be able to pay our way. It does not accord with the good Anglo-American relations that every time we've failed to pay our way because of this imbalance in world trade conditions are made good by a monetary or systems from the from the Congress. I suppose you're thinking in particular in terms of the American lowering her Lauren her trade barriers to such an extent that Britain can kind of
America America knowing her trade barriers and been prepared to invest money abroad in a far larger scale than she has been doing it recently. Otherwise there would be no expansion of world trade and you would have continual bad feeling between America and Great Britain. Whenever American say why should we go on pouring out money to assist the Europeans and Europeans saying oh I was ending it was when we started didn't we were talking about oh why. Which was the great or what the problems were in keeping world peace. You were suggesting that American financial policies have some relation to peace between the east and west. Well I think I think that there is a very definite relationship between the two because I believe that so long as America does not properly perform the functions as a creditor country in other words so long as she has a great surplus.
We're going to the work which he does not use by investment in the rest of the world. Then we shall have the dentition. So should an arrest in various parts of the world which some nations made want to exploit for their own aims. Well I think this goes on to my question doesn't it Bob. And I mean I read in your recent book Mr. Bevan that called a place of fear that you believe that the United States administration has mistaken the nature of the particular nature of the Communist menace. And I was wondering if you would be willing to explain to us what you think the peculiar nature of the communist menace is and perhaps later on in what ways you think we in America of America has mistaken it. Well listen I'm takes me back almost more than 18 months because I contended if you remember that there was not such imminent danger of a war as many people thought there was. And then reason being
that I did not believe that the events in Korea and necessarily could be ascribed to a Kremlin product. In fact I think that there is a very great danger of a sort of psychosis. You know there was an American plot was there but no indeed in the country. I have I have been on the record saying and I have repeated here that I believe that the American and United Nations reaction towards the invasion of South Korea was a very necessary condition for maintaining the authority of the United Nations. But I did not regard it Dan and I do not regard it now as a harbinger of a general attack by the Soviet Union or by the Chinese. And so long as some Americans think Doc to be the case they will not see that we're part of the problem and is probably pushing Clifton don't know why we're discussing this Mr. Bevan could do so. What do you think the origins of the Korean War were if they did not originate with a
criminal. Well I think that what happened in Korea was that the Chinese in the North Koreans and especially the North Koreans thought that do you how did we do the easy pickings in South Korea. And I believe that the big it is of American foreign policy. I desisted in convincing them that this was because the American administration had turned its back on China and many people concluded that this would give the North Koreans a chance in South Korea but didn't you labor the withdrawal of the American army from South Korea in 1947. 19. No I don't and so far as we understood South Korea was a particular American interest under your not in because the peace treaty conditions had not been established there in the same same way as the British army had obligations in some parts of
Europe and the rest of the world. But it was too bad. I think I have a problem in what I have written. I doubt the Chinese had good reason to believe that following the failure of American help to Shang-Chi Sheykh America were disinteresting yourself in that part of the world. Do you believe America should have helped Chiang Kai-Shek further muster but I don't know on a country I think they have been far too much. Well if I understand you correctly then. Had the Chinese and the North Koreans realised that in fact the Americans had not lost interest in China they would have been much less likely to take action. That's my view and if I push that further than it we make it clear at any one time. Then the Russians are much less likely to take action. The answer is that we are supposed to end our obligations under the United Nations to resist aggression wherever it occurs in any part of the world. So it's not made in a special American interest. It's United Nations interest. But I think that where I would join you sure would many about this is not to regard
a social vote as necessarily implying as threat to world peace. Through you would say then that America has overestimated the military threat of the Soviet Union. Especially since the Chinese intervention in the Korea War Korean War. I don't even like your leadership in China as you have a delusion. I believe the Chinese Revolution is an entirely independent affair and used the issue to put on Chinese history and Chinese conditions has been to some extent assist. In her role. China they would have been much less likely to take action does my view and if I pushed that further than it we make it clear anyone to mind then the Russians are much less likely to take action.
The answer is that we are supposed to end our obligations under the United Nations to desist aggression readily to goods in any part of the world. So it's not meet in a special American interest is United Nations interest. But I think that where I would join you she would many about this is not to be God. So should a revote as necessarily implying as threat to world peace. True you would say then that America has overestimated the military threat of the Soviet Union. Especially since the Chinese intervention in the Korean War Korean War. I believe I mean a Chinese revolution. I believe the Chinese Revolution is an entirely independent affair. He's been on Chinese history and Chinese conditions has been to some extent assisted by sympathy from the Soviet Union. But if a short big union had not been near the Chinese revolution would have occurred. Clifton Daniel and Mr Bevan I'd like to go back a bit to your statement. That there are occasions when nations want things that they can't get without going to war.
We've talked of now about the failings of American policy in relation to the war in the Far East. But I'd like to ask you now is whether you think the Soviet Union is capable of capable of and interested in further economic military or political aggression in Europe or elsewhere. I would rather say I paraphrased the question if you don't mind by saying whether I think that Russia has military intentions. I don't think she has. I don't myself believe that the Soviet Union is prepared to risk a general war in order to obtain further territory. May I ask then in addition to what your answer would be to the question of let us say it is illogical aggression. Well then you see at once that one of the Americans can say that the
whole world is joined in an indeed illogical war that their users match your ideological campaign being carried against the Soviet Union in America and Britain and Europe as there is by Russia against America and Britain. And therefore I if we are if we are to assume that India logical differences are bound to give rise to military action and indeed is a dismal prospect for mankind. But surely in Eastern Europe in particular it has been either the Red Army or the threat of the Red Army which has caused the capitulation of Eastern European countries and it's that threatened fear of the Red Army in the center of Europe I believe which makes people sleep less easily in bed at night at least on this side. I do get it I think it is perfectly to perfectly correct that the Russia has been able to digest it into her own system. Number go small nations on the periphery of the Soviet Union and they all should agree. How did the Army has been of assistance in that respect
and I just profoundly disapprove of it. A lot of great nations do like to have friends on their borders as we know from the Miller doctrine. Solem. Mr Bevan do you think it is to the interests of the West to have a strong or a weaker Russia just Delancey policy inclined to be more aggressive the weaker he feels or the stronger he feels. Well I would say that day and the stronger Russian for Russia feels the less sensitive Shears I attach enormous human value at the moment to the economic developments that are taking place inside Soviet Union should we help solve your arm of the. I think it would be a very good I don't expect and I don't believe that it's wise at the moment to send weapons of course to the Soviet Union. But I do a little uranium now and I really do think however that it is a wise plan and add to it
will be a union to raise the standard of life of the population because I believe that to the extent that per standard of right approximates to that of her neighbors the Iron Curtain will be it will tend to become more fragile so that worked out in Germany under the Nazis. Oh yes of course I think it did but I don't think there's any serious comparison between a Soviet Union and the Nazis in a sense that I do not believe that the Soviet Union has established a two evolution on the basis of more spears for the Russians as Hitler did in Germany. The ethos of the two revolutions and got a different. I don't know you or raise this question of the inclination of the Soviet Union to aggression are you satisfied or do you feel the groundsman not have and I'm not entirely satisfied there's one further question I'd like Mr. Bevan to answer. He raised a point that there is just as much criticism as say the Soviet Union outside the Soviet Union as there is criticism of the
Western countries in the Soviet Union. It seems to me there's one distinction I'd like Mr. Bevan to comment on. We do not have so far as I know an organization or an agency inside the iron curtain which is trying to establish our particular type of government in those countries. But it seems to me the Soviet Union is conducting a sort of ideological aggression in our countries I'd like to have a comment on that. I think there is no doubt to talk about it. I got Dish that the years looks upon communist in a rush to the world being our sort of Trojan horse for them. And they rely upon them quite a bit. Father go propaganda. And of course it is one of the dangers of the situation by going to the Iran war. I know into the totalitarian nature other sordid ministration we have got as far as I know nor torturing horses there. But I think
that this happens quite frequently in conditions of international turmoil. It happened in the end of the eighteenth century. For example let me put this to you. I do not believe that because the French in 1789 they use the language of Thomas Jefferson but the French Revolution was concocted in Washington. It was rather a curator. I'm wondering whether you think Mr. Bevan that reality that of the Soviet Union to you this larger throws a new light on its policy. I would much rather say that the attitude of Yugoslavia throws a great heat of light on them on the prospects of preventing the Soviet bloc becoming completely only Janee Yes. In fact I looked upon not to break between teacher and Stalin in 1948. I've been exceedingly hopeful one because it seems to me that you might have different kinds of communism in different parts of the world. Now some people don't like communism I know that
very well but I'm afraid that in many parts of the world might go communist much as we dislike it. What we have to do is to enable them to go communist if they wanted to without him and without him and getting us in a third world war. Well we've been reviewing rather intensively the whole mainspring and motive of Soviet policy and with the with Mr Bevan has on that. I wonder if we could turn and look at the policies the Western powers have pursued since the end of the war and perhaps examine them. This is Robert Merton again. This may be a pretty good time for us to pause for a minute before we go on with this discussion and to review what we've actually been hearing. But first perhaps I should remind you what my job is clarifier is you'll remember that I'm not trying to decide who is in the right. Mr. Bevan or is American questioners. If that were
the purpose I wouldn't be here for I'm definitely not an expert on foreign policy. As a matter of fact I know a little more about foreign policy than what I read in the newspapers. And in a few scholarly journals. But what I do want to do as a clarifier on this program is to analyze the give and take involved in this discussion between Mr. Bevan and his critics. Now in listening to this exciting conversation I suppose most of us have had much the same impression. Here is a man high in public policy circles of Britain who is in a sense being put on the spot to explain what he stands for what he believes and how he's arrived at his opinions on the important question of the relations of peace or war between the east and the West. Perhaps you remember one case which turned up almost at the very beginning of this conversation.
You may remember Mr. Bevan was asked a very blunt question Mr Bevan the heart of the matter is fullish threatening world peace in the east or the West. Now this seems to be a simple clear and direct question one that goes to the very root of the subject under discussion. What did Mr Bevan do with this question. Did he accept the alternatives that were put to him. Did he answer that it was the east which was responsible for threatening world peace overbet it was the West. Not at all. Instead And it's really remarkable to see the skill with which he does this. He goes through three distinct steps in dealing with this apparently simple but actually very complicated question. First of all he paraphrases the question so that in place of the original It becomes one which he feels he can answer. Evidently the question as it was first put to him is to his mind unanswerable
and so he says well if the answer to the first question who threatens peace I suppose is going to be paraphrased by saying who intends to meet Wall now that he's paraphrased the question it takes a second step. He brings up some facts which in his opinion bear on the problem under discussion. And as far as one can gather at the moment judging by the statement and representative American representative British heirs no country intends to make war in point of fact Mr Winston Churchill and I think and Mr Dean Acheson says that he does not think that the Soviet Union wishes to make war. I noticed then that the view of Churchill in Atchison is a historical fact which he uses to clarify the position that he's about to take on the question as he's paraphrased
it and now he takes this third step and this is really the most striking aspect of what he does. He takes the paraphrased question and he looks at it in terms of a of a general premise of a kind of general philosophy in which he believes and so instead of saying that the east or the West threaten the situation he rejects the question entirely and he ends up by making a general point. What he says is that what really happens is not that one nation or another nation decides on war but that war is a kind of result of quite other things. And like really happens of course is that nations sometimes things that they can't have without making law that show wars occur. Now if you think back on what Mr. Bevan has been doing you will find that this procedure of first paraphrasing the question then submitting some facts that bear
on the question and then giving his answer in terms of a general philosophical premise is one which he has adopted over and over again throughout the discussion. I hope you'll be on the lookout for this three step procedure as we rejoin Mr Bevan and his American critics for the rest of this discussion. One other thing you might also try to spot the various philosophical points in which Mr Bevan bases his arguments and notice use effects particularly of historical facts. At the end of the discussion we can get together again and compare notes. But now let's pick up the discussion where we left off. You will recall Mr. McKenzie was asking for a closer look at the policies of the Western powers in the post-war period. Journalist Howard Schumann is speaking as we listen in. I think the question that we want to ask is Does Mr Bevan think the West has gone wrong
in their attitude towards the Soviet Union or America has gone on. And if so precisely what areas. I think the West has gone wrong and then I said that doesn't follow the Dacia there so every Dune is gone right. Quite I don't see the world qualify as quite like that at the moment I think the West has got a pardon. Obviously you support the Marshall Plan or did support the Marshall Plan. Is it nature or was it the original Greek and Turkish policy were it where we went wrong was their particular point and I know western West Western policy got off the track. Well I think there's a little bit I think in my view would that be one of the most play important turning points in the post-war world. Was the wrapping and cessation of lease lend. I think it produced chaos in Europe and it just specially produced very great
difficulties in Europe. In England the our economies were tied together and down we had as you know very great difficulty indeed in extricating ourselves from different engine problems that arose as a result of this is a nation state. Just a few minutes ago I think you said you thought you should feel better if the Soviet Union was strong yet I mean strong in the sense that you cannot make an economically strong yet. Well today that means the same thing Mr. Bevan if you have economic strength you have the potential of military strength means Hester pointed that out it's true in the Middle East today where the governments are taking action because they feel a new economic vigor. So let us turn that into a question going to be a little bit more but I think this is where do you live when it necessarily follow that because a nation is economically strong and if one has a minute to put attention at all events to that we need be afraid of that. Either way is you even more afraid of America which is the strongest nation in the work.
And that's a very good plan were we not afraid I would like to ask this you speak of American investment policy in Europe as having failed since the war. Despite the billions that have been poured into Europe what precisely do you mean by investment do you mean simply giving more money to Europe. No no no I mean enabling you to look to a new way. That was precisely the reality of the Marshall Plan and the other nations divided the money themselves Wasn't that the best way to do it. You have you're forgetting all about it the Marshall Plan came in afterwards. Object was found at the post-war division of labor between America and the rest of the world and resulted in the ruin of some parts of Europe. Well Mr. Bevan you said that you feel the great mistake was made at the time that Lend Lease was can one of you are right but that's where it began let's say that was certainly not a very calculated policy if it was an error it was not an error directed at anyone. Where did our first directed air come if we made one.
I mean it was a guy who was overdoing it with regard Soviet Union. Truman offered to meet standard Star and accept that invitation Mr above and now you mustn't try and put me in the position of defending Stalin and I don't need to because did I wish to be put in that and I am unable what and when I am what I am going at the moment is this that it is necessary for us to remember that at the moment we are adding to the allies of the Soviet Union. Now by always considering our way guarding social every dentition in different parts of the world as necessary to trace it to its Soviet origin. I finished in which I think is a vague very great mistake on the part of the ED medication administration to declare that she would in no circumstances recognize the people's revolution of China.
- People talk back
- Producing Organization
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- In this program, the first of two parts, four American journalists speak to British Labor leader Aneurin Bevan.
- Series Description
- This series presents a series of questions posed to politicians about current affairs.
- Broadcast Date
- Politics and Government
- Cold War--Political aspects.
- Media type
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Merton, Robert King, 1910-2003
Host: McKenzie, Robert Trelford
Interviewer: Daniel, Clifton, 1912-2000
Interviewer: Bremner, Marjorie
Interviewer: Solon, Larry
Interviewer: Schuman, Howard
Producer: Tangley, Ralph
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Bevan, Aneurin, 1897-1960
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 53-13-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “People talk back; Can we live in peace with the Soviet Union?, part one.” 1953-02-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-513tz64w>.
- APA: People talk back; Can we live in peace with the Soviet Union?, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-513tz64w