Reed Douglas - The Battle For Rhodesia

Author : Reed Douglas
Title : The Battle For Rhodesia
Year : 1967

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Chapter One. INSANITY FAIR, 1966. Respected reader, To those of you who know my books (a diminishing band: but aren't we all?) and to those who know them not, let me recall that in 1936, sitting at a window in Vienna, I wrote a book, Insanity Fair, about the coming Second World War. In 1966, sitting at a window in Salisbury, Rhodesia, I find myself writing this book about the coming of a Third World War. This is where we all came in. The scene has shifted from Europe to Africa, but the new post-war years have seen the same ladderlike process calculably leading to war. In these latter years I did many things, and writing was of the things undone, for my writ, I felt, ran out. There was only the oft-told tale to re-tell and its constant iteration came too near the praising of myself, for every fool can play upon words. If "warnings" were needed, let others warn, and probably in vain, for by a divine instinct men's minds mistrust ensuing danger. So I sought other paths and spent many years in South Africa. Man proposes: looking for pastures new, I found myself in the centre of another world conflict in the brewing. Africa was this time the scene of the preparatory steps, and Southern Africa the last rung of the war-ladder. The British Government's onslaught on Rhodesia, in 1965, returned the world to its plight of 1937, when war was two moves away and could yet have been averted by obvious countermoves. Let me briefly recall those days to you, senior and junior classmates. From 1933 Hitler's patent intention to make war was fore-told by all competent observers in Berlin. Even the date (about five years ahead) was accurately estimated, in its despatches to London, by the Berlin office of The Times (where I was a correspondent). The London government, however, to the end encouraged Hitler on his warpath by the method called "appeasement" (throwing children to pursuing wolves until only the parents remain, in the fleeing sleigh, for the wolves to devour). German rearmament was let pass, then the seizure of the Rhineland, then the recreation of the German air force (in 1935 Hitler personally told the British Foreign Minister of its massive strength, as I then reported). That left two pieces on the board, and they provided the final test. If Hitler kept within his frontiers, "appeasement" would be vindicated. If he forayed out of them, it would collapse and war follow. Seeking to reach the public mind, I wrote in Insanity Fair "Austria means you" and "Czechoslovakia means you". Austria was invaded as the book appeared. One last move remained. If he were allowed to invade Czechoslovakia, world war was certain. I repeated this in a second book, Disgrace Abounding, and also opined that the Second War would begin with a Hitler-Stalin alliance. Six months after the Austrian invasion, the British Prime Minister, from a meeting with Hitler, sent a timed ultimatum to the Czechoslovak President to surrender his defensive zone. M. Benesh, saying "We bequeath our sorrows to the West", capitulated. Mr. Chamberlain, back in Downing Street, announced "Peace in our time". Hitler took the Czechoslovak defences, disclaimed any further "territorial demands", and six months later invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Six months after that, punctually to the foreseeable moment, the Second War began. As the German tanks entered Prague, I left (as I left Vienna a year earlier, after telephonic warning from my London office that the Gestapo disliked me, which I knew). Soon I quitted journalism, too, for Insanity Fair was not popular with the highpriests of appeasement, a sacred word at that time. My editor, a Mr. Dawson, was a foremost advocate of it and told me "Insanity Fair is an excellent book, but not one for The Times" (I had submitted it before publication as in duty bound) so I resigned. (The Times, in its later 0fficial History, confessed error about its policy of 1933-1939 and in the same breath unrepentantly sneered at "junior members of the staff" who resigned in protest. The History also admits that The Times had "abandoned the practice of basing a foreign policy of the paper's own upon the dispatches, published and private, of 'our own' Correspondents abroad". Had The Times, then a powerful force in the world, maintained that policy it could, in my judgment, have averted the Second War. Today, 1966, it still does not base policy on the information of trustworthy correspondents abroad: if it did, it could not support the policy pursued by British Governments in Africa since 1945, of destroying order in Africa and thus preparing new war. (Incidentally, the term "junior members", quoted above, should be read in the singular: in fact the resigner was a singular person called Douglas Reed). Insanity Fair, in 1938, gave a true picture of the wrath to come at a time when it could have been averted. It was simply prognostic and not "prophetic". These are my credentials, good reader, for returning, in 1966, to write one more book. I have briefly retold the events of 1933-1939 in Europe to draw the comparison between them and those of 1960-1966 in Africa, and to say: "Rhodesia means you". Ten years ago a major war beginning in Africa was inconceivable. While wars, "hot" and "cold", went on elsewhere, Africa was a continent of order. It was steadily moving to an improving future for all its peoples under the colonial powers, as they pursued the established policy of gradually uplifting the tribespeople towards an increasing part in the management of affairs. With folk separated by millennia from every "Western" concept, gradualism was the only method. Violent interruption of this process meant (as is now being seen) reversion to a chaotic tribalism of slavery, warfare and disease, the things of which Africa was slowly being purged. Only one power in the world admittedly desired this. Lenin, in 1920, decreed that the expulsion of the colonial powers from their territories was vital to the achievement of world communism. In the years 1960-1966 Western "liberalism" openly supported this Leninist aim. This partnership, indeed, between the governments of the "free world" and communism, their professed enemy, is the basic fact of the years 1960-1966 in Africa. Only when that is understood does the picture of what has happened become plain, as a photograph emerges from a film in developing liquid. The "wind of change" speech began it all. I see Mr. Macmillan now, mellifluously addressing the Cape Town Parliament. Icy rejection underlay the courtesy of the Afrikaner Members who listened, and their unspoken comment was, "Here we have it again: perfidy". I recall my own feeling that day: "This is Mr. Chamberlain again". I thought of the days, thirty years before, when British policy towards Hitler was formed by knickerbockered figures at country-house parties, during weekends on grouse moors or beside trout streams, in too-substantial midday meals at the Carlton and Athenaeum Clubs, far from the madding truth of events in Europe. Had, any been there to watch, t'would have been pitiful to see me wring my hands and murmur, Oh dearie, dearie me, here we go again. The "wind of change" speech began the era of Doubletalk, the use of words to disguise, not express intention. These particular words suggested a natural process, uncontrollable by man: the wind bloweth where it listeth. They meant a political decision to abandon Africa to turbulence and war. ...

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