Our foreign policy should also be the subject of a book in itself, but the main principles may here be stated very briefly. The measures of national reconstruction already described involve automatically a change in our foreign policy. We should be less prone to anxious interference in everybody else’s affairs, and more concentrated on the resources of our own country and Empire. Wherever opportunity arose for furthering the interests of British trade, we should seize that chance, and to that end would reorganise the diplomatic and consular service. Henceforth their activities would be more directed to practical commercial questions, and less to the tangled skein of European politics and animosities. The mere fact of our internal concentration would tend to relieve us from some of our anxiety over, and participation in, the troubles and turmoils of the Continent.
This does not by any means imply that we would withdraw from the world scene and not exert ourselves in the cause of world peace. We would certainly use all existing machinery to that end, including the machinery of the League of Nations. We do not believe that this machinery, as at present constituted, is effective. But the Fascist method is not to destroy, but to use and transform existing machinery for different ends.
It must never be forgotten that the League of Nations is a piece of machinery, and not a human entity. Like other machines, it is subject to the will of those who operate it. Hitherto the drivers of that machine have driven it in a direction, and worked it in a way, which we consider to be usually futile and often dangerous; but, as realists, we are not prepared on that account to seek the destruction of the machine. Rather we seek, by different methods and direction, to use it for different purposes. Above all, in the deliberations of that body and in other international affairs, we should call a halt to the flabby surrender of every British interest which has characterised the past decade, and has reduced this nation to the position of a meddlesome old lady holding the baby for the world. We should seek peace and conciliation with every nation, but we do not believe that every bad debt of mankind should be liquidated with a cheque signed by Britain.
Armaments In matters of armaments, we should be prepared to take the lead in disarmament proposals, provided they were universal, and not confined to this country. We would not consent to a unilateral reduction which would render Britain helpless in the menacing dangers of the present world.
On the other hand, with the best possible expert advice we would radically overhaul our present system of defence. It is a strange mind which meticulously contends for exact parity in every naval category with a friendly power like America, which is more than three thousand miles away, but is willing to accept a two-and-a-half to one inferiority in the air from another friendly power which is only twenty miles away. We would submit to the analysis of scientific examination, rather than to sentiment, the whole question of Imperial defence, which we believe today to be guided by vested interests and tradition as much as by the ascertained requirements of defence in modern conditions.
The arrival of the air factor has altered fundamentally the position of these islands, and the consequences of that factor have never yet been realised by the older generation of politicians.
In the same realistic spirit we would examine the defence of our trade routes. Is it, for instance, a fact that the Mediterranean, and consequently the Suez Canal, can be closed against us by a combination of air and submarine attack on the narrow seas? If so, our main route to India can be closed. If it be a fact – and here I cannot claim to speak as an expert – that the canal route can thus be closed, we should not be creating political complications for ourselves in Egypt, but should rather be engaged in fortifying islands on the Cape route to India.
These are not questions which can be determined by the amateur: but they are questions which we suspect are today being settled by tradition rather than by scientific inquiry into modern facts.
In such a study as this, covering much ground that is entirely novel, and demanding space for that purpose, it is impossible to deal with foreign policy in terms other than the general.
In general, we should seek peace and conciliation, and are prepared to take the lead in these subjects. Too long has Britain, even in this sphere, been a hesitant attendant on other nations.
Our main policy, quite frankly, is a policy of Britain First, but our very preoccupation with internal reconstruction is some guarantee that at least we shall never pursue the folly of an aggressive Imperialism. It will never be necessary to stimulate the steady temper of Britain in the task of rebuilding our own country by appeals to flamboyant national sentiment in foreign affairs. We shall mind our own business, but we will help in the organisation of world peace as part of that business.