I also reflected, and I think the House will agree, that it is very difficult to maintain the view that the blockade, which is our historical weapon, makes any distinction between armed forces and civilians. Indeed, it has all through the history of war, and, unfortunately, as war becomes more complex, more totalitarian, it is a terrible fact that the line between combatants and non-combatants is obliterated altogether. But what is the moral principle to be drawn from it?
The way in which the staff work of the two great Allies has been not only combined but interwoven, is a very remarkable achievement. Hopkinson) who also, I am sorry to say, is not in his place to-day.That is precisely what we are doing in this attack on Germany, her centres of production and centres of communication.But I find myself very much in disagreement with him on the question of moral principle.The Prime Minister paid a tribute to the part which all the men of these Islands have been playing in this war—to the Navy, which has had a marvellous record, to the Merchant Navy, which is really now a combatant force, to the Army which, after all, has shown that it is better than its German enemy in many fields already, to the Royal Air Force, which, in conducting the assault on Germany, is showing military superiority to the enemy and upsetting his military operations.I do not think that tribute could have been better timed.He seemed to be balancing military maxims and moral principles.
He said, for instance, that it was a military maxim to attack the armed forces of the enemy.
The Duke of Wellington, I think, would have been very much surprised if the House of Commons, at the time when Napoleon escaped from Elba, had asked him how he proposed to deal with the situation.
We are facing quite as critical a situation at the moment and I suggest that operations are best left in the hands of those responsible for them.
I wish only to say that events in the course of these two years have not given 855 me any reason to alter the opinions I then expressed.
We must face the facts that conditions have changed entirely. We are combining our plans with two great Allies, one in America and one in the East of Europe, and also with another in the Far East and a number of other Allies.
It reflects enormous credit both on General Eisenhower and General Alexander, and, for my part, I believe the Rouse may have confidence in the fact that operations here and in the Mediterranean are being conducted at the very top by generals with such a record behind them. He is the elder Cato of this House, the moral censor, and for my part I always welcome the outspokenness, candour and single-mindedness of his interventions in Debate.