Richard Crossman, prominent British Socialist, weighs in on Britain’s decision to drop Mihailovich and support Tito
Aleksandra’s Note: Richard Crossman (December 15, 1907 – April 5, 1974) was many things in his life. Among them he was a prominent Socialist, a British Labor Party politician, a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson (British Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s), an author, and the editor of the New Statesman – Britain’s Current Affairs and Politics Magazine which is still “in circulation” today. Although Crossman was a prominent and devoted Socialist, he was a staunch anti-Communist. Crossman edited “The God that Failed” (1949) which is a collection of essays written by Communist intellectuals who became “disillusioned”.
Richard Crossman was around when the British, under the wartime leadership of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, made the policy decision with regards to Yugoslavia to drop their loyal and dedicated ally General Draza Mihailovich and support Josip Broz Tito in 1943/44, during WWII. You might think that a British socialist such as Crossman would not have had a problem with that “policy change”, but he did. Over ten years later, in 1956, it still bothered him enough that he wrote about it in the New Statesman.
I was struck by the extent to which his astute observations continued to remain relevant as the 20th century ended and into the 21st century. They continue to remain on the mark today, over fifty years later. That’s the thing about “Truth”. It remains morally absolute.
“I remember the awkward moment when the Government dropped Draza Mihailovich and backed Tito. In the future, our directive ran, Mihailovich’s forces will be described not as ‘patriots’ but as ‘terrorist gangs’; in the future, we shall also drop the phrase ‘red bandits’ as applied to the Partisans and substitute ‘freedom fighters.’ …I assumed that the men far above who made the policy-decisions were as cynical about the distinction between bandit and Partisan as we were. Only later did it dawn on me that British Cabinet ministers, archbishops and newspaper editors actually believed our propaganda and took this moral double-talk seriously.”
December 15, 1956