VOL. 171 No. 5115

LONDON MAY 21st 1938





The Bicentenary, by T. S. Gregory THE GERMANS IN SOUTH AMERICA

Rumours and Facts from Brazil and Mexico THE IRISH AGREEMENT Thoughts on the Debate by P. C. Loftus, M.P.


By Hilaire Belloc

Full List o f Contents on page 656.



THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK Italy and France in Spain

Italian Motives

In the speech which he made at Genoa on Saturday, Signor Mussolini gave a plain warning to the French Government that there can be no agreement between France and Italy as long as the French continue to keep alive the otherwise failing opposition to the Nationalist control of Spain. The Nationalist advance has lately been delayed by very severe weather, but it has now been resumed towards Castellon and Valencia. The fall of Valencia will deprive Madrid of its chief remaining link with the outside world, and although it is announced that General Miaja has left the defence of the capital in order to command five Republican armies in the field, those armies have no proper and sufficient bases, or methods of maintaining themselves in the field. As far as Madrid, Valencia and Cartagena are concerned, the Republican cause is already lost. The position in Catalonia is different. If the French Government continue to supply everything that is necessary to protract resistance, that resistance can be protracted. The calculation is that the Anglo-Italian pact can be wrecked because the Italians will not cease to help General Franco until the French frontier is closed. The largescale help went from Italy to Spain in the closing months of 1936, after it was obvious on what a scale Russia, with the connivance and co-operation of M. Blum’s Government, was recruiting the International Brigades, and was sending heavy armaments into Spain. After the Russian intervention which saved Madrid in October, 1936, it became clear that, unless the Nationalists were also equipped with the panoply of modern war, they would be overwhelmed, and Spain would be made a satellite State of the international revolution. So, in the Spring of 1937 the Red propaganda ceased to talk all the time about Moors, and began to talk about Italian Fascist invaders.

A false distinction is drawn when people say that they believe that Signor Mussolini intervened in Spain for strategical and not for ideological reasons. There is no such antithesis. It was at once a matter of strategy and ideology to keep the Western Mediterranean from becoming a centre working for the overthrow of the new Italian State. Signor Mussolini has been definite from the first that this is a major Italian interest. He has not intervened in Spain, except to offset and bring to nought the much older and very dangerous intervention from Moscow. We may expect in the near future to see the Left in England and France claiming that there has been fresh Italian intervention, instead of withdrawal. It must be British policy to repeat to the French the warning about burning their fingers, to seek to bring about a cessation of military aid from France to Barcelona, and from Italy to the Nationalists. The French calculation is not that Signor Negrin’s Government can ever hope for triumph in Spain. It is simply a matter of keeping the conflict alive over this summer, from a fear that the victorious Nationalists might be a danger to France, able to influence the event if a crisis develops over Central Europe. Signor Mussolini has made it plain that it was the height of folly for the French Popular Front to suggest to him last March, common action against Germany. He made his choice between the two countries in 1936, and while Italy’s chief interest, like Great Britain’s, is to prevent the drift of Europe into two camps, sharpening swords against each other, Mussolini would be strangely short-sighted if he did not recognize that the German friendship is at once much more valuable and more likely to last than the French, unless France is transformed internally.