How Russia Decides to Go Nuclear
Deciphering the Way Moscow Handles Its Ultimate Weapon
TWO years ago the British and the Italians were on the very verge of conflict in the Mediterranean and in the course of the past twelve-month the situation in that sea has been thrown into utter confusion by the Spanish civil war. Anyone who tried to make predictions for the future would obviously be rash indeed. But much may be learned about the present position from an analysis of the various stages which have led up to it and by an examination of the basic factors involved.
Ever since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the occupation of Egypt by British forces in 1882 the interest of Britain in this shortest route to her Asiatic possessions has been axiomatic. It requires no further elaboration here. But some consideration may profitably be given to the policy that was formulated to protect this route. In the decade following the opening of the Canal the British were fascinated by the danger that seemed to threaten from Russia. Disraeli's whole thought was to block the advance of the Muscovite colossus either in the Balkans or in the Caucasus. When the crisis of 1878 had at last blown over, Britain was discovered in occupation of Cyprus, which was thought of as a place d'armes and a point of departure for meeting Russian encroachment either by sea or by land through Anatolia. The fact that Lord Salisbury offered the French a free hand in Tunis in return for support of the British policy shows more clearly than anything else how little thought was then given to the possibility of Anglo-French antagonism. The conflict of interests came only later. When the French cashed their check on Tunis in 1881 the government of Mr. Gladstone was profoundly displeased, but there was no idea of active opposition. In fact, the French themselves were acting mainly from motives of prestige and certainly had no conception of the strategic value of Tunis.
It was only after the occupation of Egypt that the Mediterranean rivalry between England and France developed. During the eighties, however, the British still felt justified in regarding the threat from France with equanimity. For in the time of Crispi the danger of a clash between France and Italy overshadowed everything else. The Italians, despite their formidable naval power, were in constant dread of a French attack upon their exposed coastal cities and therefore clutched the apronstrings of Britannia for all they were worth. The situation as it was at that time was best reflected in the famous Mediterranean Agreements of 1887, concluded under Bismarck's auspices between England and Italy and adhered to by Austria-Hungary and Spain. Leaving out of account the Near Eastern aspects of these pacts, it is important to note that they provided for the preservation of the status quo in the Mediterranean and that they were directed against the further expansion of French power in North Africa. It is perfectly clear that any forward movement on the part of France would have been met, at that time, by united action by England and Italy.
The famous Franco-Russian Alliance of 1891-1893 was at least in large measure a reply to the Mediterranean Agreements and the association of Britain with the Powers of the Triple Alliance. When a Russian squadron visited Toulon in October 1893 the English were under no illusions regarding the possible consequences. They had a powerful squadron in the Mediterranean, based upon Malta, but the French Toulon squadron was hardly inferior in number and probably superior in quality, and France was completing the great fortifications at Bizerta which gave them a second point d'appui and bade well to assure them control of the western basin. France's Russian friends had a half dozen new warships in the Black Sea which could have come out into the eastern Mediterranean without fear of serious opposition from the Turks. In that event the British fleet would have been caught in the center, with only the Italian squadrons to rely on for aid. The upshot of it all was that in the winter of 1893-1894 the British experienced an acute naval panic. Among the experts the whole Mediterranean problem was gone over in minute detail, while in Parliament no less a person than Joseph Chamberlain expressed the opinion that in the event of war "the British Navy in the Mediterranean would have to cut and run -- if it could run." Men like Dilke and Brassey had already despaired of England's ability to protect her commerce against French cruisers and destroyers and were recommending that in case of conflict the entire merchant marine should be transferred to foreign registry. Food, it was hoped, would not be declared contraband.
The immediate results of the crisis were the impressive "Spencer building plan," supplementing the famous Naval Defense Act of 1889, and the desperate though abortive efforts of Lord Rosebery to revitalize the Mediterranean Agreements and to enlist the support of Germany. Fortunately for the British, the attention of the Russians was very soon diverted to the Far East and when the storm broke between England and France in the great Fashoda crisis of 1898, France, deserted by her ally and deeply immersed in the Dreyfus scandal, was too unprepared to face the prospect of a naval conflict with Britain. Delcassé climbed down and Britannia's rule of the waves was once again undisputed.
During his unprecedented tenure of office, Delcassé worked systematically for an entente with England, which he hoped would lead ultimately to an Anglo-Russian entente and the weakening of the Triple Alliance. Camille Barrère, the eminent French Ambassador at Rome, succeeded in weaning the Italians from their German connections by exchanging a free hand in Tripoli for a free hand in Morocco. In the same way the Spaniards were baited with the prospect of a share in the Moroccan spoils. After the Spanish-American War, the Madrid government was unutterably weak and in constant dread of losing the Canaries or the Balearics to some great Power like Germany, which was supposed to have far-reaching designs in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The pressure from Paris was great, but the Spaniards did not dare conclude an arrangement without the approval of Britain. Delcassé had to square the London government before he could hope for much success in Madrid; and this he did in the famous entente of April 8, 1904, the basis of which was the abandonment of French claims in Egypt for the withdrawal of British opposition to French policy in Morocco.
The negotiations for the entente led quite naturally to a consideration of the Mediterranean scene. England's traditional policy in Morocco had always been "that any attack on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, and especially on Tangier, should be resisted by force." Delcassé, hounded by the fear of German ambitions, was ready to give full assurances and in fact proposed an arrangement to preserve the status quo within a radius of five hundred miles from the Straits of Gibraltar to nip in the bud any German hopes of acquiring the Balearics. This seemed to the British to be going too far, but in the final agreement it was provided that no fortifications should be erected on the Moroccan coast between Mellila and the Atlantic and that Tangier should be given a special, neutral position. When, in November 1904, Spain made her Moroccan agreement with France, she was obliged to accept these arrangements, though northern Morocco was part of the Spanish zone. England had already secured from Spain a promise not to fortify Algeciras, whence the new long-range guns might threaten Gibraltar, and so the British concern for the freedom of the Straits seemed well taken care of.
The crushing naval strength of England and France in the Mediterranean practically forced the weaker Powers, Italy and Spain, into close relations with the entente. Italy managed to keep at least one foot in the other camp, but Spain became little more than a subsidiary of the main combination, just as Portugal was hardly more than a British protectorate. After the acute Morocco crisis of 1905 both England and France were much exercised by the threat of German expansion. From every successive Portuguese foreign minister the English extracted a promise not to grant the Germans a coaling or naval station in the Madeiras or Azores, and on May 16, 1907, the Madrid government, despite the resentment felt at French action in Morocco, was induced to exchange notes with Paris as well as London (the Pact of Cartagena) providing for the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean and that part of the Atlantic which washes the shores of Europe and Africa. Each of the three Powers declared that in pursuance of this policy it was firmly resolved to preserve intact its rights over its insular and maritime possessions in those regions. Thus were the Balearics and Canaries safeguarded from a grasping Germany.
From 1907 until 1912 the situation remained substantially unchanged, despite the fact that the Agadir crisis of 1911 raised once again the specter of German designs in Morocco and at the same time evoked a good deal of friction between France and Spain. This was not resolved until conflicting claims were settled by the agreement of November 1912. It was the war of Italy against Turkey, which broke out in September 1911, that brought about a basic transformation in the Middle Sea. The annexation of Tripoli secured for the Italians a footing on the African shore and gave them a splendid potential base at Tobruk. But even more serious was the occupation of the Dodecanese Islands in May 1912, which brought them to the very coast of Anatolia and established them athwart the routes from Malta and Constantinople to the Suez Canal. This move created something like consternation both in Paris and in London. The French feared, and rightly, that the Italians were preparing to challenge the French cultural and economic position in the Near East, and the British were profoundly disturbed by the naval aspects of the problem. An admiralty report of June 1912 declared that the naval authorities had always proceeded on the proposition that no possible opponent at sea should be permitted to have a base less than one thousand miles from Suez, in other words east of Malta. The strategic potentialities of the Dodecanese were great, and might in future be greater yet: "None can foresee the developments of material in warfare, and the occupation of the apparently most useless island should be resisted equally with the occupation of the best."
For Britain and France the situation was much aggravated by other considerations. The growing sea power of Germany made it necessary for England to withdraw her battle fleet from the Mediterranean in the summer of 1912 in order to reinforce the North Sea fleet, while the French were obliged to concentrate all their battleships in the south in view of the steady growth of the Italian navy and the emergence of Austria-Hungary as a factor to be reckoned with. For the moment the French squadrons were slightly superior to the combined Austro-Italian forces, though the latter included some recent dreadnoughts and had an advantage in the heaviest guns. It was chiefly because of the uncertainty of the French position that Delcassé introduced the great naval building program of 1912, while England kept four battle-cruisers and some lighter cruisers in the Mediterranean and planned to send some dreadnoughts as soon as they were available. There was constant fear in both Paris and London that the Italians might make over to the Germans a naval base in Tripoli or in the Dodecanese, or that the Central Powers, inspired by Italy's success, might take steps of their own to establish themselves in the east. "There would be a regular scramble," said Sir Edward Grey, " and the whole applecart would be upset." In no uncertain terms the British Ambassador at Madrid declared: "Once Italy is in possession of a naval base in the eastern Mediterranean, the Triple Alliance will be mistress of those shores."
The question was how to meet this new threat. Paul Cambon recommended from London that the Bosporus and Dardanelles be opened to Russian ships so that the Black Sea squadron might be used to redress the balance in the Mediterranean, but this idea met with little favor. Instead, the Entente Powers began to consider the conclusion of a pact with Italy to guarantee the status quo, which would spare them further surprises and forestall Italy's falling entirely under German-Austrian control. Both Cambon and Barrère, French Ambassadors respectively in London and Rome, urged the expediency of this policy and Grey supported it. After the conclusion of peace between Italy and Turkey in October 1912 the matter was taken up with the Rome government, but nothing came of the negotiations because the Italians asked as a price that they be allowed to keep at least one or two of the islands, while the British and French insisted on their evacuation. Discussions continued, on and off, until the very eve of the Great War.
In the treaty with Turkey the Italians had promised to evacuate the Dodecanese as soon as the Turks had withdrawn their troops from Tripoli. On one score or another they delayed action, despite the strong not to say threatening language of the British and the French, and the constant efforts of these to have the islands turned over to the Greeks and given a neutral status. The Italians gave abundant assurances but did nothing. In the spring of 1914 relations were so strained that Grey complained to the Italian Ambassador: "During the last year or two the Italian government had encroached more upon British interests than any other two European Powers put together."
The chief result of this quarrel was that it drove Italy back into the arms of Austria and Germany. In November 1912 Germany for the first time established a Mediterranean division, consisting of the new battle-cruiser Goeben (launched 1911, 24,000 tons, speed 30 knots) and seven smaller cruisers. There seemed every reason to suppose that the Triple Alliance (renewed in December 1912) was extending the sphere of its activity to the eastern Mediterranean. With the balance of power already precarious, the Entente governments were only too glad to receive offers of Spanish support. The recently published French documents have revealed the eagerness of King Alfonso to have Spain join the Triple Entente. In 1912-1913 he made concerted efforts in this direction, paid a visit to Paris (May 1913) and entertained Poincaré at Madrid and Cartagena, where there was an imposing naval demonstration attended by a British battle-cruiser (October 1913). The King gave the French repeated assurances that in the event of war they need pay no attention to the Pyrenees frontier, and pointed out further to Poincaré that if Spain were allied to France, the French might make use of the ports of the peninsula and of the Balearics, that they might transport their African forces by rail across Spain, etc. Poincaré, so it seems, avoided too extensive commitments, being unwilling to assume responsibility for all Spain's possessions and evidently fearing trouble with Germany with regard to Spanish Guinea. Nevertheless, Spain could be counted on to be friendly and in the last analysis the Spanish naval forces, greatly strengthened since 1908, might have been of some account.
When the great crisis of July 1914 culminated in the first declarations of war, not only Spain but Italy proclaimed neutrality. Spain maintained this policy throughout, though there was considerable sentiment for joining the Allies and some talk of securing Gibraltar in exchange for Ceuta as a reward. The Italian neutrality was probably, in the first instance, the reflection of public dislike of Austria; but unpreparedness certainly played a part. The abstention of the Italians was of the utmost importance for France, for it ruined the plan laid down in the naval convention of the Triple Alliance (November 1913) for an attack upon the French troop transports from Algeria. What might have happened may be guessed from the achievement of the Goeben and Breslau. By bombarding Philippeville and Bône these two ships drove the French admiral to violate his instructions and use his ships to convoy transports individually, thereby delaying troop movements considerably. If the Italians had joined in it is not unlikely that the famous French XIX Corps would never have reached Europe in time, for the combined squadrons of the Triple Alliance had a distinct advantage over the French and British in battleships. By May 1915 this advantage was, if anything, somewhat greater, if the naval forces concentrated at the Dardanelles are left out of account. It is easy to understand, then, why the Allies were so eager to bring Italy into the war on their side, and nothing demonstrates more clearly their anxiety than the fact that the Treaty of London assigned the Dodecanese to Italy in full sovereignty. Only just before the war, M. Doumergue had heard from Grey's own lips (April 1914): "The Italians must return the islands. They must not keep them; we shall never agree to that."
Once the Italians had joined the Entente Powers there was no further problem. The German and Austrian submarines wrought havoc with shipping in the Mediterranean and drove much of the usual commerce to take the route around the Cape of Good Hope; but actually the command of the sea was secure in Allied hands. In the course of the war British troops were moved to and from the various theaters of war and the French were able to bring several hundred thousand men from their African colonies to the European battlefields. The effect of the critical years 1912-1918 was to throw into high relief the various aspects of the naval problem and to indicate the relative importance of the elements that made the balance. Spain's rôle throughout was a secondary one, while Italy's was decisive. In the last count the powerful combination of Britain and France attracted the others to the Entente, though the price for Italian support was a high one.
In the period immediately following the war the situation was much less acute, though the underlying antagonisms remained. The disappearance of Austria-Hungary removed one of the prewar threats, but on the other hand it gave Italy complete control of the Adriatic and permitted her to devote her whole attention to the Mediterranean proper. All the efforts made between 1919 and 1922 to induce the Italians to give up the Dodecanese broke down and the Treaty of Lausanne once again recognized their sovereignty. In the interval Mussolini had come into power and almost from the dawn of Fascist rule he made it clear that he meant to follow the Mediterranean aspirations which were so ardently expressed by the men of the Risorgimento and by the Nationalists of the prewar years. Mare nostro became more than a dream, it became a policy.
So long as Fascist Italy stood alone there was no immediate danger to British and French positions. Mussolini, having suffered a setback in the Corfu episode, could do little more than cultivate the friendship of Spain. Primo de Rivera, who was particularly sensitive about Gibraltar, gave ear to the siren-calls from Rome. In 1923 King Alfonso visited Italy and in the following year Victor Emmanuel journeyed to Madrid. A treaty of friendship was concluded in August 1926 and the two Powers worked together to undermine the preponderant position of France in Tangier. Whether there ever existed, as some have claimed, a naval convention giving the Italians the right to use the Balearics in time of war it is hard to say; but the Spanish plan to tunnel under the Straits of Gibraltar caused no little uneasiness in France and we may assume that the fall of the Spanish dictator was not deeply regretted north of the Pyrenees. Until recently France kept nearly her whole naval power in the Mediterranean and the rivalry of Italy was one of her chief preoccupations.
The Ethiopian crisis of 1935-1936 revealed in a flash a number of profound changes that had been taking place in the Mediterranean situation in the postwar years. The interests of both Britain and France had grown enormously. Both having extensive possessions in the Far East, they are equally interested in the Mediterranean as a commercial and strategic route. Of all imports brought by this route, oil has become for both the most important. Britain gets almost three-quarters of her supply from the East Indies, Iran, Iraq and Rumania, while France takes half of hers from Iraq. These supplies come normally through the Mediterranean, the Iraq oil arriving by the Anglo-French pipelines ending at Haifa and Tripoli-in-Syria. Both Powers hold important positions in the Near East (Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Transjordania, Iraq) involving distinct obligations of defense. England has made the eastern Mediterranean the junction of her imperial airways to the Far East and Africa, and France is steadily developing similar communications. In addition France has become ever more dependent on her African colonies for troops. Fully a third of the French standing army is stationed in Africa and the problem of transporting them to Europe is a matter of life and death for her. Further details need not be given. It is perfectly obvious that politically, strategically and commercially the Mediterranean is far more important for England and France now than it was twenty years ago.
The conditions of defense have undergone an even more drastic change. We do not need to give too much attention to the submarine, which was fairly well under control at the end of the war. It is the development of the airplane, particularly in the last three or four years, that has upset all traditional calculations. Fighting planes and bombers, flying at 200-250 miles an hour, have made the Mediterranean a very narrow passage and have given riparian states like Italy and Spain an advantage they have never enjoyed before. At the same time they have greatly reduced the strength of positions like Gibraltar and Malta, which were chosen purely for their naval importance.
It is common knowledge that in September 1935 the British, having assembled an immense armada from the four corners of the globe, were obliged to withdraw their naval forces from Malta and concentrate them at Alexandria and Haifa, where the larger part remained until a year later. The British were caught frankly unprepared. Their fleet had been neglected, their bases were not up to par, their air power in the Mediterranean wholly inadequate. They made the best they could of a very nasty situation. Several hundred airplanes were rushed to Egypt and Palestine and agreements were made with France, Jugoslavia, Greece and Turkey providing for coöperation in the event of war resulting from any action taken under League auspices. Even under the circumstances, Mussolini took a long chance; but his daring brought its reward in the shape of the Ethiopian prize.
In view of the collapse of the League system and the surprising strength of Italy in the Mediterranean, the British were not at all certain that they could maintain themselves in that sea in time of war. In the spring of 1936 there were many who advocated the abandonment of the route and a policy of sealing it at either end. In that case the commerce from the Middle and Far East would be transferred to the Cape route. As this is eighty percent longer the carrying capacity of the merchant marine would be reduced proportionately. For more than a generation the British have been accustomed to the thought of having to fall back on the Cape route, but this solution presents serious difficulties at the present time. Since 1914 British shipping tonnage has declined by nine percent, the number of ships dropping from 9,240 to 7,246. Sir Archibald Hurd, the outstanding authority, thinks Britain would need at least 700 more ships to maintain her food supply in wartime. If the efficiency of British shipping were further reduced by being forced to take a much longer route, the problem would be aggravated. Nevertheless, there is no illusion about the importance of the Cape route and the naval bases at Simonstown and Sierra Leone are being taken in hand in preparation for a possible evil day.
But the British Government is determined to use the shorter route if it is humanly possible to do so. It has embarked upon an elaborate program of naval and air rearmament which will give Britain twenty-five capital ships and the corresponding number of cruisers, destroyers and submarines by 1942 and which will bring the air force up to about 5,000 planes by 1940. Though the Italians have also decided to develop their fleet to the limit of their financial capacity, there is no likelihood that they will continue to be a major threat to England on the sea. The chief British problem is that of bases. After a visit of inspection to the Mediterranean in August and September 1936, Sir Samuel Hoare announced publicly that "far from there being any question of our abdicating our position in the Mediterranean or scuttling from Malta, we intend to face these new and difficult problems, to make our future position secure." Malta is being completely refortified and a third airfield is being built. Ultimately it will probably be able to withstand attack from Sicily (only twenty minutes distant by air) and possibly an air fleet stationed there will be able to take the offensive. It also will be made into an important submarine base. But there seems little likelihood that it can be used by the fleet in wartime, for if the experts are right, a hostile air force could, if it broke through the anti-aircraft defense, register something like fifty percent of hits on a dockyard or on a fleet at anchor. The Italian situation is in this respect, then, very favorable. The British naval forces will have to be concentrated to the east. As neither Alexandria or Haifa is adequate and as neither is located in British territory, the great hope of the future is Cyprus, regarded until recently as utterly useless but now spoken of as the solar plexus of the empire. The harbor of Famagusta can be developed to accommodate at least some battleships. But Cyprus is most promising as an air base, to counterbalance the Italian position at Leros in the Dodecanese. The central plain will provide any number of airfields and Lake Akrotiri can be used for seaplanes. Imperial Airways has recently decided to make Cyprus the junction of its Asian and African lines and is already constructing subterranean hangars. Strategically the island will serve to cover Suez and the Haifa pipeline and to support the ships based on those points. In the Red Sea the British are working on Akaba (taken in 1925) and on Aden. Rumor has it that they are out to get other positions in the Farsan Islands or at Sheikh Said. The Iraq Petroleum Company recently obtained from Ibn Saud a concession to exploit the resources of the whole Arabian coast of the Red Sea for a distance of 100 kilometers inland.
Diplomatically the English have been just as active. In October of last year British squadrons visited all the key ports of Greece and in November a Turkish force paid a visit to Malta, stopping at the Piræus on the return voyage. It is essential for England to keep Greece on her side, for the Greek harbors would be invaluable in time of war. But Turkey is even more important and the British are happy to think that their relations with Kemal Atatürk are better than they have ever been since the war. A regional pact between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan is under discussion and within the last eighteen months an important alliance has been concluded between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Egypt has signed a treaty with Arabia and it seems only a matter of time before the Yeman is brought into the bloc. These combinations are all more or less under British auspices and their general effect is to create a solid Turkish-Arabian front to any attempt of Mussolini to encroach on the Near East.
In many discussions of the Mediterranean problem there has been a tendency to underestimate the potential strength of the British position. If they keep enough airplanes, cruisers, destroyers and submarines in the Mediterranean they may be able to pass at least part of their normal commerce over this route by the convoy system. Italy's defensive position is more precarious, for her whole empire lies along this route and fully eighty percent of Italy's imports come to her by sea. If the British confined their efforts to closing the sea at either end, the result would be disastrous for Italy. In reply to British moves, Mussolini has decreed the fortification of Pantellaria (an admirable base between Sicily and Tunis) and of Assab at the southern end on the Red Sea. Even so, the Italians will remain at a distinct disadvantage.
In the Anglo-Italian accord of January 2, 1937, both parties recognized "that the freedom of entry to, exit from and transit through the Mediterranean is a vital interest both to the different parts of the British Empire and to Italy and that these interests are in no way inconsistent with each other." The two Powers expressed their desire to contribute to the cause of peace and security and to "the betterment of relations between them and all Mediterranean Powers." But even at the time the statement seemed somewhat unreal in view of the Italian policy in Spain. And since then the Anglo-Italian relationship has been further clouded by the proclamation of Italian friendship for the Moslems made in the course of Mussolini's demonstrative visit to Libya.
The Spanish civil war added the problem of the western Mediterranean to that of the eastern and presented both France and England with a fresh set of dangers. The possibility of a Fascist victory there at once raised the specter of Italian or German establishments in the Balearics, Morocco, Ifni, Rio de Oro or the Canaries. The prompt aid given to Franco by Mussolini and Hitler brought all these questions at once to the acute phase. The British recognize that in these days Gibraltar, exposed to longrange guns from the mainland and without an adequate airfield, exists more or less on sufferance; hence they are keenly interested in having the Balearics, Ceuta and Tangier in friendly neutral hands. The French, despite their grand base at Bizerta and the new works at Mers-el-Kebir (near Oran), have no confidence in their ability to bring oil from Syria or to transport their troops from Algeria. They are providing for huge oil stores in France and plan if need be to take their African troops to the Atlantic coast of Morocco and send them from Casablanca and Rabat to Bordeaux, even though this would mean the loss of several days in the critical first period of a conflict. But there are even worse contingencies to consider. The Italians entrenched in the Balearics[i] would be able to command both the east-west and southnorth routes of the western part of the sea; but the Germans established on the Canaries or in Rio de Oro would be a serious menace to British or French shipping not only on the Cape route, but also on the South American route.
In the early months of the struggle, Franco, Mussolini and Hitler all gave assurances that there was no intention of changing the status quo and that there would be no territorial cessions. Anyone acquainted with the ideology of the Spanish nationalists must realize that Franco would hardly feel able to give up Spanish territory. But the question of territorial sovereignty is really beside the point. The World War showed how friendly ports could be used by submarines. In the same way friendly airfields will be used in the future. Even if Franco were to cede the Balearics to Italy, these islands could probably not be held against the combined power of England and France. In the same way the Germans would be unable to maintain themselves in Morocco, in West Africa or in the Canaries. But both the Balearics and the Canaries are marvellous submarine and air bases and permission to make use of them would be invaluable in time of war.
The French, on their side, have been losing sleep for years over German activities in Morocco and on the African west coast. On the Portuguese Bissagos Islands (halfway between Konakry and Dakar) the former Kamerun Eisenbahn Gesellschaft has been operating since 1923 as the Companhia Agricola e Fabril da Guiné, ostensibly manufacturing vegetable oils for export, but, according to the French, actually storing oil for submarines and airplanes. Rio de Oro and Ifni, they say, are nothing but German headquarters for anti-French propaganda. The Moroccan scare of January 1937 showed how alert the French are to note any German encroachment further north. They have built the battleships Strasbourg and Dunkerque to offset the German pocket-battleships of the Deutschland type and the new Italian Littorio and Vittorio Veneto; and they have evidently used strong language to check the flow of Italian and German volunteers to Spain.
There seems little that can be said in definite terms about the future of the Mediterranean problem until after the Spanish conflict has been decided. And how can it be decided so long as England and France refuse to allow the Fascist Powers to send sufficient help to assure a Fascist victory in Spain and so long as Italy and Germany refuse to entertain the notion of a radical government there? Plainly the Mediterranean problem is to be with us for a long time yet as a major focal point of international relations and international dispute.
[i] The island of Minorca, regarded by Admiral Mahan as the strongest position in the Mediterranean, is still in the hands of the Spanish Government. See also "The Balearic Islands in Mediterranean Strategy." FOREIGN AFFAIRS, January 1937.