Courtesy Reuters

North Africa in Atlantic Strategy

ON November 8, 1942, a powerful armada landed American and British forces along the African coast from Casablanca to Algiers. This famous operation, which was to mark the decisive turn of the Second World War, was by no means a picnic. Anyone who may be tempted to forget this fact because the operation was such a perfect success should reread General Eisenhower's "Crusade in Europe" or General Mark Clark's "Calculated Risk." Formidable contingencies were to be reckoned with. There might have been tenacious resistance from the French Army, bound in principle by its oath to Marshal Pétain. There was the risk that the Axis could stage a crushing counterattack. Finally, there was the threat from Spain; for though she was counted upon to maintain neutrality, the U.S. Fifth Army, deployed in the north of Morocco, had orders from the start to be ready if need be to seize Spanish Morocco.

One anxiety, however, seems never to have entered the minds of the leaders of this expedition: they seem never to have been worried about the possible attitude of the natives in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. This may be taken as an advance compliment for France's achievement in Africa. And the actual experience of the Allied leaders did in fact justify their confidence.

It is unnecessary to recall the sequel of "Operation Torch"-- the blow against the "soft underbelly" of the axis, in Churchill's phrase, which was to lead the Allies to Rome and would, no doubt, have opened the way for them to Vienna had it been possible to broaden the strategic concept once it was already in process of execution. In any event, the leap into Europe from the African springboard considerably facilitated the breaking of the Atlantic Wall and the formation of a second front; nor would that front have been as effective if it had not stretched from the Adriatic to the Channel, welded together by the Allied forces coming from Africa through Provence. There could be

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