Courtesy Reuters

British Policy Towards Spain

THE temperature in the Spanish crucible had been persistently rising long before the revolt of General Franco and his brother officers against the Republican Government last July. With the actual outbreak of that revolt, however, much more than the political destinies of the Spanish people began to be tried in the fire; for Spain quickly became the testing ground of all the beliefs, interests and policies which divide Europe as a whole. Into the Spanish fire were heaped, within a few days of the officers' rebellion, the antagonism of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia; the Italo-British dispute over the control of the Mediterranean, begun by Italy's aggression in Abyssinia less than a year before; the future status of Morocco, ignored for a generation; the warring ideologies of Right and Left; and the even more fundamental division between democracy and dictatorship.

Franco's rebellion broke out only two months after the collapse of Abyssinian resistance to Italian aggression and only one month after the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Anthony Eden, had announced to an abashed House of Commons, more bitterly divided than at any time within living memory, that at the forthcoming meeting of the League of Nations the British Government would unilaterally urge the abandonment of sanctions against Italy. Accordingly, the Spanish insurrection raised embarrassing problems of foreign relations and strategy at a moment particularly inopportune for the British Government. Repercussions of its diplomatic defeat at the hands of Italy were still reëchoing; its rôle in leading the League into and out of sanctions had not yet faded from the British electorate's memory; nor had its pledges of a foreign policy based on collective security -- pledges which had won for Mr. Baldwin the general election of 1935 -- been forgotten. Furthermore, the rearmament program had scarcely more than begun when the Spanish crisis once more confronted the Government with those very dilemmas which for five years it had sought to evade in Manchuria, Abyssinia and the Rhineland. It was all

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