Courtesy Reuters

Mediterranean Strategy After the Franco Victory

WHAT will be General Franco's policy in case war comes in Europe between the democratic nations and those which have helped him to power? The Spanish are a proud people and, if their behavior over many centuries is any criterion, they will not willingly permit Spain's foreign policy to be dictated from abroad. Therefore, if Nationalist Spain should enter a general war on the side of the Rome-Berlin Axis, it would presumably be for one of two reasons: either because the two Axis Powers, particularly Germany, had become so firmly entrenched in Spain that Franco was no longer a free agent; or because Franco believed that Spain had more to gain from joining them than from remaining neutral.

There are five principal ways in which Spain could exert pressure against France and Britain on behalf of the Axis. From her bases in the Balearic Islands she could harry French communications with North Africa. In the Gibraltar area she could attack the fortress itself and she could endeavor to cut Britain's communications through the Strait. Further, she could use her western ports and her island possessions as bases from which to attack British, and to a lesser extent French, communications in the Atlantic. And lastly, she could invade France across the Pyrenees. Let us consider these possibilities one at a time.

The threat which the Balearic Islands, if they were in hostile hands, would represent to France's "life line" to North Africa is often spoken of very gravely in the democratic countries and with pleasurable anticipation in the totalitarian ones. Yet the danger is not so great as either pessimists or optimists imagine. German writers speak of the Balearic-Sardinia-Sicily triangle as "barring the way to traffic" between France and North Africa. Such an assertion reveals the obtuseness regarding maritime affairs to which continental strategists are often prone. Bases by themselves cannot bar a route; that can be done only by the ships or aircraft which operate from them. In so far as

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