Courtesy Reuters

Prelude to World War

A Witness from Spain

UNLESS Goebbels writes it, history will properly apportion the responsibilities for the murder of the Spanish Republic. Then it will have to be said that non-intervention and the arms embargo made the Fascist victory possible.

In their approach to the Spanish problem the British and French Governments, acting from most praiseworthy motives, made an initial blunder. Neither of their peoples wanted war. In the first place, neither had persuaded itself that war was inevitable. In the second place, both felt that if war had to come they needed more time to complete their rearmament. Consequently, the diplomacy of the British and French Governments consisted of an effort to localize the Spanish conflict. In theory and on paper this policy was sound. Furthermore, at the beginning neither the Germans nor the Italians liked the policy of non-intervention. Both had already intervened in Spain. Both felt that the issue of the Spanish Civil War would decide the ultimate success of their own schemes for world conquest. Both feared that non-intervention would force the ejection of the military experts and air men whom they had already sent into Spain. They set out to defeat it, and thanks to the German technique of propaganda, and thanks to the spirit of appeasement latent in the great democracies, they succeeded. They twisted non-intervention into an instrument of Fascist victory.

Our Government had as excellent intentions as the British and French, but the course it adopted towards the Spanish Civil War also was a blunder. That blunder, in present circumstances, stands out as clearly as the silhouette of a dive bomber -- not a dive bomber you are reading about, but one you are actually under! The Neutrality Act of 1935, as amended, related only to international wars. It did not force our Government to invoke an embargo in a civil war. Nothing in our history or traditions justified such an embargo. Yet we began bringing pressure (so-called "moral suasion") on American exporters not to sell arms to the

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