Courtesy Reuters

Spanish Dreams of Empire

TIMES have changed since the summer of 1940, when gangs of Fascists roamed the streets of Madrid shouting their claims to Gibraltar, and the Franco government put up official posters laying claim not only to Cuba and the Philippines but to California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. In those exuberant days Fascist toughs stoned both the British and American embassies, Fascist newspapers made daily attacks upon the "decadent pluto-democracies" in the best Goebbels style, and either Franco or his brother-in-law Serrano Suñer delivered a weekly speech attacking the Allies and threatening that Spain would enter the war at any moment.

Now, though the Caudillo himself may hang on for a time, he can probably do so only at the price of liquidating the rabble-rousing Falange and putting himself in the hands of the Army, the landowners and the Church. These, as we shall see, have intentions of their own which are contrary to the democratic principles of the American people. But at least they know Spain's weakness and are not likely to risk fighting a foreign war.

The imperial bombast in Spanish publications was as absurdly pretentious as in Mussolini's Italy; its great expectations were built entirely upon the hope of catching crumbs from Hitler's table. Only the most harebrained Fascists failed to understand that Spain's resources were so limited that she could not act independently, but only as an advanced striking base for the Nazis. If ever Franco could have been sure that the democracies were done for, he would have come in at that moment. But Mussolini's glaring miscalculation of June 10 was a standing warning against over-optimism, and the seizure of Tangier in June 1940 -- as France lay on its deathbed -- was Franco's first and only positive step toward fulfillment of his imperial ambitions.

Although Franco still allows himself the luxury of insulting the democracies -- the most striking late example was his message of congratulation to the head of the Japanese puppet government in the Philippines -- he

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