NO ONE doubts that Spain is part of the West, but few are sure what part she can play in Western defense. The Spanish Chief of State, Francisco Franco, and the Portuguese Prime Minister, Dr. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, issued a joint statement on April 15, 1952, declaring that the Iberian peninsula was a single and indivisible strategic bloc and that this "implies the adoption of adequate measures to carry out a policy for the defense of both countries within the general framework of Western defense." While the two leaders were holding their conference near the Portuguese frontier, United States and Spanish military and economic experts were instituting discussions at Madrid for the purpose of bringing Spain into the scheme of Western defense. These were resumed in April of this year, following the arrival of the newly-appointed United States Ambassador, James C. Dunn. Parallel discussions with Portugal were unnecessary since that country is a member of NATO.

The geological accident which cuts Portugal off from the high Spanish tableland, plus other geographical and historical factors, have firmly established Portugal's political separation from Spain. The recognition of the strategic unity of the two countries is nevertheless of prime importance to the military planners. Strategically Spain is a redoubt, a fortified castle in the European theater of war, if by this latter term is meant that part of Europe and the Atlantic lying westward of a line drawn from the Scandinavian Peninsula to the Persian Gulf. Within that larger theater of war Spain is considered to be an indispensable stronghold in the Mediterranean operational area and a bridge between North Africa and the European peninsula. Though Hannibal used it for the invasion of Rome, it has in fact seldom served as such a bridge because of the natural barriers between it and the main body of Europe. But the increased range and effectiveness of sea power and especially of air power, to which labyrinthine mountains are no longer a formidable obstacle, have given Spain's rôle a new importance.

One familiar with Spain may well understand why this land of castles is itself a vast redoubt in the eyes of the military planners. It is hemmed in by great walls of mountains, and by the sea. Its sierras drop down to the coast, leaving only narrow strips of land between them and the water. Its interior is crisscrossed by mountain ranges with their deep valleys. The central area is a mountainous tableland covering two-thirds of the country. The average altitude of the meseta at the base of its mountains is 2,000 feet. Highways and railways climb up and along precipitous sides of these mountains, like the paths of the native izards or wild goats. These are the geographical features that have kept the castle of Spain on the margin of European wars, except when armies have been invited to enter by elements within the castle itself.

Even so, Spain's position has made her a central factor in the struggle for Mediterranean power for more than 250 years. The War of Spanish Succession (1701-1713) was fought on the issue of whether Spain's future kings should be Hapsburgs or Bourbons. Although the Bourbons, members of the ruling family of France, held the throne, England cancelled this French advantage by the seizure of Gibraltar (1702) and of the Isle of Minorca with its magnificent, land-encircled, deep-water harbor (1708), and by so doing took a long step toward making herself the mistress of the Mediterranean. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) provided that Spain should never form a political--and consequently a military--union with France.

During the Napoleonic Wars Spain made the fatal blunder of becoming one of Napoleon's satellites. She was coerced into ceding the Louisiana Territory to France (1800), and her South American colonies began slipping away. Nelson at Trafalgar (1805) broke the combined sea power of Spain and France, while Wellington helped the Spanish popular armies drive the French out of the country. Spain has never since been an important naval or military Power. Possession of Malta made England's Mediterranean position so strong that she returned Minorca to Spain in 1802 in the peace of Amiens.

Thus the Napoleonic War had the double effect of extricating Spain from her political entanglements with France, and of casting her in the rôle of a neutral Power in European conflicts. But in this rôle she continued to be a vital factor in the Mediterranean equilibrium. Her neutrality during World War I was of utmost importance to the Allied Powers in preventing the entire Mediterranean area from being converted into an area of war. The intervention of the Axis Powers on the side of General Franco during the late Civil War was an attempt to destroy this equilibrium. Republican President Don Manuel Azaña noted this when he said in a speech to his ministers at that time: "They have come to checkmate the Western Powers, both England and France, which have been interested in maintaining this equilibrium, in the international political orbit of which Spain has revolved for numerous decades." Soviet Russia also entered the scramble to upset the traditional Mediterranean balance.

During the Second World War, the Axis Powers hoped to make Spain a base of operations and thus to catch France and her allies in a trap between the Rhine and the Pyrenees; but their plan missed fire.

What are the fundamental factors which help determine Spain's present place in the strategy of Western defense? To what degree are her territory and her resources "a bastion of defense, a vital link in the lifeline of a free and peaceful Europe," as the Commander of the United States Sixth Fleet, Vice Admiral John H. Cassady, said during the fleet's courtesy visit to Spain early in January? Any attempt to answer the question must seek to estimate the rôle of Spain as a link between the European continent and North Africa; the likely strength and effectiveness of Spanish land forces; the strength of the Pyrenees as a defensive barrier; and the strength and weakness of her communications, air bases (existing or potential) and harbors.


Historically, the military traffic on the Mediterranean sea route between North Africa and Spain has been almost entirely one way; and almost invariably the invaders have stopped upon reaching Spain. The Spanish peninsula has not been used as a causeway for passage to other parts of the Continent or its outlying isles, such as Great Britain. Spain seems to have been more a cul de sac for overflows from Europe and incursions from Africa than a bridge between the two continents. A major reason for this is Spain's peculiar geographical formation: her high central tableland, her maze of sierras and the barrier of the Pyrenees. The country offers no natural routes of traffic either between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, or between North Africa and the European continent. Her principal rivers either flow back into the Mediterranean or southward and westward in the opposite direction from Europe.

The earliest migrations to Spain without doubt came from Africa, perhaps over the true land bridge that existed before the Atlantic pushed through to the Mediterranean lake and formed the Straits of Gibraltar. The ancient Carthaginian and the later Arab-Berber invasions also flowed from Africa. As late as the Civil War the Axis invaders came over from North Africa. However, long-range air power has changed the situation radically. Though from the standpoint of land communications Spain remains the old cul de sac and perhaps always will be that, from the standpoint of air traffic the peninsula has become, if not exactly a bridge, at least an important way station between the two continents. And it has potentialities for serving as an auxiliary springboard in long-range air operations.

Looked upon as an "outpost" of Europe, Spain also offers to military strategists the promise of a last-ditch European stand against an invasion from the East, and of an evacuation center for allied forces and civilian populations which found themselves forced to retreat. Any plans for use of the peninsula in the event that the Russians scored a smashing victory in a drive across Germany and France are, of course, subject to the charge of "defeatism" by the French and Germans, who are alarmed at any suggestion that Western defense calculations embrace a theory of warfare that involves the abandonment of the Western European countries to Russian occupation. The fact remains that should the enemy reach the Pyrenees, Europe's last stand could be made only on the Spanish peninsula. The next line of defense, and of counterattack, would lie in North Africa.


What help might be expected from the Spanish land forces? Spanish soldiers at home would give a good account of themselves. They excel especially as guerrilla fighters, and they know the configuration of their homeland as outsiders never could. In the extreme case of an invasion their natural tactic would be to wear down the enemy, as they did when Napoleon's armies overran Spain. They might well be able to fight a delaying action which would permit European armies to form their battle lines anew. It must not be forgotten that Spain has a strong body of professional soldiers--the Foreign Legion and Berber natives-- in Spanish Morocco and some smaller North African colonies. In short, for defense at the line of the Pyrenees, or in the contingency that the war were carried down into the peninsula, Spain's forces would add welcome strength.

Whether the Spanish Army is suitable for use as an expeditionary force is, however, a different matter. The Spaniard is a fierce, unyielding fighter when defending his homeland, his pueblo and his particular idea of things worth fighting for. But he has an inborn distaste for foreign wars. Paradoxical as it may seem, the man who can be such a formidable warrior under exceptional circumstances is fundamentally a man of peace and tranquillity. Nothing is dearer to him than to live quietly in his own village or town. This has ever been so. Even in the sixteenth century, under Charles V and Philip II who carried their wars to Flanders and Holland, the Spaniard fought with repugnance, and was defeated at last. This revulsion from war on foreign soil was expressed by one of the finest soldiers of the time, who was also its most celebrated ballad maker, Garcilaso de la Vega, killed fighting in Provence at the age of 31:

And each of us has felt the touch of war,

War after war, and exile, hunger, fear,

And each of us is weary to the core

Of seeing his own blood flow 'long a spear,

And being alive because it missed its aim.

And everything is gone, even the name

Of house and home and memory.

And what's the use of it? . . .

The exploits of the Conquistadores in the New World, however, served to bring into relief the splendid qualities of Spanish soldiers when their hearts are in the fighting. Here was adventure linked with the promise of glory and of rising fortunes for the individual soldiers, as well as a share in forging the grandeur of Spain. Imagination and ambitions were stirred as they never could be by the sordid wars of the Continent, in large part waged with foreign mercenaries. The bands of Conquistadores were not regular armies. They were mainly recruited from the nobility; the members of each band served no one but their leader, under the King. But when an attempt was made to send out an effective expeditionary force in the first quarter of the nineteenth century to subdue the South American colonies which were rising in revolt, the result was complete failure. Much the same happened in the effort to put down the Cuban rebellion and in the sequel to it, the Spanish-American War.

The memory of the ill-fated Moroccan expedition of 1921 is fresh in the minds of all Spaniards. "Anual" is still a byword which expresses their horror of being sent off to war. At the Moroccan stronghold of Anual, Riff tribesmen massacred or captured 15,000 Spaniards; some of the prisoners were ransomed and the others died in captivity. The disaster shook the country. Troops flatly refused to embark for new expeditions, and the spirit of rebellion that swept the country led to the military dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in 1923. Troops on both sides fought with great bravery during the Civil War. The Blue Division sent to the Russian front during the Second World War, however, failed to distinguish itself.

For at least 150 years--that is, since the beginning of the nineteenth century--the Spanish soldier has constantly found himself in wars for causes in which he was supposed to believe, but often did not. During the Peninsular War (1808-1814) regiment after regiment deserted the crown to join forces with the rebellious populace. In 1820 most of the rank and file followed the lead of Colonel Rafael de Riego in the constitutional uprising. Nowhere but in Spain could such a scene have been enacted as the "Revolt of the Sergeants" on the night of August 12, 1836, at the height of the Carlist War, when a committee of sergeants went over the heads of their officers and obliged the Queen-Regent to proclaim the Constitution of Cadiz. The fears and hopes of the rank and file of the Spanish Army, drawn almost exclusively from the pueblos, must be taken into account in estimating the probable effectiveness of Spanish soldiers in wars abroad.

On paper Spain has one of the largest standing armies in Europe. Some Spanish sources place its strength at between 350,000 and 400,000, but this seems exaggerated; perhaps 250,000, or 22 divisions, is about the actual number. It has been noted that not more than three battalions, the normal strength of a regiment, have participated in manœuvres in the Pyrenees at one time under the existing régime. The army is recruited by a system of conscription for 18-month periods. The general staff claims to be able to mobilize 2,000,000 men, but no such number could, in fact, be mobilized without destroying the country's economy. An air force officer, speaking in the Cortes on December 18, 1952, said, "The present army could not even remotely assume the necessities for a minimum national security."

The existing army is poorly paid, insufficiently trained, ill clothed and fed, entirely lacking in modern equipment. All that is implied by the term "infrastructure" for the maintenance of an army and the physical preparation of a country for war is lacking. The rehabilitation of the army would practically mean starting from scratch. In the event of war in Europe, Spain's army would keep order at home, and would defend the home soil in case of invasion. It is unwise to count on it for more than that.


Throughout history the Pyrenees--the great mountain chain which so sharply divides the peninsula from the rest of the Continent--has been an effective wall against attackers. True, in pre-Roman times the migrating Celts undoubtedly seeped down into Spain over high passes and through narrow defiles, while much later the barbarian Suevi, Alani, Vandals and Huns came the same way. But no Roman expeditionary force, with its horses, chariots and other rolling equipment, could ever find its way through these mountains. After centuries, some passes still remain mere mule trails, often as steep as cliffsides; in some places they are not even mule trails. No wheeled thing has ever moved over them.

In the eighth century Charlemagne recognized the effectiveness of these towering barricades as a protective wall against the influx of Arab and Berber into France, and established a chain of buffer states, the so-called Spanish March, of which Andorra and the Spanish enclave known as the Val d'Aran, facing France, are vestiges. However, as a defensive line, the Pyrenees share one serious defect with the Maginot line--it can be outflanked: at each end its ridges taper down to the sea. The Romans first came into Spain, not through the Pyrenees, but by the sea from Marseilles; but thereafter they made their way through the gateway known as the Col de Perthus, a low-lying pass near the Mediterranean terminal of the range. Since those days the Perthus pass has been the favorite route of invading armies, and it is also the main portal for rail and highway travel to and from Spain. The only existing defenses are some outdated batteries on low-lying crests and a mediæval fortress at Figueras.

At the northerly end of the Pyrenees, where the mountains also taper down to the Atlantic and then swing southward along the Spanish coast to form the Cantabrian Mountains, another main highway reaches Spain from the direction of Bayonne and Biarritz. At this point the terrain is fairly low. There are also two secondary roads in this northerly extension, one of them through the Roncevalles pass (3,220 feet), made famous by the Chanson of Roland, that romance of knightly adventure that served to inspire the misadventures of Spain's own knight errant, Don Quixote. During the Carlist War which began in 1834, the Basque general, Tomás Zumalacárregui, simply played hide-and-seek with his adversaries in the mountainous mazes to which these roads lead, exasperating the government forces and taking them on wild-goose chases.

The fighting between French and Spanish forces in 1793-4 has still another lesson for today. Then the Spanish revolutionary forces took the initiative, driving into France and capturing French mountain towns all the way to and including Perpignan. The breakthrough came at the eastern pass of the Pyrenees. But their general, Antonio Ricardos, had failed to protect his rear. French forces slipped around him by other less favored passes and harried the Spanish line of supplies. At the end of a year, the Spaniards retreated to Spain in disorder. The French managed to advance to and cross the Ebro, and to threaten Madrid.[i]

From France five railroads converge upon Spain. The two main lines carry the continental trains which enter by the passes at either end of the range: at Port Bou, overlooking the Mediterranean, and at Irun. Spanish tracks are wider than the standard gauge of the Continent, to impede rail traffic from outside in wartime. Heavy troop movements into Spain would almost certainly have to be routed over these two main lines. But another important line now reaches the Spanish border from Toulouse and accommodates through coaches from Paris--one of two French lines that converge at La Tour de Carol and connects with a secondary electric line on the Spanish side of the border at Puigcerda. The other French line that ends at this point comes up from Perpignan. From Prades the electric steam line becomes a winding electric line, almost a scenic railway, twisting its way through deep gorges, over high passes and across bridges of dizzying altitudes which would be extremely vulnerable to bombing and of doubtful value for troop movements.

The Spanish electric line to which these roads transfer their passengers and freight winds through the lower outposts of the Pyrenees to Barcelona, a three-hour journey. It is another scenic railway built for moderately heavy traffic, but could possibly be employed for limited military purposes with some reconstruction. The fifth railroad is a quite uncertain affair, running from the French town of Pau to the Spanish frontier post of Canfranc, whence it reaches down into Spain by way of Jaca.

From the airman's point of view, however, the Pyrenees are not the barrier which they are to the movement of land troops. The peaks are not high as great mountain ranges go; most are from 7,000 to 9,000 feet in height; the tallest, Pico de Aneto, somewhat eastward of center, is 11,169 feet. The problem would be to coördinate land forces with measures against air attack-- not too difficult a military problem but, of course, essentially defensive, not a question of strategic warfare based on the fortress of Spain.


The communications problem that would confront a modern army in Spain is tremendous. In fact, communications, as modern warfare comprehends that term, are almost nonexistent. The wide-gauge railroads are single tracked, rolling stock is antiquated and roadbeds are in disrepair; the circuitous highways are largely also in a state of neglect, and telephone and telegraph lines are patched up and of uncertain utility.

In his six-year dictatorship, Primo de Rivera did succeed in giving Spain a fairly good system of roads. But even had they not been maltreated and inadequately repaired, they could never carry the weight of armored equipment and mechanized armies of modern warfare, or even the ordinary services of supplies. Aside from this, they are not laid out to provide quick travel from one part of the country to another. Many go from town to town and from pueblo to pueblo following the meandering lines of valleys and streams or hugging the mountainsides; others start out by taking the traveler for miles in the opposite direction from the one he wants to go. The best road from Barcelona to Madrid is southward along the coast to Valencia and thence northward. In general, roads from the various regions converge on Madrid, in the middle of the high central plateau. The railroads are laid out in much the same way, converging on Madrid like the crooked spokes of a wheel. Some take snake-like courses around the periphery. None goes directly across Spain in any direction.

The once-excellent telephone system, which the International Telephone Company, an American subsidiary, constructed about 30 years ago, has deteriorated since it was taken over by the government. The telegraphic service is also uncertain; in some towns the offices are open only a few hours a day and on some days not at all. If Spain were to be prepared for defense, the communications and transport systems would have to be reconstructed and rehabilitated from top to bottom. Railroads would have to be rebuilt, main lines double-tracked, new rolling stock and other equipment provided. Though the population has increased by about 5,000,000 since the Civil War, there is less rolling stock than there was before, despite efforts to make good the wartime damage. Some of the cars are old-fashioned, American-built, wooden coaches which American roads discarded years ago; platform plates on some show they were built at Oswego, New York, in 1891. The cost of rehabilitating Spain's communications and transport systems has been placed as high as a billion dollars--an estimate that does not seem exaggerated.

The question of communications bears closely on the utility of air bases. They would have a threefold function in Spain: to support an army defending the Pyrenees; to provide a springboard for attack on an enemy on the other side of the mountains; and, most importantly, to facilitate long-distance bombing. Without communications and transport, the storage facilities, radar stations, warning systems, barracks and all the complicated machinery of the air age cannot be protected and supplied and a base cannot function. But the advantages of Spanish bases for strategic warfare engage the attention of military planners, who consider "theaters of operation" as component parts of larger theaters. Thus Spain is part of the European theater of operations, which in turn is the core of the Atlantic theater of war. Strategic bombing from bases within this European theater, whether in Morocco, France or Spain, would aim at protecting the Middle East crossroads, and at striking at the major areas under enemy control--the Caspian region, for example, with its oil fields and its traffic routes from Russia into the Middle East by sea and by land.

In a scheme of global defense Spain also forms a component part of three main Eurasian flanks that would have to be guarded against Russia and her probable allies. One flank is the Malayan peninsula and its Indonesian extension; another is the Scandinavian peninsula and its extension toward the American continent by way of Iceland and Greenland. The third is the flank formed by France, Spain and Portugal themselves, which also has island extensions and ramifications in the Balearics, Madeira, the Canaries and the Azores. In this larger picture, the main advantage of possession of air bases in Spain, in the eyes of the airman, is not that bombers might thereby be stationed somewhat nearer this or that objective than bombers in France, North Africa or England, but that there is safety in numbers. The larger the number of bases that the enemy has to try to knock out, the more his air strength is dispersed.

But, of course, this general principle has to be equated with the resources available for equipping bases, and with the strengths and weaknesses of particular locations. Among the factors to be considered in connection with Spanish air bases are the rugged terrain, as around Madrid and in the north, and the exposed location of some sites, as at Barcelona, Valencia and the isle of Mallorca. The inland river port of Seville, and the neighboring seaports of Cadiz and Huelva on the Atlantic around the corner from Gibraltar, offer favorable conditions for strategic bases, where air and naval forces could operate in conjunction. Gibraltar now has air-base facilities of the first order, and already links the peninsula with the general picture of the Atlantic area. Portugal is in a position to offer facilities on the tip of the peninsula and on the Azores Islands.

On paper, Spain now has 40 airfields, a personnel of 40,000 men and 400 planes. Actually, only a few of the airfields are used; most of them were plotted during the Civil War. How many of the 40,000 personnel are qualified no one knows. Few, if any, of the 400 planes would be likely to be of use in modern war. All the equipment is obsolete. The proposal to establish air bases in Spain entails a complete rebuilding, quite literally from the ground up.


There is no doubt at all that Spain possesses magnificent harbors, which could provide first-class naval bases. Naval operations are inseparably joined to air strategy in the new pattern of war. Spain's shores and islands offer a number of deep harbors which nature herself seems to have designed for protection and servicing of ships in wartime. Three focal points may be noted in particular: the deep island waterways of Galicia, centered at El Ferrol, looking out upon the Atlantic in the northwest; Cadiz, with its cliffs, just around the corner from Gibraltar; and the Balearic islands, especially the deep-water harbor of Mahón on the shores of Minorca.

El Ferrol and Coruña and the adjacent deep-water harbors on the northwest tip of the peninsula guard the approaches to the west coast of France and the English Channel. They would be dangerous in enemy hands. It was at Coruña that the Spanish armada took refuge and was refitted after it had been battered by a storm on the way to England in 1588. Although El Ferrol has drydocks, they would not accommodate modern warships.

Cadiz is as much a Mediterranean as an Atlantic port. It was founded by those adventurous seafarers, the Phoenicians, and was their base of operations for that part of the world--the farthermost westerly reaches then known to man. Forming part of the inland recesses of the Bay of Cadiz is the port of Santa Maria, where a fleet could lie well protected. From Huelva, nearby, Columbus first set sail for the New World. Some 50 miles up the Guadalquivir river lies the deep-water port of Seville, which can be reached by ships up to 12,000 tons.

This area would be ideal for coördinated air and sea action. Fleet activity could be extended in every direction: northward and southward in the Atlantic; eastward through the Mediterranean, and along the sea lanes between North Africa and Europe. On the Mediterranean side is the submarine port of Cartagena, a logical site for a modernized submarine base which could be utilized in connection with the activities of the main fleet, whether based at Cadiz or elsewhere.

Valencia and Barcelona have the most amply-developed harbors in Spain for the purposes of commerce. Barcelona's is a made harbor, exposed to attack, as is Valencia's to some degree; but Valencia has inland estuaries which offer protective advantages. Both would probably be useful for auxiliary purposes. The Canary Islands, and especially the harbor of Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife, offer naval facilities particularly suited to South Atlantic defense.

In the Balearic Islands, the largest of the "Three Sisters of the Mediterranean" (as they are called) is Mallorca. It has deep-spreading bays at Palma, its principal port, and at Alcudia, on the northwest. During the First and Second World Wars, German submarines were either secretly based on or provisioned from Alcudia, and from this base German planes attacked allied ships bound for North Africa. Radar stations on the coast of Spanish Morocco reported the movement of every Allied ship passing through Gibraltar straits. But both harbors of Mallorca are exposed, and were easily taken by the insurgents during the Civil War.

The northward isle of Minorca, however, has a marvelous, land-locked harbor--Mahón--which offers perfect protection to ships. Gun emplacements stand on high cliffs which show forbidding sides to the sea, whose waters, more often than not, are being whipped into storms by the "six winds." Ships enter the port through a narrow channel guarded by more cliffs, on which stand old, whitewashed forts. The channel follows a snake-like course, twisting around some fortified islands, then broadening into a deep narrow basin upon which the cliffs look from all sides. Sprawling over their tops is the whitewashed city of Mahón. It used to be said that all the navies of the world could find anchorage in this harbor. They would be completely invisible to an enemy, and, lying in dead space, could only by some miracle be touched by shells fired from the sea. During the Civil War, anti-aircraft batteries showed they could provide a strong defense against air attack. The cobblers, cheesemakers, numerous barbers and fishermen of Minorca, coöperating with an absurdly small garrison, for 31 months defied the efforts of the German and Italian planes to make a dent in their defenses. If England, which once held Minorca, had possessed it during the recent world wars, the story of German sea raiders in the first and of air raiders in the second might have been different.

Spain's navy, consisting of six cruisers, 22 destroyers and eight submarines, would be practically useless to the West in the event of another war. All vessels are obsolete and some cannot even put to sea. There is no modern equipment. The official naval personnel is 23,000 men. Here again the political question enters; at the outbreak of the Civil War the Republican-minded sailors seized their officers, killed many of them and took over the ships. If Spain were an ally, the Western Powers would either have to write off the Spanish fleet or give the country a new one.

In connection with this, and indeed with a plan to provide Spain with new naval installations, it is fair to remember that the present régime entertains expansionist aims. The Falange program proclaims that Spain must assert "the will of an empire" and that "Our armed forces on land, on the sea and in the air must be as powerful and as numerous as is necessary to assure Spain her rightful place in the hierarchy of nations." On the other hand, use of Spanish harbors would not only greatly assist in defense of the Mediterranean, but would place Allied naval units several hundred miles nearer North Atlantic objectives than would bases elsewhere on the Mediterranean.

Moreover, Spanish territory flanks both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, the gateway to North Africa, described by military men as a redoubt and a base of manœuvre for the whole European theater of operations. During World War II, American and British naval forces opened an avenue from Gibraltar on which to carry the war to North Africa, thereby also opening an immeasurably greater route for carrying the war back to Europe by way of Sicily and Italy. North Africa thus became a turntable for the defense of the continent of Europe.


Such is a picture of some of the plus and minus factors of a defensive alliance with Spain. It is, of course, incomplete, omitting political aspects of the complex question which are well enough known, and others which are unknown quantities. It makes no attempt to answer the important question of what the objectives of the Spanish Government are in considering an alliance, and how they would fit with the objectives of the United States and the other countries of NATO. By Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a unanimous vote of the signatory Powers is required if a new member is to be admitted. Would Spain be acceptable to the members of that body, and, if not, would liaison with her be maintained through the United States or Portugal, or both? How would the Spanish people react to the presence of a considerable body of foreign soldiers in their country and to the possibility that Spain would be exposed to attack? What would follow from an "Americanization" of Spanish economic, social, cultural life--that is to say, in plainer words, what would be the effect of Americans spending a great deal of money there? The effects could be prodigious, but it would be a rash man who would try to forecast them.

The entire burden of cost of projects such as are outlined above would fall on the United States, and unofficial estimates of them vary from one billion dollars for combined M.S.A. assistance and military installations to three billion dollars. As long ago as 1948 Spanish Government circles were putting out feelers for a $700,000,000 loan from the United States. They commenced M.S.A. negotiations last year by asking for more than a billion dollars to cover this part of the program. In the preliminary survey of 1951, Sidney C. Sufrin, who headed the team of economic experts, had made an estimate of $400,000,000 for M.S.A. assistance. This estimate was incorporated in a report by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Reports from Madrid indicate that General Franco is not disposed to consider less than a billion dollars by way of a starter, exclusive of the costs of military installations to be paid for directly by the United States. Unofficial American estimates of a billion-dollar program, to be carried out in four to six years, had already been made by the time negotiations got under way last year.

The Spanish view was expressed by General Franco when he stated: "If the world situation demands some coöperation from Spain, it is obligatory to assist her total and rapid economic recovery and help her perfect her military préparations." There is some feeling in Western countries that to aid Spain's economic recovery might be a step toward advancing Spain's return to the democratic fold; others declare that the contemplated economic, technical and military assistance would merely serve to strengthen Spain's totalitarian régime, and some of these believe further that to join hands with the present Spanish régime would compromise the moral position of the free world. Most, perhaps, feel that the part of wisdom in the difficult and precarious situation which confronts Western civilization lies not in a freezing of old attitudes but in an effort to understand the particulars of the Spanish situation and to make a reasonable estimate of costs, advantages and safeguards.

[i] Another road of which account should be taken runs through Andorra in the eastern Pyrenees, but at the French end it traverses an exceedingly high pass which is blocked by snow five or six months of the year. Cf. "Andorra, Europe's Last Feudal State," by Lawrence Fernsworth, Foreign Affairs, January 1934.

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