He sought truth and describes
i . judicial with fairness
The Spanish Dilemma. By A. , Allison Peers. (Methuen, Ss.).
Reviewed by MICHAEL DE LA BEDOYERE
0CCASIONALLY one comes across a book whose authority and sincerity are transparent, a book which should still controversy and be accepted as a guide by all to whom the subject matter is of importance. Professor Allison Peas' The Spanish Dilemma is such a book on a country
about which more fionsense has been written by more people ol eminen, than could have been thought possible,
Professor Peers has been classed. among the Franco propagandists, yet as far as we know there is no reason on earth why he should have defended the Nationalists except the evidence of his own eyes and his life-long knowledge of Spain. Indeed, the moderate tone of this little book, the frank criticisms of certain aspects. of the new
regime, the burning desire to see ell Spaniards reconciled, the tribute paid to the bravery and sincerity of the Republican cauee, the thorough disgust with Hitlerism, all these are proof that he seeks the truth and deseribes it with judicial fairness.
Since his purpose is to analyse the motives governing spaill's present policy, he only summarises the outstanding points of the Civil War, but his judgments, based as we know them to he on the most intimate knowledge of Spanish history and politics, are all the more telling. Thc following is typical: "But none the less it would have been a disaster for Spain had the cause of the Popular FrOlt1 triumphed. lor the first place. though its apologists did everything possible to t-present it as standing fur pure Republicanism, the democratic Republic died twenly-four hours after the outbreak of the mainland risings. when, in defiance of the 1931 Constitution, die extremist groups prevented Pre.sident Azana from appointing the Prime Ministes. of his. choice. With it in the constitutional sense. died the office of President. Sr. Azana being re
twined only as u figure-head, chiefly, in all probability% for the purpose of impressing Britain and France. Thenceforward, whether within the Cabinet or behind it, it was nut democratic Republicans but leftwing Socialists, Communists and AnarchoSyndicalists who were in power. . A Republican victory then would have meant a new upheaval in Spain, in which the Proletarian Revolution would have reigned supreme."
TN discussing the great dilemma facing
Spain to-day Professor Peers underlines the essential independence of Spain and the unquestioned authority of Franco. Ile dismisses as "a sheer mph, handed down /run Me days of The Civil War " the idea that Franco or Spain arc Mere vassals Of Germany or Italy. "No," he writes, " Spaniards being the people they are, the problems of non-belligerency will remain iaternal ones. Speaking front king experience of the country. I do not hesitate to assert that, if Hitler were to invade Spain as ruthlessly as he invaded Holland and Belgium. the part which he played in the Civil War would count for nothing. and Spain. united once more and with her exiles flocking hank to fight for her, would at once rise against tbern."
On the other hand, he very fairly discusses the pros and cons of each possible Spanish policy, neutrality, intervention on the Axis side and intervention on ours, And he makes it plain that for the Spanish people the choice is a very difficult one.
He attached much weight to the question
of propaganda : If General FrUne0 is as ignorant of the truth as his countrymen are —and he may be—we can imagine how sore a temptation it will be for him to join th conquerors of next Tuesday,' or at leilS1 to accept for Spain the ' proirciion ' of Get-M(111y Wail /he fifliShing 101Whe.S have been
put to virtory." And after brilliantly analysing the curious similarities between the Spanish character and the British one, he severely indicts us for failing to cultivate with intelligence and sympathy the friendship of Spain. '
One fears that this five shilling volume packed with truth and wisdom will not spread as quickly as the Gollancz backed mischievous nonsense written by Charles Duff under the title of A Key to Victory: Spain. Yet it is strictly truc that if public opinion were made by Peers and if Duff could find no hearing, we should have taken an important step towards victory.