Page 9, 22nd April 1938

22nd April 1938
Page 9
Page 9, 22nd April 1938 — FRANCE ADAMANT ABOUT CZECHOSLOVAKIA Seeks Realistic Agreement With Italy

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Locations: Rome, Paris


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The Italian Government welcomes the French attitude and has expressed its desire to settle outstanding differences, at present symbolised by the absence of a French Ambassador in Rome.

This highly important move in the general pacification of Europe follows immediately on the defeat of the Popular Front Government of M. Blum and the confidence reposed by the great majority of Frenchmen in M. Daladier,' France's big titan.

The outstanding obstacle to peace, however, remains: the French attitude to Germany and Czechoslovakia.

" Viator," the Catholic Herald's roving correspondent, in a special message from France explains that the French do not see the Czechoslovakian question in the light of democracy, international justice and idealism, but under a purely militaristic and military view. Hence they are not interested in the views of the Sudeten Germans, but solely in Germany's expansion.

It is the same " realism " which prompts their present desire for an Italian understanding and their admiration of Britain.


By " Viator"

The advent of M. Daladier and the moderates to power in France has been welcomed by the majority of Frenchmen with a sigh of relief. The last few weeks were weeks of great anxiety, made worse by an eczema of posters advocating every kind of violent panacea on every Paris hoarding. At last France seems to have returned to her traditional common-sense.

Daladier is undoubtedly one of the best men for the moment. He has a good reputation as a war-minister, and he has many of the virtues the typical Frenchman most admires. He is solid, blunt, terre-aterre or realistic, and he is trusted. Moreover he is respected both in Italy and Germany, whereas as long as M. Blum was in power negotiations with Italy and Germany v.vere impossible. Frenchmen of the Right and t erifre feel that an era of fantastic and over-idealistic foreign policy is over, as well as an era of utopistic strikes. The truth is that France is, up against realities in a way she has not been up against them since 1918.

A " Blessed Alternative " The end of the Front Populaire marks a genuine change in French public life. For nearly twenty years Francetas been living on her luxury position as victor and

mistress of Europe. And especially in the last two years, while France has been wasting herself in industrial disputes (for which both capital and labour have been responsible), and on a foreign policy based on the absurd promises of Marxism. GerMany and ltaly and even England have been increasing their international strength.

Daladier has the Centre and part of the Left behind him as well as the moderate Right-which sees in him a blessed alternative to M. Blum and the socialists.

Not 'Brilliant, But . . .

The programme of M. Daladier is not brilliant. but it is based on common-sense. Internally France is still strong. In spite of industrial losses France is the richest great Power on the continent. There still remains, however, the problem of foreign policy, and moderate opinion in France is waiting to see what the new Government will do.

Not Perturbed

The -socialists and communists are no more perturbed by the appalling realities of France's foreign policy than similar

groups are in England. They are still advocating direct interference in Spain by newspaper propaganda through such papers as L'Humanite (communist), Le Populaire (socialist) and L'Oeuvre (the extraordinary and fanatical newspaper of Mme. Genevieve Tabouis)-as well us by posters and public meetings. But various factors have weakened their appeal, amongst others the Russian trials which caused a revulsion of feeling in France, and General Franco's inevitable victory in Spain.

The problem that M. Daladier has to solve in foreign policy is based on the two fundamental principles which govern nearly all Frenchmen's opinions on this subject-whatever party they belong to(a) fear of Germany and the need to prevent Germany getting any more powerful or moving towards the east, and, (s) keeping in the closest possible touch, at almost any sacrifice, with England.

France Must Intervene

With regard to the German question, nearly all Frenchmen with the exception of the extreme Right consider it inevitable that France should intervene directly by military action in the event of Germany's violation of the Czechoslovakian frontier.

In this matter the French take quite a different view to English idealists. For the French it makes no difference whether or not the German minority districts in Czechoslovakia want to join on to the greater German Reich. Democracy does not enter into it.

In the French view, if the Germans are joined by the Germans in Czechoslovakia, they-being too powerful alreadv-will have their power increased. The French reason for defending Czechoslovakia is not primarily idealistic: it is materialistic and military.

The extreme Right newspapers, such as the Action Francaise, Le Jour. and Gringoire are terribly perturbed about this position. Sooner or later they con sider it will lead to war. And in this war France will have no ally save the Soviet Union, about which the less said the better.

England has already shown she will not fight for Czechoslovakian independence. As a remedy they advocate breaking the Soviet pact and making an alliance as quickly as possible with Italy. The fate of Austria has shown, they maintain, that nothing whatever can be done in central Europe without the collaboration of Italy.

Poland or Russia?

The Right newspapers moreover consider that France made a big mistake in sacrificing her long standing entente with Poland in favour of an understanding with Russia. Though Poland is a country of only thirty millions, they argue, it would probably be a far better ally in wartime than Russia-with its internal discontent and traditional inefficiency. Poland has a strong army and a stronger air-force.

The Right newspapers, however, are at one with the Left in considering that the aim which should dictate all French foreign policy is doing down the Germans so as to prevent the otherwise inevitable German hegemony on the continent.

The Two Sisters

Both the Right newspapers and the Left hold to the understanding with Britain as the main plank in French diplomatic activity.

Owing to the fact that France has lost ground in Central and Eastern Europe as a result of the Franco-Soviet pact. the French feel more dependent on England than they have ever felt since the Great War.

And perhaps there was never a moment in French history when England and all things were so popular in France as they are just now. A wave of Anglo-mania has swept over France.

When the English are referred to in the newspapers they are referred to as " our friends and allies the English ", and headlines run : " England and France stand together ", or (in the Left papers) England and France are referred to as the " two great sister democracies ".

The Left papers have exploited this friendship with England in a remarkable way. Unfortunately they have left their' readers under the illusion that the majority of English people would be in: favour of flying to the help of Czecho

slovakia were it attacked. They quote every possible Opposition speech on this

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