Those 30,000 Germans In Cadiz!
A List Of Capital Blunders—And The Cure
By Douglas Jerrold
HIS week our own revolutionary democrats have been given proof of incontinent folly. Their declared policy is war. They press for intervention in Spain to begin with, and, to go on with, for a notification to Germany that we shall launch our aeroplanes on Berlin if she seeks any modification of the frontier of Czechoslovakia (otherwise than with our consent which we shall withhold).
They argue that if General Franco wins in Spain, Spain will be a vassal state of Germany, although Germany has no fleet and the two have no common frontier. They forget that Portugal, our oldest and most loyal ally, is pledged to General Franco's cause.
They omit to mention the fact that even if we did intervene, we could not save the revolutionary cabal which masquerades as a government in Barcelona. Intervention in Spain would mean the reconquest of Spain yard by yard by an invading force. How would that force be composed? It is obvious that France could not move a man or a gun because she would be faced by Germany and Italy on her own frontiers. It is seriously pretended that we should send an expeditionary force across the Pyrenees and tight an army of 750,000 men, fully equipped and acclimatized to war? How soon does Sir Archibald Sinclair imagine that such a force could be got together in sufficient strength to undertake single-handed an invasion of a great country with our communications running the length of another country engaged in meeting invasion on two frontiers?
ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR'S SPEECH The crass ignorance and stupidity of this proposal is surely without precedent, even in the strange and peculiar history of democracy. A well-known member of Parliament described the effect of Sir Archibald Sinclair's speech in the House of Commons. " One knew." he said to me regretfully, " that a few more speeches like that must mean the end of democracy here also."
It would be easier by far if the crisis were one of treachery, and not of non-intelligence. You can deal with traitors but democracy has no armour against folly. The same people who have been asking for intervention in Spain have been announcing (and attributing the defeat of the Red Armies to) the arrival of 30,000 German troops in Cadiz a week ago.
Why not 300,000? How many transports are required to carry thirty thousand fighting troops with their supplies of arms and ammunition? We began the Gallipoli campaign with less than that, and the force took nearly four months to assemble and an Armada to convoy. No-one who knew Mudros harbour with the assembled fleet of transports and their escorts will ever forget the sight. It seemed, as John Masefield said, as though all the ships of the world were there. Yet this German Armada sailed, presumably from Hamburg, unnoticed by all the fleets and journalists in the world, down the Channel, across the Bay and into Cadiz harbour. Or did this vast force pass through Austria while it was still an independent state without anyone knowing it? And how long do these fools imagine (for, I repeat, the depth of the tragedy lies in the fact that they are fools) that it would take these thirty thousand fighting troops, even if they were transported by magic to Cadiz, before they could appear in the fighting line on the frontier of Catalonia?
SPANIARDS DON'T COUNT !
This ignorance would be comic if it were not horrifying in its implications.
The men who propagate these lies want us to base their policy on them, to stake on their knowledge of the practicalities of war our whole existence as a great people— our lives, our fortunes, our history. They do not even knowenough of the objective elements of the situation to invent a lie which is relevant, let alone credible.
Assuming the monstrous impossibility to be possible, what would be the relevance of thirty thousand German troops in Aragon, when, as the spear head of his attack on one small front out of more than a thousand miles, General Franco has already a force exceeding 150,000 men?
This is a national war. The Spanish soldier has re-entered the stage of history which he dominated for so many generations. And we are not even aware of the fact, decisive for Spain and of vast consequence to the rest of the world. We imagine that this great national movement, which is nothing else than the march of a nation, is a rough and tumble between a few .indisciplined mercenaries. Sober and presumably honest people are telling us that we must base our policy on the domination of a Spanish army nearly a million strong by forty thousand Italian volunteers.
Since when have the Italian infantry had such a reputation that a mere handful of them can dominate a nation in arms?
The very same people who buttonhole us at our desks or in our clubs and tell us that Italy is on the verge of bankruptcy see nothing foolish in telling us at the same time that National Spain, whose peseta stands in the world's exchanges at three times the value of the Italian lira, is financially dependent upon Italy. This is not mere folly, it is the politics of Bedlam.
And the same wise and intelligent people are the people who are crying out for every extravagance of expenditure in this country, and are so crassly ignorant not merely of the refinements of economics or monetary theory (that might be pardonable, though only if they were prepared to learn something about them, before setting out to teach), but of the very a.b.c. of finance that they imagine that without reducing our standards of domestic expenditure we can afford to double our national outlay.
BALANCE OF POWER Yet even this folly is less gross than the folly of those who imagined that since we had separated Italy from France and forced her into the arms of Germany, any power on earth could have saved Austria or could or can apl-eve4s.,Germany from becoming the mates of Central Europe.
It is not Herr Hitler and General Goering who have torn up the map of Europe, but Anthony Eden and Lord Baldwin, at the instigation of loud and foolish men who imagined that Italy was bankrupt, cowardly and contemptible and could be defeated by the exercise of a little mild economic pressure and by the indisciplined mobs which our most distinguished military critics (the same who have recently been explaining that General Franco was incapable of win
ning a victory) mistook for an Abyssinian army.
But the prize for stupidity must be given not to our Reds or our Pinks but to those French politicians who put their faith in a Russian alliance to save liberty in Europe. Every instinct of the Russian Foreign Office, every ideal that they pursue and every material advantage for which they can hope, requires, not the peace, security and progress of the traditional civilisation of Europe, but its disruption and decay.
They have sought it, and they arc bringing it about.
They will create and foment trouble. They will never restore order out of the chaos they have caused.
If war comes they will not wish to see a swift campaign and an overwhelming victory for the capitalist democracies of the West.
They will wish to see, and will in that fatal event ensure, a long drawn out agony ending in the dissolution of a society which has taken two thousand years to build, but which evil and wanton men can destroy in two years.
MORALITY FIRST AND FOREMOST
There is one hope for Europe and one only, and that is to build on the rock of reality. There are still great and powerful forces at the disposal of Christian civilisation. United, but only if united, they will prevail. But the union must be one of sober and intelligent minds, not a union of fools shouting slogans and uttering protests with the facile futility of an incompetent forger uttering dud half-crowns which even the poorest will throw back in his face.
To save Europe we have first of all got to save ourselves. We need ten years of resolute financial policy to begin with. The expenditure met out of loans by Local Authorities in the last ten years for which I have figures (1924-5 to 1933-4) amounted to £1,124 millions, or nearly double the • total National Debt in 1914. The annual loan charges of Local Authorities are today very nearly twice the total receipt from rates in 1914.
We are a rich people, but this does not justify the elementary dishonesty of financing our expenditure at the expense of our children, or of concealing the real burden of national expenditure by undermining our trade balance and in this way bringing us every day nearer to a repetition of the crisis of 1931.
These matters are questions of morality first and foremost. We have the duty to understand them and to restore the basis of our internal prosperity, which alone can be the buttress of our political ideals.
At present it is not only true that we stand before Europe without an intelligible policy, but that even if we regain our sanity we shall still be unable to give any practical effect to our views. Armaments to be effective rest on two indispensable supports: a sound morality and a sound economy. Today we lack both, and for the same reasons.
We are ignorant and unwilling to learn. Until there is at least an educated minority in this country which, learning is prepared to teach, our policy will be without foundation, and we shall continue to experience one diplomatic defeat after another. Only principle can energise policy, and only sacrifice can implement it.