Page 11, 2nd June 1939

2nd June 1939
Page 11
Page 11, 2nd June 1939 — FRENCHMEN SUSPICIOUS OF SOVIErl FRIENDSHIP
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FRENCHMEN SUSPICIOUS OF SOVIErl FRIENDSHIP

Front Our Own Correspondent There is very little comment on moral or Catholic grounds among French Catholics concerning the new understanding between Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

On the other hand many Frenchmen are deeply auspicious of the political wisdom of the step.

The question of relying on the Soviet scarcely occurred to Frenchmen in the form of a moral problem. and the general outlook of Frenchmen is largely governed by national considerations at present. It must also be admitted that there are a few Paris Catholics who would seem to he able to find arguments from St. Thomas and the Fathers of the Church for a pact with Lucifer himself, did this seem a way to protect the territorial integrity of France and the Empire.

Disruptive Influences The essential question to most Frenchmen in discussing relationships with the Soviet Union is how much such relationehips are likely to benefit France and Britain, and here there is division. The Right-wing in France, represented by men like Jacques Doriot, of the French Popular Party, Charles Maurras of the Aetion Francais', Andre Tardieu and the Right-wing groups in the Chambre are nervous that too close an understanding with Russia may mean the internal interference in French and British affairs which weakened France Co much under the Front Populaire..

Will or will not the Soviets be able to make the disruptive propaganda in Great Britain they made in France in 1936? And how will France and Britain prevent them using the alliance for their own purposes and thus threatening the whole fabric of any settlement in Europe?

There are many people in France wile believe that the League of Nations became a sectarian absurdity as soon as Russia was allowed to join It and they fear the same fate may meet Mr Chamberlain's peace coalition for similar reasons.

Russia's Strength is Propaganda

In this view Russia's strength does not lie in arms — French military authorities seem on the whole very PARIS.

sceptical about the Russian ■nilitary forces and some ever] think them inferior in strength to those of Poland.

Their chief strength lies in propaganda and this, it is felt, can unfortunately be as easily used on allies—as happened four years ago in France — as on Germany and Italy.

France has had four years of the full force of Soviet propaganda and it is difficult to describe its peculiar disintegrating force, with nbaeure untraceable rumours, false statistics, and completely untrue statements, and the decline in reasonableness it causes all round. There is also a feeling of nervousness concerning the possible effect on the Spanish attitude and the Right-wingers are never tired of pointing out that Spanish neutrality in European war would be more important to France than Russian " help."

Daladier Not Above Suspicion

While nearly all Frenchmen are ready to give Daladiee his due for the national reorganisation which is going full speed ahead, criticisms are made of influence of an ideological kind which appear from time to time in French foreign policy.

The Right-wingers would be happy if they could believe that there wee as much keenness in Paris to get Spanish affairs cleared up as to get Great Britain and Russia to come to terms.

It it generally thought that M. Georges Bonnet, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Is less of a Left-winger than some of nis colleagues, and this seems borne out by the violent attacks on him from those who accuse him of being an enemy of the proletariat. At the same time the rank and file of the Radical Socialist Party — Daiadier's party — is strongly Influenced by vague Left-wing anticlerical Ideas, the kind of outlook which in France is often called "masonic." It mint not be forgotten. moreover, thet Daladim"s party, even if it found practical collaboration with the Communists ultimately impossible, was in fact at one time part and parcel of the Popular Front, If the new understanding with Rinala gave a fresh fillip to the Communist Party in France, otherwise on the decline, or increased it in Great Britain by giving it a superior status, then there are many people in France who would consider French nationalism threatened again at the foundations; and this kind of argument appeals to nationallyminded Frenchmen who are unconcerned by the moral question one way or another.




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