on the World Today
DURING the riots which broke out in the French residential part of Tangier on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Protectorate, a significant phenomenon was observed. Spanish flags were hung from the windows of a number of the apartment buildings; their inhabitants thus hoped for protection against rioters, most of whom had come from Spanish Morocco.
The Spanish colony in Tangier denied having anything to do with these disturbances, and it now seems to be clearly established that they were not anti-European, but specifically anti-French. Native manifestations have, of course, become common occurrences throughout North Africa in the last few months; but in this case it might seem strange that they were directed only against the French and not against the Spaniards, who also occupy a good chunk of Morocco.
The explanation which was immediately given was that the Moroccan nationalists have long claimed that the problem of the Spanish occupation will be easily settled once the question of French occupation is cleared up. This reasoning naturally resulted in concentrating the attention of the Tangier agitators on the French section of the city. But this is by no means the whole story. The Spanish government recently allowed the Arab nationalist leader Abd-el-Khalek Torres to return to Spanish Morocco and to coöperate with the Spanish authorities there in the introduction of important administrative reforms. This was no haphazard decision. For some time Madrid has been endeavoring in every possible way to demonstrate its friendship towards the Arab world and to prove how much more liberal Spain is in its official dealings with the Arabs than certain other European countries.
Spain woos the Arab states
The lengths to which this policy has been carried are impressive. Madrid has seized every possible opportunity to strengthen its diplomatic ties with the various countries of Islam. Formal diplomatic relations have been established with Pakistan. Treaties of friendship have been signed with Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.
To crown all these expressions of good will, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Martin Artajo, made an extended tour among the Islamic states last spring, accompanied by Franco’s daughter and son-in-law, and by the Moroccan general Mohammed Ben Mizziam Ben Kassen, who can boast a record of almost forty years of service in the Spanish Army and is thus the living personification of Hispano-Moorish coöperation.
What lies behind this policy? And why is it being pursued so deliberately at a moment when the Great Bowers in the West are in difficulty with Islam? It is not just because Spain feels herself to be a Mediterranean country and therefore washes to consolidate her ties with her neighbors across the sea. This policy is more subtle and at the same time more dangerous. It is the diplomatic weapon which Franco is forging to force Paris and London to admit Spain into the community of Western European nations.
To curry favor in this way with the Arab world has certain risks for Spain as far as her hold on Morocco is concerned. But the Franco government has evidently decided that, this is a risk worth taking and that only a bold policy can now suffice to put pressure on London and Paris.
Washington, it is considered in Madrid, has been more or less won over to a policy of friendship and support for the present regime in Spain, although, as was shown in the case of President. Truman, dissenting voices in the American government still make themselves heard. But the really hard nuts to crack are London and Paris; their opposition to the inclusion of Spain within the Atlantic community has forced Washington to move cautiously with regard to Spain.
As long as the Socialists were in power in Britain, Franco and his advisers did not expect to meet anything but hostility in British government circles. But they nourished high hopes of a change of policy once the Conservatives came to power.
They have been severely disillusioned in the last few months, and this explains the new note of Anglophobia which now characterizes the Madrid press and the renewed clamor for Gibraltar which Franco has been cautiously working up. Franco probably suffers from no illusions as to the effectiveness of this anti-British saber-rattling. But it forms an integral part of his war of nerves against the British and the French.
The Atlantic Report on Spain
The vulnerability of France
Of the two, it is the French who offer a better target to this kind of sustained diplomatic pressure, because they are in a more vulnerable position in the Arab world than the British. The easiest way for Spain to put pressure on France today is to encourage Arab nationalists in North Africa. “Our protectorate in Morocco.”it was asserted not long ago in the Madrid periodical Informaciones, “constitutes the prime example of entrusting to the native inhabitant his own instruments of government and culture; our activity does not consist in laying hands on the resources of the country, but in giving its people the means of utilizing them.”
The Franco government has not limited itself merely to propaganda on behalf of the administration of Spanish Morocco. It has recently been giving direct encouragement to Arab nationalist leaders. Last summer, several Spanish army officers held a secret meeting in Tangier with Arab leaders, among whom were several members of the Moroccan Nationalist Party, whom the French authorities had expelled from their territory.
Exactly what advice these Arab leaders were given is not known, but the influence which the Spanish now have over them is evidently serious enough to have persuaded General Guillaume, the French Resident-General of Morocco, to arrange an interview in Larache with Spanish General García Valino. The next day General Valino left for Madrid, where he immediately conferred with Franco. A few days after that Franco’s brother, Nicholas, then Spanish ambassador to Portugal, was dispatched to Paris to confer with the French government.
There are thus reasons for suspecting that the Spanish government may already have intimated to the Quai d’Orsay what its conditions are for ceasing its policy of encouraging Moslem nationalists.
Spain’s ties with Latin Amerira
Madrid can also be expected to continue exerting pressure on Paris through its influence on some of the Latin American countries which are members of the United Nations. Their votes have been much sought after by the countries of the Arab bloc, who know that anticolonial sentiments are strong in many South American republics. Only in South America and Portugal has Spain found any friends since the war, and it is clear that Franco is now determined to make as much as possible out of Spain’s ties with Latin America.
The Spanish government has been at great pains for the last three or four years to emphasize the living community of the Latin world and the reality of the Spanish spirit, the Hispanidad, which spans the ocean. Spain hopes one day to see this sentimental and cultural rapprochement assume a more concrete political form, notably by the joint action of the South American countries in the United Nations. This would put a formidable lever of power at Franco’s disposal.
Franco and the Vatican
This policy of overt friendship for the Moslem world is only one of the diplomatic maneuvers which Franco is at present conducting. He has at the same time been making a determined effort to win over the Vatican to his support.
The Franco regime is often characterized out of hand as a tyranny of the Army and the Church. But the Catholic Church in Spain has never been unanimously in favor of the regime or well-disposed towards it. Nor, above all, has the Vatican, which was careful to maintain a neutral position during the Spanish Civil War.
So far all the attempts that Franco has made to win the good graces of the Pope have failed. The most recent was in 1950, when he wanted to visit Rome, a project which was thwarted by the de Gasperi government. Instead Franco was obliged to send his Minister of Foreign Affairs, who, however, came back from Rome with empty hands.
There are two principal reasons for the Vatican’s coldness towards Franco. It is considered, in the first place, that the Franco regime has done nothing to try to remedy the serious social crisis in Spain caused by the inequitable distribution of wealth. And, in the second place, it is thought that the Franco government has carried censorship to extremes.
Last year Rome persuaded some of the Spanish bishops to begin exerting pressure on the government to secure social reforms. The Archbishop of Valencia decided, after the food riots which broke out in the spring of 1951, to institute a sort of ecclesiastical Gallup Poll of the conditions of life of the working classes and shopkeepers of his diocese.
The conclusion which he drew from this investigation was that the standard of living of the workers was barely on a subsistence level and that something would have to be done to improve this situation if further social disturbances were to be avoided.
At the beginning of June the Spanish bishops met for an important conference. A document was drawn up at the end of it bearing the signatures of the Archbishops of Toledo and Granada, which constituted a clerical pronimciamento on social questions, and which had an unmistakable reference to the existing social unrest in the peninsula.
Among other things it stated : “The attributions of government differ according to forms of government and constitution. The Church respects these different forms of government as long as they are not contrary to natural law and respect the rights of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. But no power on earth is unlimited. All have the duty to respect the natural rights of the human being and the family, which are prior to the state. . . . The principal mission of the state is to take care of the general welfare, and, first and foremost, to concern it self with the nourishment of its subjects.”
For freedom of the press
At the same time the Church has been carrying on a silent battle with the government over the question of liberty of the press ever since the Pope, in February, 1950, emphasized its importance in a pontifical message.
Franco at first relaxed the government’s control over the press, but strict censorship was reinstated after the strikes in Barcelona last year, and he even went so far as to suppress the Catholic workers’ paper Tu — which, naturally, did not improve his relations with the Church hierarchy.
When the government was reformed last year, the Ministry of Information was given to a Falangist called Arias, who has done nothing to remove the government’s muzzle on free expression of opinion. The Spanish government continues to impose its heavy hand on the press by virtue of a law passed in April, 1938, during the last months of the Civil War, a law which still stands.
Recently the question of its repeal came up again, and this time it was the Church which advocated a reform of prevailing press censorship. In February of this year the official organ of the Catholic hierarchy in Spain, Ecclesia, came out with a major editorial demanding that the position of the state with regard to press questions be redefined; that censorship be limited to cases obviously affecting the security of the country; and that the law courts be empowered to judge any infractions of press regulations.
While the Church is putting pressure on Franco in the field of censorship, Franco has been counterattacking by threatening to reform the existing system of secondary education, which is at present in the hands of the Church, by subordinating it to state control.
It is suspected by some observers that this is just another maneuver on the part of Franco to force the Vatican to agree to a new concordat defining the spheres of religious and secular authority in Spain. The Pope, however, is not likely to be outdone in this war of maneuver, for he is as astute a tactician as Franco, and Franco cannot risk alienating the Church completely at a time when it is espousing two popular causes.
This internal struggle between Church and State in Spain has inevitable repercussions on the international plane. For Franco needs the support of the Vatican not only because of the influence which it has on the Italian government, but also because of the authority it wields over the Christian Democratic parties in France (the MRP) and in Germany.
In the end it may be the Vatican which will be able to decide just when and upon what terms Spain should be admitted to the closed sanctuary of the European community. Which would go to prove once more that, though the Pope has no divisions, he still has at his disposition a formidable masse de manœuvre on the diplomatic battlefield of the European continent.