Editorial: We gamble in Spain (2-28-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (February 28, 1943)

Editorial: We gamble in Spain

The revelation that the United States is sending to fascist Spain large amounts of oil, chemicals, food and other products vitally needed in this country and on our fighting fronts, will shock many Americans.

U.S. Ambassador Hayes, in Barcelona, went so far as to say this had boosted Spanish petroleum supplies:

…considerably higher than the present per capita distribution to the people of the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States itself.

What possible justification can there be for such an American policy?

Isn’t Dictator Franco a puppet of Dictator Hitler, to whom he is largely indebted for his position? Isn’t Franco an advocate of Axis victory and an enemy of democracy? Didn’t Franco’s agents head up the dangerous Axis subversive movements in Latin America? Has not Franco placed his best fascist troops in Spanish Morocco, where they can stab in the back the American Expeditionary Force, if he decides he can win?

The answer seems to be, yes. But that is the point. It is because Franco is in such a strategic position at the moment that the Allies cannot afford to ignore him.

Ambassador Hayes describes this as a “good neighbor policy” toward Spain:

…so long as the war lasts and is kept away from Spanish lands.

Whatever may be the polite diplomatic term, the essence is perilously close to American payment of blackmail to an enemy.

As bad as this is, we can think of lots worse. That sudden stab at the AEF for instance.

So probably the best we can do, in the circumstances, is to hold our nose and get on with this smelly business. We didn’t expect war to be nice and if this is part of the price of victory, we had better save our shudders for casualty lists and things that hurt us more.

It is important, however, that we not kid ourselves. Even if military expedience forces us to play with a blackmailer, we would be fools to trust him. That could be very costly to our troops in Africa.

Let us not forget for a moment that Franco has Spain, as well as Spanish Morocco and the strategic Balearic Islands, honeycombed with Hitler “tourists” and “specialists” – and that large Nazi forces are on the Spanish-French frontier. Let us be sure that all these American oil, chemical and food supplies are not used against us.

Assuming that this policy is necessary and worth the gamble, assuming that it buys us essential time, the test is still how we use that time. Axis Spain will remain the chief danger to our African and coming South European campaigns until we are strong enough to isolate Franco from his partners, Mussolini and Hitler.


So… Germany is indirectly paying America for America’s war effort?

Spain’s neutral in this war.

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Yes… but didn’t Indy mention that Spain refuelled German uboats in an OOTF episode? I don’t think the Spainards do it for free.

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Here’s a decent page on U-boats in Spain:

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Franco played the Germans. No reason he can’t extort the Allies as well. He was a perfect neutral meaning a little,help to both sides and a nudge nudge wink wink here and there.