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AMERICA’S ‘MORAL ALOOFNESS’ Spanish Civil War: Forgotten and Forgiven? THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, by Hugh Thomas, Harper, 1961, ‘720 1313, $8.50. AUSTIN The Spanish Civil War was both an end and beginning of many things. It was the intellectual’s last war. It was here, both in the line .of military battle and the line of ideological battle, that the independent, middle-of-the-road liberal seemed doomed to be forever crushed between the positivism of the extreme right and that of the extreme left. Over Spain the Axis lineup was formed, and in Spain modern warfare began. The mass bombings of civilian targets such as was done at Guernica by the Germans for purely psychological effects has finally come home to roost in the terror of the nuclear age. Hugh Thomas gives us a disinterested and detailed account of the Civil War fought by the Spaniards and the darker war-withina-war fought by. Germany, Italy, and Russia. He records with painful accuracy the sad fiasco of nonintervention. Indeed he points out, battle by battle, that the victories were nearly always determined by the amount of foreign aid given and at what crucial moment the aid arrived. Though much has been made of the bickerings, that existed within the Spanish left, and certainly these quarrels did weaken the Republic, it appears in the final analysis that tanks, planes, food and soldiers determined the outcome. One notable exception to the cut-and-dried logic of the battlefield was the siege of Madrid. Though the Azana government abandoned Madrid, expecting it to fall immediately to the rebels, the people of the city virtually made of it a Stalingrad and the city was held by the Republicans for the duration of the war. A more vividly personal account of the battle of !Madrid is Arturo Barea’s Forging of a Rebel. One of the officials left behind while the Azana government hastily made for Valencia, he records both the bravery of the city and the reign of terror, chaos, and confusion instigated by a divided left. Barea was horrified to see friends of his, quite ordinary men in peacetime, gradually overcome by the power of killing, and little by little corning to enjoy the spectacle of corpses. \(It is this aspect of the war that seems most to baffle Thomas, particularly vis-a-vis the THOUGH BOTH SIDES immedi ately sought foreign aid, Franco fared far better in getting his results. Hitler extended cautious help; he saw in Spain a perfect testing ground for World War II and hoped to prolong the conflict indefinitely. Mussolini’s ambitions were more grandoise. He wanted to impress the world with Italy’s might. “When the war in Sain is over, I shall have to find something else: The Italian character has to be formed through fighting.” Despite the fact that the Republican side was the legitimate government, and that it was obvious that German and Italian help was being given, Britain, in line with the Chamberlain appeasement policy, insisted on a stern neutrality. Many in the government felt safer with a Franco victory. \(Even Churchill was concerned with the left wing elements in the Republican side and failed to apprehend the danger of a Franco Spain in the case of a Leon Blum’s Popular Front government tried to dissuade Britain from sticking to non-intervention and failed; without Britain’s support France was afraid to enter in an adventure that might have led to a world war and so cause her trouble among her own rightwing elements. America adopted a policy of “moral aloofness.” Though it did prevent the Republicans from buying arms in this country, and also caused a plan to evacuate several thousand Basque children here to be stopped, it did not prevent the Texas Oil Company from supplying Franco with approximately two million tons of oil on credit. This solved his oil problem for the duration of the war. Toward the end of the war, after the Axis breaches of non-intervention became more flagrant when they realized that France and England had no intention of acting, public pressure induced Roosevelt to reverse the embargo ruling. This decision was never put into effect due to the protests of Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy. On an individual basis, 2,800 Americans joined the International Brigade. Nine hundred were killed. No Americans joined the Nationalist side. WITH NO OTHER government from which to buy arms, the Republic was forced to rely on Russia. Russia got the Spanish gold reserve, Spain got the unmixed blessings of some equipment plus the political personnel intent on bending the Civil War into a communist conflict. \(Some of the Russian communists, however, were so imbued with the Spanish idealism they had encountered that upon their return Stalin found it necessary to make ler he wished to use and prolong both the nation of Spain and the Catholic Spain. Spain experienced no industrial revolution; she to our readers’ attention in the expectation that some few of them are presently unemployed and may wish to apply. There appears to be no ideological requirement. IN NEIMAN-MARCUS’S Christmas catalog \(full of pedestrian offerings this time, such as an ermine bathrobe for $6,975, includnouncement: “Many of our customers find themselves in the position of sending gifts to those in exceedingly high positionkings, shahs, maharajahs, prime ministers, and other heads of state. Obviously, such transactions must be kept completely secret and confidential. “While it is true that NeimanMarcus try to keep private all their business with customers, our new service is designed to insure this absolutely. “Confidential orders may be sent to Offer G-7, c/o N.M. 1 These orders will be handled by one of three senior officers of our firm. No written billing will be sent. Instead, billing will be by telephone. No employee of NeimanMarcus, other than one of the senior officers, will even know of the transaction. It is hoped that in this manner we may satisfy the needs of our customers in such necessarily confidential purchases. Our customers will understand that there will be a one percent extra service charge for this service.” DIANA POTEAT HOBBY, book critic of the Houston Post, noted lacked a middle class, and, until the Republic, the true government the war for his own purposes. He was, however, less interested in a final victory. The popular cornmunist theory is that fascism is the last stage before communism, and history, alas, may still prove Stalin right. Considering that as the war progressed it became more and more a foreign massacre of Spain, Mr. Thomas is too quid-pro-quo when he reprimands the Spaniards for finally wishing all foreigners to get out. He feels they asked for foreign help, and that’s what they got. This is as absurd as assum ing that if a girl allows a dinner to be bought her, she should therefore expect rape. Thomas is at his best in describing the foreign intervention and the actual military conflicts; he is at his weakest when it comes to understanding the Spanish aspect of the Civil War. Here his much-praised objectivity leads him to some “distortions of the truth. In the interest of focusing directly on the war, he cuts off most previous Spanish history with the rather bland assumption that Spain’s past parallels that of the rest of Europe. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. these recent remarks ‘by Walter Lord, who has just written A Time to Stand, a new book on the Alamo: “Now there’s a battle that was crucial for the whole future of our country. Think of all the excitement that goes into the writing about Waterloo, Trafalgar, Gettysburg, the Marne. Here is a battle that made this part of the country as we know it today. If San Jacinto had gone the other way, our cultural heritage would have been Spanish instead of Anglo. That was decided in 18 minutes. “Every American knows about the battle of Gettysburg, but the economics of the Confederacy would not have been different if Gettysburg had been another in the string of Rebel victories. The South did not fall because of Gettysburg, so it is not so great a point of national determination, not really the continental divide that it is claimed to be. San Jacinto really did determine which way this part of our country went. “No one has picked up the most satisfying discovery I made in A Time to Stand. In the Alamo folklore is the story of Travis’ speech, giving the men a chance of get out, of which one took advantage. This story sprung from an article in the 1837 Texas Almanac, written by Zuber, who said he was the man who bailed out. “What I discovered was a statement made by Susanna Dickinson to the Texas Attorney General confirming this story. She made the statement a couple of years after Zuber’s article appeared, but she could not read or write, and her statement, made under oath, rings true. It doesn’t smack of the While after the seventeenth century England’s and France’s star rose with the consolidation of their empires, Spain’s empire brought her economic disaster. Her intellectual demise had its roots in the fifteenth century when Isabel ferociously created of Spain remained a medieval and bloody Catholic Church. THOMAS TAKES NONE of this I past history in account when expressing his exasperation with the Anarchist excesses, nor does he understand it as a cause of the war. He also muddles the whole Anarchist movement with that of the extreme terrorist group, the F.A.I. He is rightly shocked at the burning of churches, and yet fails to appreciate that the church was the most political force in Spain, and often held military supplies. He is justly horrified at the crucifix being rammed down priests’ throats, and yet fails to recognize that in a country, where the fifteenth century lived side by side with the twentieth, this was a bloody answer to the crucifix that had been rammed down Spain’s throat. ‘He is impatient with the disunity that existed on the left, and constantly seems to be asking why, why couldn’t they cooperate more effectively with one another during the war. Anglo-Saxons with a long tradition of democracy and government ‘as a force for good often forget that for most people in the world government has been a force of evil, and they have had no experience with de mocracy as we know it. In order to recognize incipient democracies, we must realize that they will not always come into being or develop in the gentle manner we would wish them to. Something in the style of our romantic journalism which was the great fashion of that age. “Her statement confirmed the story that Travis gave the men a chance to escape, and that they stayed. This makes the difference between conscious bravery, and the enforced bravery of men who were just holed up and massacred. I took the title of the book from this, A Time to Stand. This find was the most satisfying to me because it’s bound to be a thrill when you can confirm a legend of a great and glowing deed. A UPI reporter of our acquaintance lucked across one of those spicy stories in a plush establishment for poor working journalists, the Austin Headliners Club. He was having lunch with a party of El Paso notables last week when, after a discussion of some esoteric local controversy, the mayor of El Paso and the county commissioner got into a fist fight. County Judge Woodrow Bean, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, helped separate the contestants. “I am only interested in doing what is best for ALL El Paso County,”the juudge said afterward. “Gentlemen, this is our purpose here today.” S JAMES BAIMBRICK, assistant manager of labor relations for Standard Oil, told members of the Texas ‘Personnel and Management Assn., meeting in Austin, to form a new mental picture of the union organizer. The new union representative, Bambrick said, is “a good-looking, educated, cultured man in a Brooks Brothers’ suit.” He is chosen, he own recent Civil War histories, as well as the German accounts of the last war, Thomas is fond of showing how valiantly the general died on the left, how valiantly they died on the right; the cruelties of the left, the cruelties on the right. This tends to blur the notion of equal valor with the notion that the values behind the valor are also equal to one another. Indeed, one comes away from Thomas’ books with the dampish sentimental notion of Oh, what was the use of it all, let the past be forgiven and forgotten. The Civil War is over, but present day Spain continues to be very much with us. Our present diplomatic policy vis-a-vis Spain will give us the headaches in the future we are having with Latin America in the present, and for much the same reasons. To find out how we are losing the future ideological battle of Spain, one should read Whittaker’s recent book, Spain and Defense of the West: Ally and Liability. THE VIRTUES OF Thomas’ book are its steady detail. But detail and lack of point of view do not necessarily produce historical truth. Thomas’ lack of perception of Spain itself, its past and its culture, his failure to weld the world of ideas with the world of battles makes his book an only partial success. Indeed, after reading the barrage of praise bestowed by so many intellectuals, who appear to be overwhelmed by the notion that Thomas takes no stand, therefore he speaks the new truth, one can only conclude that the IBM machine has finally won the battle of the mind. After all, what is this new truth? Barbara Probst Solomon said, …to appeal to white-collar workers. Bambrick said only about ten percent of the nation’s whitecollar workers are unionized but more unionization is likely. HERMAN McGEE, Negro from Battle Creek, Mich., read about Houstonian Robert Nesmith’s standing offer to finance’ a oneway passage to a socialist or communist country for anyone who has socialistic or communistic beliefs, hates America, and agrees to renounce his citizenship. He sent Nesmith a letter saying he isn’t a Red or a socialist but that. he is tired of a “heritage of prejudice and second-class citizenship” and he wants Nesmith to pay the passage of himself, his wife, and two children to Nigeria, Ghana, or Liberia. “I’ve been fighting prejudice all my life,” McGee said, “but it’s gnawed at me, day in and day out, until my lifeand that of my familyis miserable. “Northerners carp against the South for oppressing the Negro, but the prejudice in the ‘South is more palatable than the kind of hypocrisy you have in the North.” Nesmith said he personally would not, pay McGee’s passage, “but if he is determined to go, I think I know some people who