"3 SUMMER HOLIDAYS NEAR THE SUEZ
From Our Spanish Cori erpondent Rumours were current some time ago in the English press that recent movements of troops in Spain were connected somehow with the complications that might arise from an Italo-Abyssinian conflict. These rumours were denied at the time by Senor Gil Robles, the Minister of War. who stated that such movements vere the normal outcome of the reorganisation of t6e army that he is bringing about.
The prime minister, Senor Lerroux, explained a few days ago in an interview to a press agency that Spain ‘ins essentially a pacifist country, and that she would always he fonnd on the side of those nations who did their hest to stop war, and that if tsar were to break • out, she would he on the side of those nations that iloold do all they could to bring it to an end.
Spain And The League
Spat. he said, had no longer any interest iit adventures of conquest and colonisation, such as once tired the imaginations of her sons. Asked what would be Spain's attitude in the event of the league of Nations taking a stand against the aggressor in the d:sputc between Italy and Abyssinia, he replied that he believed and hoped the League would do its duty with tact and discretion, but he deplo:ed at the same time the extravagant limits to which passions had been fired by the dispute. In his opinion this should not be considered an international problem but a political question affecting only Italy.
Further light is thrown on this statement by a leading article that appeared the following day in El Debate, the organ of the' C.E.D.A. (the largest party in the goy ernment coal it ion).
Commenting on the election of the Spanish delegate to preside over the committee of five appointed by the League. El Debate pointed out how it was bevoming a tradition for Spain to serve on all League commissions and cornmitteei of conciliation.
This was a tribute to Spain's neutrality, and was in a certain sense inevitable. for Spain was one of the few countries of some importance which had no interests at stake in questions and disputes such as these.
Her absolute neutrality' made it possible for her to give perfectly impartial judgments. Spain, therefore, can offer the League a collaboration in the interests of peace that is, and is kqoivit to be, disinterested.
This, said El Debate, was Spain's work In the League, and she would loyally undertake all such tasks offered to her. But (and here El Debate claimed to interpret the view of the government) the League must never call upon Spain to go one step further.
It is clear that this last statement applies to the, possibility of sanctions being enforced in the event of Italy's declaring war.
It is therefore not surprising that the government press has taken a line in this question that is not so much pro-Italian as anti-British. It believes the British position is aggravating the situation, turning it towards an international conflagration, and is dictated by motives that are not free from self-interest.
"El Debate's" Thesis
This is a thesis that El Debate has developed in leading articles in all its Tecent issues, and it will be of interest to English readers to give a summary of some of the caustic comments made.
It is maintained that the British governMent has seen in the Italian policy a new menace to the British Empire. Great Britain never talked of international morality and sanctions in the Manchurian question, and it would seem that for her morality coincided with self-interest.
Before Sir Samuel Hare's .speech "'El Debate" commented on the "ambiguous silence" of the British who never come to a decision on a grave question until the last moment, while all the time its Mediterranean fleet was " spending its summer ho.'i,lays" near the Suez Canal.
It was pointed out as significant that the two nations who from the beginning called loudly for sanctions were Russia and Mexico, and that the tendency was therefore growing to turn the dispute into an anti-fascist campaign, a tendency not only irrelevant and unfair but dangerous to the world.
Hoare's Speech Sir Samuel Hoare's speech was looked upon as an "ultimatum." " We see, therefore, that England adopts the same attitude as the Italians. Either the Abyssinian question is settled according to het own conveniences or she leaves the League. the !only bridge ' between Great Britain and continental Europe. There is no dotiht a world of difference in method, but that is a question of tehmerament. Both attitudes arc ultimatums. England, like Italy, goes on
self-interest was greeted by El Debate with this comment: " What eloquent words for those who have refused to believe that the independence of Abyssinia only entered into this dispute accidentally, and that the essential question is one that exclusively concerns the British Empire!"
France Denounced Too
British policy towards the Les-sue. continues El Debate, has not been as clear and consistent as Sir Samuel would have them believe. There was the pact of mutual assistance, the protocol of 1924, , ." Because of its elasticity the League covenant permits all sorts of attitudes: indifference, cordial collaboration, energy. It was made to fit the English character. Now it is energy's tura."
In reference to the British Foreign Secretary's hint that a colonial conference could be called to discuss the juster distribution of raw materials, it is merely remarked that Mussolini has been asking For such a conference since 1924. Not until a very grave situation arises does England take any notice of it.
It is not only British policy that is denounced in this way by this leading Spanish paper. The same motives of self-interest are attributed to all countrie.s, France as much as any.
" France has reacted like all other nations: in the way that best suits her interests and that will turn out most to her advantage. . . . And so the days pass by at Geneva, but the lesson is always the same."