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R. Fahan

Diplomacy: Fascist Franco Gets A Gift from FDR

(September 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 38, 21 September 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In some rather bashful news items, the American press announced two weeks ago that President Roosevelt, credited with being the originator of the Atlantic Charter and its promise of the Four Freedoms, had extended the brotherly hand of friendship to the Spanish fascist dictator, General Francisco Franco ... credited with having murdered tens of thousands of those Spanish: workers and democrats who dared oppose his 1936 fascist coup.

President Roosevelt said, only a few days after the celebration of the first anniversary of the Atlantic Charter, that it was his intention to give the Franco government financial aid in order to rehabilitate those art treasures, libraries and other cultural institutions which were damaged during the Spanish Civil War. The sole price which the President demanded for this aid was that Franco should not enter the war on the side of Hitler.

Roosevelt’s cynical concern over re-establishing Spanish culture will probably occasion many a snicker in Washington diplomatic circles.

What Is Really Involved

What is really involved here is an attempt by Roosevelt to bribe the Spanish dictator into remaining neutral for the duration. Franco, who has never been averse to having some grease smeared over his filthy palms, is apparently ready to take money from all comers, even if disguised in an enveloped ridiculously labeled “For Culture Only”

Franco has his own ideas about culture – as witness his famous massacre of 20,000 unarmed Spaniards in the Toledo bull ring during the Civil War. Is not such a man truly worthy of the aid of the leader of the camp of democracy, freedom, culture, the Four Freedoms, etc., etc.? And if FDR can bribe him with some of those magical American DOLLEROS to not OPENLY and COMPLETELY side with Hitler is that not a great step forward for the democratic cause?

And why, pray, are the liberals biting their lips so much? Don’t they KNOW that FDR did this before, that when he imposed an EMBARGO on shipments of arms to Loyalist Spain during the Civil War he did as much to aid Franco as did Mussolini. And don’t they know that Franco wouldn’t feel too uncomfortable in the camp of the United Nations? As a good fascist he would find companionship, to put it mildly, with anti-Semite Sikorsky, with Dictator Vargas, with Royalist de Gaulle and with that white hope of humanity (“only 500 Indians killed”), Imperialist Winston Churchill.

For those poor devils who have the unenviable task of composing enthusiastic little homilies about the United Nations to be printed in the “liberal journals,” we have a certain sympathy.

A Picture of the World to Come

But there is one other aspect of present world politics that is somewhat clarified by Roosevelt’s offer. That is the question of war aims. Many people have complained that FDR and “my friend Winston” have been too vague and hazy about the kind of world which they want after the war. The last few weeks have given at least a partial answer.

It will be a world where “Fellow Democrat” Vargas will crack his brutal whip over South America. It will be a world where Winston Churchill will be able to boast of the tranquility and civilized advancement which Britain brings to India, citing as evidence the fact that ONLY 500 Indians were killed in the past month by the British police. And it will be a world in which General Francisco Franco will rehabilitate Spanish culture with the aid of FDR’s magical American dolleros.

(And who can foretell the possibilities for cultural advancement under such a set-up? Perhaps after a while, when enough of those magical dolleros have passed through Franco’s palms, he will even send over a few samples of Spanish culture ... in exchange for some of FDR’s postage stamps!)

We have but one suggestion to add to this idyllic picture. Macabre, perhaps – but pertinent. We suggest that when Franco begins to unearth those Spanish art treasures – with the aid of FDR’s magical dolleros – he send to America, as evidence of his works, some specimens of the bones and skeletons of those millions of Spanish workers whom he murdered, starved and enslaved, so that FDR can show the American people how he helped spread the Four Freedoms across the earth.

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