AUGUST 5, 1952
NEW YORK, Monday—There has been a good deal in the papers the last few days about the price Generalissimo Franco is asking the United States in return for bases on the Spanish peninsula.
Most of us know that either in a direct or an indirect manner rehabilitation of the transportation system, by rail or by car, has to be done by the U.S. in order to make the defense of Spain possible. But it is a shock to many of us to find that Spain is not taking the attitude that it will be a great advantage to her to grant these bases, since it will give her a great measure of security in case war comes. In addition, the rebuilding of her transportation system—necessary in the construction of these bases—would be of great value to the Spanish economy.
According to one account, Spain wants an outright gift of $125,000,000 to which no strings are to be attached. It appears that Senator McCarran forced the addition of a $100,000,000 appropriation for Franco by simply refusing to let the foreign aid budget clear the Appropriations Committee unless this extra amount were granted.
When people in our own government are working overtime to see that a foreign country gets highly paid for concessions, which seem to be all to the advantage of that country, then it looks to me as though we are going to spend a good deal more in Spain, for instance, than these installations actually warrant.
Of course, no one but the Joint Chiefs of Staff can state whether it is essential immediately for the U.S. to pay whatever price is asked by Spain in order to obtain these concessions. I notice, however, that cash alone is not sufficient to satisfy Mr. Franco.
He wants us also to provide the money for modernizing Spain's armed forces. He will say what is needed but we will supply all the equipment.
In addition, the U.S. is asked to provide treaty guarantees for the defense of Spain, and when all this is arranged the generalissimo will consider allowing us the use of the needed bases.
A layman cannot help wondering why North Africa can't be made just as good as Spain for the purposes of defense. Certainly, getting yourself put in a position where you are dictated to by the person to whom you are essentially doing a favor seems to me rather ridiculous.
We don't really need to defend Spain; we could allow Spain to defend herself. And in any case, if it comes to a question of defense, it seems to me that we will need all our materiel much nearer to the center of Europe.
It is a rather defeatist attitude to let ourselves be frightened by the Spanish government into thinking that we cannot make a stand anywhere else except on its territory.