Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Why did the Allies leave Franco’s dictatorship after WWII?

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Kristjan Arnold

At the Yalta summit meeting, Roosevelt, Churchill & Stalin agreed that it was not enough to defeat Fascism militarily. They determined then & there that as a guiding principle of State, Fascism had to be erradicated wherever it was found. That included Spain, where General Franco was an enthusiastic adherant to Fascism and so it was agreed Franco had to be ousted. A specific plan was devised to achieve this. The plan called for the return of the monarchy in the person of the exiled pretender to Spain’s throne, Juan de Bourbon (Count of Barcelona).

So, what happened? A few weeks later, Roosevelt suddenly died and Churchill was voted out of office. Enter Harry S. Truman, who quickly [and rightly] realized that the real threat to Western lifestyle was no longer Fascism but rather Stalin’s post-war ploys to sieze power in all of continental Europe and create Soviet puppet states. A second Big-3 summit meeting was held at Potsdam. Truman arrived at the meeting already convinced that his illustrious predecessor had gone too far in extending trust & confidence in Stalin. The meeting ended abruptly, all prior bets were off and the Cold War began.

Overnight, Spain took on an enhanced strategic importance, as US military planners determined that in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, the only part of the continent that could be defended was Iberia. Suddenly, the notion of a military strongman who openly detested Communism sounded like a good deal. The British had doubts about the shift in American policy but were not in a position to defy the US. For his part, Franco sent signals that his policies during the War were not pro-Fascist, per-se, but rather anti-Communist. Before 1945 was over, Franco had received a 2nd lease on life and he knew it.

It would take another 2 years before US policy was formally & firmly altered. George Kennan, the architect of US Cold War policy penned the draft recommendation, which read as follows:

It is the recommendation of the Policy Planning Staff, that instead of openly opposing the Franco regime, we should work toward a normalization of U.S.-Spanish relations, both political and economic. As best as possible, this should be done in such manner as to avoid strengthening the Franco Regime. No public announcement need be made regarding our views. Our objective is to restore relations, irrespective of wartime ideological considerations or the character of the Regime in power. Steps should be taken whereby the various sanctions we have imposed are quietly dropped ….

The National Security Council reviewed Kennan’s proposal in December ‘47. Reluctantly, Truman gave his “concurrence” — one step below “agreement”. The difference was symbolic, meaning the President did not embrace the proposal but declined to object to the shift as a matter of US policy. Later that month, in a meeting with British policy makers, the Under Secretary of State Robert Lovett frankly stated, ‘the kick-Franco-out-now policy is over, as far as we’re concerned.’

In short: Cold War reality reared its ugly head, the Count of Barcelona spent the next 30 years in exile and Franco’s plump rear-end was spared a complete reaming, courtesy of George S. Patton and/or Bernard Montgomery. All of these and other fascinating tidbits of Spain’s recent history are covered in my book, ‘The Reign in Spain’ (Amazon-Kindle).



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