Showing posts from September, 2017

End of a British newspaper era

Not content with the relatively undemanding task of massacring supposed opponents of socialism conveniently available in the USSR, Stalin turned his attention to White Russian emigrĂ©s. One of their leaders in Paris General Yevgeny Miller was lured into an ambush by NKVD agents on the pretext of meeting agents of the German Abwehr . He was drugged and smuggled to the USSR in a steamer trunk. He was tortured an eventually shot summarily in 1939. In the meanwhile the routine elimination of anyone who caught the eye of the competent authorities continued with the judicial murders of a clutch of officials in Karelia for an imaginary plot and of one Admiral Ivanoff for “demoralizing” sailors by unspecified methods. The Far Eastern Committee of the League of Nations registered a formal protest against Japanese aggression in China notably the bombing of Nanking. It was ignored. Air raids continued undiminished and a fleet of junks was attacked by submarine with many casualties. British

Aggressors on the front foot

The League of Nations in Geneva was treated to yet another desperate attempt by a nation facing the aggression of the dictators to enlist the help of that institution. Juan Negrin, the Spanish Republican Prime Minister, denounced Hitler and Mussolini as "international highway robbers" and pleaded for the League to recognize that they were aggressors. He also sought open access to weapons supplies - in effect reversing "non intervention" and for the removal of foreign combat troops. With organized Italian and German forces contributing much to the Nationalist military success, the loss of the International Brigade and a handful of Soviet advisers would have been no sacrifice. The League failed to rise to the challenge; perhaps it was comforted by a speech by British Foreign Minister Antony Eden explaining that the Germans and Italians were merely hurting themselves by their intervention in Spain. Self-interest would thus secure their departure. In a sign of whic

Futile Chinese appeal for League of Nations help against Japan

Paris was struck by two large terrorist bombs at the offices of two employers’ organizations including the umbrella body, the much hated Patronat . Two policemen were killed. The attacks were first blamed on the far left – supposedly still seeking revenge for the failure of the Blum government – but the real culprits were on the far right linked to the terroristic Cagoule movement perhaps in cooperation with Italian fascists. The bombings were provocations designed to hurt the image of the Communists. The British police used its newly minted powers to extend a ban on political marches in the East End of London for a further three months. The British Union of Fascists lodged a more-or-less token protest, but in reality the high days of large-scale civil disorder had come to an end. Fascism was drifting swiftly to the margins of British politics. The Japanese attack on China developed into a full-scale military assault on Shanghai which was forcing back the Chinese armies.

The western powers advertise their weakness against the Fascist dictatorships

Germany and Italy, declined to attend. Italy did so on the cheeky grounds that Franco had not been invited. The conference went ahead with all attendant ceremony and seriousness but nothing could disguise the fact that France and Britain had merely advertised their utter powerlessness and, more invidiously, their unwillingness to go beyond the politics of gesture in restraining the Fascist dictatorships. The first Pan-Arab conference to discuss opposition to Zionist gathered in Syria. All of the Arab states sent delegates except for the Yemen. It was prompted by the continuing unrest in Palestine and the manifest improbability that Britain, who ruled the area under the pretext of a League of Nations mandate, would apply any solution to the problems it had created, least of all and equitable or lasting one. The Congress had little hope of achieving any practical changes in policy but by some measures marked the modern era of uneasy relationship between the West and the Arab natio

The policy of the the big lie in operation around the globe

The Japanese attempt to conquer China got fully under way with a serious of amphibious landings at Liuhe aimed at taking the major commercial city of Shanghai. It was the start of the most intensive and bloodiest part of the conventional land war. The Japanese Foreign Minister was unwise enough to conduct a press conference in Tokyo to present Japan’s goals. The true Japanese motives could not, of course, be communicated honestly, so he launched into a rambling and incoherent exposition devoid of any real meaning. The Times correspond was reduced to quoting it verbatim as it defied paraphrase. Hirota was to be the only Japanese civilian executed for major war crimes. The British destroyer HMS Havock was damaged by a torpedo from the Italian submarine Inde as it patrolled the Spanish coast to enforce the policy of non-intervention in the conflict promoted by Britain and France. The attack did not prompt Britain to any substantial action against Italy and its feebly outraged