711.52/317: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain (Hayes) to the Secretary of State

272. My 256, January 27, 7 p.m.27 The BBC28 is increasing the violence of its attacks on Spain in broadcasts in several languages. I am informed also that the American radio has now announced the suspension of petroleum shipments to Spain.

I should like to remind the Department that the Embassy’s plan for obtaining a modification in the attitude of the Spanish Government toward several matters we have placed before it did not include public pressure on Spain, and was predicated on the maintenance of friendly relations with the Spanish authorities.

By far our strongest weapon is the economic weapon. Whether or not we continue our public attacks on Spain, it will be the economic [Page 306] question which will bring about a modification of the Spanish Government’s attitude, if such modification is possible.

Public attacks on Spain, if continued, may provoke resistance to our requests on the part of the Spanish Government, and retard the attainment of our objectives, and if continued long enough may lead to the overthrow of this regime.

It is at least possible that an attempt to overthrow the regime, even if successful, might be followed by civil war, and that that, in turn, might create a military diversion which would not fit in with our other military plans in Europe.

I have several times informed the Department that the Germans are endeavoring through such incidents as those in Valencia and Zaragoza30 to bring about a crisis in Spain’s relations with the United Nations. The Germans doubtless consider that such a crisis would improve their position in Spain.

To the extent that this may be true, we would seem to be playing into German hands by ourselves taking the initiative in giving wide publicity to the crisis which actually exists, but which we believe can be overcome to our advantage if the plan submitted in my 17, January 4, 4 p.m. is strictly adhered to.

I continue to believe, in present circumstances, that our relations with Spain should be discussed through diplomatic channels and not over the radio.

If, of course, the United Nations wish to overthrow the present regime in Spain and are prepared to take advantage of conditions which may develop as a result of such overthrow, then the present public campaign combined with our economic pressure may be the best means to attain that end.

However, this is a military question of prime importance, and I hope we and the British will make sure that the military have very clearly in mind the possible results of the present public campaign against Spain in connection with their attitude toward that campaign.

MA31 agrees. Repeated to London and Lisbon.

  1. Not printed.
  2. British Broadcasting Corporation.
  3. Reference is to acts of sabotage by enemy agents operating in these two cities, such as explosions among cargoes of oranges and onions caused by time-bombs placed by these agents.
  4. Military Attaché.