Posted JANUARY 31, 2007 on  The Political Junkies.net                      

Column No. 135 by  Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

In The New York Times Week in Review of January 14, 2007, Helene Cooper had the lead article.  It was entitled “The Best We Can Hope For.”  About eight paragraphs in, after presenting several universally unpalatable Iraq scenarios, she says: 

“Remember the Spanish Civil War?  The best America can hope for, some experts say, would be for Iraq to turn into today’s version of the Spanish Civil War. . . . The death toll was huge — estimates put it at between 500,000 and one million.  People in just about every European country were passionate about the fight. . . . But in the end, the Spanish Civil War stayed Spanish. . . . [the Europeans] didn’t let the war engulf the continent.” 

Well, the best that one can say about her writing is that Ms. Cooper doesn’t “remember” the war very well, and hasn’t read much about it either. (I have.)  First, as to the causes of the war and how different they were from the civil war in Iraq.  In the 1930s, Spain had an elected Republican government that had recently replaced a Constitutional monarchy, but a monarchy nevertheless.  Leftist parties were prominent in several governments, but in fact the last Republican government in place before the war started was a conservative one.  However, it wasn’t conservative enough either for major elements of the Spanish ruling elite or for the very powerful, and very right-wing, Catholic Church.  And these powers were certainly not ones to put their trust in the democratic process to achieve what they wanted to achieve (sound familiar?) 

On July 17, 1936 an attempted coup began among military elements in Spanish Morocco.  On the 18th there was an uprising among certain garrisons in the homeland.  The Republican government had middling success in putting down the revolt in Spain proper, many officers remaining loyal to the Republic.   But they did succeed in limiting it to the rural areas that voted conservative, mainly in the northwest of the country.  Until July 25, that is, when flown over in Nazi German and Italian Fascist transport aircraft, a mercenary army of North Africans under the command of the rebel office Francisco Franco, landed in Southern Spain and began the campaign that would result in their victory 2 ½ years later.  In fact, it was the foreign intervention both right at the beginning on the part of the European Fascist powers and the so-called “Non-intervention Pact” engineered by the Western Democracies that was the key to the Spanish fascist victory.   


As Helen Graham points out in The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2005): “Such was the scale of Mussolini’s aid in weaponry and manpower (75,000) troops, we can say that from March 1937, fascist Italy was at war with  the Spanish Republic (p. 51).”  While Italy supplied ground troops and their supplies, Germany was supplying heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) and airpower.  The first aerial bombing of civilians in history was carried out by the Germans in the Spanish Civil War, and Guernica is only the best-known example. 

In the meantime, the Western Democracies, lead by Great Britain under the right-wing, Hitler-sometimes-sympathizer Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, were carrying out a policy of “Non-Intervention.”  In practice that meant that the Republic could not even buy arms on the open market at fair prices, much less have them be supplied by nations who one would think would want to counter the fascist war in Spain.  True, the Republic did receive some arms aid from the Soviet Union (although no troops) and there was an International Brigade of volunteers from all around the world.  However, the total number of the latter was about 35,000 and the maximum number at any one time was about 16,000.  The Republican government withdrew the Brigade from combat about 6 months before the end of the War.  But the end for the Republic had come much earlier, when it was clear that they simply were not going to be able to get arms in anywhere near the amounts they needed, and in fact given the numbers of Spaniards willing to fight for the Republic, could have productively used. 

So why did them foreign powers, respectively, do what they did, respectively?  Well, other than the Soviet Union, they were all interested in regime change (sound familiar?)  The Germans and the Italians obviously wanted another fascist country on the European continent.  The Western Democracies did not want a Republic on the same continent in which there were powerful Socialist and Communist parties, and where elements of the latter indeed posed a revolutionary threat to that same government. 

Which brings us to Iraq.  The present violent civil war in Iraq is the direct result of a foreign invasion, just as was the case in Spain.  True the Sunnis and Shiites have been at each others’ throats for centuries and in Iraq since the British invented the country in the 1920s.  Saddam was a brutal dictator.  But if the United States invaded every country, even today, around the world, in order to spread “Democracy” even Cong. Rangel’s draft couldn’t supply enough troops to accomplish that end.  We know (and many knew at the time) that the Georgite excuses of WMD and the Saddam-bin Laden connection were works of fiction.   

No, the aim of the US in Iraq was exactly the same as that of Germany and Italy in Spain: regime change for the sake of regime change.  Germany and Italy brought foreign troops (the North African mercenaries) into the attack at the beginning of the war and then fought it themselves with their own troops and weapons until the very end.  The Western Democracies allowed them to do this because the leading elements among them, right-wing governments in Great Britain and France, were almost as interested in regime change as the fascists were.  Indeed, at one time Roosevelt expressed some interest in aiding the Republic but the Ambassador from the Vatican to the U.S., one Joseph Kennedy, also a Hitler admirer, persuaded him to think better of it. 

So, the two civil wars, in the Spanish context better described as a “civil” war, actually have much in common, but not in the sense that Ms. Cooper would have us believe.  They also have much in common in a second sense.  The Spanish Civil War was indeed, contrary to the claim of Ms. Cooper, a major factor leading to the Second World War (see just below).  And, contrary to Ms. Cooper, the longer the U.S. stays in Iraq, turning evermore Iraqis of all stripes against us, and especially with the Bush/Cheney policy of deliberately attempting to provoke Iran and Syria, the greater the chances are that the U.S. presence there will lead to World War III.   

I will not deal with the latter claim here.  (In fact I have dealt with it in one form or another in multiple columns previously published in this space.)  I will comment briefly on what might have happened in Europe had the Western Democracies simply supplied the legitimate, Constitutional, elected government of Republican Spain with arms.   Many historians have concluded that if the Republic had been able to obtain an adequate supply of arms, given the support for the government in all parts of Spain other than the most rural and most traditionally Catholic, they would have eventually prevailed even against the German/Italian aided Spanish fascists.   

What would that have meant in Europe, 1939?  Let’s say that the Nazi takeover of Austria of March 1938, the Munich Agreement of Sept. 1938 in which the British under Chamberlain “gave” the Western chunk of Czechoslovakia to the Hitler (Chamberlain wanted nothing more than for Hitler to keep going east in what the Nazis called the “Drang Nach Osten,” to his dream of wiping out the Soviet Union without shedding an ounce of British blood), the Nazi takeover of the rest of that country in March, 1939, had all taken place.  And then let’s say that Germany went ahead with its invasion of Poland in Sept., 1939, although perhaps they might not have if they knew that their rear resting in the Pyrenees after a projected Fall of France would not be safe.  What a different place Europe would have been had Spain still been a Republic.   

First of all, it is highly likely that Republican Spain would have come into the war on the Allied side, if not at first then surely at the time of the Fall of France.  Even if no Spanish troops had been sent to fight on the Western Front (and they might have), the Free French could have been based in Spain, not London.  There could have been British air bases in Spain.  The French fleet, instead of being scuttled at Marseilles, could have been spirited away, not to Martinique as Churchill had hoped, a difficult open sea crossing in the face of a then-dominant U-boat fleet, but just along the coast to Barcelona.  Protected by the Pyrenees, there could have been an Allied Expeditionary Force on the Continent throughout the war.  There would have been no massive exodus of refugees from Spain, including many young men, who ended up being interned for the duration by the collaborationist Vichy French.  Yes, indeed, the German right flank as they invaded France, if they still did so, would not have been protected, and they would not have had a guaranteed quiet rear if they still had been victorious there.  And so on and so forth. 

And so, Ms. Cooper, not so fast.  Be careful what you wish for.  A different outcome in Spain, a civil war in its totality produced by foreign intervention, might have either averted the Second World War or made it look rather different, and shorter.  In Iraq, again a civil war, has been produced in its present form by foreign intervention.   Prolonging the US presence there only increases, not decreases, the chances of the conflict becoming World War III.  The answer?  Well, briefly for I have gone on long enough here and I have written on that subject previously also, in my view the Plan produced by the Iraq Study Group would be a pretty good place to start. 

(Full disclosure:  When I was growing up, one of my primary role models and mentors in both medicine and politics was Edward K. Barsky, MD.  Eddie was for a time the commander of the medical unit for the whole of the International Brigade in Spain.  Later he was chairman of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee in the United States.  He was sent to jail for four months in the late 1940s for refusing to turn over to the House Un-American Activities Committee the names of the donors to what we colloquially called “The Spanish Committee.”  Eddie was one of that group of brave people from around the world who were collectively known as the “Premature Anti-Fascists,” many of whom were them then caught up in one way or another by fascists of one type or another in their home countries.)


Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a TPJ contributing author.  He is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author of over twenty-five books. Dr. Jonas is one of America’s most perceptive Democratic political analysts.  

Dr. Jonas is also: a Columnist for the webmagazine BuzzFlash (http://www.buzzflash.com/); a Contributing Editor for the Moving Planet Blog (http://www.planetarymovement.org/); a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC (http://www.oldamericancentury.org/); and a regular contributor to the weblog Thomas Paine’s Corner (http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/).  He has his own website for short pieces entitled “Dr. J.’s Short Shots, II” (http://drjsshortshots.wordpress.com/).

In his book The New Americanism, Dr. Jonas presents his proposal for that “new vision and mission” for the Democratic Party that so many, for so many years, have been urging it to find.  A new vision and mission are obviously needed with increasing urgency as with increasing speed and determination the Georgites drive our nation towards frank theocratic fascism.  Dr. Jonas finds the needed vision and mission in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  The New Americanism: How the Democratic Party Can Win the Presidency  is available from Amazon.com (go to “Books;” enter the full title) and BarnesandNoble.com (same). 

He is also the author of The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022.  Under the pseudonym “Jonathan Westminster” this book was originally published in 1996.  It was republished with a New Introduction in 2004.  Under Georgite rule, the “fictional non-fiction” scenario of this work of “future history” is, most unfortunately, becoming all too real, now almost day-by-day.  Both versions are available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com (go to “Books;” enter the title).  The 2004 edition is also available at www.xlibris.com (click on “Bookstore,” then “Search” with the title). 

Jan 17, 2007    
“On George Bush And Religion I, Redux, Part 2”
Jan 11, 2007    
“On George Bush And Religion I, Redux, Part 1”
Jan 4, 2007      “The ‘I’ Word”

Dec 14, 2006   
“Exiting IRAQ, The Georgite Way, Revisited”

Nov 30, 2006     
“‘Are The Democrats Going To Blow It?’
                        That All Depends Upon what The ‘IT’ Is

Nov 16, 2006     “On Republican IRAQ Policy And Why No Grand Theft Election
                        (They’re Related)

Nov 12, 2006      “Democratic Ideas: Post-Election 2006”
Nov 2, 2006       
“The US Enabling Act, 2006, Part II: Why Bush Wanted It”

Oct 26, 2006       “The US Enabling Act, 2006, Part I: What It Is And Some Comparative History”
Oct 12,2006        Democratic Ideas, XIV: Attack On Defense Revisited”
Oct 5, 2006        “Iran Nukes, Revisited” (Expanded Edition)

Sept 28, 2006     “Democratic Ideas, XIII: Controlling The Agenda”
Sept 21, 2006      Reran article dated October 14, 2004
Sept 14, 2006    
“Democratic Ideas, XII: Focusing On The Constitution”
Sept 7, 2006       “Let’s Hear It For Strict Constructionism,” V. 3, Part 3”

Aug 16, 2006      “Let’s Hear It For Strict Constructionism, V. 3, Part 2”
Aug 10, 2006      The Dick Durbin Disaster – reran
Aug 3, 2006        Democratic Ideas, IX:, “Let’s Hear It For Strict Construction (V. 3), Part 1”

Jul 27, 2006        “What’s It All About, Alfie?”
Jul 19, 2006        “Democratic Ideas, VIII: Let’s Play Capture The Flag”
Jul 13, 2006        “Ann Coulter: The New Face Of The Republican Party”
Jul 6,2006           “Ideas For Democrats, VII: Bipartisanship On Iraq”

Jun 29, 2006       “Ideas For Democrats, VI: Attack On Defense, II”
Jun 22, 2006       “Ideas For Democrats, V: Attack On Defense”
Jun 15, 2006       “Ideas For Democrats, IV: The Ten Commitments, Re-visited”
Jun 8, 2006         “Ideas For Democrats, III: Dealing The DLC”
Jun 1, 2006         “Ideas For Democrats, II: Why Don’t The Democrats?”

May 25, 2006       “Ideas For Democrats, I: The Vision”
May 18, 2006       “On Conspiracy Theories”
May 11, 2006       “The Significance Of The Tony Snow Job”*
May 3, 2006         “Bush Is Not Hitler, II”

April 25, 2005       “Bush Is Not Hitler, I”
April 20, 2006      
Some Thoughts On The ‘Immigration Problem'”
April 13, 2006      
“The Georgite State Of The Union Address Revisited”
April 6, 2006         “A Firebell In The Night:  The So-Called ‘Gay Marriage’ Amendment, II”
April 2, 2006        
“A Fireball In The Night:                        
                            The So-Called ‘Gay Marriage’ Amendment, I

Feb 22, 2006         “The German Reichstag Fire of 1933 and 9/11: Some Comparisons. A Revisit,
                              Part II” 

Feb 16, 2006         “The German Reichstag Fire Of 1933 And 9/11: Some
                            Comparisons.  A Revisit, Part1″

Feb 9, 2006          
A Comment On The Democratic Alchemy,’
                             Appearing In The American Prospect”         

Feb 2, 2006          
Vengeance Is Mine, Saith The LORD

Jan 26, 2006          “George Bush And The Doctrine Of Original Intent” 
Jan 19, 2006         
“Let’s Hear It For Original Intent (Version 2)”
Jan 12, 2006         
“A Quick Visit To Mexico”
Jan 5, 2006          
 “Why The Patriot Act, Redux: Fascism In The Here And Now, Cont.” 

Dec 22, 2005          “Why The Patriot Act, Redux: Fascism In The Here And Now”
Dec 15, 2005          “An Iraq Exit Proposal”
Dec 10, 2005          “Exiting Iraq, The Georgite Way”
Dec 1, 2005            The Future Of The Democratic Party, VIII:
                              A Politically Viable Progressive Position On The War”

Nov 25, 2005            “The Future Of The Democratic Party, VII: ‘The Ten Commitments’”
Nov 17, 2005           
The Future Of The Democratic Party, VI: An Organizing Proposal For Progressives”
Nov 10, 2005           
“The Future Of The Democratic Party, V:
                               There Is No Middle Ground”

Nov 3, 2005             
“On The (Possible) Indictments.”

Oct 27, 2005            “The Future of the Democratic Party, IV:
                                Bush, Bennett, Miers, and the DLC.” 

Oct 20, 2005            “The Future of the Democratic Party, III:
                                First Thoughts on Dealing with the DLC.”

Oct 13, 2005           
“The Future of the Democratic Party, II: On the Republicans” 
Oct 6, 2005            
“The Future of the Democratic Party, I”

Sept 29, 2005          “The Bush Flood, And The Georgites: New Orleans, III”
Sept 22, 2005         
“On The Great New Orleans Flood Of 2005, II”
Sept 15, 2005          “On The Great New Orleans Bush Flood Of 2005, I”
Sept 8, 2005           
“Let’s Hear It For Original Intent”
Sept 1, 2005            “An Iraq Solution”

Aug 25,2005             “Some Thoughts On The Atomic Bombing Of Japan”
Aug 18, 2005            “Why God Sent Us George W. Bush”
Aug 12, 2005            “John Bolton And The Nuclear Option II”
Aug 5, 2005              “The Significance Of The Karl Rove Speech”

July 28, 2005             “Iran Nukes, Revisited”
                                 (Expanded Edition)

July 21, 2005             “Iran Nukes, Revisited”
July 14, 2005             “The Dick Durbin Disaster” A Follow Up
July 7, 2005               
The Dick Durban Disaster”

June 23, 2005            Why All of This Repression Abroad?”
June 16, 2005            
Not Very Intelligent Design”
June 8, 2005            
 “Pat Buchanan’s “What If, “III?”
June 2, 2005            
Pat Buchanan’s ‘What If,’ II?”

May 26, 2005            “Pat Buchanan’s ‘What If?'”
May 18, 2005            The Schiavo Case, V: The Attack On Science” 
May 12, 2005            “Possible Explanations For Bush-Behavior On And Around 9/11″
May 5, 2005              “Bill Frist’s Declaration Of War”

April 28, 2005            “The Schiavo Case, IV: The Definitions Of Life And Death”
April 24, 2005           
“The Schiavo Case, III: Further Legal Considerations And Their Political Implications”
April 14, 2005            “The Schiavo Case, II: William Bennett And The Beginning Of The End Of The Separation Of Powers”
April 7, 2005              “The Schiavo Case And The Locus Of The ‘Police Power'”

March 31, 2005           “John Bolton And The Nuclear Option”
March 22, 2005            Of “Moolahs,” Putin and Bush
March 17, 2005           
Georgite “Freedom And Democracy”
March 10, 2005            “We Won’t Have To Worry Any More”
March  3, 2005             “Iranian Nukes”

February 24, 2005        “Going Nuclear In Iran”
February 16, 2005        “The Georgite Social Security Scam: Bases For Suspicion”
February 10, 2005        “The Georgite Version of ‘Freedom and Democracy’ ”

                                   “The Coming 2nd Civil War (Unless),” No. 6

Feb 3, 2005                  “WMD Discovered — In Washington”

Jan 27, 2005                 “Comparing George W. Bush And Adolf Hitler”
Jan 18, 2005                 “The Bush Second Inaugural: A Preview” “The Coming 2nd Civil War
                                    (Unless),” No. 5 

Jan 13, 2005                 “The Georgite Concept of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law”
Jan 6, 2005                   “The ‘Unless’ Of The ‘Coming Second Civil War’ Series; Part II”  

Dec 30, 2004                 “The ‘Unless’ of the ‘Coming Second Civil War’ Series, Part I” 
Dec 23, 2004                 “The Real Meaning Of The ‘Faith-Based Presidency;’ Part II”
Dec 15, 2004                 “The Coming Second Civil War (Unless)” 
Dec 9, 2004                   “The Real Meaning Of The ‘Faith-Based Presidency’ ”      

Oct 28, 2004                 Why The Patriot Act?”
Oct. 21, 2004                “The Cheneys’ Daughter Flap”
Oct 14, 2004                 “George Bush’s America” 
Oct 7, 2004                   “The Debate” 

Sept 30, 2004                “Four 800 Lb. Gorillas In The Campaign Room” 
Sept 23, 2004               “Fixing The Kerry Campaign, 9/15/2004”
Sept 16, 2004               “Lessons From Japan.  Part II: Successful Occupations”
Sept 9, 2004                 Thoughts On the Third Anniversary of the Tragedy of 9/11/2001″
Sept 2, 2004                 “Lessons From Japan, Part 1”

August 26,2004             “Dealing with the Republican National Convention and Related

August 18, 2004            “The Best Of Dr. Jonas”
August 12, 2004             “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign, VI”
August 5,2004                “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign, V”

July 29, 2004                “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign, IV”
July 22, 2004                “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign III”             
July 15, 2004                “Some Thoughts For And About The Kerry Campaign II”
July 7, 2004                  “Some Thoughts For And About The Kerry Campaign,I”
July 1, 2004                  “Counsel To The President”
June 24, 2004               “ ’You Know me Al:’ On the German Reichstag Fire of Feb. 27, 1933
                                     and the 9/11/01 Bombing of the World Trade Center, Part II”

June 17, 2004               “ ‘The Ralph Nader Problem’ — A Re-run plus”
June 10, 2004               “Ronald Reagan’s Legacy”
June 3, 2004                 “’You Know Me Al:’ On The Reichstag Fire Of Feb. 27, 1933 And The
                                      9/11/01 Bombing Of The World Trade Center, Part I”

May 27, 2004                “On Fascism — And The Georgites”
May 20, 2004                “On John Ashcroft — And Jefferson Davis”
May 13, 2004                “Karl Rove’s Personal Political Notebook”
May 6, 2004                  “Possible Explanations For Bush Behavior And 9/11” 

April 29, 2004               “On George Bush and Religion, Part 2
April 22, 2004               “What Condi Rice Might Have Said”
April 8, 2004                 “On George Bush And Religion”
April 1, 2004                 “Some Political Thoughts For Senator Kerry”  

March 25, 2004              “Brief Essays”
March 16, 2004             “You Know Me Al: The Iraq War — So What Was It About, Anyway?
March 11, 2004             “A Word (Or Two) On Ralph Nader”
March 4, 2004               “A Firebell In The Night” 

February 27, 2004        “On Doctor Dean”


Published in: on 02/13/2007 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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