There are newspapers that seem intent on crashing again and again with the same stone. That is the case of the British newspaper The Times, which today publishes a leader attacking Spain.
The Times ignores that in Spain there is separation of powers
“Madrid’s heavy handed attempts to jail Catalan independence leaders surrender its moral authority to an undeserving cause,” the British newspaper says, and considers that “the Spanish government has consistently handled the thorny issue of Catalonian separatism with recklessness, heavy handedness and an apparent desire to make a difficult situation far worse“. And as an example to illustrate this, it put the following: “Late last week, a judge in Spain’s supreme court issued international arrest warrants for six fugitive Catalan leaders who have been charged with rebellion. Yesterday, the erstwhile Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was arrested in Germany.”
Many readers of the British newspaper will have noticed a detail: The Times is unable to understand that in Spain there is separation of powers and that a judge does not act on the orders of the Government, but in strict compliance with the law. A law whose application can not be negotiated with any criminal, and even less with one accused of a crime as serious as rebellion. What The Times intends is that the Government is dedicated to undo judicial decisions? Has Britain returned to the absolutist era of Henry VIII, perhaps, when there was no separation of powers?
The precedent of the dangerous friendships of The Times in 1938
It must be said that this is not the first time that The Times has sided with totalitarians and against the rule of law. It already did it in 1938 when Hitler unleashed a serious crisis in Europe with its aspirations to annex the Czechoslovak region of the Sudetenland, in which lived an important German minority. Geoffrey Dawson, a journalist very close to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, was then editor of The Times. Both were in favor of appeasing Hitler, in the belief that it was worth sacrificing Czechoslovakia to avoid a war in Europe. In addition, Dawson was member of the Anglo-German Fellowship, a association related of Nazism and formed by influential personalities of the British society, among them the banker and industrialist Ernest Tennant, personal friend of Joachim von Ribbentrop, then ambassador of the Third Reich in the United Kingdom. The association had a sister entity in Germany, the Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft, created in 1935 on the initiative of Ribbentrop and which aimed at the nazification of Great Britain.
Dawson used The Times to press for German positions
In the months leading up to the Munich conference (September 27-30, 1938), Dawson used his newspaper to pressure the Czechoslovak government to yield to Hitler’s demands. As Bruce T. Riggs pointed out in his thesis on Dawson (see PDF) and on his contribution to the policy of appeasement, published by the University of North Texas in 1993, the editor of The Times used internal information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put pressure on Czechoslovakia, and even was responsible “to release information of great sensitivity.” The position of the editor ended up clashing with part of the staff of the newspaper: as Riggs points out, on August 10, 1938, Captain Basil Liddell Hart, who until now had collaborated with The Times as an expert on military matters, resigned.
On August 29, 1938, Dawson published an editorial in The Times in which he claimed to the Czechoslovak Government “real sacrifices” to contribute to “true and constructive resources of civilization”, appealing to “strategic security” as an excuse to undermine the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia and its territorial integrity. The aggressive editorial of Dawson came to cause friction with Edward Frederick Lindley, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Riggs notes that Dawson and Chamberlain were in favor of dismantling Czechoslovakia “because they saw the issue of peace in terms of justice to German colonial aims.”
He ended up proposing bluntly the German annexation of the Sudeten
On September 7, 1938, The Times published a new inflammatory leader, in which it encouraged the Czechoslovak Government to consider “whether they should exclude altogether the project, which has found favour in some quarters, of making Czechoslovakia a more homogeneous state by the cession of that fringe of alien populations who are contiguous to the nation to which they are united by race.” The leader was a clear support for the German annexation of the Sudetenland, and ended up provoking a diplomatic complaint from the Czechoslovakian Embassy in London, as the Czechs knew that The Times acted as the voice of the British Government. The French Government also ended up being bothered by it, because the editorials of that newspaper contributed to weaken the British and French position against Germany. During the conference in Munich the pressure of The Times continued in favor of the German annexation of the Sudetenland, and even extended to the writing of the news, properly manipulated to favor the German position. On September 28, 1938, the British newspaper published a chronicle of its correspondent in Berlin, in which it noted: “Some German circles to-night still possess optimism. Thev could not imagine Great Britain and France fighting arm-in-arm with Soviet Russia. Nor could they accept it as inevitable that Dr. Benesh [president of Czechoslovakia] would succeed in driving Europe into a war.“
The annexation served Hitler to gain time and resources
Finally, the propaganda campaign of The Times obtained its expected result: Chamberlain and his French counterpart, Édouard Daladier, yielded to Hitler and he ended up annexing all of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain returned to the United Kingdom with a triumphant spirit, brandishing the Munich agreement as a guarantee of peace for Europe. But it would not be like that. With the annexation of Czechoslovakia, Hitler obtained a reinforcement in resources -especially gun factories- and gained a valuable time that he used to arm himself: a year later he invaded Poland, thus beginning the World War II. Many historians still think that if Hitler had been stopped in time, Germany would not have been able to arm herself as she did – violating the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 – and Europe would not have been devastated by the bloody war that hit her from 1939 to 1945. Appeasing the totalitarians was a huge mistake.
The Times now wants Spain to bow down to coupists
However, despite what history teaches us, now The Times wants Spain to bow to totalitarians who do not recognize the separation of powers and who believe themselves above the law and the judges. Was not The Times enough with what he provoked in 1938 with his servile attitude toward Nazi Germany? Does the British newspaper intend to push Spain into a civil conflict, which is what would cause some coup leaders to go unpunished and take over a region in which half of the population does not support separatism? The Times could do a favor to the cause of democracy: ask for respect for the law and for the Constitution that the Spaniards voted in a democratic referendum. And if it is not willing to do that minimum service to democracy, then, please, let The Times get involved in British affairs, how bad its country is to pretend to organize ours.
The mail subscription service to Contando Estrelas will allow you to receive in your mailbox a daily email with the new entries published in this blog. It is a free service provided by Feedburner. Once you have entered your email in this box and press the "submit" button, you will receive a confirmation email in your mailbox to activate your subscription.