Chapter seventeen: The Man and the Press
After the Marco Polo Bridge incident, 1937 speeded itself to a enervating end. As China went down in defeat after defeat, Stresseman, Chamberlain, De la Rocque and Balbo met in Munich to deal with the Asian events and the shame of Prague, but nothing which mattered broke out of the meeting: the illusion of “peace in our time” had been shattered by Moscow and Tokio. Balbo kept making few friends by denouncing the situation as "a sell-out" and a "betrayal" of democracy. When he returned to Rome, he kept repeating his disappointment in a series of public and impolitic interviews that forced the intervention of the Fascist Grand Council: the jerarchi threatened him with censure if he didn't quit these "gross criticisms". Afterwards Balbo was more restrained and politic in his speeches, though never completely dropped his growing alarm at the resurgent USSR. In due time and in a not so distant future, this flood of interviews would be source of endless embarrassement of the new Duce.
Here we can see Chief Blackhorn and Italo Balbo, when the future Duce was adopted by the Sioux as "Chief Flying Eagle." in 1933
In Britain these events threatened to cause a crisis within the Conservative ranks when Churchill and some “ultra” Tories wanted to split away from the party to from their own distinctive party. Meanwhile, the Liberal Party abandoned itself into new levels of lyrical speeches when Sir Archibald Sinclair, the Liberal shadow Foreign Secretary, said in his speech in Parliament that
All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness.
Then, on 8 October Churchill announced to the media the formation of the National Alliance, which would contest the general election. Its main policies were a cast-iron guarantee of British military support for any democracy in the world against Soviet aggression, accelerated rearmament, the creation of a Ministry of Supply, the pursuance of an alliance with the United States, the introduction of conscription, and the maintenance of a strong Empire including Imperial Preference. Of course, the National Alliance was immediately condemned as a group of imperialists, militarists, reactionaries and a Churchill fan club. Just in case, to avoid being blamed for Conservatives losing seats or not gaining opposition held seats, the Executive Council of the National Alliance (NA) decided not to contest Conservative held constituencies. And then, as if the split wasn't bad enough, unemployment, that by 1937 had fallen to 1.5 million, rose again to 1,810,000 by January 1938 suggesting that the recovery was to be short lived. The government's position -that the present increased rate of unemployment was temporary and that unemployment would soon fall and cheap money for building industry- gave arguments for the Liberal party: they were dead set for free trade, as, for them, it was essential for economic prosperity and they would eliminate all tariffs and barriers to trade.
A moment in history freezed by a cameraman: Neville Chamberlain holds in his hand Churchill's annoucement and states that "never a man vas so vile nor a decision was so unwise" -1-.
For a while it looked as if No 10 and Britain were to forget about the Continent.
What would bring 1938 to the world?
-1- He also thought: WiNnIeEeEeEeE!!!! CaN You ImAGiNe WhAT I am To dO wITh ThiS piEcE oF CraP wHeN I'LL Go To ThE tOiLEt, cAN't yOUuUuU, ThOu faTTy trAiToR!?!?!
@Trekaddict: Perhaps in a distant future, once the Soviets are crushed...
@FlyingDutchie: As I saved the Spanish Republic, someone had to "inherit" her bad luck...
@Razgriz 2K9: Ah, I wonder what Hobbes would have said about that...
@Nathan Madien: Pittman... I knew I was forgetting something... May I kill him -retroactively- in a bout of flu in 1919 or would it be too cheeky?
@El Pip: No, the Allies "allow" Germany to pay the reparations in a more sensitive and sensible way. No need to inflate your Marks if you can have more time to pay.
Doing nothing... well, they can set a comittee to study what to do (sir Humphrey Appleby and Bernard Wolley approves that idea). I guess that by 1955 the report will be ready. Oh wait...
@Faeelin: They think that China is joining or going down the wrong road and their feeling (already a bit cold) freeze even more.
@trekaddict: That right.
@Faeelin: But Moscow was faster than them. Think how they hesitated about what doing in OTL SCW about the Moscow-"controlled" Spanish Republich unitl it was too late.
@El Pip: Too true, dear sir. They were going to do something (when it would be too late, of course), but Beijing got frightened and jumped the wrong wagon...
@H.Appleby. Let's say that as Moscow helped China in spite of the Pittman Act, FDR would help Chiang in spite of Moscow. If this may change the tide of war... we shall see.
@Milites: Indeed, I couldn't avoid making history repeating itself.
@Alfredian: Thank you!