Eggshell Alliances – July 16, 1951
News for this day, 64 years ago had much to do with shaky alliances being formed around the world.
Starting with news that the U.S. and Spain were taking steps to entering into an alliance which had military and political significance. Spain, once shunned by the U.S. over the dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, was now warming to the idea of becoming included in a partnership against Communism. Admiral Forrest Sherman, chief of Naval Operations held a conference with Franco in Madrid earlier this day, and the subject was believed to be the possibility of establishing Naval and Air bases in Spain, not under NATO (because of French-British objections) but under a separate Spanish/American treaty. It was common knowledge that Spain had been actively in the process of constructing airfields with capital from an undisclosed source, many believed that source was the U.S. and that this announcement of an alliance was an official acknowledgement. The talks with Admiral Sherman were believed to regard the possibilities of Spain opening ports to the American 6th Fleet, based in the Mediterranean – the ports being used primarily for fuel and ammunition storage. Response from Britain and France was swift, who denounced the move saying that if any or all of these issues came to pass, the Russians were bound to exploit the move from one end of Europe to the other, as an example of making a deal with Fascism. They felt the deal would weaken NATO’s position at the bargaining table. Meanwhile, Franco was reported to be making a cabinet reorganization in order to strengthen ties with the U.S. – it was also noted that Spain had the largest standing army in Europe of some 400,000 troops, but that they were in dire need of modern equipment. And so the deal, in exchange for bases and landing rights; Arms and military equipment.
Ceasefire talks were continuing in Korea with opinion that some concrete results may emerge sooner rather than later. Observers said tensions had relaxed, teams were in a friendlier mood and even the Communist team posed obligingly for photos.
In Iran, Martial law was declared as rioting the previous day claimed as many as 16 in Tehran. The riots, coinciding with a visit by Averill Harriman, who was sent by President Truman to see if some resolution to the Iranian Oil nationalization dispute could be ironed out, were in protest to U.S. involvement in the Oil crisis. Many in the State Department felt the riots were Communist and Nationalist inspired, making the most of an opportunity to denounce American Imperialism and to capitalize on the Oil nationalization dispute. Harriman had two conferences with Premier Mossadegh but it was felt the talks were destined to do very little in light of the situation between Iran and Britain. British officials were fearful that new trouble was going to break out at the refinery in Abadan.
And that’s just a small sample of what went on in the world this July 16th in 1951 – as reported by Don Hollenbeck, substituting for Edward R. Murrow and The News.