1930s >> 1935 >> no-375-november-1935

Where Mussolini Learned Brutality

We are told that public opinion all over the world is shocked at the brutality of the Italian air force in bombing defenceless native villages. It is necessary to remember that this charge is not one which can be levelled only at Mussolini. Many governments have shown themselves prepared to use methods of equal brutality— among them the British Government in its destructive bombing of hostile tribes on the frontiers of India. Although the justification put forward by the British authorities is that this bombing is required to defend Indian interests, the Indian members of the Legislative Assembly recently passed by 67 votes to 44 a motion of protest against “the bombing of innocent women and children in trans-frontier villages by the Royal Air Force.” (Manchester Guardian, October 17th.)
What such bombing means was disclosed by the late Lord Thomson, Secretary of State for Air in the Labour Government of 1924, speaking at a meeting of the Central Asian Society on November 21st, 1924 about bombing in Transjordan.

   After briefly tracing the route followed in his tour. Lord Thomson brought home to his audience the efficacy of bombing by describing the manner in which the recent Wahabi invasion of the Transjordan was crushed. The British forces consisted solely of aeroplanes sent out at the shortest possible notice, backed by armoured cars. The effect of our air attack was availing. Some 700 of the tribesmen were killed and the rest, seized with panic, fled into the desert, where hundreds more must have perished from thirst. Unless some such punishment as swift and terrible as this had been inflicted, the task of restoring order would have been long drawn-out, and in the end more costly in lives and money, while the results would not have been so lasting.
   Lord Thomson went on to say that it might be true that oil was the key of the Arabian riddle, though he considered that wheat-production, for some years at least, held greater possibilities. The primary necessity, however, was security. The country could best be opened up by making the process a gradual one. By using it as a link in the chain of Imperial communications, this would be achieved.

(Times, November 22nd. 1924.)

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