14 MARCH 1941, Page 2

Vichy and the Blockade

Admiral Darlan's threat to convoy ships bringing food to France unless Great Britain raises the blockade on such ship- ments creates a situation that must be handled circumspectly. What lies behind the threat is only partially relevant. There is no doubt that the inspiration came from Berlin, under whose manipulation the Admiral appears to be becoming increasingly tractable. Nothing would suit Hitler better than to see the French Navy in action against the British. It would be the next best thing to securing control of the French Navy himself. But it would be a deplorable development on every ground, for the French no less than for ourselves. France's need of food is no doubt desperate. She has been looted mercilessly by Germany and it marks a strange submissiveness to that the return to France of a fraction of what has seized should lead Admiral Mean to declare that is showing herself more generous than Britain. As things there is no known way of ensuring that food admitted occupied or unoccupied France will not directly or ira,• benefit Germany, and Admiral Darlan has offered no m gestion as to how that could be guaranteed. If he does no doubt be carefully and sympathetically considered. is a case in which the United States, from which much an the food France wants would come, may be able to help siderably. President Roosevelt has recalled the Couun se I, of the American Embassy at Vichy to report on various ass... - of the situation in occupied France, and will no doubt di ,, - this particular question fully with him. Landon Washington must keep in particularly close touch regarding it it