Kibitzer’s Advice – John Francis Knott – March 27, 1937
This cartoon refers to David Lloyd George’s call for Britain to take action against Italian aggression that was happening during the time. The Italian and German fascist states had just begun their involvement in events that were building up to World War II, such as making and using forces to invade nations and interfering with foreign affairs. Other countries were worried about what these involvements might turn in to if the situation was left unchecked, and Lloyd George wanted Britain to interfere with the fascist forces for this same reason, so he demanded the country to take action. However, the cartoon is entitled Kibitzer’s Advice, and a kibitzer is a person whose advice is unwanted, so this suggests that Lloyd George’s call was largely ignored. The reason Britain did not listen to Lloyd George’s advice was that Britain did not have much in the way of intervening due to the fact that they had been playing the pacifist role since the First World War. This made it so that their arms were heavily depleted and taking any form of action appeared unappealing to the country.
The cartoon depicts Mussolini and John Bull playing a card game over the map of Europe, and David Lloyd George is telling John Bull that Mussolini is bluffing. David Lloyd George was the Prime Minister of Britain during World War I and was instrumental in helping build up British arms for that war and Mussolini was the dictator of Italy and the face of fascism at the time. John Bull is a comic personification of Britain, similar to how Uncle Sam personifies America so Lloyd George is depicted as talking to Britain and not just an individual. John Bull and Mussolini playing cards refers to the saying that politics is a game and them playing over a table with a map of Europe means that their actions are going to be for the sake of changing or maintaining territorial boundaries of Europe. The “Bluffing” in this case refers to the belief that the fascist did not have the amount of force and arms that they claimed to have, so Britain had the opportunity to act against Mussolini. Mussolini is depicted as the face of fascism in the comic instead of Hitler, because the Italian dictator had devoted much more forces in conflicts at the time while Hitler used less of his forces and was rather preparing his army for future aggression.
The accompanying editorial “Lion’s Tail” states two different Italian involvements at the time, aggression in Ethiopia and breaking the non-intervention agreement. Mussolini used Italian nationalism and stated that he wanted to build Italy into an empire like it was in ancient Roman times to gather support from the people, so his aggression in Ethiopia was to help and acquire a foothold in Africa and prove that he was committed to the sake of Italy. However, the situation scarred Mussolini’s image and brought to the attention of Europe that peace was fleeting for the time being. The non-intervention agreement was created for the sake of the Spanish Civil War, so other nations would not interfere with the war; however, the agreement was known to eventually be a political farce. This agreement was broken by many nations, especially the fascist nations who wanted the rebels to win so that a pro-fascist state would be set up in Spain and France would be between two fascist areas.
Some countries and citizens believed that the Italian and German forces needed to be halted, and David Lloyd George called for Britain to believe this as well and take action against the fascist. However his cries to Britain for involvement in these issues were not heeded, the main reason being that Britain did not want another war on their hands, since the effects of World War I were devastating for many people. The article “Lion’s Tail” states that if Britain and France did interfere with the fascist in these conflicts and they were in fact not bluffing, there would be full scale war on their hands, but if Mussolini were to withdraw from Spain, then that would only reveal that he was bluffing and did not have the forces that he claimed to have. Britain had been playing a pacifist role since the First World War, and the article says they were speaking softly since they did not carry a big stick and instead were in the middle of rearmament themselves. This means that Britain was the one that needed to bluff since their forces were depleted not Italy who proved they had forces in the Ethiopian and the Spanish Civil War conflicts. Britain was also one of the few nations to not break the nonintervention agreement. All these factors, with the addition that Lloyd George was mostly not listened to by the people after he left office of Prime minister, makes it so that his message of Britain interfering against the fascist was largely ineffective to the mainly peace-loving population. The “Lion’s Tail” article also states that even if Lloyd George played a large part in British decision making, they would still have the condition of not having the proper amount of forces. This means that the author believed that the primary reason that Lloyd George would speak so much of fighting is because he was part of the opposition of Mussolini and not a policy maker.
The aggression that Italian and German forces showed during the time would escalate later and lead to the need of other nations to interfere. Eventually Italy and Germany would team up with Japan in the East to create the axis powers against the Allies and would plunge the world into the Second World War.
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