To end a mandate : Sir E.L. Spears and the Anglo-French collision in the Levant, 1941-1945.
The following pages are an attempt to construct a more fully documented and detailed account of the Anglo-French relationship in the Levant from 1941 to 1945. Wherever possible, original documents are quoted and the dramatis personae are allowed to speak in their own words. Even so, in terms of sheer quantity, only the tip of the documentary iceberg appears. If more of the original atmosphere and mentality has been re-captured, and if the wartime voices are more readily heard and considered, this approach will have been justified. A narrative form has been used, partly to emphasise that much can only be explained in the light of the war situation with its pressures, confusions and improvisations. Interpretation and analysis accompany the unfolding narrative, and the significance of various events and attitudes is reiterated and weighed in the conclusion. Within this purpose, and inseparable from it, is an attempt to understand Sir Edward Spears and to establish his role. The Anglo- French collision in the Levant involved some remarkable personalities on both sides. The most striking character of them all was Spears, the man at the centre of the controversy. His papers and diaries throw new light on his own activities and upon the whole Levant dispute, and full use has been made of this source. In particular, I have tried to depict and interpret Spears' dramatic break with de Gaulle, and the ex-Francophile's subsequent view of his role in the Middle East. This innings on the sticky wicket of psychology was clearly necessary. The sudden and fateful change in Spears' attitude was to loom large in the Levant affair. A non-polemical explanation was well overdue, and with the aid of new sources I have attempted to provide it. Finally, much space has been devoted to the year 1941. Within the period of the Anglo-Gaullist occupation of the Levant, no other year was so packed with crucial events and fateful decisions. 1941 produced the terms of reference for all the ensuing Anglo-French disputes and confrontations in the Levant.