NetWar: Zapatero, The Plastic Politician

Contents Letter From Paris

Contents Letter From Paris

Sunday, August 29, 2004


Zapatero, The Plastic Politician

A Spanish Update

A few years ago, when Francis Fukuyama wrote about the end of History, (nothing less!), even the military were talking about the peace dividend, and a fair share of my friends and fellow social voyeurs (I mean, journalists, reporters and analysts) thought the time ripe for out-of-the-box prefabricated politicians, the dream of  PR buffs and marketing aficionados. They all were daydreaming about citizens voting with their zappers between a sop opera and a reality show, not giving a damn about issues and choosing the best looking, best baby-kissing most politically correct candidate… Well, that was before September 11, 2001. That day we al witnessed the first mass murder transmitted worldwide in real time. History had, at the very least, an appendix and it wasn’t pretty.

That’s why, in the midst of this mean and hobbessian times of ours, I reckon that Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero became Spain’s Prime Minister one historic cycle behind his time. No one had ever seen a better looking, more consistently smiling, faster baby-kisser, grand-ma-hugger and more heinously politically correct candidate. An iconoclast friend of mine in Madrid says of him “Zapatero smiles even when he’s defecating”. But then, there is a darker side. The man is one of those European politicians groomed by some savvy elders in the corridors of party paramountcy, a clever tactician of never-ending maneuvers and power struggles, where opportunity is always more important than contents, where gray is the color and secrecy is the virtue.

In March 11th, a commando of Islamic terrorists blew up four train wagons in Madrid, killing two hundred people. The overwhelming majority were working people on their way to work. That was three days before the date of the general election…

A majority of Spanish voters -- who pre-3/11 had supported the ruling, America-friendly Popular Party -- voted it out, on behalf of Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist Workers’ Party. The first thing he did was to withdraw the largely symbolic Spanish military contingent in Iraq, all in all, 1,300 soldiers. The second was to appoint a government made up of staunchly anti-americans. Beyond that, their only visible adeptness for the job was that one half of them were women and, with the comforting exception of the Economy minister, all of them gloriously incompetent.

Spain has now arguably the most harebrained government in decades… but, if their critics don't lie, it may be the most voracious as well...

The Economist this week reached for its reservoir of British understatement to describe the Zapatero style:

“In the finest traditions of Mediterranean democracy, heads have been rolling in every agency under the government’s control –and in many places that are supposed to be independent. There have been purges at think-tanks, the judiciary and the Cervantes Insitute, which represents Spanish culture. The state-owned media, several key embassies, the security services and Madrid’s museums have all seen changes at the top”. The writer then virtuously prays for the government to declare the stock markets off-limits for cronyism and well connected predators and hopes that perhaps Zapatero “may have a chance to break with the excesses of political favor-trading” Amen, God bless you all..

But there is one field in which Zapatero is acting swiftly and decisively. After the terrorist attacks, he has promised to pay a salary to Muslim imams and preachers and ear-marked some US$ 50 M for it. The money will be administered by the Islamic Cult Council of Mansur Escudero, a former communist cadre converted to Islam who used to have a program in Radio Teheran of all places. A characterizing anecdote: Mansur’s second wife, a charismatic Basque who maintained a militant Islamic web site, was murdered a couple of years ago by a contract killer who in his turn was assassinated in jail by some co-detainees who forced him to drink a bottle of paint solvent.

Some scholars, critics of Zapatero, point that classical Muslim jurists divided the world into Dar-al-Islam (Land of Islam) or those territories where the Law of Islam prevails; Dar-al-Harb (Land of War) which includes those countries where Muslim Law is not in force; Dar-al-Ahd (Land of the Covenant) considered as a temporary and often intermediate territory between Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb; and Dar-al-Sulk (House of Truce), territories not conquered by -Muslim troops, where peace is attained by the payment of tribute which guarantees a truce or armistice.

So, are those US$ 50 M the tribute Zapatero has to pay to have peace in our time? (Chamberlain coined that toothsome expression). Well, he may think so and sure enough Mansur Escudero has 50 millions of reasons to tell him that is the case. But it is far from sure that the jihadists share that view… Spain cannot be included in the Dar-al-Sulk because it was once a land conquered by Jihad.

So tells fellow blogger hppauli the story:

To the Muslim, once a land has been conquered in Jihad, that land is forever Muslim. It doesn't matter if someone reconquers it and claims it as their own, the land remains theirs. If the Muslim's had it once, they will "by the will of Allah" have it again. They might fight one war, ten wars, fifty wars, a thousand and lose each time, but one day they will fight the thousand and oneth war and win. The House of Truce is always a temporary situation which might turn to their advantage in the next battle that is fought. Any lands already conquered are in the land of Islam, any not conquered yet, are in the House of War. That means that to their mind, portions of Europe are theirs and they are eager to have them back again. Al Andalus (Spain) is already being reclaimed in many Muslim's minds as theirs.

Tonight I feel just too bedraggled to give my personal opinion on all this.


Urban Empire, an excellent blog in more than one sense had a very kind post recommending this article with a link to THIS POST he wrote on March 15, just three days after the terrorist attacks in madrid Lucid.

Winds of Change

An example: this analysis of the March 11th attacks in Madrid, written 5 days later! Imposing.

Inspiring, passionate and decent

Iraq, the Model
A very goodview of what is going on in Iraq by Mohammad and Omar, two brothers... Check it out if you're fed up with the EuroPress

The Patriot Debates
Many provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire at the end of 2005. This forum is devoted to civil and informed debate about these provisions and whether they should be renewed.

A serious visit to jihadist ideology

Michelle Malkin
Her column appears in nearly 200 US papers nationwide. Pretty conservative AND very articulate. I like her.

From Barcelona. I like it! And, by the way, it's getting better every day.

Across the Bay
Very good blog by Tony, an expert in in Ancient Near Eastern Studies with focus on Semitic Linguistics, Ancient Levantine history, religion....

Allah Pundit
It's quite consevative, but really funny!

Bjørn Stærk's blog
In the NetWar since 2001, this norwegian wonderkid is just worth reading.

Norman Geras's blog
I mean, READ HIM. He's bright, insightful and knows a lot about Marxism and la condition humaine... Yeeees! (thanks Stygius).

Dan Darling
Excellent Open Source analysis of al Qaeda!

Bilingual (FR&EN) and passionate!

The Politburo Diktat
Forthrightly, frankly, fully funny, comrades. Neo-Komintern Urgh.

Insults for use by the ideologically informed
Nice page of Real Socialist Nostalgia. Check it out, comrade!

Letters From New York City
Michele tells it from the place where the world changed three years ago.

Alphabet City by Robert Stevens
Very well informed "from the perimeter of Manhattan ;-)" Impresive collection of links.

Colt's Eurabia
If you want to know and follow politically incorrect debate, red it!
His motto is:"...the only secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism." George Orwell

Monitoring Media Coverage of the War On Terror

Political Correctness Watch
John Ray, a former university teacher gone blogger monitors political correctness around the globe. When you needthat cheering information that somewhere else it's even worse than in your home town...


Free Lance Corner
Emilio Alonso, madrileño sin pelos en la pluma, liberal y extremadamente sensato.

Guerra Eterna en Oriente Medio
Reportero español polí­ticamente correcto, buena gente y suavemente partisano

Español residente en Parí­s, liberal, vasco, polí­ticamente incorrecto, reflexiona sobre la situación en Euskadi (Paí­s Vasco)

Carmelo Jordá
Otro español, buen analista y políticamente incorrecto. Pertenece a la nueva ola de jovenes liberales (en el sentido europeo) que empiezan a poner en cuestión todo en Europa

Una Temporada en el Infierno
Interesante blog de Juan Pedro Quiñonero, escritor y periodista español que merece dos lecturas.

Location: Paris, France

I have been a journalist since I was 22. For a (long) while I worked as a reporter for the Swedish, Spanish (I was born in Spain) and American media, covering international affairs... After 1991 I recycled myself to the business press.

 A Must Read!
Note that on the above page you have BOTH a link to buy the book (US$ 20) AND
the links to all the 6 chapters in PDF for FREE.

Contents (PDF)
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Conceptual Outlines
Chapter Three: A World in Flux - Ripe for Netwar Chapter Four: Varieties of Netwar
Chapter Five: Challenges for U.S Policy and Organization
Chapter Six: Implications for U.S. Doctrine and Strategy

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