NetWar: Zapatero's Brand New Old Europe (sigh) (sic)

Contents Letter From Paris

Contents Letter From Paris

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Zapatero's Brand New Old Europe (sigh) (sic)

M.M. Chirac and Scroeder visited Madrid and were greeted by the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, with unabashed self-satisfaction and an impressive show of ignorance about the world we all are living in.

Five months after taking office in the wake of the al Qaeda train bombings which left 191 people dead in Madrid, Mr. Zapatero though it funny to direct a bristle to Washington, saying that "the old Europe is brand new." Chirac and Schroeder had the smiles you can expect from people for whom the writing is on the political wall: one who systematically loses every partial election and is considered the grave digger of his party (the German) or one for whom being in office is, above all other consideration, a shelter against some judge starting to ask tough questions about  joyful use of public moneys (the French).

Yet, the Spaniard’s guests are both old hands and blew the smoke adroitely, particularly Mr, Chirac, who is said to have obtained some vague promise of commands for French companies and a pledge of Zapatero that Spain will rise its “unfair” taxes on tobacco, alcohol, restaurants and hotels, to put them in line with neighboring France’s.

Without saying that he can’t hold a candle to his predecessor, the pro-American Jose Maria Aznar, one has to admit that when it comes to geo-politics –or to governance in general for that matter- Mr. Zapatero isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the European drawer. His ministers wits bring to mind the saying about the one-eyed man being king (or prime minister) in certain countries.

He now says that his decision of pulling troops out of Iraq was a fine  example for others US partners in the Coalition of the Willing; according to him, if more countries were to give in and meet al Qaeda’s demands and retreat precipitously from Iraq, “more favorable prospects would be opened up." Mr. Zapatero tells to whomever would listen that he intends Spain to have “an strategic alliance with the Arab countries.”

To the story belongs that his minister of Foreign Affairs and inspirer of his foreign policy, Miguel Angel Moratinos, is a personal friend of Yasser Arafat ; the moral reputation of Mr. Arafat’s personal friends taken into account, I’m not really so sure that it is wise to boast about  that sort of relationship. Mr. Moratinos, which has a shrewd sense for opportunity of his own, declared in the days of the stand-off  in the school of Beslam that we all should strive to solve the problem of terrorism by political means. The Zapatero administration is to start paying a salary to Islamic imams in 2005.

According to some knowledgeable sources, Mr. Zapatero, a convinced appeaser, is also signalling for negotiation to the murderous Basque terrorists of the ETA. Despite a pact with the opposition Popular Party not to negotiate with the terrorists, some trusted aides would be “in the process of finding the right words” to circumvent the constraint. “There's no conflict here. There's absolutely no conflict whatsoever.”, said a Socialist friend of mine in Madrid, “Our main responsibility is to end terrorist violence and in order to do that we must explore all possibilities. But you can’t call that a negotiation.” Some believe that the ETA leadership would be ready to give up most of the terrorist activity in exchange for political recognition and some substantial economic perks to compensate for the so called “revolutionary tax”, the protection money they now shake off from Basque companies, which could be around 40 M euros a year (ca. US$ 50 M).

Prospects for the Spanish economy have been looking less cheerful since some investment pundits started to have second thoughts about the country’s medium term stability, along with a more radical unionism coming in the wings of Mr. Zapatero’s impenitent populism. On the bright side, Spanish companies may be less prone than their German and French competitors to move plants to Eastern Europe or Asia, although, on the other hand, it is far from certain that they will be able to withstand the ever fiercer competition coming from the East.

According to Jürgen Donges, a specialist on Spanish politics and economics at the University of Cologne, cited by DWW, Zapatero has also good economic reasons for courting MM. Chirac and Schröder

"When you're in Spain you hear over and over: 'We want to play a part in this Franco-German axis,'" Donges told DW-WORLD. "The Spanish government says: 'If we behave like proper Europeans, we have better chances of getting support for structural funds."

Donges pointed out thet "The current government makes domestic policies according to the device: 'everything that Aznar did was bad; we have to do everything differently'"

"But since the new (anti-American) orientation Spain has become less important to Germany," Donges said. "It's disappeared into a no man's land -- from the viewpoint of the Franco-German axis."


BarcePundit Raves! And he should... Here's to you, caballero:

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was at the centre of a diplomatic row with the United States over comments he made over pulling troops out of Iraq, it emerged Tuesday.

US diplomats in Madrid said they had asked for a clarification of his remarks in the form of a transcript.

The sources said Washington had asked for the transcript "so there can be no misunderstanding" after Zapatero justified his decision to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq shortly after taking office.

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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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