Thursday, September 18, 2008

McCain knows exactly who Zapatero is.

Lisa Abend is a freelance journalist living in Spain who writes periodic articles ranging from culinary reviews to left-leaning political articles. Today she has a new article, published in Time, titled “The Pain in Spain falls Mainly on McCain.

Never mind the cutesy title; it’s a deviously deceptive lie.

In this article, Abend laments that Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez de Zapatero was apparently ‘slammed’ by US Presidential hopeful John McCain. She says that “during an interview in Miami…a reporter asked McCain whether, if elected, he would receive Zapatero to the White House. McCain answered, ‘Honestly, I have to analyze our relationships, situations, and priorities, but I can assure you that I will establish closer relationships with our friends, and I will stand up to those who want to harm the United States.”

Abend clarifies that this question came “after a series of questions about how McCain sees relations with Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba. He said he would not speak to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez ‘without any sort of preconditions, as Sen. Obama has said he would,’ and… that Chavez was ‘depriving his people of their democratic rights.’”

Abend points out that “the questioner tried several more times to steer the Senator back to a clear answer…but he never addressed it, saying: ‘What I would say is that my record is that of someone who has worked in a friendly atmosphere with those who are our friends and faced up to those who aren’t.”

Abend then reports that “much” of the Spanish press concluded that McCain “confused Spain…with one of those troublesome Latin American states”. In fact, the questioner even reminded McCain that “Spain was a country in Europe.”

As if McCain needed reminding. Because it is clear from the tenor and content of this article that it is the journalists who are confused—if not simply deceitful. Why do I say that?

Let us go back to the Spanish presidential elections in 2004. In the days immediately preceding the Spanish election, conservative Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar was leading in the polls, in spite of his commitment of Spanish troops to the war in Iraq. By contrast, Zapatero was running on a liberal left socialist platform opposing Spanish participation, and maintained consistently warm relations with Latin American leaders such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Zapatero disagreed vociferously with Aznar’s tough stance against terrorist organizations, and promoted the idea that his administration would negotiate peace with the Basque separatist and terrorist group ETA, a clear and radical break from the current Spanish position on negotiating with terrorist groups.

On March 11, 2004, al Qaeda planted bombs on trains that exploded in the Atocha rail station, killing 191 innocent civilians. At first, the government suspicion was that the attack had been masterminded by the Basque terrorists, and Aznar’s government stated that opinion. But soon it was revealed that the real conspirators were al Qaeda, and that group released a statement threatening Spaniards due to their involvement in Iraq. The Spanish populace, deeply hurt by the loss of life, fearful of future reprisals, suddenly shifted their loyalty and the socialist Zapatero won the election—and handed a major victory to al Qaeda.

Zapatero was true to his word: he unilaterally withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq. And he began unilateral, unconditional negotiations with ETA. His relationship with Chavez and Castro also warmed, and Spain even considered selling military supplies to Chavez. This lasted until ETA began bombing civilian targets again, and the political situation in Venezuela deteriorated until Chavez started confiscating Spanish investments, private property, blaspheming against God and the Church, and his followers murdered an elderly Spanish-Venezuelan woman who had returned to Venezuela to vote against Chavez in the Presidential Recall Referendum.

In fact, the political instability and worsening human rights conditions in Venezuela eventually forced Zapatero to distance himself from Chavez. Chavez, however, just like the ETA, has no respect for friends or former allies. He therefore had no qualms with insulting Spanish dignity, an attitude that eventually led to a verbal conflict in Chile. Chavez was indignant that Aznar had continued attacking his government and policies even after leaving office. So Chavez, ignoring the protocol at the economic summit held by Chilean president Bachelet, launched into a rude tirade, attacking Aznar and eventually insulting Spain in general. To his credit, Zapatero maintained his dignity as he tried to reason with Chavez and insist that he speak with respect. Chavez’s outburst continued, until the Spanish King finally lost his temper and uttered that historic phrase: “Por quĂ© no te callas?!” (Why don’t you shut up?!)

Both the King’s and Zapatero’s popularity rebounded in Spain. The King had defended national honor, and Zapatero had finally, yet respectfully, put Chavez back in his place.

But this eventual about-face cannot undo the sins of his administration. The origin of the Zapatero government was based upon a fearful capitulation to the world’s most notorious terrorist organization. The essence of his governmental policy was to naively trust in the innate goodness of terrorist leaders and presupposed that, given the chance to speak in a respectful forum, they would inevitably come to terms and peace could be reached. Zapatero’s bad judgment inspired him to seek friendships with some of the most abhorrent regimes in the Americas, and the result was disastrous.

John McCain did not need any reminding about with whom he was dealing. He did not confuse Spain with those “troublesome Latin American states”. McCain has it very clear in his head that Spain and its government are two different entities. But McCain also has no reason to try to warm relations with Zapatero.

After all, Jose Rodriguez de Zapatero is the Spanish equivalent of Barack Hussein Obama. Obama, like Zapatero, has stated that he wants to sit down—without preconditions—with extremist groups and governments that are (to say it mildly) unfriendly to the United States.
Zapatero eventually learned the error of his ways. I’m sure that Obama would too.

But Zapatero should count his lucky stars that McCain didn’t bluntly remind the world why the United States cannot consider the Zapatero government to be a reliable friend to the United States.

1 comment:

Thed-litical said...

I heard this interview. In my assessment, I think that McCain was simply having an hard time understanding the radio host's "accent". I have no doubt that he knows who the leader of Spain, although his answers did leave much to be desired.