Monday, February 25, 2008

The PM of AntiAmerica

If "AntiAmerica" were a place, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero could be the titular head of state. Ahmadinejad and Chavez would hold the real power, but he'd be usefully suave in diplomatic settings and reliably craven in the closed-door power meetings.

Like some other European leaders of recent memory, he boosted his chances by going out of his way to snub the United States. In October 2003, when he was still opposition leader, he endeared himself to Spaniards by being the only VIP and official on the crowded review stand to keep his seat when the U.S. Marine Corps honor guard passed by carrying the American flag at the annual Hispanic Day military parade in Madrid.

Since then, he has periodically declared "his willingness to follow the desires of the people of Spain and not meet up with President Bush ever." [They did meet once, briefly, at a NATO gathering in Istanbul.]

And while the sight of the American flag apparently makes him too ill to leave his chair, he's more than happy to pose with a big old grin while wearing a Palestinian scarf at an anti-war protest.

The attitude has been returned by the Bush Administration, for whom no foe is too low to be worth the trouble of grinding your heel on him. And while it initially made Zapatero a hero to antis everywhere, they seem to have forgotten him, and Spain, in the intervening years. So have most other Americans, it seems. So have a lot of people everywhere in the world, it seems.

In Spain, some say it wasn't worth it:

The flagship project of this Prime Minister’s foreign policy, namely his so-called “Alliance of Civilisations”, has been nothing other than a fiasco that has brought few or no benefits to Spain, and, to top it all, we are paying huge bills to the UN for the privilege. The leading role that Moratinos attributed to himself in the Middle East has been shown for what it is as a result of his inability to pull off any initiative in the Region. Furthermore, it was pathetic how he went begging to Washington in order to ensure that Spain was also invited to the recent Annapolis Summit. The pride Felipe González felt during the Madrid Summit in the early nineties is just a distant memory now. If the Zapatero-Moratinos duo ever dreamed of serving as privileged intermediaries vis-à-vis the Arab world, the Arabs themselves have turned their backs on them once again. They do not need either the Spanish Government or the Spanish Foreign Office to tackle the Palestinian question, nor do they need them in order to approach the United States and the EU. Spain simply does not count for anything.

And here:

During his term in office, Zapatero has been incapable of creating foreign ties with the countries most convenient for Spanish interests, in either Europe or the Americas. (In Asia we don’t even exist and in Africa only to contain the illegal immigration a little). We have wandered into no man’s land. Their international preferences have directed themselves too many times towards less than pleasant Latin American governments, and some other closer initiatives have not merited the reward of a solid and preferential alliance with European neighbors. Our foreign policy cannot pass the test when Spain, between clumsiness and irresponsibility, has stayed removed from the primary world power and suffered the indifference of its allies in the Old World.

As the last-quoted piece notes, Zapatero may have pleased his global fan base, the residents of AntiAmerica, by never having posed for a grip-and-grin shot with George W. Bush. But it has been a most expensive photograph for Spain.

The anti-American nonsense that the Left preaches has cost us a retreat of enormous proportions in the geostrategical global chessboard that a political change should amend as soon as possible.

Is it disturbing, then, that, as the L.A. Times reported recently, Zapatero's followers are enthusiastic about Obama?

In nearby Spain, commentators do not hesitate to compare Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to Obama, for good or bad.

"Zapatero a modo Obama" ("Zapatero, Obama-style") was the headline in a recent story in the Spanish daily El Mundo, which told of musical stars filming a campaign spot for Zapatero, much as of the Black Eyed Peas did for Obama.

These European politicians have very little to do with Obama; for one thing, they've been in office for many years. They do, however, represent the left wings of their nation's political spectrum and are relatively young, in the local context.

Not terribly disturbing, probably, but it disturbs me a bit more than the man's middle name or where he went to kindergarten.

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