Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Zapatero's World, Insha'allah

Late last night I saw some footage from Spain's Socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, during his speech at the 59th UN General Assembly (or Assembly Of Generals, in reference to the many dictatorships holding equal votes as democracies).

I almost fell out of my chair. The integral text (pdf) of his speech can be found here. I've reprinted some excerpts below (emphasis mine):

...On Terrorism in Spain:
"I am speaking on behalf of a country that has had its share of difficult experiences throughout its history. A country in which still living generations have known a civil war, a dictatorship of almost four decades and a democracy that is now 25 years old. We have also experienced the scourge of terrorism for more than thirty years. Over the last thirty years we, Spanish women and men, have learned much about and from terrorism. We soon learned
about its iniquity. We have learned what it is about. We have learned how to defy it, how to withstand its blows with courage and dignity. We have learned how to fight it."

...On the Madrid attacks and subsequent Spanish response:
"Spanish women and men were not afraid. On the very next day after the bombings, millions of people left their homes, took to the streets and squares of the cities and towns of my country and, once again, we expressed our rejection and disgust, our unanimous contempt for terrorist brutality. From thirty years of terrorism we have learned that the risk of a terrorist victory rises sharply when, in order to fight terror, democracy betrays its fundamental nature, governments curtail civil liberties, put judicial guaranties at risk, or carry out pre-emptive military
. This is what our people have learned: that it is legality, democracy and political means and ways what makes us stronger and them weaker."

...On the 'root causes' meme:
"Nothing justifies terrorism. It is irrational, like the Black Death, but the roots of terrorism, like those of the plague, can and must be uncovered. We can and must
rationally analyse how it emerges, how it grows, so as to be able to fight it rationally. Terrorism is insanity and death and, regrettably, there will always be fanatics who are ready to kill to impose their insanity through force. Ready to disseminate the seed of evil. The seed of evil cannot take root when it falls on
the rock of justice, well-being, freedom and hope; but it can take root if it lands on the soil of injustice, poverty, humiliation and despair. Thus, redressing the major political and economic injustices that affect our world would deprive terrorists of their popular support. The more people there are who enjoy dignified conditions around the world, the safer we will all be."

...On Iraq and Spain's retreat:
"In this context, I would like to speak about Iraq. But above all I would like to speak about the thousands of victims of this conflict, about the Iraqis and about the
soldiers and civilians who lost their lives. We express our permanent solidarity to them and to their countries. The overwhelming majority of people in Spain spoke out
against the war. We were not persuaded by the reasons given by those who promoted the war. We expressed this view both at the Spanish Parliament and in the streets. We spoke out loudly, we shouted. We also said that winning the war would be much easier than winning the peace. Peace must be our endeavour. An endeavour that requires more courage, more determination and more heroism than the war itself. That is why the Spanish troops returned from Iraq."

...On the Alliance Of Civilizations:
"Peace and security will only spread over the world with the strength of international legality, with the strength of human rights, with the strength of democracy, of abidance by the law. With the strength of equality: equality between women and men, equal opportunities, no matter where people are born. With the strength of our rejection against those who manipulate or want to impose any kind of religion or belief. With the strength of education and culture: culture is always peace; let us ensure that our perception of others is coloured with respect. With the strength of dialogue among peoples. Thus, in my capacity as representative of a country created and enriched by divers cultures, before this Assembly I want to propose an Alliance of Civilizations between the Western and the Arab and Muslim worlds. Some years ago a wall collapsed. We must now prevent hatred and incomprehension from building a new wall. Spain wants to submit to the Secretary General, whose work at the head of this organisation we firmly support, the possibility of establishing a High Level Group to push forward this initiative."
On Spain's lessons from 'thirty years of terrorism' (interesting sidenote perhaps, Zapatero starts refering to ETA as terrorists from the death of dictator Franco onwards. ETA was founded in 1969. Does he think they were 'freedom fighters' or 'the resistance' before his death?), Zapatero mentions that Spain has learned that pre-emptive military operations have not worked. Excuse me? I was not aware that Spain even so much as carried out punitive military actions. Except perhaps he is comparing his Socialist predecessor's GAL death squads with the pre-emptive military operations of a democratic nation Like the United States of America? He would be saying the same as Spain's Attorney-General if he did imply that.

After that big slap in the face, there is more. Zapatero brings up Iraq and seeks to explain why Spain retreated in the face of a terrorist onslaught at home (something I'm sure will go down in history as The Big Frustration of this government). Basically, he says that because after the toppling of Saddam's regime, the hard part started, the going got tough, and Spain did not want any part of that. So it wasn't Al Qaeda, he's just a coward in general. And the quote on the peace being an endeavour which requires more courage, heroism even, than war itself. Doesn't that sound like "the peace of the brave"? I'm sure his Foreign Minister and Arafat-buddy Miguel Angel Moratinos was smiling contently when he said that.

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero with some of his friends.
The biggest shocker to me, was his suggestion the UN create an 'Alliance of Civilizations', including the Western World and Arab and muslim nations. It is the clearest sign to me that Zapatero has absolutely no clue as to what the War On Islamic Terror is about. It is also a word for word repetition of Irani 'President' Khatami's 1997 call for dialogue with the West.

Zapatero fears that 'hatred and incomprehension' will cause a separation between the islamic Arab world and the West. But he's refering to 'hatred and incomprehension' coming from the West, not the hatred shown in New York, Bali, Istanbul, Casablanca, Ryaad, Madrid, Beslan. A hatred which is as much directed at our lifestyle as it is against the Arab dictatorships with whom Zapatero now wants to form an alliance.

The War on Islamic Terror is not about separating the West from the rest of the world, or 'minding the Gap' in the words of Thomas Barnett. It is about pulling these Arab nations into the fabric of globalization, interconnected economies and free flows of information and ideas. It is about pushing them to reform, while assisting them in the eradication, pre-emptively, of their terrorists. To form an alliance on equal footing with these dictatorships does nothing but sustain the status quo. In fact, it gives them, by siding with the oppressors, yet another tool with which to supress their own peoples and to push us for more concessions on Israel, through incitement of their own populations via mosques and media. Meanwhile feeding the real source of terrorism, not poverty, but Salafist Islam.

At best, I can see Zapatero's pro-Arab government angling for a key role in the UN's Mideast policies, hoping to continue the center stage role under the Aznar government, albeit with a different audience.

At worst, Zapatero is moving his country towards the Arab world, literally positioning itself on the bridge between the West and the Orient. Thoughts of Al Andalus will have passed through a lot of sick minds, yesterday.