Saturday, April 05, 2003

I don't know what the deal is; over the last couple of days, as the Allied offensive gathered speed, the Vanguardia was generally pretty reasonable. I guess they saved all their Yankee-hating bile for Saturday.

Right off, in the page two signed editorial, José Antich, the editor-in-chief, calls for a negotiated surrender of the Saddam regime, an immediate end to the fighting, and exile for Saddam. Mr. Antich points out that if we stopped fighting now some civilian lives would be saved.

Mr. Antich, exactly why, at this point, would we want to do that? I can think of three possibilities why Mr. Antich permits himself to live in a fantasy world in which the Anglo-Americans might even consider such a thing:

1) Mr. Antich is a Spaniard. Spaniards are historically very afraid of change, since every time the government has changed (until the Transition) in Spain it's been done with nasty violence and has resulted in a change for the worse, at least over the short and middle terms. Mr. Antich is projecting his fears of such turmoil happening again in his own society--remember, the last attempted coup in Spain was as recent as February 23, 1982, and the coupsters took over the Parliament and rolled the tanks through the streets of Valencia before giving up without bloodshed.

2) Mr. Antich just naturally detests the goddamn Yankees and cannot stand the idea of an American military victory; he knows that Spain will never win another military victory and that Catalonia's last chance ever was back in 1714. This lack of comparative prestige eats away at Mr. Antich's guts, and so he wishes to deny the Coalition said military victory by accusing us of bloodthirstiness should we not negotiate a peace now with Saddam. Said military victory, in that case, will be tainted in Mr. Antich's eyes and prose and "not really count".

3) Mr. Antich actually gives a shit about the poor bastards in Baghdad.

I figure we can discount motivation #3, leaving us with a combination of #1 and #2 as the answer here.

Plàcid Garcia-Planas is in Kuwait City, but he informs us on page 3 that "At nightfall (yesterday), the regime broadcast to the world--and to its own people--images of Saddam working a crowd in the streets of the residential neighborhood of Al Mansur, in Baghdad, with the smoke of the bombings in the background and within cannon shot of those who twenty years ago served him up the gunpowder on a tray: the United States Army...The Anglo-American command, meanwhile, continued yesterday announcing its "unstoppable" advance and the entry of troops into the Iraqi capital. With more dead, more wounded, and more prisoners...The truth is that the Anglo-American forces still have not found those arms of mass destruction that served as the excuse to launch the war." Plàcid, dude, 99% of Saddam's arms came from Russia, France, and China, in that order. The only thing of any importance we ever sold Saddam were some 60 "civilian" helicopters that were easily converted for military uses. Every other piece of weaponry he has came from the aforementioned Twisted Three. Please shut up the Big Lie that Saddam was once an American puppet and that he was created by the perfidious Yankees. And please mention that the Allies are doing everything they can to save civilian lives, and that Saddam's regime's conduct in the war has amply demonstrated that we are right in getting rid of him, in case any further proof of Saddam's evil were required.

On Page 4 Xavier Batalla reminds us that the Yanks and the perfidious British grabbed Iraq after World War I and held its oil until Saddam's boys nationalized the oil in 1972 and then signed contracts with "everybody non-Anglo". See, we're at war in order to grab the $57 billion in oil extraction contracts now in French, Russian, and Gulf Arab hands. Mr. Batalla reminds us that the French were promised Mosul under the secret Sykes-Picot agreement that divided up the (soon-to-be-formerly-Turkish) Middle East between Britain, France, and Italy way back in like 1915, and perfidious Albion grabbed it, thereby rooking France out of its fair share of the Iraqi oil. France didn't get its fair share of supplying Iraq with anything it had the money to buy, like nuclear reactors and Mirage jet fighters and, oh, yeah, oil equipment too, until Saddam took over, and now we're going to cheat them out of the commerce-with-a-dictator that is their right just like we cheated them out of Mosul, so rightfully theirs. Batalla's pieces often sound like they were written by the quai d'Orsay.

Here's a nice text from page 5, signed by "Staff and agencies". "Despite the pride of this millenarian people, which causes them to resist the invaders, the effect of the air raids by the powerful Anglo-American air forces is beginning to take effect among the citizens. The city has been without electricity for two days, and in the capital, the citizens--more cultured, more bourgeois, more comfortable than in the rural areas of the rest of the country--aren't as used to losing the basic elements of civic life. As if that were not enough, the so-called "smart bombs"--which in this war have missed their targets several times--have wounded, mutilated, and killed hundreds of civilians. The images of children without legs, without arms, like young Ali, are not easy to forget. They, the children, are the innocent victims of this campaign initiated to overthrow the Iraqi president." The staff and agencies then let us know that the water's been cut off for two days too and it's really hot and the air is nasty because of all the fires Saddam's troops set and that everybody is really suffering a lot. What agency did this crap come from? The Iraqi Propaganda Agency?

The Vangua is still printing Bobby Fisk's diatribes daily, which you can read somewhere else if you want to, but I love this bit from page 12: "Almost nobody here and now believes that the Americans can't open up a way to the capital if they decide to. After all, Napoleon managed to enter Moscow." Well, Bobby, you personally sent a dispatch a couple or three days ago in which you said there was no way they'd make it through the Iraqi defenses. For you readers, just scroll down a few days. And what exactly do Napoleon, Moscow, and Tchaikovsky's bloody 1812 Overture have to do with anything happening in the Middle East two centuries later?

France, Germany, and Russia have gotten together and proposed that the UN be in charge of postwar reconstruction. Yeah, right. The Big Three at the Vatican, Navarro Valls, Tauran, and Sodano, issued a communication saying they wanted the war to stop and that "the Iraqis themselves should be the ones who manage the reconstruction of their country." Hasn't the Vatican got anything better to do than prop up De Villepin and Fischer?

Some geniuses bombed the PP headquarters in the Galician cities of Pontevedra and Moraña and molotov-cocktailed the regional Fishing Department, of all things, in Santiago de Compostela.

Finally, check out EuroPundits for all kinds of good stuff by Arthur Craven of The Radical, Nelson Ascher, Madrid's own Jesús Gil of Ibidem, and, get this, a translation (by me) of an article by Remei Margarit, a local "psychologist and writer" who is just as dumb as Eulàlia Sole!

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