The Spanish government, as you may already know, has pulled out most of its staff at the embassy in Baghdad. Several staffers will be staying on and the Embassy will not close. "State security forces" recommended that the embassy be moved to a larger and more secure building; the new building will be able to house the entire delegation. Before, some embassy staffers lived in private residences in the city, and one was murdered several weeks ago. Prime Minister Aznar announced that the government would take advantage of the situation by calling diplomats back to Madrid for high-level consultations. Most Embassy staff should be back in Baghdad by the end of the month. Said Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, "This is a temporary measure. The representatives who have gone to Amman will return soon."
Robert Fisk pitches a fit in today's Vangua. Seems Edward Said died and some people said some things that were not very nice about him. Mr. Fisk thinks this is repugnant and unhealthy and insulting and execrable and in bad faith. He thinks we're all racist against Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. He is especially miffed that some people have accused Hanan Ashrawi of favoring Palestinian suicide attacks. Mr. Fisk is particularly angry at one Zev Chafetz, so he attempts to discredit him by pointing out that Mr Chafetz was an Israeli government spokesman back in 1982, and he says that all this is the work of "supposed friends of Israel" and "Israeli pressure groups". I say Mr. Fisk is a big poop head.
The Catalan regional election campaign continues apace. Both Jaime Mayor Oreja of the PP and Jose Bono of the PSOE have blasted the Catalan nationalists for their fence-sitting regarding the Ibarretxe plan for a semi-independent Basque Country. Bono called CiU (!) and the Republican Left (well, OK) a bunch of radicals. Here's our official election prediction, and remember we haven't been wrong yet: A Socialist-Republican Left-Communist coalition takes over the Generalitat with Pasqual Maragall (who has botoxed his narrow piglike eyes so he doesn't look like as big a drunk as he did before) as Prime Minister. Convergencia, the moderate nationalist party, is going to take a bath and the PP is going to get the same 15% of the votes it always gets. As Jordi Pujol, Catalan Prime Minister for the last 23 years, goes into retirement, the party he held together all these years is going to begin to crack up. The less Catalanist and more conservative CiU voters will move to the PP, the more Catalanist CiU voters will go to the Republican Left, and the more social democratic CiUsters will go over to the Socialists, holding their noses maybe, but they will. CiU will become a minority party probably under the leadership of its Christian Democratic faction, Democratic Union, and its boss Josep Antoni Duran Lleida. (Note: If you ever want to irritate a Catalan nationalist call this guy "Duran Lerida", using the Spanish version of his second surname. The explosion will last at least five minutes.)
Some of the more idiotic Cataloonies have been making noises implying that the nasty Spaniards planned this royal wedding thing to distract attention away from the Catalan elections. This is known as thinking that the world revolves about one's own navel. Toni Soler is unhappy with the choice of Letizia Ortiz because he thinks she was just a mouthpiece for the evil antiCatalanista TV1 while she was doing the news (up until last Friday. Letizia note: she's way too skinny. She also has a camera-friendly large head compared to the rest of her body.)
Letter to La Vanguardia: ...Many theater, dance, and review shows use, absolutely bare-faced, the Yankee model for inspiration, without this impeding the same people from later scorning everything American after performing it on stage. Or is all this antiAmericanism and scorn for their way of life, their culture, and their customs, just a mask to cover up the envy we have for them?
MIGUEL MASSANET, Begues
Andy Robinson simply cannot shut up about the fires in California. I think he's written as much about the California fires as the whole Vanguardia staff did about this summer's heat wave, in which at the very least several hundred people died in Barcelona and several thousand in all of Spain. Says Andy, wrong again about American history, The suburban model was promoted by Anglo-American real-estate developers and car manufacturers like Ford, who did not understand its incompatibility with the unpredictable and extreme Mediterranean ecosystems. The move to a suburban model--a middle-class dream made in the very same California--has been brutal in recent years and has coincided with the destruction of the rural economy.
Oh, Lord. Suburbanization has been a constant in American history going way back; check out the book Gotham, a well-known history of New York, which makes it clear that New York had residential suburbs going back at least two hundred years--what do you think Harlem was until about 1910? For other examples, look at the net of leafy towns around Boston, the Philadelphia Main Line, Fairfield County, Westchester, Queens, Grosse Pointe, Shaker Heights, Oak Park and the North Shore, et cetera. Those places all existed long before the automobile. Henry Ford and the evil real estate guys didn't cause the phenomenon. And the idea of the American dream goes back to the pioneers and the immigrants, not merely to the LA metro area.
Michael Moore's opus "Stupid White Men" is Number 1 on the Vangua's best-seller list in both Spanish and Catalan. That might have something to do with this story from yesterday's Vangua:
MAJORITY OF EUROPEANS BELIEVE US, ISRAEL AGGRESSIVE STATES: Spaniards view Bush's America as most dangerous country on planet
The majority of Europeans consider that Israel and the United States as a threat toward world peace, according to a study performed by the statistical office of the European Commission, Eurostat, published yesterday. Israel comes in first, with 59% of those surveyed seeing that country as a danger. George W. Bush's America is not far behind, since 53% of those consulted see it as dangerous to the world, as many as Iran and North Korea, and more than Afghanistan (50%) and Pakistan (48%).
Seems that the figures for those who "see the Jewish state as a threat" are 74% in Holland, 69% in Austria, 64% in the UK (!), and 56% in Spain. Those who see the US as "threatening" are 88% in Greece and 61% in Spain. 68% of Europeans surveyed said the coalition attack on Iraq was unjustified, 58% said the UN should be in charge of Iraqi reconstruction, 65% said the US should pay for said reconstruction, and 54% opposed sending their troops for peacekeeping in Iraq. The study was carried out between =ctober 8 and 16 and consisted of 7515 telephone interviews.
Now, Eurostat is up to its neck in corruption, there's a major scandal going on there, but I don't think the survey is incorrect. I think the results reflect EU opinion pretty well, which leads me to one conclusion: They don't like us.
What should our response be to this ejaculation of America and Israel bashing? I'm tempted to say this: Screw European public opinion and the European public. The results of the survey make it pretty clear that most Europeans want us to go home. I vote we do so. Why should we volunteer to defend the Greeks? Let's pull out of NATo and replace it with a series of bilateral treaties, since there's no reason for us to stick out our necks for these people. Goodbye nuclear umbrella, goodbye American bases, goodbye American intervention in Europe, if that's what they want. Also goodbye most-favored trade status. I'm not calling for isolationism here, I'm calling for a realistic foreign policy based on our interests and exclusively our (and our friends') interests. If Greece doesn't want to be our friend, fine. They don't have to be. But then they shouldn't expect any favors, either.
InstaPundit links to this article by Jonathan Rauch on American "unilateralism". Check it out for a review of debunking arguments shredding the "big bad USA" stereotype. Front Page links to this Daniel Pipes article which basically says that the Europeans are all mouth and whining and bitching but no action. They talk big about the US as a threat but their governments do nothing effective that would indicate they really believe in that alleged threat.