Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Vangua reports that President Bush's response to the Spanish elections was, "Al Qaeda knows what the stakes are. They want us to leave Iraq because they are trying to use Iraq as an example of how to overthrow freedom and democracy. (Terrorists) will continue trying to murder innocents so that the world will be frightened. They will never break the will of the United States. It is essential that the free world remain strong, resolved, and decided."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "They want us to bug out of there. We should not permit the terrorists to influence an election or influence a policy." Meanwhile, the Pentagon said, basically, too bad if the Spaniards leave Iraq but we can handle it if they do.

The Italians and the Dutch are not going to bail out on the Coalition. The Poles aren't, either, though they feel rather abandoned by Spain. The Polish government is supposedly about to fall, but I'll believe that when it happens. They said that Poland's 2400 troops will remain in Iraq "at least until the end of the year". Polish troops will stay in Iraq until a new Iraqi government has taken over full authority and control of national security.

Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who has a pair of large brass ones, stated that "Pulling out foreign forces now would mean that the terrorists are right and that they are stronger than the whole civilized world".

Poland is also worried that the new Zap government will bow down to the Frogs and Toads in the EU. Now, this is a total MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over), but there are negotiations going on for a new European Union constitution. One of the sticking points is, of course, how much power each state should have in EU decision making. Germany is the largest state with some 80 million people, and then come France, Italy, and Britain with about sixty million each. It is understood that these larger states will have more power than the rest because this is supposed to be at least sort of democratic and they obviously have more people.

Then, of course, the smaller states like Holland and Greece and the Czech Republic will have fewer votes and less power. Of course. The problem is Spain and Poland, each of which have about forty million people and who fall right in the middle. Basically, what Spain and Poland are arguing is that as the middle powers they ought to have a larger share of the EU power pie. Zap, however, is thought to be ready to ditch the Poles and sign on with the Frogs and the Toads, thereby accepting a smaller share of power inside the EU than what Aznar and Polish PM Miller were holding out for.

The "office pools" are going around in political circles here, just as they're going around in offices all over the United States for the NCAA basketball tournament. These are literally office pools, though, since they're betting on which party hack is going to get what Cabinet office in the new Zap government. Leading guesses, according to the Vangua, are Jesus Caldera as vice-Prime Minister, Jose Montilla at Interior (May God nos coja confesados) or Public Administration, rather more up his alley since he's a party bureaucrat, Miguel Sebastian at Economics, Miguel Angel moratinos at Foreign Affairs, Magdalena Alvarez at Hacienda, and Carmen Calvo at Culture. Supposedly Jose Bono has some sort of new Homeland Security Cabinet seat locked up if he wants it. Looks like the Zap-Blanco Madrid party faction, which supposedly has the support of former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, won and they're going to get most of the good jobs, beating out the Bono-Ibarra regional barons faction, the Alfonso Guerra hard-left faction, and the Maragall Catalan faction.

Here's Greenpeace: "(Zap's election) means an approach toward the rest of the European Union nations in order to form a bloc differentiated from the United States and from George Bush's Administration, which is marked by a very aggressive policy". Well, as a general rule, if Greenpeace is for it I'm against it, and this statement doesn't make me change my thinking.

Here's Barry Rubin in the Vanguardia, one of the few non-hysterical articles the Vangua has printed since 3/11.

The goal of the terrorists is to provoke the victims to blame their own governments, Israel, or the United States, and not the terrorists themselves. This strategy often works with some sectors of the media of communication, intellectuals, and public opinion, but it rarely results in political changes.

Other European countries will face the new risks of very localized terrorism. Great Britain and Italy are obvious targets because of the iraq question. Also, France might suffer an attack due to the strengthening of its posture against Islamic terrorism and the prohibition of the veil in schools.

Given the proximity of the American elections, specific terrorist attacks might be planned to defeat President George W. Bush. (The subject is complex, since Bush's opponents might react against any insinuation of that sort by alleging that idea [stand up to the terrorists who are trying to defeat Bush] is a partisan attempt to assure the victory of the president.)

The reaction of the Spanish voters to this attack will be the first test of what looks like Al Qaeda's and its allied groups' new strategy.

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