Friday, November 26, 2004

The Wall Street Journal put out a blistering editorial damning Zap yesterday. Here it is, courtesy of one of Barcepundit's readers; since he's already blatantly stolen it I have no compunction about stealing it off him.

The Accidental Prime Minister
November 25, 2004 6:16 a.m.

"I don't want to be a great leader," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told Time magazine in September. In that case, Mr. Zapatero's first nine months in office must be called a resounding success.

The young prime minister made his unique mark even before he could find his away around the Moncloa Palace, ordering Spain's troops to cut and run from Iraq, pronto. His hasty decision last spring was the perfect "thank you" note to the terrorists who bombed the Madrid trains on March 11, and pushed him, unexpectedly, into office.

Incidentally, contrary to Socialist claims that the previous government exposed Spain to terrorism, we now know that the Madrid attacks were planned long before the Iraq war. The pullout, which cost Spain friends and influence abroad, brought no security at home. Spanish police have foiled several terrorist attacks since then. Spain remains both a target and a hub for Osama's global network.

Mr. Zapatero's unrelenting flurry of anti-American jibes make even French and German diplomats flinch. He twice urged U.S. allies to defect and leave Iraq. Yet he somehow expected President George W. Bush to return his calls. It would be tempting to shrug all this off as the blunders of an inexperienced prime minister who will eventually become wiser. But Mr. Zapatero's policy seems to be not as much driven by inexperience as by ideology, and this is hard to change.

This worldview helps explain his affinities for the last remaining bastions of socialism in Latin America. He's lobbying hard to have the European Union's sanctions against Cuba lifted, ostensibly to encourage reforms in that totalitarian island. Cuban dissidents, however, such as Oswaldo Paya, are not deceived. "The EU governments can act according to their interests and abandon this ethical position. But what no one can say, without insulting our intelligence, is that to abandon this position . . . is in the interests of Cuba and peaceful change." Strengthening Spain's ties with Venezuelan strongman President Hugo Chavez is another of Mr. Zapatero's pet projects. On a state visit in Madrid this week, Mr. Chavez rhapsodized about how "the vibes have been very, very good" between him and Mr. Zapatero. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos even backed Mr. Chavez's accusation that the previous conservative Spanish government supported an attempted "coup" against him. The conservatives immediately denounced this as a lie, asking for Mr. Moratinos's resignation.

Mr. Zapatero is entitled to his views. But the Spanish people would be justified in asking just what do they get out of their leader appeasing terrorists, coddling up to dictators and whittling away Spain's global standing? There may be four long and dark years ahead on the Iberian peninsula.

Ouch. La Vanguardia has the story on page 16, and in the headline they spell the newspaper's name as "The Wall Stret Journal". A couple of quotes: "The conservative American media...the tone of the commentary was very offensive and sarcastic..."

Now, get this. Zap's ambassador in Cuba, Carlos Alberto Zaldivar, met with Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque on Thursday in Havana, in the first official meeting between Spain and Cuba for 17 months.

1. The European Union has not lifted its diplomatic sanctions on Cuba.
2. The European Parliament last week requested that no EU country change its policy toward Cuba until all Cuban political prisoners are freed.
3. Zaldivar said "There is a complex process, initiated by Spain, in order to create a more normal situation in EU-Cuban relations." I think what this means is that Zap's Spain is trying to get the rest of the EU to pucker up and plant one on Castro's bum.
4. The Zap regime didn't tell anyone else in the EU that they were going to do this.
5. The Zappers didn't even wait for an upcoming EU meeting at which the question of relations with Cuba is scheduled to be on the agenda.
6. Pérez Roque said, "We've called on the Spanish Ambassador as a result of the process begun by his government, and expecially by his foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and we are reestablishing official contact with the Spanish Ambassador in Havana.
7. Castro has made absolutely zero concessions regarding the question of human rights or living up to any standard of reasonable behavior.
8. La Vanguardia's Joaquim Ibarz, from whose article I freely plagiarized this post, said that "Spain's unilateral action" had caused a crisis within the EU leadership, where there is "no unanimity about what EU policy toward Cuba should be".

This is unprofessional, chickenshit, cowardly, and the ass-bussing of a dictator. And they talk about alleged American unilateralism. The Zappers went off and did something totally out of bounds according to every rule they accepted they would obey when they joined the EU, and then they whine about Bush only having justification to take out Saddam any time he wanted under a mere three or four UN resolutions.

In case you didn't realize what a shambling disaster the Zap regime has become, Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's democratically elected dictator, showed up in Spain this week. It seems that the major motive for the effusive welcome Chávez received is that the government-owned Venezuelan oil company is going to buy two natural-gas transport ships from a Spanish government-owned shipyard, Izar, located in Sevilla. This will occupy said shipyard for the next three years and Izar will not have to go bankrupt or fire all their workers, as they would otherwise have needed to do. It also seems that back in 2002 Venezuela's government oil company was going to buy eight ships from Izar, but then came the attempted overthrow of Chávez, the Aznar government of Spain sided openly with the anti-Chavistas, and Chávez broke the contract because he got all pissed off.

Also, Spain's monster oil company, Repsol-YPF, produces 100,000 barrels of petroleum a year in Venezuela; this is about 10% of the company's production. They want more Venezuelan concessions and are apparently going to get them. The Venezuelan government is planning to form a mixed public-private company with Repsol in order to explore for even more oil (most likely either off the Venezuelan coast or in the Amazon jungles, for all you Greens out there) And, finally, the Venezuelan military has been talking about buying military radar sets from Indra, the Spanish high-tech company.

Chávez was supposed to meet with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in order to talk about spending some of the money he's been raking in, because of high oil prices, on Pharoah-like public projects, which will all turn out to be a huge disaster, of course, but he blew them off to speak to Communist union members from the CCOO. La Vanguardia says that the thousand union members who were at the speech gave him several ovations, and "they were at the point of carrying him out of the room on their shoulders". He promised the construction of not two, but three ships, and a repair contract to get production going right now. See, according to La Vanguardia, Zap had personally expressed "his worries regarding the difficult situation that the Spanish government-owned shipyards are going through" to Chávez. Meanwhile, rioting and strikes continued at the (also government-owned) Izar shipyard in Cádiz.

And, of course, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Spain's ineffable foreign minister, had to get into it. He accused the Aznar government of having openly participated in the attempt to get rid of Chávez in April 2002, and roundly criticized Aznar's alleged participation, for which even the Zappers admit there is no documentary evidence. This is, of course, something that a democratic leader doesn't do--you don't go back on the actions of the former government and diplomatic corps of your own country, at least not officially. Chávez then chimed in, saying he had no doubt Aznar had been behind the attempt to remove him.

Then, fortunately, Chávez went home.

In a final burst of clownishness, the Socialist Party and its allies lost an important parliamentary vote on the appointment of judges yesterday because many of their deputies didn't bother to show up, including Zap and several of his top Zappers.

Pasqual Maragall, in Mexico, said "The world is becoming more and more prepared to be governed by the left...we must find a new paradigm, which has recently been called the Buenos Aires Consensus, and which was born at the Universal Forum of Cultures as the Barcelona Agenda for Development...we must find a substitute for the Washington Consensus, the fruit of the Second World War, and it is time to change the basic norms of the international liberal (i.e. capitalist) economy, since whenever the World Bank and the IMF have intervened it has been to impose capitalist policies and their influence has not been positive."

Yeah, right. When he wakes up he'll find himself among damp, sticky sheets.

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