Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pilar Rahola is on a roll. This is from page 21 in yesterday's La Vanguardia.

Alliance...of what?

There is nothing worse than an ignorant person with good intentions. Of course, I would never dare compare prime minister Zapatero with a dunce, but I do think his international do-gooderism has led him to commit some of the most foolish actions of his administration. There is, for example, foreign minister Moratinos visiting Cuba and supporting the regime while ostracizing the democratic opposition. Or selling arms to the unpredictable and dangerous Hugo Chavez. Or being rude to the Americans while insulting their flag.* Or, of course, the lamentable incident when he wore a Palestinian kefia in the middle of the war in Lebanon.

If Zapatero's record were based exclusively on his international policies, we could justifiably start calling him Bambi again. Differently from his domestic policies, where he has made promises but not fulfilled them, in international policy Zapatero has been coherent, which is very bad news. When coherence means the systematic and uncritical application of the Little Red Book of the Good "Progre," with all the commandments of political correctness--"thou shalt hate the United States above all things"--taken to its most extreme limits, what we have is a fiasco, along with permanent improvisation.

From this do-gooder politically correct faith, born of the catechism of Mafalda, came an idea that is as pompous as it is disquieting, the Alliance of Civilizations, argued for at the UN with a simplicity that still today causes headaches among some intelligent minds of the left. This discourse included all the commonplaces that a certain paternalist left, of which Zapatero is a notable member, holds regarding Islam. If a common fault of the right is the lack of a sentiment of solidarity, then the left is suffering from an overdose of one-eyed solidarity that ends up allied to important enemies of freedom.

Look at the Alliance of Civilizations, which has begun its existence in Madrid. It seemed at its birth to be a contrast to the concept of a clash of civilizations, and so it won the easy applause of all those who think that complex problems require simple intentions. However, there is no clash, nor an alliance, among other things because there is no difference between civilizations. There is civilization--which includes the idea of free human beings--and there are those who want to keep their citizens, while hiding behind religious or ideological excuses, living in pure barbarism.

Civilization does not force a woman from Yemen to live in cruel slavery, or justify death by stoning in Saudi Arabia, or, in the name of a god, urge a young man to commit suicide while killing others anywhere in the world. This is a totalitarian ideology, religious fanaticism, and a medieval concept of society. That is, this is anti-civilization. When Zapatero, in the middle of the debate on Islamist terrorism, suggested an Alliance of Civilizations to which some of the most notable tyrants of the Muslim world would be invited as equals, he was committing an enormously dangerous mistake, one that is very unfair to all of those from the Islamic world who are fighting for freedom. That is why his Alliance is very perverse, very paternalist, and not effective at all.

With whom are we allying ourselves? With the satraps who go to official dinners at the Moncloa or with those who oppose all those regimes? With the violent sexism of fundamentalist Islam and its little oil kings, or the women who have raised their voices, risking their lives, to denounce it? Are we with King Abdulah bin Abdulaziz or with Ayan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Talisma Nasrim, and so many other brave Muslim women? The answer seems to be clear: the freedom of women is not spoken of, nor is totalitarian fanaticism, nor anti-Christianity, nor anti-Semitism (which has become law in many of those countries). Therefore, we are left with a Bambi version of a song-and-dance routine. Lamentable, and in these times, highly irresponsible.

*In 2003, while he was leader of the opposition, Zapatero refused to stand up during an official parade when the American flag passed by. This nasty little symbolic snub cost Zapatero a good deal of international goodwill, and not only in the US.

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