American soldiers have been disinvited from next week’s parade in Spain, that will be commemorating Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. (Columbus was not, of course, a Spaniard but a Genoese.) Americans had first been invited to participate in the wake of 9/11 but Zapatero’s government apparently does not feel that there is any need to honour American or any other dead victims of terrorism. Except, presumably, the Madrid ones. (Am I the only person who is still rather puzzled by the fact that a dozen backpacks filled with explosives were left at various points of the underground system and nobody, absolutely nobody reported them to the police?)
Not only has the government decided that Americans were not wanted at the parade, while the French were for the first time (what on earth has Columbus’s arrival in the New World has to do with the French?) but the Defence Minister, José Bono, was also moved to pronounce on the relationship between the two countries:
“What does not continue is subordinating and getting down on our knees on orders from a foreign government.”
Perhaps not. But orders issued by foreign terrorists through bombs seem to be obeyed with regards to participation or otherwise in the war against terror. Spanish forces were pulled out of Iraq, Spanish help in Afghanistan is being cut back and Prime Minister Zapatero is urging America’s allies to follow suit in order to “open up a more favourable prospect” in Iraq. Just how abandoning the people of that country to the neo-Baathist insurgents would open up a favourable prospect is not entirely clear, but perhaps it made sense in Spanish.
It has also been suggested rather strongly that one reason for Zapatero’s decision was a threat from France and Germany that those structural and cohesion funds might be cut back if Spain does not fall into line. After all, there are needier recipients further east. Perhaps Prime Minister Zapatero and Defence Minister Bono might care to explain that some time.