Pacifist Spain Is Arming the Enemies of the West


Since taking office in 2004, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has worked assiduously to craft his own public persona as a “convinced pacifist.” His first official act as pacifist-in-chief was, famously, to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq, a decision that was not only wildly popular with Spanish voters, but also cemented Zapatero’s pacifist credentials on the world stage.
A few months later, facing a barrage of criticism from non-pacifists at home and abroad that his Iraq policy amounted to appeasing Islamic terrorists, Zapatero reluctantly deployed extra troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. But just in case the deployment might cast doubt on his commitment to pacifistic ideals, Zapatero dictated strict rules of engagement that forbid Spanish troops in Afghanistan from using lethal force, a “caveat” that today essentially renders useless their presence in the country.
Later that same year, in his first speech [pdf] to the United Nations General Assembly, Zapatero shed some light on his pacifist vision for achieving world peace. Using the flowery post-modern verbiage for which he is now famous, Zapatero declared: “Culture is always peace.” He then went on to argue that Islamic terrorists are misunderstood and can only be defeated by sitting down with them in dialogue.
Zapatero has been careful to appoint only pacifists as Spanish ministers of defense. Zapatero’s first defense minister, the controversial José Bono Martínez, proclaimed: “I am a minister of defense and I would rather be killed than to kill.” He then issued orders prohibiting Spanish troops in Afghanistan from using lethal force on Taliban fighters.
Zapatero’s second minister of defense, José Antonio Alonso Suárez, believed it was his job to demilitarize the Spanish military and to turn the newly disarmed forces into an NGO-like humanitarian organization instead. To achieve his vision, he purged from the senior ranks of the Spanish military those officers who refused to abandon the silly belief that the main purpose of the military is the defense of Spanish sovereignty.
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In this same vein, Zapatero’s third and most recent defense minister, Carme Chacón, recently said: “I am a pacifist, as are the armies of the 21st century.” Again: “I am a pacifist woman, and the Army is also pacifist.” What’s more, Chacón hails from the independence-minded Catalan region and does not even believe in the concept of a united and indivisible Spanish nation.

All of which has some Spaniards wondering: What is the Spanish defense minister defending? The answer: Probably defending what could be called the Zapatero Doctrine, which, based on almost five years of political rhetoric, can be said to rest on three main post-modern “principles”:
1) There is no type of threat that can really ever justify the use of force;
2) militaries should be converted into humanitarian organizations used for civil protection rather than for the defense of sovereignty;
3) there is no other source of legitimacy for the use of force apart from the United Nations, and if that body cannot reach consensus, it is better not to act than to act unilaterally.
But does Zapatero really practice what he preaches? Spaniards started having some doubts when politically explosive pictures posted on the Internet showed the Spanish frigate Álvaro de Bazán deployed off the coast of Iraq in the Persian Gulf as part of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier battle group. After months of controversy, Zapatero never did end up answering the question: Is Spain in Iraq or is Spain not in Iraq?
Now the issue of Spanish weapons sales is casting more doubt over the genuineness of Zapatero’s pacifistic leanings. According to a new government report [pdf] presented to the Spanish Congress in September 2008, Spanish arms sales have skyrocketed by more than 130 percent during Zapatero’s tenure, to 933 million euros in 2007 from 400 million euros in 2004. Spain is now the world’s eighth largest supplier of weapons, after the United States, Russia, Germany, France, Holland, Britain and Italy.
But the recipients of Spanish weapons are a particular cause for concern. The data show that the increase in arms sales is not primarily to other European or Western countries, but rather to distinctly non-pacifist developing countries such as China, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela. Indeed, Spain’s biggest-ever arms deal is with the dictator of Venezuela, which is especially surprising, considering that Spain itself languished under a dictatorship for almost 40 years and only recently became a democracy. (Zapatero, of course, believes that only right-wing dictatorships are repugnant; left-wing and Islamic tyrants, on the other hand, are fellow travelers.)  In response to critics, Zapatero, in classically post-modern terminology, defined the 1.7 billion euro deal as a “business transaction with pacific weapons.”
So what is driving the increase in Spanish arms sales? Spanish jobs, of course, and by extension, Zapatero’s job. The Spanish defense sector, which employs almost 20,000 workers, hopes to avoid a financial crisis by selling weapons to whoever will buy them, regardless of the regime in charge or the weapons’ potential use. According to Amnesty International, some 40 percent of Spanish arms exports go to countries involved in regional conflicts or that do not respect human rights. Another report [pdf] shows that Spain is the largest exporter of weapons to sub-Saharan Africa, one of the most conflict-ridden parts of the world.
If anything, the Spanish arms export data confirms, once again, the sham that is Zapatero’s post-modern Spain, where “cherished” principles are tossed to the wind whenever they are not convenient.
The antiwar idealism of the Zapatero Doctrine is in its essence a neo-pacifist political façade that the Spanish government (and many others in Europe) hides behind in order to avoid military alliance responsibilities in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. And in an effort to conceal this duplicity, the Zapatero Doctrine also serves as a high-minded, anti-American bully pulpit from which to bash the United States (and Israel) for its determination to defend itself against Islamic terrorism and other security threats.
In this context, Zapatero’s weapons sales also point to a far more sinister reality: Although Zapatero and his Western Civilization-hating Socialist ideologues are unwilling to defend their own country, much less their alliance partners, they have absolutely no qualms about arming some of the most virulent antagonists of the West.
Spanish (and by extension European) pacifism has little to do with a genuine desire for world peace. Instead, it is the populist ideology of weak leaders who are interested only in staying in power and whose only firm convictions revolve around the loathing of their Judeo-Christian heritage. By ignoring the time-tested Roman adage that “if you want peace, prepare for war,” they are making the world even more dangerous than it already is.


Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group

bipartisan # 2

@ pvdh

Presumably you were addressing me, and you make some good points.  I don't think that we are going to write here the definitive book on the current financial crisis (which clearly has 'accelerated' the more normal business cycle into a real economic crisis). 

Surely there are many different sub-crises going on in many countries, and there are both regulatory aspects and 'monetary policy' aspects to many of these crises.  You mention, for instance, "artificially low interest rates".  Two points on that. First, generally interest rate policy gets judged on the basis of what happens to (underlying) inflation rates, not on whether there might be confidence crises in credit markets and/or doubts about asset quality on the balance sheets of financial institutions .  Lax monetary policy (by a politically-neutral Fed) may have 'facilitated' the financial crisis to get hold, but it certainly did not 'cause' it.  Second, that too-low interest policy tended to find more support in political circles on the left than on the right.  But, I don't really care about partisanship in this context.

In my opinion, the crisis (at least the US component of it) was 'caused' by a decade or so of 'dangerous' lending by 'Fannie and Freddie' and their mainly ( but - I repeat - NOT SOLELY) leftist political sponsors and 'overseeers/regulators'.  One can criticize some on 'the right' for not complaining loudly and timely enough about it, but criticise and complain they did (including McCain two years ago), whereas Obama's friends were making the problem worse, and Bush as usual did not raise a stink.  When it comes to foreign terrorists and rogue regimes, Bush speaks up.  But, when it comes to domestic law-breaking and leftist 'compassion' he has often and foolishly tended to be an 'appeaser'. Obviously, people need a better communicator (but that is more the people's fault than Bush's).

There exists a serious literature on financial crises and asset bubbles in the past, going back at least to the late Middle Ages.  This is not really a partisan issue.  But, Kappert's  reference to a "necon-capitalism-crash" is uninformed, really ludicrous, and (if you will) "partisan".  My explanation of poor Congressional oversight and corruption, may sound 'partisan' to you, but it certainly gets closer to the 'root cause' of the current financial crisis, because it explains the presence of sizable 'toxic assets' in the system.  And, as financial history shows, once mistrust gets going and the herd-instinct takes doesn't matter which party you belong to before you will get run over.

My deeper point is that the truth does not always lie in 'the middle', and virtue does not adhere equally to all. On the whole, bipartisanship is something we should all strive for, but false moral equivalence is to be rejected. And I certainly reject any 'equivalence' (in terms of presumed partisanship, or in any other more serious way) with the likes of Kappert.


Searching any reasons for the current monetary crisis in singular countries is denying that globalisation has taken place. We are not in 1623, the inflation bubble this time is worldwide is systemic. A system change is needed, otherwise 'rescue packets' only postpone the crisis to emerge even more drastic.


"A system change is needed"

That's a rather gratuitous expression, if one doesn’t explain at the least what the constraints or goals of this new system have to be, in comparison with the old one.


Perhaps we should start to define 'money' and its purpose.

Spit # 2

@ Atlanticist

1) I think we can safely 'discount' his earlier pacifist fundamentalism.  But, an open/explicit retraction on his part would be expecting too much.  

2) However, now, we have a new problem.  Kappert seems to think that "capitalism" has crashed and, further, that "neocons" are supposedly to blame.  But, the strange thing is that the crash seems to be affecting everybody, capitalists and noncapitalists alike.

As far as I can tell, the confidence crisis in financial markets is rooted in the housing bubble of the recent past, which led to the existence of 'toxic assets' in a variety of financial institutions.   In the US at least, the main origin of these toxic assets lies in leftie politicians (and a couple of others as well) forcing/inducing semi-public mortgage companies from engaging in 'irresponsible' lending practices and throwing 'conservative' risk-management to the wind.  This applies, particularly, to the chairmen of the respective oversight committes from the House and the Senate in Congress, i.e. the buffoonish Barney Frank from Massachusetts and the mercurial (Chavez-friend) Senator Dodd from Connecticut.  Not to mention the political appointees running both semi-public morgage companies in a 'socialist' fashion, and funding the election campaigns guessed it: Frank, Dodd, and Obama.  I can assure you, there are/were no "neocons" to be found in those circles. 

But, you must hand it to these radical-lefties.  First they cause a financial crisis by improper political interference in normal sensible lending practices.  Then they present a 'messiah' to tackle the presumed "neocon-capitalism-crash", and the media-brainwashed electorate blames....McCain.   Is the nutty left turning the West into a giant....Argentina?! Time will tell.  But, history is not encouraging in that regard.



If Kappert assertion of the financial crisis being “neo-con made” is at the least partisan, your assertion is the same, but the other way around. Of course it is a rather leftist policy to provide cheap lending capacity for the less wealthy. It may well be that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae where “forced” in some way to provide this lending capacity by “leftist” politicians. (It would be very helpful if you could provide me with some details how this “forcing” was done.) But even if all this is true, that didn’t exempt the rest of the financial system to do his “risk-management” in a right and conservative way. Nor was it the main reason for keeping the Fed’s interest rates artificially low, in order to encourage lending and by doing so fueling the economy. Nor is it a particular leftist policy to rely on self-regulation as an alternative for national regulation. If our quest for the reasons of the crisis resuts in bashing "the other political side", we will miss a golden opportunity to learn and change for the better.

on capitalism-crisis

Money is the appearance of a social essence, that is "abstract labour", and of value (the valorisation of value). Any attempt only to do away with the superficial phenomenon without touching the fundamental deep structure will cause havoc rather than liberation. If in a commodity producing society money is divested of its coordinating capacity, let alone money is abolished as such, its regulative function has to be replaced by a totalitarian bureaucracy. Approaches to the abolition of money, barter pools for instance, have to dispense with the advantages of a highly integrated society. Moreover, they are confined to issuing substitutes for money ("achievement slips" etc.) and will certainly fail in the end as it was the case in Argentina. Under the global reign of neoliberal economic radicalism, the monetary subjectivity is as unchallenged as never before, even in the slums. Paradoxically yet, capitalism itself is setting out to abolish money as the general form of social mediation. What is not meant, is the superficial technological phenomenon that banknotes are replaced by non-material electronic entries and internet-based monetary transactions (electronic banking), just as paper money took the place of precious metals in the past. Rather one has to set one’s sight on the fact that the crisis of the 3rd industrial revolution of microelectronics some years ago, more and more people are unable to participate in the general money economics. In those regions of the world that are already uncoupled from the world economy, money circulation shrinks dramatically. This trend penetrated into the Western World. In the US more and more full-time workers fall beneath the poverty line, whereas, at the same time, anybody who pays in cash instead of paying by credit-card might be considered to be some sort of a crook. Banks only reluctantly grant bank account to people on social welfare. In discount shops people calculate their "buying decisions" exactly by the Cent. Amidst a money economics of seemingly full-scale electronic money transactions, an ever larger section of the population has no access to means of payment. The gigantic debt bubbles correspond with a rapidly growing "penny economics". In public debate, this dimension of the monetary crisis, which is in fact a crisis of "abstract labour", is rather suppressed. The capitalist crisis administration, however, responds to the decrease in general money circulation in a way not very different from the earlier state-capitalist regimes of a totalitarian utopia: bureaucratic abuse of the involuntary "de-monitarised" people. At the same time, instead of proceeding to an emancipatory critique of the system, in a climate of Angst about means of payment, racist and anti-Semitic ideologies of "good and honest" money for "good and honest" labour are hatched. Who might have thought like that: capitalism is about to become negative-utopian.

Spit #1

@ marcfrans


Kappert writes as though he accepts that the military should play a dual role i.e. 'fighting' and 'humanitarian'.


Quote: Are you sure that (Mr Kern) is a sensible person who knows that THE MILITARY HAS OTHER DUTIES BESIDES FIGHTING?


But, of course, we all know that kappert is NOT a sensible person because HE does not.

The split # 3

Correcting the dishonesty/misrepresentation of 'zapatero balmies' (like kappert) is a toil-without-end, and such correction is totally 'wasted' on such dishonest people. They are not interested in facts, nor in learning.  But others may well be.

The point I made about the US military was simply in response to Kappert's assertion that "the military might have another duty than kill& destroy etc....". That assertion was of course ridiculous in this context of a response to Mr Kern, since the latter had never made any contrary claim and is clearly a sensible person who knows that the military has other duties besides 'fighting'.  

I simply made the factual observation, that the US military has a long record of providing large-scale immediate assistance after natural disasters in different parts of the world.  Some major recent examples were the tsunamis in Indonesia/SriLanka and more recently in Burma (Myanmar), and several earth quakes in Pakistan.  Such assistance is rather immediate and physical in nature, and clearly constitutes a role for which militaries are often well-suited.      

Kappert responded to it with another irrelevant assertion about "compare relations in monetary spending between warfare and humanitarian aid".  Obviously, such 'comparison' has nothing to do with the issue of whether militaries have other roles than 'fighting', nor does it in any way contradict or disprove my statement that the US military has a record of being the world's biggest provider of immediate physical assistance after major natural disasters around the world.   

So, one may conclude that 'Zapatero balmies' of the Kappert-type cannot read very well, and also have a proclivity to ignore facts (that are 'unpleasant' to them) and will seek refuge in creating 'strawmen'.  One may further assume that kappert knows nothing about the serious literature dealing with the efficacy of "monetary spending...(on) humanitarian aid".   In fact, just like there is a manifest 'oil curse', there is also a lot of empirical evidence that (a) most of financial spending on "aid" ends up in the hands of 'middlemen' (to put it charitably), and (b) that aid provided through corrupt governments tends to help entrenching those governments rather than helping poor people.   Indeed, the presence of sizable amounts of both (a) oil/gas and/or of (b) foreign aid, can be a real 'curse', because it often strengthens undemocratic governance and also can easily lead to inappropriate macroeconomic policies that undermine the competitiveness of the economy. In industrial countries the latter used to be called the 'Dutch disease' (which the Norwegians and Canadians apparently have largely managed to avoid).   


The split #4

- Surely Mr Kern is not happy about the pacifist role of the Spanish troops, are you sure that he's 'a sensible person who knows that the military has other duties besides 'fighting''. He rather downgraded these duties.
- With more than 1000 transport aircraft, the US military can afford flying aid-packets around the world. For instance, Germany has four planes for that purpose,..., Portugal one.
- You're right that we don't know where our aid-money goes - it simply disappears (the middlemen you mentioned), even in highly credited organisations.
- At last, in face of the neocon-capitalism-crash, does anyone do maths about the economy any more?

Mill's superpowers

The 19th century utilitarian J S Mill had a terrible childhood which made him believe in the 'creation of geniuses' only comparable with later übermensch theories. For an Englishman working in the East India Company such absolute powers of extermination are no surprise.
As for 'US military is by far the biggest provider of humanitarian assistance', marcfrans must be joking with history. Please, compare relations in monetary spending between warfare and humanitarian aid, and you'll see that the U.S. are not at all so bravely humanitarian as you might wish them to be (at least not compared to Spain).
NATO's navys are around the Horn for more than two decades, a timespan in which piracy really evolved. Do I miss something here?
Of course 'non-pacifist countries' like Cuba do not think of invading Florida (or any other foreign territory), nor did we hear of imperialistic intentions of Venezuela or Iran. As for the superpower China, the role of their military is quite different to that in the Western hemisphere.

The split # 2

@ Frank Lee

1) You are ignoring the fact that many Americans think like the 'Zapatero balmies', and that many (but fewer) Europeans think like some 'rational' Americans do.  I think it better to see matters in terms of a struggle between 'balmies' and 'rationals' in all parts of Western civilisation.  Now that the son of an American "hippie" (cf. Emigrantus) appears to be on the verge of completing the take-over of the US government by the radical-left, it will be interesting to see how they will get along with the 'Zapatero-balmies' in Europe (and vice versa) when efforts will have to be made and really 'shared'.

2) Obviously, Kappert is one of those European 'Zapatero balmies'.  One can recognise them immediately in their (a) hypocrisy/blindness and (b) dishonesty/misrepresentation.

--  There was nothing in the article by Mr Kern about denying that militaries can have other duties than fighting. In fact, the US military is by far the biggest provider of humanitarian assistance after natural disasters in many parts of the world. And has been so, for a very long time.

-- Any informed observer of world events knows that the  efforts of Paris and Madrid, against "pirates" around the Horn of Africa, pale in comparison with the efforts undertaken by the US military in that regard in Africa and elsewhere.  

-- And, obviously, it is totally beyond the comprehension of 'Zapatero balmies' (European and American) as to WHY "non-pacifist countries" (like China, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran....) cannot immediately ("at any minute") invade other countries.  But, the tendency/abilityy to attribute positive or 'good' external intentions to manifest (internal) totalitarians is one of the hallmarks of 'Zapatero-like balmies'.     

@ tormenting miserable creatures everywhere

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free UNLESS MADE AND KEPT SO BY THE EXERTIONS OF BETTER MEN THAN HIMSELF.


 John Stuart Mill



ps: (Anagram) Spanish pacifism = Pica mass finish


'translation':  Suicidal Pacifists have an appetite for the strangest "food for thought".

a question for Mr Atlantic

Did John Stuart Mill also say that civil war is okay?
(if that is what it takes to save our existence).

and also, in his books, did he mention terrorist bombing campaigns? (I mean, if there is no other solution).

it must be tormenting

It must be really tormenting for the spirit of Mr. Kern to learn, that military forces might have another duty than the 'kill & destroy' doctrines of McNamara/Laird/Schlesinger/Rumsfeld/Carlucci/Cheney applied for so many years of successful U.S.-American military power. It must equally torment mr. Kern that Paris and Madrid want to control the pirates of the Horn of Africa. And Mr. Kern must get crazy about a pregnant Defence Minister proclaiming a pacifist army. Quickly he tries to outpoint 'non-pacifist' countries like Cuba, Iran, China or Venezuela which, as we all know, have a world-wide conspiracy to conquer the world, and, at any minute, will invade their neighbours! What a crap of article!

The split

Once again, let me point out that Americans and Europeans do not share the same values on a very fundamental level.