You could call it merely a fine drizzle, but our prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has been getting little but cold water from officialdom in the United States. A drizzle of snubs that, as is usual, are answered on this side with attitudes of genuflection. Observe, for example, how a week after his investiture, the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, was received in the Oval Office of the White House; while Rajoy, after his election by an ample majority last November, had to wait almost a year - not for a White House reception, but for his recent pathetic "photo opportunity" with Obama at the UN in New York.
When Franco died, the Spanish gave the world a surprise. Our various political forces sat down and worked out reasonable, dispassionate solutions - as if we lived on the shores of the Baltic, not of the Mediterranean. We thus frustrated the predictions of the Hispanists, who like to make mileage for their own careers in journalism or academia by expatiating on the innate Spanish propensity for fanaticism, violence and civil war - though reassuring the reader that there is a bright side to Spain: the hotels and restaurants and telephones are somewhat better here than in Africa, and you don't need as many vaccinations.
So, after Franco, we had reconciliation, concord, civil rights, democracy and national sovereignty. We joined the European Union and NATO, and in 1988 signed a new defense agreement with Washington on the US bases in Spain. They respected us because we made ourselves respected.
This was an exemplary negotiation, handled by the ambassador Máximo Cajal. Added difficulties came from certain sectors of the right-wing Spanish press, who did their best to weaken our negotiators by calling them Communists and the like. It concluded with a substantial reduction in the US military presence here, the closure of the Torrejón air base, and a treaty that provided for Support Installations and the allowance of Use Authorizations, a concession to the Madrid government, in bases that were now fully Spanish.
After Franco, we had reconciliation, concord, civil rights, democracy and national sovereignty
Then came the rightist PP government of José María Aznar in 1996, and a number of concessions were made to our US partners, with nothing at all in return. When the Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero took over in 2004 he left them unaltered.
Now we proceed to October 5, 2011, when the lame-duck Zapatero showed up in Brussels to embrace Leon Panetta, the US defense secretary, and NATO's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and give us the good news that the US base at Rota (on the southwest coast near Cádiz) was to be included in the Anti-missile Shield project. We have never heard many details about it, except that Spain authorizes the deployment of four US Navy AEGIS destroyers at the base, and that the number of US military personnel there is to increase by 1,400, thus giving, presumably, a boost to the local economy. Then last Friday, the Cabinet authorized the signing of the Second Protocol of Amendment to the 1988 Treaty, good for another eight years.
Zapatero's commitment, so oddly made only weeks before stepping down, is to be ratified today in Brussels. Nor has the odd asymmetry been altered, in which the document is an International Treaty on the Spanish side and only an Executive Agreement in Washington. On Thursday, the defense and foreign ministers are to give post-factum explanations in Congress, should anyone demand them.
It seems unlikely that the Socialist Party will do so, after Zapatero's role in this latest chapter of the drama "Rota, for nothing." Once again the two major political parties take a break from their verbal fencing, and sit down to make a deal - to the prejudice of national interests, or to fill top posts in our higher institutions with non-entity hacks from their respective ranks. Such pragmatism, such common sense. And then they tell us that the political class is degenerate.