Our prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, asked last Friday about the news of massive spying by the US security agency NSA, answered in ambiguous terms clearly intended to defuse the problem. His stammering reply was a depressing experience for those who aspire to live in a land with a pretense of sovereignty. He began solemnly with "I have given instructions to the foreign affairs minister...," as if in parody of Zapatero saying "I have ordered the defense minister to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq." But Rajoy slid down the inclined plane of submission, saying that the foreign minister was merely to summon the US ambassador and "ask him for information" concerning the published news about the spying.
An inhibited reaction that started from the wrong assumption that the path of submission is the necessary condition for good relations with the United States. But in the European Council, from which he had just emerged, Angela Merkel and François Hollande had taken a firm stand, on which Rajoy turned his back, blinded by obsequiousness to Obama. He sought to justify this approach by claiming that security is not the business of the EU, but a sovereign attribute of each country. That is, he invoked national sovereignty even as he dramatically chucked it overboard. He would have been better off joining Germany and France in their protest. Such prostrate submission is not even based on any particular personal relationship with Obama. Now, nearly two years after his clear electoral victory, Rajoy has yet to enjoy an official meeting with the occupant of the White House. This confirms that Washington is uninterested in being nice to those who are not interested in being respected.
Only once did Spain make its positions clear, obtaining its objectives without prejudice to Hispano-US relations
Only once did Spain make its positions clear, obtaining its objectives without prejudice to Hispano-US relations. This was during negotiations to renew the Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed by Ambassador Máximo Cajal and by Reginald Bartholomew, US envoy in Madrid, in 1988. You can consult the book of memoirs The Reagan Diaries to find the favorable references the American president makes to Spain, King Juan Carlos and, far more extensively, to our then prime minister, Felipe González, whom he received in the Oval Office on June 21, 1983: "He's sharp, a bright, personable, young, moderate and pragmatic socialist." After another meeting in Madrid in 1985, Reagan adds: "By the time our meeting was over, we were Felipe and Ron."
The rest has been free-and-easy attitudes, such as Aznar putting his feet up on the coffee table at George W. Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas, or the "three tenors" encounter of Bush, Blair and Aznar in the Azores to issue the ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. Mere meaningless gesticulations these, when afterward Aznar took a line of willing servitude but only sent one hospital ship to Iraq, which arrived after the ceasefire was established.
Later would come the childish gesture of remaining seated on the reviewing stand, when he was leader of the opposition and the stars and stripes went by in a parade, earning Zapatero the firm enmity of the White House. As if this were not enough, he withdrew Spain's small contingent of troops from Iraq. But afterwards he bent over backwards in gestures of submission. With Carme Chacón as defense minister, he declined to abrogate, as he had promised to do, the American Defense Cooperation Agreement when it expired, and on top of this brought the US base at Rota into the vaunted anti-missile shield, under an agreement later signed by the present government of the PP.
To get back to the question in hand, the other day the US ambassador spent 40 minutes at the Foreign Ministry speaking with the secretary of state for the EU, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo. And speaking from Warsaw, the foreign minister said that if the massive espionage is confirmed, "the climate of trust may be seriously affected." Watch out!