Sun Oct 9th, 2005 at 10:23:01 AM EST
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
As the sun dissappeared from the Spanish sky on Monday, phantasms of the past. real and imagined lurked in the innocous comments of a Spanish general.
General Felix Sanz Roldan, chief of staff of the armed forces, showed the dismcomfort of the military command with the use of the term "nation" recognized for Catalunya by the Estatut (the proposed Catalan autonomy statute.) The statements were made during a conference about the transformation of the armed forces sponsored by the Foro de la Nueva Sociedad.
In the Q&A session after his presentation, Sanz Roldan answered in one response several questions about the Catalan statute, the inclusion of the term "nation" or whether there existed risk to the unity of Spain. explaining that "the unity of Spain is a worry, as is logical for the military, and it's a worry because we've entered into the academy to live for and by Spain, and without doubt there exist among the military a great interest that this secular Spain of such glory and accumulated history continues to be a common patrimony and indivisible for all Spaniards.
There exists a "worry", but alas given the history of Spain in the 20th century with the tragedy of the Civil War, and the unfortunate failure to confront the ghost of the past, this "worry" creates worries. In the absence of the midday sun demons of the past do run, fear real and imagined that Spain is still subject to the whim of generals who profess to act in the interest of the "Unity of Spain". Lest it be forgotten, on of the catalysts for the both the Nationalist uprising and the failed pronunciamiento of Feb 23 1981.
The image of a Spanish colonel holding legislators at gunpoint, telling them to "sit the fuck down" all the while being broadcast to a live television audience is shocking, and at heart much of the Spanish embrace of Europe is reaction to feelings of Spanish inadequecy and shame of the past. In contrast the the reconociliation in South Africa, there has never been an accounting for the crimes of Franco and the atrocities of the Civil War. Every couple of years another mass gave is uncovered and old wounds are reopened. One of the strengths and perhaps the greatest weakness of the
transicion the amazing transformation of Spain from a tin pot dictatoship to a fully functioning democracy was the willingness to leave the issue of reconociliation (or revenge) to the wayside for a later date when democratic gains where consolidated.
The wounds of the past have never been addressed, but the in large part the preoccupation by the Catalan Nationalist Youth about the possiblity of miltary action to preserve the "Unity of Spain" against the forces of Catalan nationalism is paranoid delusion.
Culminal (Catalan Nationalist Youth leader) believes that Sanz roldan should be aware that his words are a threat and if this "interest" in the unity of the country. "by someone who entered the Army in the Franco era" might lead to the return of tanks down the Diagonal, in reference to the arrival of Nationalist forces into Barcelona by the city's main avenue in 1939.
Yes, Spain has a troubling history of military intervention in civil affairs, but there are three simple reasons why a coup de etat is about as likely as the sun not returning to the sky once it exits the shadow of the moon.
- Military interventionism was sympatematic of a bloated, officer heavy military that has been cut to a fraction of its former self in the years following the 1981 incident.
- The relocation of the Civil Guards from the competency of the Mininistry of Defense to the Ministery of the Interior has removed the threat represented by what were essentially paramilitaries to the democratic order. The infrastructure for military action is simply nonexistent.
- The Spanish embrace of Europe has been mutual. Military action in Spain woul undoubtedly be frowned upon by the rest of the European Union, and the cat fight over Haider in Austria would pale in comparision to the response to a "General's night out in Madrid" from Brussells. One only hopes that the American government would respond likewise.
Nonetheless, as eloquently stated by Jospeh Heller in Catch 22, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." And the same would seem to apply to the preoccupation about the role of the Spanish military in the preservtion of the unity of the nation. The real danger isn't a coup, but a subtle pronunciamiento
, the distinuguishing charachteristic between the two being that the coup seeks to change the regime, while the pronunciamiento
seeks to change the regime's agenda.
With the increasing role he Spanish military will be playing in light of the recent bum rushes on the fence at Ceuta and Mellila by Subsaharan migrants (where are all the Morrocans at in this picture? God knows there are Morrocans migrants in Spain.), and the subsequent deployment of armed forces to guard the frontier between Morrocco and the Spanish cities on the African coast, there is reason to question the proper role of the military in civil affairs. There is a very real threat to Spain presented by instability in the Maghreb, and the ability of the king of Morrocco to keep the situation under control is in doubt (the Morrocan issue bullets recovered from the bodies of migrants who were shot in Spanish territory presents but one of the more interesting scenarios for a clusterfuck of global proportions.) But the modernification and professionalization of the Spanish armed forces along the American model of the "professional military" present the threat of a military class that feels its first obligation is to "Spain" and only secondarily to the people and government thereof. And in that circumstance saber rattling about the "unity of Spain" by the military should be cause for alarm.