Our Most Beloved EU President, ‘Haiku Herman’ van Rompuy, has just been granted a fabulous new honour: the ‘Otto-von-der-Gablentz-Award’ for those who have distinguished themselves in furthering the European Ideal. He receives this prize for the incomparable manner in which (and here I translate the verbal diarrhoea of the citation) ‘he invariably manages to plot a feasible course for everyone involved, in spite of the many differences in interests and opinion between the leaders and the member states of the European Union’ (note the use of Leaders and Member States and the complete absence of Populations!) Ah, it must be highly satisfying to be feasted by your peers as you preside over doomsday and devastation! Yet I don’t know why, but it somehow reminds me of those Spanish generals of the Peninsular War against Napoleon who, after every dismal and disastrous defeat, got hung with splendid new medals to celebrate their bravery and pluck.
Speaking of Spain: here on the work floor of our Brave New Europe, things look a little bleaker than they do in those warm, cosy, comfortable Brussels offices. Last Friday Prime Minister Rajoy finally presented his long awaited Austerity Budget for 2012, the worst the country has seen since democracy arrived in ‘76. The ink on that document never got a chance to dry, and the stupefied nation was given no time to digest the depth, sweep and consequences of this slash-and-burn Brussels’ Diktat. No sooner had the hyenas of the ‘markets’ and the EU devoured the first juicy chunk, than they clamoured for MOOORRREEE…!!! MORE CUTS! MORE AUSTERITY! MORE SACRIFICE TO THE RAVENOUS GODS OF THE RATING AGENCIES! The beast howled to be fed with ever more virgins and fresh white meat of children…
Not that last Friday’s budget cuts were negligible. But at least they were fair and just! Oh yes! Only those with the strongest shoulders got to carry the heaviest burden, and only those most guilty of Spain’s present plight got to bleed for the adjustments. To wit:
Public Works 22 % less
Investigation + Development 34 %
Ministry of Education 21 %
Museums 13 %
Culture 17 to 35 %
Labour force formation 24 to 34 %
At the same time, our weaker and more innocent cousins were happily spared. Thus, the budget of the Royal Palace was cut with only 2 %, the Catholic Church will be cut with 0 % (say: zero), while the owners of grand fortunes of black money who have been evading their taxes for years on end, will be allowed to buy off their obligations with a one-time fine of 10 % … Justice social and fiscal is being done!
How anybody can be so witless as to think he may, with impunity, implicate such blatantly unjust decisions in so tense a social situation as the present, beats an old man like myself who has seen countries go up in smoke for less. If cuts must be made (and I admit they must be made!) then at least Keep Up Appearances of Equity at all costs! If not, you will lose your support among the populace, and where will that leave you and your country?
But as said: there is worse. When Saturday the Markets and the ECB howled for MORE BLOOD, the Spanish Minister of Economy hurried to cater to their demands and immediately promised Brussels and Frankfurt that within a fortnight the government would chop an additional 10 billion budget cut from… the National Health Service and Education. Ah, yes, it was getting time, wasn’t it? Schoolchildren and sick people are famous bloodsuckers, parasites and freeloaders, who caused our present troubles and must be made to pay for their sins! It is Greece all over again, with this little difference that the Greeks are pussycats when compared with Spaniards, once you get them angry.
Getting a Spaniard sufficiently angry to swing into violent action is no easy matter, for the Spaniards themselves are only too aware how ferocious they become once the blood starts flowing. And they do not wish to be ferocious; they wish to sit on their porch in the sunshine, with a nice glass of wine at their elbow, chatting amiably with friends and loved ones. But beware to mistake their patience for indecision or weakness or – God forbid! - cowardice! If history has taught us anything, it is that there is no nation more difficult to beat once they come out against you. To get back to our beginning: perhaps the Van Rompuys and Barrosos and Draghis of this sorry continent of ours should take a cue from the Emperor Napoleon, another fellow with broad European ambitions.
Many years after his downfall, while exiled on frosty, wind-swept St Helena, Napoleon had ample time to contemplate Where It All Went Wrong, as all dictators and fallen tyrants will do once it is too late. After a lot of soul searching and babble about Traitors and Fate, he concluded: ‘The Spanish Ulcer destroyed me’. With this he meant to say, that in the latter years of his career, he had been obliged to throw ever more badly needed troops into Spain and Portugal to contain the brutal guerrilla war raging there in his back yard, and that this bleeding of manpower and resources had lost him the chance to beat the English, Russians and Prussians in the north. (If you’re interested how this worked, this here book is not the worst you can read.)
It is true that Spain lay in total shambles after the devastating 6-year conflict. But the Spaniards had been willing to sacrifice it all once they had decided to kick out the vicious French and their upstart Emperor. With lousy generals, tottering leadership, no army to speak of and no resources, the Spanish people themselves pulled off that feat, by sheer determination.
It is a lesson well worth remembering for the present day…
[By the by, to show that Alfred B Mittington is not only a venom-spitting cretin at the side lines, here’s a tip for Mr Rajoy: start issuing War Bonds, don Mariano! Small denominations, appealing to Spanish patriotism to battle speculators and heartless financial markets in the name of national salvation, with a return of 3 %, which is 2 % more than anyone gets on his savings account and 2 % less than you now pay on international loans. I don’t know what the response of the Spanish people would be, but if it does not help it will not hurt, and it might just make the difference to remove the blackmail leverage exercised today by the global plutocrats and their Brussels lackeys.]
[Postscript April 13: as a special treat to Mr Campos, whose crusading comments grace this post below, I would recommend the reading of this here editorial from that notorious red commie socialist newspaper, the International Herald Tribune.]