Thursday, September 29, 2005

IT MAY BE a little late for that:
Struggling for more than a year to improve its troubled relations with Washington, Spain is investing big bucks in a new effort to expand Spanish business in the United States and enhance the Iberian country's image before the American public.

For President Bush, the Spanish government may still be in the doghouse since pulling its troops out of Iraq. But Spanish officials are determined to move beyond the bitterness and boost interest in exports, investment and more diversified tourism.

"We'd like to convert the United States into a stable market for our exports," Jose Montilla, Spain's minister for industry, commerce and tourism, said. Spain represents an economy relatively unknown in the U.S., both as a producer and an importer, he said.

Montilla spoke ahead of a mission he is heading this week to several U.S. cities, including Washington and Miami, to promote the Spanish "brand" as part of a $100-million "Plan USA." Spain, the promotion goes, is more than sun and Serrano ham: It also has scores of companies prepared to invest in technology, energy, pharmaceutical and other businesses in the United States.
Of course, being the LA Times it had to include Zapatero's urban legend (just like the "imminent threat" myth, that Bush never said but still gets repeated over and over again):
The political relationship between Madrid and Washington took a nose dive after the electoral victory of Zapatero and his Socialist party in March 2004, which ousted a right-wing government that had been especially friendly to the Bush administration.

Zapatero's first action was to make good on a long-standing campaign promise to remove Spanish troops from Iraq, to the overwhelming approval of Spaniards but the great irritation of Bush.
Which is not true. Not the Spaniards' approval or Bush's irritation, which are both undeniable, but the fact that withdrawing from Iraq on his very first day in office -a Sunday afternoon and before the Defense minister had sworn in- was to make good on a long-standing campaign promise. What Zapatero had said all along is that he would order the return of the troops if he won (duh!) and if there was no UN resolution by June 30, which there was: UNSC 1546, of June 9, 2004, with a yes vote from Spain, at that time a member of the Security Council.

He justified the abrupt pullout saying that he knew for sure that there was not going to be a resolution. He's a real Nostradamus, and I'm not being ironic: he was a real Nostradums, but of the lying kind. That's because he really saw the resolution coming before June 20, and he realized that if he waited until then he would be forced to leave the troops in Iraq. Not only that would conflict with his anti-war position, but he also needed the propaganda effect for the elections to the EU Parliament on June 13. Polls were predicting it as a tight race that Zapatero might even lose, so he needed any 'help' he could get so he could show the world that his March 14 victory was not a one-time miracle, conveniently assisted three days earlier by the mujahideen.

Even with the pullout, the results were a tie between the Socialists and the Popular Party, so the propaganda effect saved his ass.

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