Saturday, November 06, 2004

"Spectator" states

Ever since his most reliable ally, prime minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, got dumped in favour of socialist Jose-Luis Zapatero, Blair was always going to be in trouble. The Spanish-UK alliance Рparticularly on the Iraqi issue was one of Blair's great trump cards, which helped him counter the "coalition of the unwilling", headed by the unholy alliance of Schr̦der and Chirac.

Now the effects of this seismic shift in Spanish politics have become fully apparent, not least in the Telegraph headline today: "EU 'triple axis' gangs up on Blair."

France, Spain and Germany have united to form a three-way coalition against Blair, a naked power grab aimed to controlling the EU's foreign policy and leaving Blair out in the cold.

At the centre of the "axis" is, of course, the loathsome Chirac, driven by his obsessive anti-Americanism and still smarting at the loss of one of Frances most valuable commercial customers – Saddam Hussein.

Precipitating the alliance seems to have been Blair's comments that some European leaders were "in denial" about Bush's second term victory, with his injunction that they had to face up to the new reality and move on.

Not one ever to face reality, Chirac responded by calling Schröder and Zapatero to early morning private discussions, without Blair, to stitch up their own response to the US election result.

This is "old Europe" plus one, i.e., Spain, extracting their revenge, but the last laugh may well go to "new Europe", also named the "coalition of the willing". With the European Council having wined and dined interim Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, European leaders were rewarded by Allawi describing the non-participants as "spectators".

An indication of how well that went down comes from Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg, who spluttered, "I don't like the expression 'spectator states' at all. I don't understand it, and if I do understand it right, I don't like it at all."

Tough. If the cap fits, as they say, wear it.

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