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March 21, 2004 - Why would the Spanish find this patronizing?

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Wolfowitz wants us, and all nations, to get in touch with our inner bullfighter.



Paul Wolfowitz is second in command to Donald Rumsfeld.  He’s Deputy Defense Secretary.  And he is considered the leading theoretician of the policy we have adopted as our way of dealing with the world – the preemptive removal of all governments we suspect may, in the future, be some sort of threat.  That’s the line now.  We now admit Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, nor the means to produce them.  But as Bush said to Tim Russert last month in that special Meet the Press interview… Saddam Hussein wished he had these weapons.  Good enough.  Diane Sawyer earlier had pressed Bush on this in an interview – asking about the actual Iraqi WMD (not there, really) and the intent of Saddam to one day, eventually, maybe, get some WMD (there, of course).  Bush’s reply?  "What's the Difference?"


Bush doesn't do nuance.  He says so.  Flat out. 

But Paul Wolfowitz is supposed to do nuance.  He’s the deep thinker in the administration.  He’s the one who helped work out this: we now reserve the right to judge if any country might, down the road, carry out possible future hostile actions against us, regardless of their present capabilities or current resources, or even any and all claims that they have no such intentions, and act accordingly.  That is we have the right to invade and occupy that country and compel that country to create a government of which we approve. 

One might say… bull?  But that’s precisely the point.  Wolfowitz thinks we should think like the Spanish.  No, not the Spanish who just tossed out the Aznar guy and elected a “socialist.” Wolfowitz wants us, and all nations, to get in touch with our inner bullfighter.  Really. 

Of course these comments caused a lot of Spanish people to step back in puzzlement, then in anger.  The Spanish know bull when they see it. 

See Spaniards See Red Upon Hearing Top U.  S.  Defense Official's Comments on Bullfighting and Iraq
Andrew Selsky, Associated Press, Published: Mar 19, 2004

Here’s the gist:


In an interview on PBS television Thursday, Wolfowitz said [newly elected Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero's withdrawal plan didn't seem very Spanish. 

"The Spaniards are courageous people.  I mean, we know it from their whole culture of bullfighting," Wolfowitz said.  "I don't think they run in the face of an enemy.  They haven't run in the face of the Basque terrorists.  I hope they don't run in the face of these people."

"This is an ignorant comment," snapped Madrid firefighter Juan Carlos Yunquera, sitting on a bench outside his firehouse.  "For a top official, it shows he doesn't know what he's talking about."

Yunquera, who heard the American official's remarks on the radio, pointed out that Spaniards overwhelmingly opposed the war in Iraq, even as Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar joined President Bush's "coalition of the willing" a year ago and later contributed troops for the occupation. 

Prime Minister-designate Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, elected in the aftermath of the devastating bombings, has pledged to withdraw his country's 1,300 troops from Iraq unless the United Nations takes charge. 

Carlota Duce, a waitress at the Retinto Bar, where a bullfighting sword, lance and hat hung on a wall above patrons sipping beer and eating tapas, said she had no use for such comments. 

"It's drivel," she said above the strumming of flamenco guitar on the stereo.  "There is absolutely no comparison between bullfighting and Spain pulling out of Iraq."

Zapatero, who won Spain's elections last Sunday, pledged repeatedly while campaigning to withdraw Spain's troops from Iraq unless the United Nations takes charge. 

Bartender Oliver Iglesias said there was a kernel of truth in Wolfowitz's words. 

"We are indeed very brave," he said.  "But no one here likes the war in Iraq.  And there's a big difference between killing a bull and killing a person

Gustavo de Aristegui, a legislator and spokesman in parliament for Aznar's Popular Party, also criticized Wolfowitz, saying: "A top-ranking politician should be more careful about the remarks he makes, and that's all I'm going to say about Mr. Wolfowitz.”

Yunquera, the fireman, said he was annoyed that Wolfowitz even mentioned bullfighting. 

"I've never liked bullfighting," he said.  “If I was to describe Spain, I would say Spain is a tolerant and joyful country and not even mention bullfighting.”


Well, it seems the Spanish people mentioned here felt a bit patronized.


But you see from the bartender fellow what the real problem is.  They don’t like killing people.  Bulls, yes.  But it’s different with people?  One assumes that’s what is being said. 

I guess such a position makes them cowardly appeasers.  If only they were more like us. 


And this doesn’t even begin to cover the problem with the French.  Visit Arles in late summer and buy yourself a ticket to the bullfights at the old Roman amphitheater there.  The damned French don’t even kill the bulls; they just get them really irritated.  Just what you’d expect, I suppose.  That’s soooooooooo French.

But the way, that old Roman amphitheater in Arles really has been around a long time.  Here’s a shot of its structural detail from June almost four years ago.  I was a month or more too early for the bullfights.  Oh well. 

Click here to see this full-size...


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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