Western European News Digest
Spain's Aznar Spreads Fascist Line in Americas
Former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar spent most of last week touring South America. Aznar flew first to the U.S., where, speaking to a receptive audience at the Hudson Institute of New York, he assaulted the "Alliance of Civilizations" program of Spain's current President Rodriguez Zapatero as "stupidity."
The former Prime Minister, who had blatantly intervened in Mexico's internal affairs to organize on Felipe Calderón's behalf (prior to the July 2 Presidential election), then visited Peru and Chile to rant about Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and the dangers of "Islamo-fascism." His tour was neatly timed to coincide with that of Calderón himself, who made appearances in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, presenting himself as an advocate of a new "Latin Americanist" foreign policy. This deployment is aimed at the informal Presidents' Club (of Latin America), which has organized the resistance to Bush Administration lunacy.
Aznar met up with his co-thinkers in both Peru and Chile, where he warned that some Ibero-American nations had fallen "into the grip of populism," and "have made strange alliances with other countries of alien cultures"a reference to Venezuela's relations with Iran. In Chile, where President Michelle Bachelet is leaning toward supporting Venezuela's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, he announced, "I'm not here to give advice," but went on to tell the synarchist daily El Mercurio that Venezuela represented a serious "danger" to the region. Only those countries that support "institutionality and the free market," and incorporating themselves into the world economy, can be considered to be truly democratic, he said, unlike "those that adopt a populist model ... and have dangerous alliances with other geographical parts of the world."
Italian Government Implements 'Leftist' Budget Cuts
Romano Prodi's government in Italy has presented the 2007 budget law, complying with the Maastricht constraints to reduce the deficit to less than 3% of GNP within the next year. This required a combined cuts-and-taxes package of 33 billion euros. Due to pressures from leftist parties and trade unions, the government was forced to put the burden of income-tax increases on the richest layers of the population, while at the same time redistributing some money (little more than symbolic) to incomes under 4,000 euros monthly. The so-called "structural reforms" of the pension and health system, demanded by financial markets, were not implemented.
This is a shift away from the draft budget presented by Economics Minister Tommaso Padoa Schioppa presented in July. For this, Padoa Schioppa has been publicly scolded by his liberal co-thinkers. Already the mayors of large municipalities like Rome, Florence, Bologna, and Turin, who will have to radically increase local taxes to make up for deficits, have threatened a revolt if the measure is not changed.
Is Turkey Heading Towards Thailandization?
Observers of the situation in Turkey have noted an escalation of terrorist incidents during the most recent period, the latest of these in Izmir Oct. 2, with numerous civilians wounded. Mostly, the incidents have occurred in the eastern Anatolian region, where they are attributed to the PKK Kurdish rebels. Moreover, all Iranian natural gas deliveries to Turkey are interrupted these days, because a crucial pipeline was destroyed in an explosion on the Iranian side Sept. 30.
Worries have also been voiced over the fact that as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in the United States Oct. 2-3, leading Turkish military have contradicted him on his ceasefire offer to the PKK, saying that the fight against the Kurdish terrorists will be fought until the bitter end. The fact that Gen. Yadar Buyukanit, chief of the Turkish Army general staff, has prominently joined these critics of Erdogan, has especially been noted. Some observers would not even rule out that, should the internal Turkish situation deteriorate further, the military might intervene in a way similar to the way it has intervened in Thailand.
This is not a good environment for the two-day visit Oct. 6-7 of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which is being presented in Berlin as a trip to a "stable partner in the region." Economic cooperation, notably German export credit guarantees for German firms' engagement in the construction of the Ilisu dam project, is prominent on Merkel's agenda.
German Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
Peter Gauweiler, an often dissident member of the Christian Democrats' parliamentary group in the Bundestag, who also voted against the extension of the German troop mission in Afghanistan, said on Sept. 28 that the mission there has failed. The Afghan situation looks more and more like the one in Iraq, and warlords and organized narco-crime are taking control, at the expense of the central government in Kabul. The U.S. side is aggravating the situation by privatizing military functions, with all the problems that an increasing deployment of mercenary forces creates.
All those high-minded slogans for the NATO missions like "Enduring Freedom" and "Security Assistance Force" cannot conceal the fact that poppy production in Afghanistan has increased by 40% over the past 12 months, with the active support (sic) of the Kabul government which is backed by the West, Gauweiler charged.
What is urgent therefore, now, is a strategy for troop withdrawal, Gauweiler saidresembling a central argument in the LaRouche movement's call, one year ago, for an exit from Afghanistan.
Blair To Be Questioned in 'Peerage-gate' Probe
According to the Daily Mail Sept. 29, Blair may eventually face criminal charges in the "cash-for-honors" investigation. The scandal involved alleged financial donations to Blair's Labour Party, in return for being nominated for honors such as knighthoods and appointment to the House of Lords, which is a criminal offense. Earlier this week, Ruth Turner, a senior aide to Blair was questioned under caution by the police.
Timing of 'Liquid Explosives' Scare Forced by U.S.
The Bush Administration threatened to seize suspect Rashid Rauf, who was in Pakistan, and subject him to rendition, if the British didn't make arrests immediately, the Observer reported Oct. 1. British authorities felt their evidence was weak, and they wanted to continue the investigation, but the U.S. was adamant that Rauf should be arrested immediatelywhich triggered a huge international security nightmare from which air travellers are still suffering.