sábado, 13 de abril de 2024

Is Spain at war?

We are witnessing a war language and a mobilization of economic and military resources at a level that should lead us to ask ourselves if Spain is at war in March 2024.

We should begin by pointing out that countries no longer declare war. The truth is that war is forbidden as a way of resolving conflicts between States, the date is around 1945, with the planet frightened with the second great European and then world war, when the United Nations bets in its Charter for the peaceful settlement of differences: "The parties to a dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice".

It adds that "nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security".

The use of force, which we understand to be military, is thus reduced to self-defense, to civil wars appearing elsewhere (internal affairs) and to force approved by the Security Council. Few exceptions can be added, except for the right of a colonized people to liberate itself, which took shape in the following decades; and at the turn of the century, humanitarian interference appeared, the responsibility to protect, which has not come to fruition after the bad Libyan experience.

Despite what international law and the UN say, the reality is that wars exist and today we are witnessing live two particularly close ones in Ukraine and Palestine-Israel, both conflicts coincide with us at this time, another thing is that we are finding out what is happening.

In this context, the Spanish Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, declared in mid-March 2024 in an interview in La Vanguardia that "the threat of war is absolute and society is not fully aware". The message of an imminent danger and an unconcerned citizenship is launched, which, if both factors are true, would require a permanent pedagogy from the areas responsible for our security.

It is often insisted on an underage citizenship, unaware of the dangers that lie in wait for us, the vision is also applied to Europe -an infantile political entity, apparently, formed by very mature States-, to which it would be necessary to respond with respect and information; the alternative would be an understandable discourse for a 14-year-old teenager, as it has been concluded from Trump's messages, with variants such as 'the bad guys' that truffle also here many of the public interventions of our uniformed men and women.

"The threat is total and absolute", we are told, "Europe has to be aware that the danger is very close; it is not a pure hypothesis, it is real, civilization can be attacked by unscrupulous people like Putin".

In military terms related to the war in Ukraine the position of Spain is coordinated and indistinguishable from the international organizations of which we are part and with whose members we are united by the commitment of mutual military assistance, by Article 42(7) of the EU Treaty and Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (NATO), in the case of receiving an armed aggression, it is understood, explicitly or not, an attack against the territory.

In view of the public statements and the reaction in practice, in Spain, the EU and NATO we have apparently decided that the Russian aggression against Ukraine in February 2022 is an existential threat, only in this way can the actions put in place be explained; and it turns out that a hostile Ukraine is also perceived in Russia as an existential threat. With this scenario, and taking into account the nuclear capability of both sides, military victory is impossible and the objective is to wear down the opponent in the long term.

War in many cases can be a term used in a broad sense, just as it is used to refer to the war against tobacco, obesity or diabetes. Although not even in this metaphorical sense it would be convenient to relax, since that self-styled war on terror, the use of terrorism as a framework to justify military operations, has since the beginning of the century covered armed conflicts whose toll has far exceeded one million dead, mainly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Spain currently has 622 military personnel deployed in Latvia, a country bordering Russia, a contingent that includes tanks; and the deployment of 700 military personnel and 250 Army vehicles in Slovakia has just been completed.

Spain also plans to deploy eight fighters in Latvia and Romania during 2024, in four-month rotations involving the transfer of 150 military personnel. In addition to the above, 40 Spanish military personnel will operate a radar in Romania, a country bordering Ukraine and the Black Sea.

As for the Navy, Spain assumed command this January of NATO's permanent Naval Group number 1, which mobilizes at least another 400 Spanish military personnel and operates in the North Sea.

The economic effort in defense, support to Ukraine, own weapons systems and spending commitments are also being intense. Just to mention that under President Sanchez the budget of the Ministry of Defense has increased by about 50% in just five years; plus a long series of agreements of the Council of Ministers for the acquisition of new weapons systems that can add up to about 20,000 million euros to be paid in the medium and long term. The silence of the conservative opposition makes it probably the biggest unspoken political agreement in the country, since the PP has decided to dynamite Europe as a shared space.

In view of what has been seen, to the initial question it would be necessary to answer provisionally that yes, Spain is actively participating in a war, although delegated, 'proxy war', which they call, we support with all the economic and armament means, we even train Ukrainian military on national territory, but the front line of combat and the mortal victims are put by someone else.

Spain is at war, taking into account economic, armament and military resources deployed, also according to the dialectic, rhetorical resources; and the leap to a conventional war would be marked by our own deaths, which could be caused by combats with Spanish troops on the ground in Ukraine (not contemplated until today, although it is recognized that there are already military personnel from NATO member countries), by attacks received in waters or countries neighboring Russia where we operate, by Russian attacks on military targets in Spain in case of an escalation that could occur by conscious decision of the parties or by accidental spark.

In view of the scenario described above, it is necessary to convey complex messages to the public, to promote public and parliamentary debate, ingredients not often used in matters related to Defense, security and the Armed Forces, which usually live more comfortably in the absence of explanations and without accountability for decisions taken.

The permanent minority of age of the Spanish society in security matters could be faced with citizen education, training and political and technical responsibility, to try it out, and then we will analyze the results.

Until it happens we are left with some certainties: the certainty that we are asking ourselves questions, the rising public expenditure, the impossible military victory over Russia; we have certainties such as the absence of declaration of war, the absence of debate and own deaths; and that the situation is so explosive that the current balance could explode at any moment.

The great unknown is the amount of resources that are being devoted to the day after, to advance alternative scenarios or to build the future neighborly relationship between the EU and Russia.

Original text in Spanish. Translation is courtesy of Atalayar magazine, 

a journalistic bridge between shores and cultures where this article was also published.

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