The Catalan Statute

Well here in sunny Catalonia we don’t have a fooball team of our own right now, so maybe that’s why we chose this precise moment to hold a referendum about our future.

Now the first thing to get straight is that despite all the direst predictions, Spain is still here the morning after the big vote, and in one piece, I just touched the floor to prove it. Indeed 11 footballers (some of them Catalan) will also come to earth on German turf tonight just to graphically illustrate the point. So it does seem that some of the concerns raised in the coments to this post were well wide of the mark.

Some issues do, however, remain.
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ETA ‘Calls Permanent Ceasefire’

Now this is news (even if it not entirely unexpected).

The Basque separatist group ETA on Tuesday announced a permanent cease-fire, apparently bringing a dramatic end to nearly four decades of violence that claimed more than 800 lives, Basque television reported following a communique from the group.

The authenticity of the announcement could not immediately be verified, but ETA often uses local Basque media outlets to issue statements. The group said the cease-fire would start Saturday, and that it would be “permanent.”

Speculation about an end to ETA’s armed campaign has been building for months, despite a recent wave of small-scale bombings against Basque businesses.
Source Reuters

The origin of this report is the Basque Newsd Agency EITB24, and the english version of this site does seem to does seem to be collapsed by all the traffic at the moment. However, if you can access, this thread is the one to watch (and this review of ETA statements, and this history of ETA ceasefires, are obviously highly relevant).

I don’t have time for much in depth commentary and analysis about all this right now, so please consider this post an open thread for any comments or questions, which I will try and answer if I can.

Ibarretxe Follows Rumsfeld Lead

Is Basque President (Lehendakari) and Christian Democratic Basque Nationalist Party leader Juan Jose Ibarretxe taking a leaf out of Donald Rumsfeld’s manual? Regular readers will remember that earlier this week, when questioned about possible negotiations with representatives of armed insurgents in Iraq, Rummy said “I would not make a big deal out of it. Meetings go on frequently with people.” Maybe this is what Ibarretxe should reply to his socialist and PP critics. Really though, this is an important issue. I personally think Ibarretxe is doing the right thing, and for the same reason I think it necessary to ‘talk-in’ if possible the Sunni insurgents in Iraq: because the priority is dealing with Zarqawi and his like. It is time the Basque question inside Spain was resolved, and talking, with whoever, is one of the ways to do this.

“To reach a true dialogue, a round table between the parties, it is necessary to live without ETA violence and without urban violence,” moderate nationalist Ibarretxe told parliament as he was sworn in for a third term…..

He proposed including Batasuna, the banned political mouthpiece of ETA, blamed for some 800 deaths in a four-decade campaign for an independent state straddling the Pyrenees to include parts of southwestern France.

However, the Spanish political establishment, led by the ruling Socialists and the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) rejected the proposal.

Ibarretxe criticised the Socialists, judging it “contradictory that they (the Socialist government in Madrid) talk with them (Basque radicals) in private but on the other hand reproach us for counting on Batasuna’s presence for this round table of discussions”.

Car Bomb In Madrid

“A car bomb exploded in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, injuring three people, 45 minutes after a Basque newspaper received a warning in the name of Basque separatist group ETA, police said.”
Reuters One Hour Ago

Thankfully no-one was killed. On this occassion there seems little doubt who was responsible. This bombing follows recent controversial moves by Spanish president Zapatero to open a peace process. At the time of writing the linked post I was optimistic. Despite what has happened today I remain so. Eta is not to be trusted, and it is important to keep this in mind all the time. My ‘off the top of my head’ analysis: negotiations about the conditions for holding negotiations are in process, both sides are trying to exert pressure, the Spanish government is demanding a permanent truce from Eta, Eta is demanding a concentration of prisoners in the Basque region, and so things continue.

Spain: Is An End To Eta Imminent?

“The insurgents in Iraq are very violent, but you defeat them not just through military effort,” Ms. Rice told reporters traveling with her on Sunday. “You defeat them by having a political alternative that is strong.” Now, she added, Iraqi leaders are “going to have to intensify their efforts to demonstrate that in fact the political process is the answer for the Iraqi people.”

These words from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which are extremely welcome as the daily death toll in Iraq only continues to emphasise the need to break the spiral, also has a resonance somewhere nearer home: in Spain, where tomorrow the Spanish parliament are to debate a motion which may be a major step in bring the epoch of ETA inspired violence to an end.

But not everyone is happy.
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Metis, Bie and Kerdos: Some Thoughts On Defeating Terrorism

Maybe it’s the presence of Talos in the comments section, or maybe it’s the arrival of the Athens Olympics on my personal horizon, but something this morning is carrying me back to the world of the Greeks, and to some early ideas of how best to secure objectives in the face of adversity.

First metis and bie:

What Does Metis Mean?

The history of the word goes back more than 28 centuries to the time of Homer around, 850BC. To the ancient Greeks, metis represented a particular type of cunning intelligence used if success was to be won in the most diverse fields of action. In the Iliad and the Odyssey, Odysseus is the hero most commonly associated with metis. The most famous strategem (metis) is the Trojan Horse, by which the Greeks finally managed to conquer Troy. This is a good example of metis for it represents a solution to a problem not resolvable by conventional means.

Metis is often contrasted with the word, bie, which means brute force. All through the Iliad, the big question is, will Troy fall by metis or bie – by wiliness or brute strength? The answer is by metis.

In the intellectual world of the Greek philosopher, there was a radical dichotomy between being and becoming, between the intelligible and the sensible. On the one hand there is the sphere of being, of the one, the unchanging, of the limited, of true and definite knowledge; on the other hand, the sphere of becoming, of the multiple, the unstable and the unlimited, of oblique and changeable opinion. Metis is characterised by the way it operates by continuously oscillating between the two opposite poles. Within a changing reality with limitless possibilities, a person with metis can achieve.

So metis is a type if intelligence and of thought, a way of knowing; it implies a complex but coherent body of mental attitudes and intellectual behaviour which combine flair, forethought, resourcefulness, vigilance, pragmatism, opportunism and the wisdom of experience.

When art and science unite, extra possibilities and opportunities are made resulting in innovation that can be driven by creativity. Metis is about finding elegant solutions to difficult problems instead of relying on brute force.

Now are you with me? What is lacking in our war with terrorism today, and all too often woefully lacking, is the component of metis. It is as if 2,000 years or more of history did not lie behind us, as if we had to learn every day anew the painful lessons of yesterday. Why am I saying this now? Well look what happened in Spain yesterday, what is happening today, and what will happen in the elections tomorrow.
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Madrid Bombing: Evidence So Far

Ok: it’s just gone half past six, and demonstrations all over Spain are getting ready to go. Meantime I will leave you with the following thoughts:

I think it must be difficult for anyone outside Spain to understand just how complicated this situation here is. As everyone by now knows, the Spanish police are following two leads: one that of Eta, and the other that of Al Qaeda. On the one hand the difference between the two – since in either case the question is one of terrorism – is minimal, on the other it couldn’t be greater.

In assessing the impact and consequences of the attack, perhaps the first of the major questions which strikes you is the quantity of immigrants – both documented and undocumented – who were involved. Just looking for five minutes at the TV images of the relatives filing past the cameras in the hospitals and mortuaries makes this abundantly clear. There are in fact victims from 11 countries, many of these countries surely being in Latin America. In fact so important is this question that Jos? Maria Aznar spent a significant part of his public appearance this morning underlining that any person among the victims who was found to be ‘undocumented’ would automatically be ‘regularised’. In addition any immigrants who have died in the attack and who had not been naturalised are automatically to be conceded the status of Spanish citizens, for themselves (posthumously) and for their families. What this decision highlights is the quantity of recently arrived immigrants that there are now here in Spain, and confronting some of the all too evident implications of this reality will undoubtedly now be one of the first priorities of the incoming government.

This brings me to my first ‘correction’: yesterday morning I said.. “and the victims are a total cross-section of Spanish society: from executives to recently arrived illegal immigrants”….. in fact this is wrong. There are relatively few executives, the majority of the victims it is now obvious come from poor families.
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Eta And The Spanish Elections

As someone who lives and works in Barcelona (capital of Catalonia, and formal definition in the eyes of the local nationalists of being Catalan), it is really rather frustrating to find that about the only time we make it to the European headlines (apart, of course, from when Bar?a wants to buy some world famous footballer like Beckham) is when one of the players in the greater-Spanish political arena – in this case Eta – wants to exploit some situation or other here to its own advantage. Outside of this context (and with, of course, the honourable exception of George Orwell) Catalonia is little heard of, and even less understood.
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