Pelosi and Bolivar


While the situation surrounding Taiwan is getting more complicated by the day, the usual people here are tearing their hair out because the King of Spain did not stand up for the sword of Simón Bolívar at the ceremony in which Gustavo Petro became President of Colombia. It is clear that they have neither clear ideas nor other more important things to devote their valuable attention to.

Taiwan is going badly. The two Chinese aircraft carriers have now been joined by another US carrier determined to enforce freedom of navigation in the waters of the strait separating the island from the mainland, which Beijing now claims as its own. The Chinese launch waves of aircraft that fly over Taiwan's Air Exclusion Zone and the island responds by launching its own aircraft, increasing the risk of an unwanted (or is it?) incident. The Chinese launch missiles around the island and some - at high altitude - that fly over the island and land in the waters of Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, as if inviting it to join the party, while the Taiwanese also respond with live fire from their coastal artillery. The Chinese, finally, are rehearsing a full-scale blockade of Taiwan, as if preparing for the future, although civilian shipping does not seem to have been affected. A blockade that left us without semiconductors (Taiwan is the largest producer) would produce global chaos that would also affect China, which imports them on a large scale. If this goes any further, it could turn into Pelosi's War, because it was the unnecessary visit to Taiwan by the Speaker of the House of Representatives that gave Beijing an excuse to do what it has probably been wanting to do for a long time: to make a show of its chest and give fodder to patriotic nationalism before the 20th Congress in autumn of the Communist Party, the real arbiter of Chinese politics. Personally, I believe for now that blood will not run to the river, but I confess that I thought the same a few days before the invasion of Ukraine, because I did not believe that the Russians were going to launch a war of annexation in the 21st century in the best style of the 19th century. As Nietzsche said, even the gods themselves are powerless in the face of human stupidity.  And so it is.

It goes without saying that Nancy Pelosi can go wherever she wants, but she could not have been unaware that if she went to Taiwan, China would react badly, and in these times of runaway inflation, war in Ukraine and a global food crisis it does not seem the most opportune moment to provoke anyone, least of all a great power that is unhappy with the current distribution of power in the world, which dates back to 1945, and which wants to change it to suit its own convenience and the realities of 2022. And which, to top it all, is behaving quite well in relation to what is happening in Europe and does not give arms to Russia - as far as we know - even though it has multiplied its trade with Moscow since the beginning of the invasion. Of course, perhaps China will end up being the only great beneficiary of the Russian invasion because it will entertain the Americans on the European stage and empty its weapons arsenals, just as it empties Europe's with its massive material aid to Kiev, complicates our lives with the massive influx of refugees, and plunges us all into inflation and a winter with foreseeable gas restrictions in many countries, which will bring tensions to the surface in the transatlantic relationship due to the asymmetrical way in which it affects us all. The same commendable European unity to date is beginning to show some cracks between the northern countries, which are in favour of fighting until a final (impossible?) victory for Ukraine, and the more realistic southern countries, which think that since this will necessarily end in negotiation, they would prefer it to be done as soon as possible and thus save us problems.

In view of these crises in Taiwan and Ukraine, the sword of Bolivar is laughable. The Liberator deserves all respect and so does his sword. But its appearance was not on the official programme and it is not a symbol of the Colombian state. It seems to me that the podemites who have organised a shouting match over this issue would do better to set an example themselves and respect the patriotic symbols of their own country, which is Spain, such as the flag, the anthem, the Constitution and the Monarchy itself, instead of looking for problems where there are none. Or is it only necessary to respect other people's symbols, even if they are not official, and not respect one's own? In other words, in my opinion, they should lead by example, which is not easy. A minimum of intellectual coherence would be desirable, and I am well aware that I am asking too much. That's why I don't think Joe Biden should get up from his seat if it occurs to Pedro Sánchez to bring out the Tizona or the uncorrupted arm of Saint Teresa in a parade. The same in Colombia.

Jorge Dezcallar, Ambassador of Spain.