Solana's Longterm Love Affair with NATO

Borba100 at Borba100 at
Thu Feb 8 14:11:24 MST 2001

The URL for his article is
[Emperor's Clothes]

The Incorporation of Spain and Javier Solana Into NATO
An Historical Analysis by Francisco Javier Bernal,
mailto:asterion at

One of the main contentions regarding Javier Solana Madariaga's past is his
presumed anti-NATO stance during the 1980s. Although this volte-face from
alleged peace activist to born-again militarist has been debated many times
before, I think it is necessary to put it into historical context.

In June 1980 U.S. President Jimmy Carter affirmed his administration's
conviction that Spanish membership in NATO would significantly enhance the
Organization's defensive capability. During the Cold War, the importance of
Spain for NATO was clear due to its great geo-strategic importance,
particularly its possession of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, of
Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast, next to the straight of Gibraltar,
and of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It meant that Spain
controlled a vital maritime route. Moreover, it had first-class facilities
for air-force operations, like Morón de la Frontera, an American base in
Andalusia that had been operative since 1953, following an agreement between
President Eisenhower and Generalísimo Franco.

However, at that time the by then Spanish Prime Minister, Adolfo Suárez, was
not being very "cooperative". Though coming from a conservative party, the
Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD), he was conducting himself as an
individual too independent in his views, making contacts with Castro,
Qadhafi, Arafat and other pariah leaders. Of course, something needed to be
done: The Pentagon's impatience with such disobedience soon resulted in its
rattling its sabers... In just two months, Suarez was the victim of a smear
campaign from inside his own party, leading him to resign shortly thereafter.
The objective of the White House was to integrate Spain into its military
engines, even at the cost of seriously damaging (or even aborting) the
constitutional process in the course of performing this integration. In
February 1981, an attempted coup d'etat occurred: The U.S. Secretary of
State, Alexander Haig, affirmed publicly that "it was an internal affair only
of concern to Spain," despite the publicly known active participation of
agents from the U.S. Embassy in the preparations of the military

Solana's Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) had already shown itself as very
useful for the U.S. Secretary of State's purposes, having promoted a vote of
no confidence in the parliament against PM Suárez. The new UCD designated
Prime Minister, the greatly unpopular Calvo Sotelo, pushed the incorporation
of Spain into the Atlantic Alliance in the autumn of 1981. Of course, it was
still not the ideal situation for the Pentagon. Javier Solana, an old
Fullbrighter, accused of being a CIA man inside the PSOE structure (see the
book. 'Soberanos e Intervenidos, Estrategias globales, americanos y
españoles,' by Jaon Garces), was the person who made the official
presentation of Felipe González (PSOE's Secretary General) to the US Embassy
in Madrid.

Washington was very much interested in controlling the Spanish political
scene, as it had done through the efforts of U.S. Ambassador Frank Carlucci
shortly before in Portugal to "manage" the revolution of 25 April there,
isolating people like Saraiva de Carvalho and, mainly, Vasco Goncalves, and
offering in exchange blind support for "moderate democrats" like Costa Gomes.

What the Spanish Socialist Party receivedas payment was indirect financing
for the next round of general elections, via the omnipresent AFL-CIO trade
union federation, whose foreign activities peculiarly always coincided with
the State Department's and the CIA's interests.

Anyway, if the Socialists wanted to win the elections they needed to play the
NATO card very wisely. Most of the Spanish people were fiercely anti-NATO and
any different position would alienate the leftist voters. (The Communist
Party, PCE, had been the only real political underground opposition during
Franco's dictatorship). The views of the PSOE on that matter were always far
from being clear. Even their slogan for the 1982 campaign had a strange
double meaning: "OTAN, de entrada no" that could be understood as "NATO. No
incorporation" or "NATO, at first no; but later..."

The Socialists also promised a referendum so that Spaniards could decide
whether they wanted their country to remain inside NATO or not. After winning
the elections in October 1982, the Socialists changed their position and the
new government of Felipe González quickly adopted a pro-NATO stance. Three
months later they signed an agreement for the renewal of the US military
bases in Spain. With each succeeding day, they were making clear their
NATOist position: "The permanence in the alliance is a vital step towards the
consolidation of democracy"; "If Spain wishes to join the EEC, then it has to
be part of the defense system of the West"; "NATO membership, and joining the
European Community, mean the end of the traditional isolation of Spain."

González even threatened pensioners, telling them that an eventual exit from
the Alliance would mean "the end of the Welfare State." Anyway, the Spanish
people did not want to swallow that so easily. In 1986, five million
Spaniards signed a petition for a referendum on continued membership in the

The referendum was held in March of 1986: The Socialist government campaigned
in favor of NATO, the Communist Party and many other groups on the left
campaigned against it, and the Popular Party (pro-NATO) adopted a
contradictory position and asked its voters to abstain. Of course Solana,
González and their acolytes were not going to give the electorate a simple
choice to make. That would be too easy and very dangerous if they happened to
choose "the wrong one." They rephrased the question to be asked in the
following way: Do you consider it advisable for Spain to remain in the
Atlantic Alliance, provided that:

1) Spain will not be incorporated into NATO's integrated military structure?

2) Spain would be a nuclear-free country?

3) American presence on Spanish territory would be considerably reduced?
Results: Yes: 52.5%; No: 39.8%; Abstention: 40% of the electorate. Solana and
Co. had found a way to divide the strong anti-NATO feeling among the
country's majority. Many people believed in their words again when they
promised that "Spain will never join the Common Command," keeping outside the
military structure; they also believed that any status changes would require
further referenda before being approved. At the same time, the United States
looked aside while the Spanish Government profited from a $280 million
re-sale of American arms to Iran.

Spanish duties inside NATO would be restricted to:

1. Defence of the national territory. 2. Naval and aerial operations in the
Eastern Atlantic Ocean. 3. Control over the Strait of Gibraltar and its
access points. 4. Naval and aerial operations in the Western Mediterranean
Sea. 5. Control and defence of the air space of Spain and adjacent areas. 6.
Use of the national territory as a retreat or multifunctional platform
(traffic, support and logistics).

According to the above points, any Spanish collaboration in a future NATO
aggression against Yugoslavia would be illegal. However, on November 14,
1996, during the last Socialist term, one year after Solana became NATO
Criminal-in-Chief (sorry, I mean NATO Secretary General), they rushed a law
into the Parliament to "authorise the government to negotiate the terms for
the incorporation into the new NATO Joint Military Command," clearly breaking
the previous referendum's commitments. Javier Solana welcomed this change
with the words "It is time for Spain to assume the role it should have inside
the Alliance." In regard to his old "anti-NATO" positions, he told the
Spanish language paper 'El Nuevo Herald' of Florida that, "he - the same as
Clinton or even the CIA director, James Woolsey, himself - is a pacifist who
knew how to evolve with the new times," and (in another interview given to
'El País ) that "he was proud to represent an Alliance dissociated from its
Cold War origins,".

Some biographical details: · Javier Solana's brother, Luis Solana, was the
first Spanish Socialist politician to join the Trilateral Commission; ·
Solana was the author of the Manifesto titled "50 reasons to say NO to NATO"
that led to the Socialist Party victory in the 1982 elections; His favorite
hobby is collecting guns.


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