The NATO Summit of a Thousand Selfies - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The NATO Summit of a Thousand Selfies
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NATO summit attendees take group photo in Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022 (Voice of America/YouTube)

I’ve never been to Vietnam. But I reckon Madrid looked like Vietnam in the ’70s. Not because of the bombs but because of the noise of helicopters flying overhead and the flashes from police sirens and official cars during an unprecedented deployment for the capital of Spain that made the NATO summit a great organization and security success. That said, I have followed the world leaders from afar for three days from the streets adjacent to where the events were held, and I have come to only one solid conclusion: they have come to Spain to have a good time. I don’t think it’s bad — I do it too — but maybe the summit should have been called Private Party Deluxe — cocktails free.

Wearing a suit, as I do, I had never before been asked in so many clubs if I was there as part of a NATO delegation. I usually answered, “No, I work at a funeral parlor; I mean, I am a journalist,” except to the blue-eyed blondes frequenting the nightclubs around the Barrio de las Letras, with whom I did not hesitate to claim the rank of Secretary-General of Finance of several imaginary countries; with one I came very close to declaring myself POTUS. It is no minor detail that there was so much expectation for the arrival of the world leaders and their entourages; if there is one thing that characterizes Madrid, except this week, it is that nobody asks you who you are or where you are going. Madrid welcomes without asking questions. Those of us who were born on the Atlantic coast of the country love that. This week was different.

In the end, NATO just wanted to send a message to Russia and China, to tell them that we are very united against them. But that was what all the leaders said on their first day upon arrival; the rest of the time they spent visiting museums, toasting with expensive wines, and enjoying the delights of Spanish cuisine. Some see NATO as sending an important message of unity against communism by returning to its origins. I might even be inclined to believe it if the host country did not have a government full of communists, several of whom did not hesitate to support anti-NATO demonstrations attended mainly by riot police.

If there is something positive to say about this NATO Summit, it is that at least they talked about Russia and China, which are real and tangible enemies, and not about the emergency of saving the planet, which is a changing, intangible, and quite imaginary enemy.

Anyway, the much-vaunted unity is limited to the set design: the family photos looked beautiful at the Prado Museum, predictably. But it’s a damn picture. Unity in NATO remains the same as before the summit: scarce. It is no coincidence that they have been seen taking thousands of selfies at all of Madrid’s most emblematic places, but most of them in the company of their partners or alone, almost never with other leaders.

It seems to me that, at these events, the ones who know the most about what’s going on are the waiters. Well, and the prostitutes. But I — ahem — have limited myself to talking to waiters. One of those who served a delegation said to me, “Unity? I don’t know. A lot of laughs, yes, and at least this time they didn’t come to give us a hard time about climate change.” And he is right. If there is something positive to say about this NATO Summit, it is that at least they talked about Russia and China, which are real and tangible enemies, and not about the emergency of saving the planet, which is a changing, intangible, and quite imaginary enemy.

The left-wing press was quite struck by the fact that someone like Boris Johnson distanced himself from the rest to contemplate in depth and in solitude the works of the Prado Museum. Some people made jokes: “Is he looking for the bar?” The truth is that, despite his reputation, the English leader has more culture in his head than almost all his colleagues. Macron’s eagerness for the limelight was also commented on. Only someone who has not observed him up close can be unaware that the French leader would sell the hide off his mother’s back to be in a photograph.

Almost all delegations had the good taste to praise King Felipe VI, who once again was very good, both in hosting and taking an interest in each of the problems of all the leaders and their countries, demonstrating with his education and common sense, which, at this time of anxiety and governmental psychopathy, are a blessing for Spain.

We were all surprised by Joe Biden. Maybe it suits him to be out of the United States, an opinion shared by half of all Americans. Not only was he agile and in good physical shape, but his speeches were not the typical confused words begging for help from his collaborators to get out of the predicament. No, he made more or less intelligible statements. And he was sincere in his farewell to the president of Spain, confessing that he would like to stay. I don’t know about him, but I’m sure he would like his granddaughters to stay. They spent their time shopping and strolling around the exclusive Salamanca neighborhood, singing Madrid’s praises, and forcing the White House security entourage to do a bit of extra leg work, but with the help of the Spanish police they were able to do it without any problem.

In a truly amazing protocol slip, however, one of Biden’s granddaughters, who accompanied the president to all the week’s big appointments, showed up in a tracksuit to an audience with the King and Queen of Spain. Queen Letizia’s face, one of the most elegant in Europe, was the typical one you get when you come home to a mutant eating fluorescent pizza on the staircase. Luckily, I guess, the granddaughter had left her skateboard in the United States. No big deal either. It was the Madrid press gossip on Thursday. (READ MORE from Itxu Díaz: Other Lessons From the NATO Summit)

After analyzing the declarations and promises from the Madrid summit, there is nothing new, even if the Spanish foreign minister went crazy and proclaimed that it had been the most important event since the fall of the Berlin Wall (if ever a psychiatrist is brought in to provide his services to the ministers of the current Spanish government, he’s set to become a millionaire).

There is not much to report about the measures or actions decided at this summit, and that is the best news. We have come to a point where the misgovernance and lack of talent among the world’s leaders makes it so that the best we can hope for is that they get together to toast, eat, and enjoy, and then decide to do nothing at all.

Itxu Díaz
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Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist, and author. He has written 10 books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller, National Review, American Conservative, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, as well as a columnist at several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain.
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