Joe Biden said a few days ago that Putin had only achieved "the NATOization of Europe" with his decision to invade Ukraine. If that's true, Pedro Sánchez has also been a bit NATO these days, that is, fascinated by the position that hosting the summit in Madrid among the world's political elite has given him and euphoric about how the organization works. You tell him that he can organize a summit like this every year and you make him the happiest man in the world.
Margarita Robles is also in ecstasy, like Saint Teresa of All Armies. In a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, as in several television interviews, she was smiling so much that she must have had a sore face. She was already drawing in her head all the planes, ships and weapons systems that she intends to buy with the extra pay that will come to her courtesy of the 2% of GDP commitment. What are you going to order for Reyes, Margarita? War toys, as many as you can.
With the end of the Madrid summit, it is time to return to the real world where Sánchez is waiting for the partner of the coalition government who is having a hard time being in power coinciding with the Second Cold War and the recovery from the great confrontation with Russia .
For United We Can, membership in NATO was just a nuisance that did not force him to make unpopular decisions for his electorate until now. The war in Ukraine has totally changed the international scene and Spain's obligations as a member of the organization. In Germany, Sweden and Spain, the Social Democrats have accepted the change in priorities and the need to increase military spending, because Russia is once again the enemy of yesteryear. To his left, there is no reason for that alert.
"Spain needs people he is treated in Primary Care in 24 or 48 hours, that people have a medical specialist. We don't need more tanks and weapons," said Ione Belarra on Thursday. The problem is that Spain does need more of all that as a member country of the Alliance, basically because the PSOE and its leader want it even more, now that, like some of the his predecessors, he enjoys playing president abroad more than at home.
Faced with these criticisms, Sánchez reacted at the final press conference of the summit by highlighting that the world has changed and that this reality cannot be denied. He gave the example of Sweden, which "has broken 200 years of neutrality." His and Finland's decision to join NATO would have been unthinkable just a year ago. The polls have come full circle in those countries. "There has been a tectonic shift," Sánchez said, "and that should make us all reflect." The bad thing is that there are earthquakes that can swallow a government.
Sánchez called for "a country agreement" in order to guarantee the security of Spain, not only to its partners, but also to the opposition. That is the phrase used by presidents to claim others to do what they say. Privileges of power, among which is deciding what is good for Spain.
It will be better for the Socialists to sharpen their arguments and not take for granted that if the Swedes and Finns - those Nordics who have so much social spending - have decided to enter NATO, the entire Spanish left should be satisfied with the increase in the budget of defending. You would do well to put everything related to NATO in a context that includes the European Union and the billions received by Spain from European funds. And wait for someone to tell you how you can get the second without accepting the first.
Spain will receive at the end of the whole process €77.2 billion of those funds and will be the country that benefits the most. The following will be Italy (69,000 million) and France (37,400 million).
In the declarations of European leaders these days, it is difficult to find any difference between what the EU or NATO can do as different organizations in the face of the new challenges that appear in Eastern Europe. Anyone can talk if they like about the Europeanization of NATO or the NATOization of the EU, but the reality is that the entire Western world is absorbed by the war and its economic consequences.
The Government has a calendar in mind that it believes will play in its favor. Sánchez said that it will take a long time before reaching that 2%. "Our scenario is to reach it in eight years," he said. The 2023 budget will be the first stage on that path and will force negotiations with United We Can that are not easy. If they overcome the stumbling block, there are already elections involved and who knows what will happen next.
There is less time to confirm in Parliament permission for the US to increase the number of destroyers deployed at the Rota naval base from four to six. Sánchez said that this vote will take place soon, but did not give even an approximate date. Sources from the Ministry of Defense have assumed that the arrival of these ships is not imminent nor, therefore, the formal request from Washington.
In reality, the great debate that will take place in Europe this year is not so much about tanks and warships, but about with inflation and the cost of energy due to the prolongation of the war. Public opinion is not very interested in the type of weaponry at the disposal of their armies. What they are is alarmed by the economic impact of the conflict on their pockets. This is where the discrepancies between countries and within each of them can become more acute.
Putin has bet that European societies will not accept this situation for much longer. That is a debate that each government should win with stronger and more complex arguments than those heard at a NATO summit whose outcome was decided before it began.
Perhaps Sánchez will remember for a long time how much fun he had at this great international event, but it will not be with that photo memory album with which he will win the next elections. In the everyday world, after the best parties comes the hangover and the sooner you get out of it, the better.