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The War Nerd July 26, 2002
Spain vs. Morocco: Two Muppets Du Iwo Jima
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
Page 3 of 4
This is when the nutcases come out to play: when their homeland has been insulted. So naturally, after Moroccan TV showed the gendarmes being led off by the Spanish infidels, a 27-year-old Moroccan civilian decided to take things into his own hands. A one-man jihad, comedy style.

This Moroccan Rambo steals a rowboat and paddles over to the island, armed with a Moroccan flag and a bottle of pills. That's all. No gun, no scimitar -- just the flag and the pills. The lone Moroccan would be played by Kermit, natch. Little Kermie, in a rowboat, singing about peace and love and all that crap, sweeping Senora Piggy off her feet. They'd agree to share the island, and the movie would end with a big show number, with Gonzo's bellydancing chickens arm-in-arm with Senora Piggy's flamenco-stompin' Spanish Special Forces.

It didn't go that well when the real Moroccan looney got to the island. He planted the Moroccan flag on the island -- so far so good -- but when the Spanish troops come over to arrest him he gulped down the pills. I guess his plan was to OD right there on the Isle of Parsley and go down in history as one of Morocco's great martyrs. Or maybe the pills were Ex-Lax, and he wanted to explode, you know, kill the Spanish with shit-shrapnel.

But he didn't even manage to OD. Pretty lame.

I don't want to brag or anything, but I went to high school with people who could find a way to OD on every single thing you have in your bathroom. Including tap water. This one guy we called "Medfly" actually drank a bottle of malathion. And lived, sort of. And this pansy-ass Moroccan can't even manage to OD with a bottle of pills?

It's a sad commentary. The human race is going to hell in a Honda.

Sadder for the Spanish, because they used to be the meanest fucking soldiers on the planet. 400 years ago, the thought of facing Spanish infantry would send most European armies running. Cortez and Pizarro stomped whole empires with a few dozen men. But they brought back so much booty the country just got lazy and weak. And now Spain can't do much but run beach hotels for soccer hooligans.

It must be sad to be a Spaniard now, when your best days are long gone. I've always wondered about that with Europeans -- if you're a German or French guy living now, do you feel bitter because your country used to kick ass all over the world, but now it can't do anything? Like Spain can't even kill a Moroccan in a rowboat? If it was me, I'd be depressed. Maybe that's an America-centric idea or something, but I'm not trying to be snotty about it. I just wonder.

But to be fair, the rest of the world isn't much better. War these days is mostly bluff. It's all woofing, cheap propaganda, PR stuff.

The fight over this stupid island was just a sideshow. The real fight is over a couple of pieces of Moroccan coastline that the Spanish still hold, thanks to some old colonial treaties (the same way the US claims Guantanamo). The Moroccans were sending a message to the Spanish: suppose we march a few thousand Moroccan civilians into those colonial holdovers? Do you squeamish Spaniards really have the balls to machine-gun 10,000 Moroccan civilians right there in front of the TV cameras?

The Moroccans have already tried this kind of "civilian invasion" technique -- and it worked. They took the whole of the Spanish Sahara by sending 350,000 Moroccan civilians marching over the border. Totally unarmed, daring the guards to kill them. And not a shot was fired. The Moroccans had won a huge chunk of territory without firing a shot.

The story of the Spanish Sahara is very weird, and still not settled. The Spanish got it as a consolation prize at the Berlin conference of 1884, where the Europeans divided up Africa. Nobody else wanted this chunk of desert (average rainfall, zero), so they let poor old Spain have it. Although the population was tiny and disorganized, the Spanish still needed help from the French to keep the locals under control. After WW II, when the European powers started getting out of Africa, the Moroccans saw that the Spanish were too weak to hold the place, and started moving in themselves.

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Gary Brecher
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