What we still haven’t accepted in 2013 is that the Union Jack flies over Gibraltar because in 1704 it was lost by force of arms and Spain has been unable to take it back throughout the subsequent three centuries by force of arms, that supreme source of entitlement. The generation of Mazarredo, Churruca and Barceló almost did so at the end of the 18th century (“Si el rey de España tuviera / cuatro como Barceló / Gibraltar sería de España, / que de los ingleses no”. “If the King of Spain had / four like Barceló, / Gibraltar would belong to Spain, / and not to the English”), and it would have been even easier if the French-Spanish fleet had launched an attack at Trafalgar instead of waiting for the bold Nelson. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Since then, Spain has had no choice but to admit its military inability to take back Gibraltar. Moral arguments regarding the perfidy of the English keeping hold of an enclave they took in the name of one of the pretenders to the Spanish throne have no worth. The English, like the French and the Dutch, were not fighting that war to defend the interests of any Spanish king, but their own. And, persistent and pugnacious, they took hold of the key to the Mediterranean that they had long desired. And if Spain was forced to swallow the Treaty of Utrecht, it was because it was unable to impose its authority with cannon shots. Legal arguments regarding the continual violations of said treaty hold little sway: the fact is that the English will remain there as long as the Gibraltarians want them to. That is, forever, which is completely understandable. Besides, why such a grievance between two friendly countries, partners in the EU and allies in NATO? Is it really Great Britain Spain’s foreign enemy in the 21st century? If so, why do these alliances exist? Are we going to take on the Royal Navy? What ships will we use? What soldiers? What motivation?
“Speak softly and carry a big stick” was Theodore Roosevelt’s diplomatic motto and it gave him very positive results. Exactly the opposite to what Spain has done for three centuries: shout a lot and brandish little. Just like in 1898.
El Diario Montañés, 27th August 2013