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February 2007 - Jose Maria Aznar Honored for Terrorism Fight

Former Spanish Prime Minister Presented with Inaugural Global Leadership Award

JINSA presented its first Global Leadership Award to former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on February 12, 2007. The new award recognizes those leaders on the international stage whose life work embodies the principles that are the foundation of JINSA's mission: robust security for America and its allies and partners around the globe. As Mark Broxmeyer, JINSA's Chairman of the Board explained during the evening's opening address, "We live in a world where the most lethal threats facing us cannot be countered by one country alone - no matter how powerful that one country might be. International threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terror require a concert of nations working together to counter them, and it is in this spirit of international cooperation that we established the JINSA Global Leadership Award." President Abraham Lincoln first spoke the words inscribed on the award: Important principles may and must be inflexible. It is this idea that guided Jose Maria Aznar's actions as Prime Minister of Spain and later as President of the Spanish think tank Fundacion para el Analisis y los Estudios Sociales (FAES), which carries on his work.

(left to right) JINSA Chairman Mark Broxmeyer, former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, and Senator David Vitter.(left to right) JINSA Chairman Mark Broxmeyer, former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, and Senator David Vitter.

During the eight years (1996-2004) he served as Prime Minister, Spain joined America in Afghanistan to prosecute the Global War on Terror following 9/11 and was an early member of the Coalition of theWilling in Iraq. Following the Madrid subway bombings in 2004, the Spanish public concluded that Spain's participation in the Iraq conflict was the primary cause of the terrorist attack. Up for reelection, Prime Minister Aznar faced extraordinary pressure to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq, but remained steadfast in his commitment not to surrender to terror. In large measure because of his adherence to his principles, he lost a subsequent term as Prime Minister.

Senator David B. Vitter of Louisiana, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, addressed the Washington audience of JINSA members and officers, diplomats, and policy makers before joining Mr. Broxmeyer in presenting Prime Minister Aznar with the award.

When introducing Prime Minister Aznar, Senator Vitter asserted that he could think of no one more deserving of JINSA's inaugural Global Leadership Award than the prime minister. He related that all politicians want to be recognized as statesmen and described the "simple test" that politicians need to pass in order to be accorded this distinction - When short-term political interests conflict with long-term security interests, the statesman honors the long-term security interests, and; when the verdict of the next election might conflict with the verdict of history, the statesman honors the interests of history and the long-term interests of the people. Senator Vitter stated emphatically, "Mr. Prime Minister, you have passed that test with flying colors."

Diplomacy should always be the first choice in working out international disputes, but other means must be available when diplomacy fails, Senator Vitter said. The West must "stay on the offensive" with respect to terrorist threats and that a major part of that offensive is the "struggle to defend Israel," he said.

The Senator also noted JINSA's contributions to American security through its programs and publications: "JINSA truly recognizes today's national security challenges including how international terror must be met by an international response."

(left to right) former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar and JINSA Executive Director Tom Neumann.(left to right) former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar and JINSA Executive Director Tom Neumann.

Upon receiving the award, Prime Minister Aznar dedicated it "to the memory of those who gave their lives fighting to defend our freedom, our prosperity and our way of life." The former Prime Minister then urged America to recognize the seriousness of the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terror. Far from being pessimistic, however, he provided viable answers to some of the world's foremost security challenges. Noting that throughout the Cold War, NATO successfully defended the West against Soviet Union hegemony, he suggested the transatlantic security organization could play a similar role against current threats.

Observing that NATO's "Atlantic dimension" has already been surpassed by current threats and that the West is no longer a geographical construct but rather one defined by shared values, he called for greater NATO cooperation with likeminded allies outside of the treaty organization's traditional sphere. Australia, Japan and Israel were the countries Aznar singled out, noting that the West needs an "Atlanticist Israel" to counter the threats we face today. The Prime Minister also noted that Iran, well on its way to becoming a nuclear power, might be deterred from fulfilling threats against Israel if it perceives Israel as an integral part of the West. An isolated Israel, on the other hand, increases the likelihood of an Iranian miscalculation on Israel's importance to the West, emboldening Iran to strike. The consequences of such an attack would likely be a war engulfing much of the world - a NATO umbrella for Israel might prevent such a calamity.

Prime Minister Aznar noted that the West needs Israel to "fight the radical tide" of Islamic fundamentalism and that we must face terror squarely without appeasement. The prime minister ended his address hopefully, "I know we will win. I know the power of freedom will prevail."

Tom Neumann, JINSA's Executive Director, in closing the evening, expanded on Senator Vitter's point about statesmanship, agreeing that former Prime Minister Aznar is a statesman, but adding that there is one other quality that true global leaders possess and that is vision. He observed that the Mr. Aznar is both a statesman and a visionary. Neumann remarked that the world would be a better place if there were more people like Jose Maria Aznar.

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