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Thursday, 8 March 2007

US tanks heard on Costa del Sol

OK so the APC is not actually in Spain but I did take the picture myself in Fallbrook, San Diego in California last September. I am fascinated by anything military and just had to (digitally) capture the rumbling armoured personnel carrier.

Fallbrook is in the canyons of what the locals call Avocado County above the massive Camp Pendleton marine base. Flares at night and the day long thudding of the enormous troop carrying choppers mark the rhythm of marine training programmes. The more activity you hear in the canyons, the closer we are to increased US military intervention somewhere else in the world.

The closest I’ve been to a US war machine in action was in Marbella on the very last night of the first Gulf war. The enormous B52 bomber appeared to be flying low out to sea. It was gigantic, so impressively large and loud that even the family dog looked up at the silhouette thundering above us and blacking out the stars of the midnight sky.

If you draw a flight path from the US military base in Rota on the Bay of Cadiz towards Iraq, it passes over the Costa del Sol and then south of the Spanish Balearic Islands where the US bombers would pick up Spanish fighter escorts as far as the Gulf.

When the US war machines start to rumble more loudly than usual in the canyons of Fallbrook, it’s generally bad news for someone else somewhere else in the world. Spain is no exception. The Madrid train bombings on 11 March 2004, just three days before the last national elections caused the immediate overthrow of the Partido Popular government.

The Spanish electorate thought at the time that the bombings were punishment for the government’s unequivocal support for the USA in the second Gulf war. What the voters couldn’t know when they voted was that Osama Bin Laden had actually given instructions to the Moroccan Al Qaeda terrorists to reclaim Andalucía for Islam, three years before.

It is true that any water irrigation channel on the dry slopes of the south is probably a relic of the Moor’s occupation of the Iberian Peninsula 600 years ago and it is also often said that the southerners are so friendly because they have been invaded so often! Andalucía is a really fantastic place to visit, learn Spanish, absorb the culture, live and work or build your dream castle, but remember you are doing it on a historic battleground.

While the ownership of Andalucía remains in dispute, maybe it is comforting that we can still hear an occasional familiar deep rumble reaching our shores.

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