History hangs on most Spaniards in ways Americans can hardly understand. That difference is at the heart of the repeated failure of Spanish and U.S. officials to negotiate a new treaty allowing the United States to keep its military bases in Spain after May, 1988.
Despite this anger, a renewal of the treaty will probably be worked out in the next few months. Spain and the United States, after all, are still friendly allies. But U.S. negotiators are going to have to give up far more than they intended at the beginning. The Americans may have to quit altogether their air base at Torrejon, outside Madrid. There can be no new base treaty unless it looks, in a significant way, like a rejection of the past.
That deadline could be extended. But an agreement may depend on U.S. agreement to remove all 76 F-16 jet fighters from Spain and to close the jets' base at Torrejon. Spain does not want to throw out all 12,500 American military personnel, but it does want to teach the United States a lesson in history.