That Place Where Bush And Blair Are Meeting Today?
March 15, 2003 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Welcome To Lajes Field, located on the island of Terceira in the stunningly beautiful and unspoilt Azores, home to the U.S. Air Force's 65th Air Base wing and U.S. Forces Azores. A curious little website, with its own particular micro-culture and quite a few interesting historical tidbits. [Not to mention two lousy jobs going.] Or, as they themselves put it: "multimedia products to help you better understand and appreciate the noble mission of the military men and women assigned to this outpost in the Atlantic." [In case you were wondering, it's here, later today, that Bush, Blair and Aznar, hosted by Durão Barroso, will hold their little war summit.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (7 comments total)
Thanks for the geography lesson, Miguel...I've always wanted to go to the Azores, but visitng an air force base wasn't quite what I had in mind. It unfortunately looks like this beautiful place may live on in historical infamy.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:38 PM on March 15, 2003

Some days, you pick up the newspaper and you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Let's see, the prime minister of Serbia just got shot, and if that doesn't seem like a bad omen then you missed the class on World War I. ... Congress is renaming French fries "freedom fries." George Bush has managed to lose a global popularity contest to Saddam Hussein, and he's looking to build diplomatic support in Europe by flying to the Azores, a remote archipelago in the Atlantic, to persuade the persuaded leaders of Britain and Spain to stand firm with him. I guess the North Pole wasn't available.

Thomas Friedman (N.Y. Times, reg. req.) is writing about the Azores too, wondering: Why can't we have Tony Blair?
posted by sacre_bleu at 2:30 AM on March 16, 2003

The Azores have an interesting history, having been discovered permanently in the 15th century (the era of Prince Henry the Navigator), though there is evidence of earlier mariners mapping them or finding them accidentally, and the possibility of Carthaginian settlement long before that. Some fun tales there, such as the influx of Flemish settlers, a hypothesized connection with the Melungeons of North Carolina, and a tale of a statue on the Westernmost promontory pointing west, discovered by the Portuguese, but lost in transit to Lisbon. If it was real, who built it? Perhaps the Phoenicians. All in all, what you'd expect for a crossroads island chain in the mid-Atlantic.

By the way, as a NATO ally, Lajes serves other nations as well, including France! Militarily, Lajes has become even more important as US bases in Bermuda were closed. As for the Azores political situation, as integral parts of a European country they are also part of the EU, but there are special circumstances pertaining to various EU protocols, and all of the European island groupings face similar issues due to their physical separation.

There's also a famous poem about a naval battle that took place nearby, when it was owned by England's chief rival, Spain -- a period of nearly a century referred to by residents as "the Babylonian Captivity".
posted by dhartung at 2:57 AM on March 16, 2003

Also from the Friedman article cited above:

Mr. Bush's greatest weakness is that too many people, at home and abroad, smell that he's not really interested in repairing the world. Everything is about the war on terrorism.

If this is Bush's intent, then to use a WWII analogy, should we have initiated the Marshall Plan in 1944?

If we are in a war on terrorism, are we finished yet? I don't know. We must've knocked Al Qaeda back some, because they haven't done diddly since 9/11 (I've watched two Super Bowls not get blown up). But they're not the only terrorists out there, and we aren't the only targets of terrorism. Is it possible that Iraq is one step in the war the way invading Africa, Sicily, Italy and finally France was how we got at Nazi Germany?

Anyway, sorry to derail the thread further.

Laejes looks like pretty fun duty -- I bet it's hard to get the detailer to send you there. Any current or former Air Scouts care to comment?
posted by alumshubby at 5:08 AM on March 16, 2003

OBTW: How do you pronounce "Lajes"?
posted by alumshubby at 5:11 AM on March 16, 2003

Something like LAH-djes.
posted by falameufilho at 10:26 AM on March 16, 2003

Well, while we're on the subject:

'Waiting to welcome the three leaders to this Portuguese island more than 900 miles off the European coast, Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso of Portugal said, "At this moment, according to the information that I have at my disposal, the chances are minimum that a new U.N. resolution will be submitted before any military intervention in Iraq."'

Bit of a giveaway, that.

Have a nice war, everybody.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:17 PM on March 16, 2003

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