Spain

What do Spain’s King Juan Carlos, Pope Francis, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have in common? And what does it tell us about the American invasion of Iraq?

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This summer, the Internet warmly embraced the birth of “Monkey Jesus,” a tragicomic attempt by a well-intentioned octogenarian in Spain to restore a decaying fresco by herself. But the ape-ified “restoration” wasn’t just a source of countless online memes; it was a grim symptom of a crisis metastasizing across Europe.

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The Universalist

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. ALONZO KING is not a celebrity. He is virtually unknown outside the dance world, and even to insiders he is something of an outsider, a choreographer-monk working away with a small troupe of devoted dancers in San Francisco. It is not that his work has gone unrecognized: he has won dozens of awards and made ballets for companies as diverse as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and the Royal Swedish Ballet.

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ABOUT FIFTY YEARS AGO, in 1961, Jean-Paul Sartre complained about the state of Europe. “Europe is springing leaks everywhere,” he wrote. He went on to remark that “it simply is that in the past we made history and now history is being made of us.” Sartre was undoubtedly too pessimistic.

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It’s over, and very fine it was, not to say awe-inspiring. I doubt whether Vicente del Bosque quite felt like like Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United annihilated Arsenal 8-2 the start of last season, “You don’t want to score any more,” but neither he or any of us can have guessed how one-sided the final would be. So formidable against Germany, Italy crumpled in the face of—what?

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It’s over, and very fine it was, not to say awe-inspiring. I doubt whether Vicente del Bosque quite felt like like Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United annihilated Arsenal 8-2 the start of last season, “You don’t want to score any more,” but neither he or any of us can have guessed how one-sided the final would be. So formidable against Germany, Italy crumpled in the face of—what?

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  Has this been the tournament of Euroredemption? It has been impossible to follow Euro 2012 unaware of political frissons, and the echoes of the other Euro, as the European Union undergoes its gravest crisis since Treaty of Rome in 1957. “Greece Leaves the Euro” was one cheeky London tabloid headline after the Greeks were beaten 4-2 (it had to be Germany who beat them).

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The beauty of tournament soccer is that there is no way of knowing what might happen in a single game. Can Portugal beat Spain? Of course. Can Spain beat Portugal? Of course. Spain will want to limit the ball supply to Ronaldo, and they will do it by keeping it away from him and the Portuguese. It should be an apotheosis of tika-taka, and there'll be more people hating the Spaniards for killing the game and preventing the singular (lazy, selfish) genius of Ronaldo from expressing himself. If Spain win, they might extinguish Ronaldo's last chance to accomplish anything in a major tournament.

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Last year, the football editor of The Independent ran an article with a surprising headline: “Portugal ‘sells’ Ronaldo to Spain in £160m deal on national debt.” Less than ten days earlier, Portugal’s prime minister, José Sócrates, had resigned upon failing to enact a fourth round of austerity measures to make up a severe budget shortfall.

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