Tuesday, March 16, 2004
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Reflection on Spain and Al Qaeda
The New York Times has two very good op-eds about the implication of the 3/11 bonbings and subsequent Spanish elections. Edward Luttwak shows it's possible to simultaneously disagree with the war in Iraq and disagree with the Spanish socialists:
This was Fareed Zakaria's point in the Sunday Washington Post as well (link via Virginia Postrel):
Meanwhile, Scott Atran picks up on the evolution of the relationship between Al Qaeda and local terrorist groups in the other op-ed. The highlights:
This makes sense. Terrorist attacks conducted by Al Qaeda proper have usually been targeted at highly symbolic targets -- luxury hotels, embassies, the Pentagon, the WTC, etc. They're not averse to killing large numbers of civilians, but they prefer doing it while destroying important symbols of political, economic and military power. The Madrid bombing was not like that -- hence, it's likely that the operation, while perhaps sponsored by AQ, was not implemented by them.
UPDATE: This commentor makes a good point: "I wonder if what's happened is that AQ or its franchisees have moved from targeting physical symbols such as hotels and embassies to also targeting more nebulous symbols, such as the elections themselves."posted by Dan on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM
Well, Dan, the 3/11 bombings destroyed the Aznar government, which was symbolic of something. I think you may have this backwards; Islamists are not averse to striking symbolic targets, but mainly they want their attacks to kill large numbers of people. They like it. It's the kind of people they are.
The idea of al Qaeda as inspirator rather than organizer of terrorism is an interesting one. I wonder whether it means that either the main al Qaeda organization or (more likely) local terrorist groups might become easier to penetrate.posted by: Zathras on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"This heartless manipulation of the dead for political gain clinched it - it was the last straw, it galvanised a portion of apathetic socialist voters who would have otherwise abstained, galvanised first-time voters, and galvanised Izquierda Unida voters (which include communists) who opted for heaping their vote on the PSOE for a higher chance of defeating Aznar (IU lost 5 seats because of that). In Spain, government change has always been heralded by a higher participation of voters. In a nutshell, many Spaniards felt badly abused, and acted accordingly. So, yes, 11-M influenced the vote, but not because we are overcome by fear, or because we think that we can avert further attacks, but because we will only put up with so much lying and manipulation, and especially not when it is the dead and their families that are being heartlessly and shamelessly manipulated."
Sounds like Spanish voters were voting ABA (Anybody But Aznar). Even the Nader type voters piled on.posted by: TexasToast on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Actually, they may have been aiming for 9/11 like destruction.
"It is said that the terrorists attempted to sweep the Atocha station where the four trains ended their route, going for an 11S-sized massacre (ed. note: 11 September, i.e. 9/11) by killing several thousand people in this main station of Madrid. Only the traditional lack of punctuality in Spanish commuter services avoided this barbarous result."
caevat emptor: from an uncorroborated Spanish e-mail correspondent.posted by: ch2 on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Let me put in a word for the much maligned spanish voter, 9 out of 10 of which did not support their government's involvement in Iraq. The voter was presented,a few days before the election, with a massacre that was represented to be the direct result of a policy they did not support.
To understand the mindset here, assume that we assist our allies, the French, with one of their African interventions. Maybe a few soldiers die, but the casualties are not such that the populace cares that much. A few days before the election, African terrorists blow up some commuter trains in Chicago,with the hundreds dead. You think there would not be a major uprising among the voters that our joint venture on an unclear overseas mission with an unpopular ally wouldn't swing an election?
Heck, a many years old DUI ticket should have swung the 2000 election here.
This said, the terrorists will take their usual Beiruit lesson out this, and will be bedeviling Spain. That's too bad, particularly since it looked like Spaqin was winning its battle with ETA, and was soon going to be rather terror free.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Actually the voters were told it was the ETA until the day before the election, when the government acknowledged, under pressure, that it was probably Al Qaeda. This fact had been known for a few days but was not disclosed. The opposition was enraged at this manipulation of information, and for many undecided voters, it was the last straw.
Source (Today's NYT): Many in Europe Suspect Spain Misled Them About Attackers.
Dan, I wonder if what's happened is that AQ or its franchisees have moved from targeting physical symbols such as hotels and embassies to also targeting more nebulous symbols, such as the elections themselves; moving to the core of the democratic decision making process, as it were.posted by: fingerowner on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Senator Kerry has the power to protect the national security of the United States and save American lives. He should be called on to do the honorable thing.posted by: Ryan on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
No, if African Terrorists attacked us, we would rightly blame the African Terrorists for the attack, not our own government.
Really, what is so hard about this concept? Not enough nuance?posted by: NCVOL on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Appalled Moderate commented:
"To understand the mindset here, assume that we assist our allies, the French, with one of their African interventions. Maybe a few soldiers die, but the casualties are not such that the populace cares that much. A few days before the election, African terrorists blow up some commuter trains in Chicago,with the hundreds dead. You think there would not be a major uprising among the voters that our joint venture on an unclear overseas mission with an unpopular ally wouldn't swing an election?"
I don't think you're making the right analogy. A better one would be that the United States, under the clear guidance of Hiliary Clinton, decides to start bombing Serbia because of their conflict with Kosovo. A few days before an election a bunch of Italian terrorists blow up the Chicago train station, citing the 1) American support of Kosovo and 2) the fact that the white man took America away from the Indians starting in 1492 as the reason. You hypothesize that Americans would be galvanized by this and immediately vote out Bill and Hiliary, who were the push behind the not very widely supported US intervention.
Well, you might be right. But I suspect that the United States would do just what they have done to many who have attacked them in the past. They would hunt down the terrorists and kill them.
I think the demand to do so would be overwhelming -- not because everyone supported the adventure in Serbia/Kosovo, but because everyone would recognize the absurdity of using Columbus action in 1492 as a reason for blowing up train stations.
The foolish Spanish voters seem to think that Al Queda will be content with Spain just pulling out of Iraq, and will forget all about the 1492 thing.
I would caution Spainards to be real, real careful whenever they ride on commuter trains from now on. Al Queda has discovered the way to get Spain to do whatever they want them to do.posted by: Narniaman on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I wont condemn the shortsightedness of the Spanish voters: Indeed the involvement in Iraq was unpopular and the false accussations against the ETA were reprehensible. This might have had something to do with it. But it seems to be a general mentality that if a government does something disagreeable to the Islamic terrorists and thugs, then taking it out on civilians is justified and the people should blame the government. Like blaming the anti-Semitic assaults in Europe on Israel, when the Jews attacked probably don't support and/or disagree with Sharon. Same mentality: Don't protect the nation and its people from attack, just sympathize with the attackers and blame the US, hardly a Spanish-peculiar position!posted by: Jakester on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
After talking with a couple of Spanish friends, I have to agree with ch2. It's quite likely that a large number of uncommitted potential voters were galvanized into action by the government's refusal to acknowledge a possible Al Qaeda link.
The Socialists realized this, and took effective advantage.
The election result maybe regrettable, but it's easy to understand why the Spanish electorate felt the way it did.posted by: ronbailey on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I hate to get uberConspiracist here, but the gentleman in the New York Times asks:
"Were the Socialists certain Al Qaeda was involved?"
He quickly answers: "No,..."
I know it's a monstrous thought, but could the answer be otherwise?
In Brazil, France, Britain, Spain, and the United States, there was open speculation that Bush / Aznar did the bombings to keep Aznar's party in power.
But that van with the "Koranic materials", the intact cellphone, and the Al Qaeda video sure popped up quickly...posted by: Tim on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Their stated goals are more cult-like "Global Holy War and Islamic Heaven On Earth" than pragmatic, with the exception of "Infidels out of Holy Land and Free Palestine". Interestingly, though we pulled out our troops of Saudi Arabia, I never heard of Al Qaeda bragging that they accomplished one of their stated goal. It's as if the few material goals they stated were fig leafs for the real goal: Religious Armageddon. That's why many call them nihilists.
1)I find it amazing that so many Bush supporters are will to fight a major war with 1 billion Muslims --but duck the issue of why? Why did the war start? Why did the Sept 11 attack occur?
2) We might have gotten the answers to that but Condi Rice went to the CEOs of the TV networks and twisted their arms to halt the Bin Ladin broadcasts --for now good reason.
3) However, an English translation of a Pakistani newspaper --DAWN -- is online. In a November 2001 interview, Bin Ladin explained why Sept 11 occurred:
OBL: This is a major point in jurisprudence. In my view, if an enemy occupies a Muslim territory and uses common people as human shield, then it is permitted to attack that enemy. For instance, if bandits barge into a home and hold a child hostage, then the child's father can attack the bandits and in that attack even the child may get hurt.
America and its allies are massacring us in Palestine, Chechenya, Kashmir and Iraq. The Muslims have the right to attack America in reprisal. The Islamic Shariat says Muslims should not live in the land of the infidel for long. The Sept 11 attacks were not targeted at women and children. The real targets were America's icons of military and economic power.
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was against killing women and children. When he saw a dead woman during a war, he asked why was she killed ? If a child is above 13 and wields a weapon against Muslims, then it is permitted to kill him.
The American people should remember that they pay taxes to their government, they elect their president, their government manufactures arms and gives them to Israel and Israel uses them to massacre Palestinians. The American Congress endorses all government measures and this proves that the entire America is responsible for the atrocities perpetrated against Muslims. The entire America, because they elect the Congress.
I ask the American people to force their government to give up anti-Muslim policies. The American people had risen against their government's war in Vietnam. They must do the same today. The American people should stop the massacre of Muslims by their government.
HM: Can it be said that you are against the American government, not the American people ?
OSB: Yes! We are carrying on the mission of our Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The mission is to spread the word of God, not to indulge massacring people. We ourselves are the target of killings, destruction and atrocities. We are only defending ourselves. This is defensive Jihad. We want to defend our people and our land. That is why I say that if we don't get security, the Americans, too would not get security.
This is a simple formula that even an American child can understand. This is the formula of live and let live. "
A far better explanation is that Bush is trying to court billionaire Israelis --like Haim Saban, who contributed $12 million in the 2002 US election cycle. A short look at the news archives will show that Bin Ladin warned in 1998 US TV interviews that the US government's extreme support for Israeli aggression would bring retribution. Another short look will show that Bush sold Sharon 52 US F16 jet fighters in June 2001 --at a time when Sharon was being condemned by the world for using the fighters to bomb Palestinians. A third look will show that , while Hussein's Iraq was not a threat to the US, it was considered a threat to Israel --and that Haim Saban's Middle East policy program at the Brookings Institute recommended that Hussein be deposed.
I think it's about time the American people held Bush and the Republicans responsible for their whoring for Israel -- and for the disaster it has brought to the American people. Not only do we have 3000 dead in New York, but we have 500+ dead in Iraq and millions have lost life savings in the second Bush Recession. Moreover, Bush's recent budget shows that he projects a federal debt for 2008 that is $3.8 TRILLION more than what he promised only three years ago. When this new debt is spread over the households with assets to tax -- over the 61 million households with income greater than $40,000 per year -- then one realizes that Bush has dumped more than $70,000 in debt onto every such household.
It's only a monstrous thought if you're not a Socialist. They were in league with Saddam and they are in league with the Islamists.
Forget Spain. It's lost, as is most of Europe (new and old.) For all intents and purposes they're the enemy, as are the leftists here in the US and the best thing for us is to kill them all.posted by: ajf on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
The analogy you posit may harmonize more closely with what you believe, but I doubt it's terribly close to what was in average Spanish voter's mind. (Thopugh Al Q does have a 1492 issue with Spain -- since that's the year the Moors were finally driven from Andalucia.) 90% of the spanish believe our intervention in Iraq is unjustified. When you engage in policies that unpopular, and there is a plausible link between the policy and a disasterous outcome, you will pay a price at the polls.
I am little unsure the fibbing about ETA involvement alone would have swung all of the votes, unless the PP government had a history about lying in similar circumstances. (Did they?? I don't know enough Spanish politics to say.) Denying that part of the swing had to do with the fact that alliance with the US had brought terrorism on them sounds like spin.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Yikes! Correction in prior post. I say that alliance w. US brought Spain terrorism. I think that's a perception in the voters, not a "fact." Sorry for raising everyone's blood pressure.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"The right wing neo-cons have been careful to suppress any discussion of what Bush did to provoke Sept 11"
Sadly, not all the idiots are in Europe. How is Bush supposed to have provoked the attack? We're told "A short look at the news archives will show that Bin Ladin warned in 1998 US TV interviews that the US government's extreme support for Israeli aggression would bring retribution."
Along the same vein, a short look at a calendar would have told Mr. Williams that 1998 precedes 2001.
A better solution for determining OBL's grievances would be to listen to OBL himself. Included in his laundry list were our troops in the holy land of Arabia and the Andalusian disaster. Since neither had anything to do with Israel I can only conclude that his ravings relate not to the WOT but rather to some other event. So he has coopted the actions of terrorists to justify his position.
Sad.posted by: mj on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Hey, Don, you Bin Laden worshipping jihadist . . .
Are you also blaming Bush for Bin Laden's previous attacks? For the first WTC bombing? For the embassies and the Cole? For all the other terror attacks of the past few decades? For 9/11 which was planned for many years?
You and your tired "America deserved it" and "they had legitimate grievances" crap are only convincing every sane voter that Bush must be re-elected if we are to have a snowball's chance in hell.
Those who hate Bush more than they love this country and civilization in general MUST be defeated. They are dangerous and crazy.
Oh, and Don? Go blow it out your ear. You suck shit.posted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Nice try, "Don Williams" (peace be upon you) but nobody with more than half a brain is buying the crapola you're selling. Take your whoring for OBL elsewhere.posted by: meen on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Pardon my Freedom.
People need to step back and take a look at what Zapatero is actually saying. He's commited to fighting terrorism, always has been. But staying in Iraq is not synonymous with fighting terrorism; in fact the argument can convincingly be made that it is a distraction from the real fight against those "splinter cells" actually operating in the West.
Equating Spaniards exercise of democracy with appeasement or cowardice is just hysteria. Stop it.posted by: Hermit on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
So, does Israel have a right to exist or not? Or do you just not care?
And are you aware that OBL only started proclaiming the cause of the Palestinians once he started losing in Afghanistan?
(Sorry, this is off thread, but I'm curious about the answers.)posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
A few days before the election, the 2 parties were practically in a statistical tie (margin of error), so I'm unsure how much was swing voters changing minds, and how much was an increased turnout in registered Socialist voters.
Shame on all of you from spain who vote with ill-conceived emotion and ZERO intellectual thought.
That's some epic conspiracy theorizing by Don. But style points are taken off for not including the Masons as part of it.posted by: Steve in Houston on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I hope CNN in Spain runs this story a lot. Maybe the Spaniards will realize what craven fools they've been.posted by: NCVOL on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Yes, but basically the Socialists are coming out and saying "Because you punished us through bombing our innocent civilians, we shall now reward you by giving you what you asked for."
Next time Al Qaeda wants another country to act like France, they can rest assured that they have their techniques down.
How about if the Socialists instead issued a statement that "We will NEVER give in to demands of terrorists." They can even withdraw their troops from Iraq, especially in June when Iraq regains sovereignty, but to so dramatically tie it into the bombing is very encouraging to the murderers to continue in the same manner.
Is said "leftists" and I don't think half of the US pop. are leftists. Maybe 5%, people like "Don Williams" above. And, It's not murder, it's war.posted by: ajf on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Zakaria makes it sound like Islamic militants attacked the 'pentagons' and 'world trade centers' of Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Why? To make the false point that support of the War in Iraq was irrelevant to Al Qaeda's bloody attack in Madrid.
Even you, in your second to last paragraph, omit the word, synagogues; as if you were discussing only shop keepers after 'kristalnacht.'posted by: Norm on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I reject the notion put forth by one of Dan's cites that the "Spanish media" had it in for Aznar or the popular party. It was well reported and in many newspapers in Spain that they suspected that ETA was the main culprit. Interviews on the street with Spanish people confirmed many of them though it was ETA.
However, the Popular Party had a credibility gap. They had fumbled the largest environmental disaster in Spanish history, when a tanker went aground off Spain's shore. Aznar had used up his credibility claiming there were WMD in Iraq. And then, it sort of came out at the last minute that there might have been evidence that Alqueda was involved when the government line had been pushing ETA hard.
Aznar's successor and the Popular Party were brought down by a credibility gap. With 77% voter participation as opposed to about 55% last election cycle, this was a strong mandate. The lesson in Spanish politics was if you spend your credibility fruitlessly, then when you need the public's trust if you show much show the slightest manipulation of information then they will turn on you.
Trust was the issue, and lies and cynicism about lying brought down Aznar and co. This may be sending "the wrong message" to terrorists, but it also sends a message to governments. If you lie to your public and lose your trust, then you will lose even if there really is a boogie man out there. The public will not tolerate forever lies used to manipulate their allegiance and loyalties. That's the lesson. Lying even in a "good cause" will still bring you down, even if it teaches terrorists the wrong lessons. So if you're a government official, don't lie!posted by: Oldman on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Maybe the vote wasn't cowardice or appeasement...but it sure looks and sounds like both. And Zapatero's "commitment" to fighting terrorism? I wouldn't hold my breath on that either.posted by: JAG on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
The only thing Zapatero is committed to is "peace in our time."posted by: NCVOL on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Don Williams that is the reasoning of a moral bankrupt.
Still singing the same song about how it was all a lie, eh, Oldman?
Don Williams says that "I think it's about time the American people held Bush and the Republicans responsible for their whoring for Israel"
Whoring for Isreal started long before Bush came into office. It is a tradition of both Democrats and Republicans. Shall we hold all the Democrats that have supported Isreal to account as well?
As for "and millions have lost life savings in the second Bush Recession."
Allow me to clarify a few points:
1) Zapatero says he is committed to fighting terrorism:
2) Zapatero's campaign platform has not changed due to the bombing and has always been: to pull Spanish troops from Iraq in the absence of a United Nations mandate by June 30th.
So let's be clear,
Quite the Freeper invasion going on today. I wonder who put up the link that caused all the loonies to show up?
Question for Dan and the other rational conservatives here: aren't you embarrased to have these folks on your side?posted by: uh_clem on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
In the end, it matters not for the actual reasons why the spainards voted.
What really matters is if AQ thinks it succeeded.
Why is this? In many interviews, OBL took the view that the mujhadeen were solely responsible for the destruction of the Soviet Union. In their viewpoint, america was the weaker of the two. Throughout the 90s and to some extent earlier, Americas answer to terrorist acts was to withdraw, Somalia, Lebanon, and so on. Based on thier "cowardice" (in their eyes), they felt that a hard enough blow would disengage America from the world stage. OBL was asked how the americans would respond, and he laughed and said "they will present us with a lawsuit".
9/11 came about because they wanted us to pull back and did not believe we would do anything. By giving the impression of weakness, we invited disaster. And what of Spain?posted by: capt joe on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"To understand the mindset here, assume that we assist our allies, the French, with one of their African interventions. Maybe a few soldiers die, but the casualties are not such that the populace cares that much. A few days before the election, African terrorists blow up some commuter trains in Chicago,with the hundreds dead. You think there would not be a major uprising among the voters that our joint venture on an unclear overseas mission with an unpopular ally wouldn't swing an election?"
Yeah, it would swing it towards whoever wants to kill as many African terrorists as possible.
"This heartless manipulation of the dead for political gain clinched it"
Supposedly Aznar called the media and told them to reinforce the ETA line. That's bad. But, what the socialists did also appears to be bad. A radio station which is linked to the socialists said their sources said it was 99% likely to be AQ. And, were all these "spontaneous" protests planned right after the attacks and not in response to what Aznar was doing? There's been a complaint filed with the election board concerning electioneering too soon before the election.
As for the intact cellphone, that was apparently part of an unexploded backpack bomb. Reading the reports as they were made available, the "Koran van" could have been a red herring. It was stolen, and the materials found in it could have belonged to its owner.
I posted about a non-ETA Basque group that promised to be the RIRA. It could have been them.
There are apparently links between this bombing and the Moroccan attacks: http://www.athensnewspapers.com/stories/031604/new_20040316018.shtmlposted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
The last debate we had that involved the topic of lies, you came out the worst. I see that lacking similar factual basis for your arguments, you revert to meaningless gibes and innuendo.
As a matter of fact, I greatly regretted the loss of Jose Aznar's Popular Party to the Socialists in whom I have little confidence. However, nobody made Aznar's government indulge in cover-ups and nobody made Aznar claim that there were WMD in Iraq. He could have framed it as a RealPolitick decision - which it actually was. I'm siding with them, because they're stronger and this will help Spain. In the long run, this would have helped him more than searching for "plausible deniability".
The Spanish election came down to trust, credibility, and transparency issues in the end. This I believe was unfortunate, because Aznar's government was almost certainly more fit to battle terrorism than his successors. ETA used to be a scourge in Spain, and Aznar broke them. That's a fact.
He had the credibility in fighting terrorism, but alas not in telling the truth. It is a lesson that erstwhile neo-Republicans ought to remember as they defend their champion. If nobody can trust you, no matter how good you actually are you are useless to everybody.posted by: Oldman on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"Forget Spain. It's lost, as is most of Europe (new and old.) For all intents and purposes they're the enemy, as are the leftists here in the US and the best thing for us is to kill them all."
"The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was against killing women and children. When he saw a dead woman during a war, he asked why was she killed ? If a child is above 13 and wields a weapon against Muslims, then it is permitted to kill him."
OBL via “Don Williams”
Why don't you two go off somewhere and leave us (and the Spanish) out of it?
Don't worry, with comments like Don Williams, the opposite number (larouchians) is present and so there is a balance of sorts.posted by: capt joe on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Concerning the African-terrorists bit, consider this comedy bit. It's funny, but the thoughts expressed are close to the truth for lots of people.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
>Quite the Freeper invasion going on today. I wonder who put up the link that caused all the loonies to show up?
Yes, when you can't argue the point, insult the messenger.
The loonies are those who champion Bin Laden. Are you among them?posted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
What did Anzar do when Kay blew the whistle on the WMD? I would think a "we believed the CIA and MI5, because they're supposed to be good at this stuff" would have gotten him out of this.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"Senator Kerry has the power to protect the national security of the United States and save American lives. He should be called on to do the honorable thing."
"the false accussations against the ETA were reprehensible"
Really? Reprehensible is a bit of a stretch in my mind. A quick news search shows that on Feb 29th the Spanish Civil Guard stopped a small truck and found 1,100 lbs of potassium chloride compound (explosive precursor), 66 lbs of dynamite and 99 yards of core fuse and an electrical detonator. On Dec 24th of last year, police found a 55 lb bomb on a train headed to Madrid. A second one of about the same size also was seized and two alleged ETA members were arrested in connection with the attempts.
Up until 13M, al-Qaeda had apparently only had logistical and fundraising rings in Spain. ETA's track record within Spain's borders, by comparison, has been far worse. IMHO, the fact that the Spanish government immediately suspected ETA (especially in light of what occurred on Christmas Eve) makes perfect sense. Moreover, there is a precedent for false claims of responsibility by so-called al-Qaeda affiliates - The Abu Hafs el-Masri Brigades falsely claimed responsibility for the East coast blackout in the US last year, to name one.
Al-Qaeda or some affiliate may have indeed been responsible, but to flay the Aznar government for initially suspecting the ETA, especially in light of recent events, is absurd.posted by: Tailgunner Joe on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I strongly disagree. What matters is that democratic exercises continue: that means voting for one's self-interest and/or ideals, regardless of what AQ thinks.
It really doesn't matter what AQ thinks:
The only thing that will stop AQ, is their capture. In the meantime, a real of show of strength is to remain true to our Constitution and our democratic system.posted by: ch2 on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"I never heard of Al Qaeda bragging that they accomplished one of their stated goal. It's as if the few material goals they stated were fig leafs for the real goal: Religious Armageddon."
Now that Osama bin laden has basically taken power in Spain, we must all work together to prevent his ally John Kerry from doing the same in America.posted by: Right Wing Wacko on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I wonder, is Iraq considered Holy Land to the SA Wahhabis ? Anyway, I agree with the last point, there isn't exactly a periodic AQ manifesto coming out every year (OBL's 2001 interview being the rare exception).
As far as future attacks in Spain, we'll have to see. With the hundred of thousands of Moroccan immigrants, there's bound to be more AQ-affiliated cells. It's a race to find them before they act (in Spain or elsewhere, intra-EU travel being easy).posted by: ch2 on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Sure, Aznar and Ana Palacio politicized this. Her memo to the Spanish diplomatic corps was repugnant, and they probably deserved to be voted out.
But Young Zapatero has committed a far greater mistake, one that will punish all of us. The notion that this act was retribution for Iraq is a lie. The perpetrators clearly state they wish to punish all those nations with troops in "Iraq AND AFGHANISTAN."
Hmmm... so that would include France and Germany. Anyone wonder why the Germans and French are so furious at foolish Young Zapatero?
Any bets on when the bombs go off in Paris and Berlin?
Hermit: If you have any evidence that the Spanish voters' last minute switcheroo was motivated by something other than appeasement or cowardice, I'd like to hear it. If you don't simply telling people to "stop it" does not make for a very convincing counter-argument.
Ch2: You'll have to pardon me for not taking too much comfort from José "Bush Lied! People Died!" Zapatero's statement that his first priority is to oppose "all forms of terrorism." We've heard that weasel phrase plenty of times before. Even Yassir Arafat opposes "terrorism in all of its forms," remember?posted by: Xrlq on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"Maybe the vote wasn't cowardice or appeasement...but it sure looks and sounds like both."
Only if you ignore the facts...like Aznar's credibility isues, the oil spill fiasco, Spain's relationship with Morrocco, the Socialist's history of fighting ETA terrorists with every means possible (including some pretty unsavory tactics, which is why they've been out of power for a while now), etc. Bush's fans will push the appeasement line, and the terrorists might actually buy it, but then they're going to attack whenever and wherever they can regardless.
Frankly I think the terrorists won when Bush made the decision to put Afghan reconstruction, the hunt for Bin Laden and international cooperation on the back burner and invade Iraq. Got rid of Saddam for them, divided the West and threw a major Arab country into the kind of chaos that makes fertile ground for gruops like Al Qaeda. The whole purpose of 9/11 was, I believe, to provoke an over-reaction from America and open up the kind of situation that now exists in Iraq and Afghanistan in the vain hope that the chaos can be exploited to advance the goal of Islamist revanchism.
But then I have a hard time seeing things in simple, politically acceptable back and white...posted by: Hermit on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I am not sure that this "Aznar would have lost anyway" and "Anybody But Aznar" reasoning is correct. After all, Aznar was not running himself and his party was leading by three to five points in the polls prior to 3/11. Now polls certainly be wrong, but it appears that *something* happened to the electorate over the weekend. Although I have little doubt that Aznar was playing manipulative games with the tragedy and therefore were "playing politics", but didn't the socialists do so also? And aren't they doing so now by blaming the attack almost solely on the Iraqi war (at least as reported in the American press)? It surely looks that way to me.posted by: Doug Macdonald on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Beneath the hyperbole, the enduring fact is that Europeans are ideological cowards. They always have been. They always will be. Europeans fight for national or tribal interests, not for ideas. This is why after years of trying the EU Commission still can't come up with a foreign policy except second-guessing the U.S. ("Stop, or I will say 'Stop' again!")
Regardless of why the Spaniards voted out the conservatives, the world is less safe now than it was before their election. If the Spanish public understands this and still responds "we're pulling out," then they deserve to be regarded as the cowards we all suspect them now to be.posted by: John Doe on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I'm curious to know what is being said in Spain. Is there any buyers remorse setting in? Are they aware that much of the US (I don't know about elsewhere) views them as having caved in to terrorism, endangered people from Newark to Warsaw, and deserted the fight at the desperate hour?posted by: LK on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
All I saw on the news was one Spaniard after another wanting out of harm's way.
However, appeasement has a very long and undistinguished history in Europe and Socialists don't seem to have been stalwarts in the fight for other people's freedom very often.
It is me, or has our general level of civility dropped considerably?
What is it about the bombing in Madrid that has us all so riled up? We seem to have four factions factions (1) the "Spanish/Europeans" are cowardly knaves, (2) the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim, the (3) anti-Bush administration, and the (4) anti-anti-Bush administration...do you think that accurately reflects the political divides on this issue throughout the West?
John Doe, JAG, LK,
Do you truly believe that the terrorists will stop their attacks if every government says they support sending troops to Iraq and support Bush ?
Do you truly believe that there are not terror cells who are intent on attacking us right now, no matter what ? Unless you believe that their efforts were lukewarm so far, and now they are really psyched, there is no plausible explanation for why we should be suddenly less safe because the Spaniards voted the PP out.
Safety will come from busting the terror cells and shoring up our safeguards at ports of entry. You may believe that the PSOE will safeguard Spain less, or be less able to catch terror cells in Spain. I, for one, see no basis in facts to accept that claim yet.posted by: ch2 on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
It seems that many people on this thread are forgetting that the polls showed that the Spanish voters were between 80 and 90 percent OPPOSED to the Iraq war. They were never on "our team" in Iraq, so they are not TRAITORS.
The Madrid bombings, without any manipulation by anybody, would have made terrorism a front-burner issue. The didnt change their minds because of the bombings. They just decided to get off their B***s and VOTE.posted by: TexasToast on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Apropos the attempted analogies to an election eve bombing in America: such a bombing would be a tremendous political boost to whichever candidate was seen as most likely to kick the living shit out of the terrorists, regardless of whether he was the incumbent or the challenger.
Apparently, in Spain, the electorate plumped for the candidate who had taken the softer line on terror. Spare me the boilerplate from Zapateros platform about being a hard guy - he was running on withdrawing Spain from the anti-terror coalition.
In Spain, apparently, the instinctive reaction to an election eve bombing is to vote in the guy least likely to offend the terrorists. This is a lesson that AQ and other terrorists will take to heart. More election eve bombings are coming, make no mistake.posted by: R C Dean on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
From the comments I've seen from Spaniards on this and other boards, the Spanish show a mix of battle fatigue from their own fascist era and a very high and demoralizing rate of unemployment among young adults. Also a lingering dislike of the US, also from the Franco era, that seems to run across the political spectrum.
The Spaniards and Catalans I met were all either leftists or Opus Dei weirdoes (the business school at IESE in Barthelona has an oil painting with the school's very creepy Opus Dei founder).
Add to this one of the more anti-jewish social climates in Europe and you get the impression that the Spanish are, if not outright hostile to the US, at a minimum more consumed with internal quarrels than with any sense of honor or obligation to "the West."
I agree that the Spanish aren't "traitors." Carry this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion and you arrive at the death of the Atlantic Alliance.
Nothing's more effective in destroying multilateralist tendencies in the US than pointing out that we never had real allies to begin with. Regardless who wins the US election, the next president will be extremely wary of counting on the Euros for support in any but the most uncontroversial, ie trivial, operation.
I would ask Young Zapatista and his followers whether a distinctly more unilateralist US is really worth scoring a few points against Aznar.
“What is it about the bombing in Madrid that has us all so riled up? We seem to have four factions factions (1) the "Spanish/Europeans" are cowardly knaves, (2) the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim....”
The majority of Spanish/European voters are cowards. This was proven on election day. Appeasing the terrorists is the option they chose. Most Muslims wish to live in peace. However, the only good radical “true believer” Muslim is indeed a dead radical “true believer” Muslim.
“Quite the Freeper invasion going on today. I wonder who put up the link that caused all the loonies to show up?
Question for Dan and the other rational conservatives here: aren't you embarrased to have these folks on your side?”
On my side? The hateful Don Williams expresses his utmost contempt for President Bush and he seems to disagree with me on every other issue. Why is he suppose to be my ideological brother? At best, you are a well meaning inadvertent slanderer.posted by: David Thomson on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I believe the election results will encourage AQ recruitment because it will be perceived as a "success" and "effective" among poor, young, unemployed, Madrasa-educated Pakistanis. "Join us and you can topple infidel governments!"
I do not think the solution is as simple as "busting the terror cells and shoring up our safeguards at ports of entry." Nor is it as simple as killing people, as useful and necessary as that is (I still don't understand why we don't simply invade that area in Pakistan where OBL is hiding). We have to stop recruitment. Spain isn't helping.posted by: John Doe on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Toast -- It doesn't matter what Spaniards felt about Iraq before the bombing; it only matters what course they were pursuing. The course they were pursuing was to re-elect the conservatives and, by extension, to remain in Iraq and close to the US. Changing course as a result of the bombing is, then, to allow the bombing to dictate your actions: ie., to cave to terrorism.
By the way: the war in Iraq is over (whatever you felt about it at the time) and now the difficul process of tamping out guerillas and setting up a stable government is underway. There are two options in Iraq as of this moment, leave and allow the place to descend into a bloody slaughter or try and get some sort of civil society operating. The Spaniards have opted for the former.posted by: LK on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
It's a WAR. There are only two sides, choose one or be placed on one. Sticking your head in the sand won't get you out of it...
Maybe you have nothing and no one worth defending and protecting, I do. Cower and you will just die a coward, fight and you may live on. I choose to fight.posted by: ajf on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
This is very interesting.
Conservatives are arguing that, no matter how much a government deceives its citizens and no matter how much it ignores its citizens wishes, those citizens are obliged to keep it in power in order to continue the deceit and the arrogance, or else "the terrorists have won."
In view of Bush & Co's record, I can certainly understand why conservatives feel this way.
It's still pretty remarkable to hear conservative contempt for democracy stated so plainly.posted by: DemocracyNo on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I take your point. Iraq certainly will help their recruitment. The question is whether in the long run we will see any benefits to that admitted cost.
This is debatable too. I see two potential benefits: fewer state sponsors for AQ members (a la Iran, where some are holed up), and (the big one) the dream of a democratic Arab state replacing an oppressive dictatorship. Like I said, debatable, but compare that to Spain: What does the war on terror gain from this election?
I'll let you have the last word (promise).
Regards,posted by: John Doe on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I will add that I believe what the socialists have actually said is that they "may" remove troops depending on returning Iraq to its own governance. So, if I understand this, policy may not change regarding Iraq yet they got in. I hope the Spaniards like the other policies of the socialists. Voting single issue on a "maybe" might not in fact get the results they want.posted by: Rich Reilly on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
The point is not that the Spanish should keep Aznar in power despite lying. Vote'em out! The point is that the socialists should change their stance in recognition of what pulling out would do to encourage terrorism and undermine Spain's reputation in the world. (Also, your moniker sounds odd given your stance.)posted by: John Doe on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"no matter how much a government deceives its citizens and no matter how much it ignores its citizens wishes, those citizens are obliged to keep it in power"
JohnDoe: My choice of monicker was meant sarcastically.
RichReilly: People found out Aznar's administration put pressure on investigators to accuse ETA even though there was no evidence linking ETA to the attack while there *was* evidence linking AQ to the attack.
AQ was named as at least a possible suspect, IIRC, the next day, when an email was sent to an Arab news service and the van with Koranic tapes was discovered.posted by: DemocracyNo on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
There is one very good reason why the terrorists will attack Spain again to secure the release of the perpetrators.
"People found out Aznar's administration put pressure on investigators"
While I opposed going to Iraq, I do share your dream that our sweat and blood will result in an Iraqi beacon of democracy.
"..but compare that to Spain: What does the war on terror gain from this election?"
While it is tempting to look at that election solely through one's favorite lenses (war on terrorism, for example), it seems neither fair, nor accurate to do so.
IMO, it's who the Spaniards want to run their government that counts first, irrespective of whether AQ uses this or that as propaganda. We should actually do our own propaganda in the Muslim world, to counter any AQ propaganda of victory, here. I think you and I are also a bit too far away to grasp a lot of the local and national politics that went into their decisions. I do know that the PP was perceived as running their government in a typical "Father knows best" way, and that the PSOE tapped into a desire for more government transparency. That the Spaniards might get out of Iraq is unfortunate for the short-term image of our efforts, but hardly a retreat in the war on terrorists. As a matter of fact, the Zapatero government may end up devoting more resources to intelligence gathering than the Aznar government ever did, since he would have tremendous popular support. Also, there is no doubt that Spain will stay involved in Afghanistan.
All the best, & 'til next time.posted by: ch2 on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
TexasToast: "many people on this thread are forgetting that the polls showed that the Spanish voters were between 80 and 90 percent OPPOSED to the Iraq war."
True, but if this were the causative factor, then why was the pro-war party leading in the polls prior to 3/11?
Lively debate. More inflammatory data in the PEW report: Europeans doubt American commitment to the fight on terror.
Hitler bombs the hell out of Churchill. America proudly watches. Hitler and Stalin carve up Europe. Millions marched off into camps. Uncle Sam winks. Days before 1942, America attacked. Saves world. Check out PEW via the WP.posted by: kidneystones on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
My post was not directed at you, but instead at the belligerent posters that seem to have hit this thread today. We are trying to establish in Iraq the very thing that Spain has just utilized (democracy), and they are acting like the Spanish voter is our enemy at the most or is a dupe of AQ at the least. I would suspect that most would view supporters of the Democratic Party in this country in the same fashion and some have made that point very clearly (to the point of wanting to “kill” 5% of the population).
The main difference between Bush41 and Bush43 was the way they dealt with the members of the Atlantic Alliance. Bush41 had the limited, defined objective of establishing the status quo ante, and therefore received well nigh universal support. Bush43, on the other hand, wanted to change the status quo by invasion, and argued that the invasion of Iraq WAS the war on terrorism and strongly implied there was a link between Saddam and AQ. When that didn’t sell, he changed the reasons for the invasion to WMDs. After the war, when the search for WMDs failed, he changed the reason again to the overthrow of a fascist dictator.
I suspect that the invasion of Iraq remains the war on terror to the administratiion,and that it is just the first step in a longer term strategy, but that, along with whether or not Bush’s long term strategy is the best one, is a question for another day. The point is that he didn’t convince the allies and he didn’t even convince a large portion of the American people. The administration knew it did not have Europe’s support for his strategy and proceeded anyway. Were they just supposed to “lump it”? The Spaniards, in a sense, merely normalized their government to the majority in Europe.
We have real allies. NATO is not the Warsaw Pact, so multilateral actions do require some consensus. We are still acting in concert in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. I believe the Spanish socialists have no intention of leaving us high and dry as it is in their interests as well as ours to get a UN authorized force into Iraq. The sky is not falling on the Atlantic Alliance because Spain had an election that didn’t go the administration’s way.
My point was that the Spaniards didn’t change their mind so the terrorists didn’t dictate their actions. It’s just that some of them who would normally have been apathetic were energized to vote in this election. Did they “cave to terrorists” by showing up at the polls? To say that a desire to break with the US was the sole reason for this surge of activity is something none of us can prove but it seems to be the consensus of the belligerent posters on this thread.
As to us leaving Iraq, I think it is absolutely the worst thing we could do at this point. I really don’t expect the Spanish to pull their troops out either as a UN resolution is now in everyone’s interest except AQ.
“Bush43, on the other hand, wanted to change the status quo by invasion, and argued that the invasion of Iraq WAS the war on terrorism and strongly implied there was a link between Saddam and AQ.”
That’s simply not accurate. The Bush administration rightfully perceived Saddam Hussein as an overall funder of terrorism and other anti-west activities. I’ve long contended that the former Iraqi tyrant was unlikely to confront us directly. Instead, he would discretely aid the terrorists and later claim not to be involved.
You also fail to realize that much of the hostility toward the Bush administration is probably due to motives of self preservation. Saddam bribed and blackmailed many people to do his bidding. Many are afraid of being arrested or having their careers destroyed.posted by: David Thomson on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Are you running outside ads for free toaster ovens again?posted by: Waffle on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Toast -- I have great sympathy for the Spanish. The hot breath of 9/11 is still on our necks. They were stunned and then it appeared that their government was lying to them.
But, yes, if you throw a government out of power that otherwise would have remained in power except for a terrorist attack and you throw it out because of the terrorist attack then that is a cave in my book. You can say, "Yes, well, a bunch of anti-government voters were energized to get off their couches by the terrorist attack so it really wasn't caving..." Let me define not caving: Voting the government back in power by an overwhelming majority even though you don't like it because someone killed 200 of your fellow citizens to make you do otherwise.posted by: LK on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"Beneath the hyperbole, the enduring fact is that Europeans are ideological cowards. They always have been."
"The majority of Spanish/European voters are cowards. This was proven on election day."
"Forget Spain. It's lost, as is most of Europe (new and old.) For all intents and purposes they're the enemy, as are the leftists here in the US and the best thing for us is to kill them all."
Dan - these guys are on your side. What are you going to do?
Let's repeat that last line "and the best thing for us is to kill them all."
Wow! It doesn't get any better than this! Where did all of these freepers come from?
It seems like you guys are operating from a different and simply wrong set of facts than the rest of the world.
I don't know about anyone else, but I have real fear of a revolution by morons who are unable to overcome cognitive dissonance. "if someone is called upon to learn something which contradicts what they already think they know — particularly if they are committed to that prior knowledge — they are likely to resist the new learning." This little quote doesn't seem to capture the extent to which some people 'resist'.
Most people seem to learn, but a few insist upon ignoring and discounting facts that contradict their current beliefs. You can see this effect in the sputtering tone and the light on facts but heavy on interpretation method of the freepers. It's as though they don't see the basic 'journalism 101' difference between reporting and editorial comments - both of these appear as facts to these people.
In other words, a reasonable theory and facts are interchangeable for them. You will see this over and over, where something that could be true is accepted as fact, even though the facts on the ground are different from this theory. Read instapundit for a while and just do fact checking on almost any issue, and he doesn't even seem to see the facts that might contradict his conclusions. Read Dan and his comments about the household survery of employment. This is a completely resonable theory until you look at the facts. Sadly, these guys know that you must build arguments in two ways, and choose to ignore the part where you must address the likely criticisms of your position. And these are the smart guys!
This is the editorial part for the comments on the Spanish election - FYI:
Just after the greatest terrorist attack on Spanish soil, they voted to oust the current govt. What can (not does, because who in the hell knows the mind of every Spanish voter - take notes, freeps) this mean? They believe the Socialists will provide greater security against terrorism. Do you concur?
posted by: Mr. Mike on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I hadn't time to do more than skim the comments on this thread, but think it right to reiterate something I said on the last Spain thread, which is not to be too hasty in judging what Spain will do next.
Nothing like 3/11 has hit Spain in the memory of most Spaniards now alive. The loss of life was appalling, comparable to ours on 9/11 or Australia's on Bali, and the feeling of vulnerability Spaniards must have is if anything greater than ours was -- we have no Arab countries mere miles from our borders and no large Muslim minority in which terrorists might hide.
That is a lot for a country to come to terms with definitively in the space of a week. The initial response of Spanish voters was, as I suggested in the earlier thread, discouraging -- even if it appears to have been prompted at least in part by negative reaction to the Popular government's hasty assignment of blame to ETA, a misstep unrelated to the war on terror. But the voters' response is not by itself evidence that Spain has embraced appeasement, anti-Americanism, compromise with evil or any such thing. It is at a minimum way too early to draw that conclusion.
And I hope Spanish and other European observers have noted that the Bush administration has not, though Aznar was one of its strongest allies. Some bloggers and posters have let their emotions get away from them, speaking when they should listen, but they are not making American foreign policy.posted by: Zathras on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Dear Appalled Moderate,
You ask why didn't Aznar just lay it at the door of the CIA/WhiteHouse/Pentagon/MI6/Whitehall/10Downing etc>? I'm not sure. This is what the leader of Austrailia did, and at least to foreign eyes despite a WMD investigation it seems to be working. In Australia, the government there hasn't been damaged as much as Spain's was simply because they were upfront about trusting the United States and Britain.
However this sort of finger pointing would be highly uncomfortable for Blair and Bush. Perhaps Aznar restrained himself in order to not give Blair in particular who is in a lot of trouble any more heat.
If he didn't, then it was his own choice. This is politics. If he didn't get his message out while he was the incumbent ruling government and had all the offices of the government in order to popularize the "They lied to us." defense then it was his choice and he fell by it.
I agree, your suggestion about blaming bad foreign intel was definitely the ticket.posted by: Oldman on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
As you have noted the civility is dropping. This is because, with the defeat of Aznar's government you can hear the woe-is-us whinging of many commentators here who while being pro-Bush or gung-ho on WoT have suddenly realized that it IS possible for us to lose this war. It is possible for us to lose this war by (i)alienating everyone else (ii) over-extending our military (iii) having pro-US governments fall from power and (iv) failing to stop WMD proliferation that would eventually lead to WMD use on mainland America.
With Aznar's government fallen from power so spectacularly, this can not but help but be percieved as a shot in the arm for Alqueda. Conquer and divide suddenly seems to these posters to be a viable strategy.
As a matter of fact, even before 11-M / 311 if one was actually keeping a tally Alqueda was ahead if one looked at it objectively. With the fall of Aznar's government and the impunity with which Alqueda could be perceived to have engineered such a fall, Alqueda cannot help but be seen openly to be ahead. Hence all the vicious name calling of "appeasement". It is the fear and desperation that arises from the sudden chill of mortality.
Unfortunately, the terrorists are winning and despite their losses have been steadily making progress on their goals (a) polarize Islam-West (b) promote WMD proliferation (c) undermine UN and US credibility (d) discredit Western democracy, etc.
OF course, the bungling of Bush and co. doesn't help matters, but that's the tally sheet. Alqueda has had some setbacks, but the setbacks of the United States have in absolute and relative terms been far more severe. We aren't winning, and now it's sinking in.
This is where Holsinger jumps in with his genocide "final" solution. It won't work. Unfortunately, the Islamists don't conveniently congregate all in one place. To do it, we would have to make being Muslim a crime meriting punishment by death. And I don't think we could do that.
Sad to see it, but this is what happens when you give boys charge of what should be a man's job.posted by: Oldman on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
xrlq: "Hermit: If you have any evidence that the Spanish voters' last minute switcheroo was motivated by something other than appeasement or cowardice, I'd like to hear it. If you don't simply telling people to "stop it" does not make for a very convincing counter-argument."
Well, first of all it's not that clear there was a "switcheroo"; the last polls taken just before the bombing had the Socialists ahead by two percentage points...a statistical dead heat...so the fact that they won a minority victory (twelve seats short of a majority in the Spanish Parliament) shouldn't really be that surprising.
The Socialist position hasn't changed; they will pull their troops from Iraq if the UN isn't given a real role in managing the reconstruction,(and wouldn't more multinational involvement be a good thing?) but the anti-terror campaign will certainly continue. 90% if Spaniards were opposed to jumping on the BUsh bandwagon to Iraq in the first place; it's not like they've suddenly changed their minds. They just voted for the party that was actually listening to them.
The only reason this looks like "appeasement" is the right wing "spin" that's being put ion it. I don't buy it for a second.
JAG "appeasement has a very long and undistinguished history in Europe"
Hmmm...and how long did it take America to get involved in WWII? You guys were still selling Ford trucks to Hitler while my people were fighting their way out of Dunkirk.
As for giving in to terrorism, frankly you have to look to people like Ariel Sharon for the best example of that. Time and again terrorists strike Israel with the clearly stated intent of disrupting peace talks. Sharon's reaction? Immediately cancel peace talks. Bin Laden openly talked about his desire to draw American troops into some middle east country to create a Vietnam-like crisis. Looks like G.W. gave him exactly what he wanted in Iraq. A little more nuanced responsed, instead of the usual, predictible knee-jerk reactions to such attacks might be useful...posted by: Hermit on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Some commentors here want a link to news stories about Aznar's government pressuring Spanish news and police to blame ETA for the blast. Here's a NY times link:
...it's even more damning. Aznar didn't just want ETA blamed, he wanted info about AQ involvement suppressed.
I'm glad it has finally occurred to people, hopefully most people, that Bush's Iraqi Adventure hasn't only NOT made the world safer, it's made the world LESS safe, by drawing resources away from the hunt for AQ.
I've been wondering about Bush's War on Terror. I have a lot of questions about it. The top ones concern those few thousand people we've held for up to 2 years in Gitmo, in the US, and Afghanistan. It's safe to assume, I think, those prisoners have been wrung dry of anything they know. Then why the hell are AQ's ongoing attacks still taking everyone by surprise? Why didn't we have info to give Morocco and Spain that could've prevented the attacks? Why did US Homeland Security only beef up security at train stations after the Madrid attack -- as if the idea that AQ might target train systems had never occurred to them before Madrid?
In other words, what the hell do we have to show for 2 years of the War on Terror, besides a tarnished international reputation and a thoroughly blown federal budget?posted by: DemocracyNo on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
"The Socialist position hasn't changed; they will pull their troops from Iraq if the UN isn't given a real role in managing the reconstruction"
OK, if the grey lady can be trusted, looks like there was cover up.
Rich, that's the whole point. Going into Iraq *did not make the world safer.*
Going into Iraq diverted resources, attention and manpower from hunting AQ.
Hussein was boxed in, thanks to sanctions and weapons inspectors. He was not sponsoring al-Qaeda; he and AQ loathed each other. OSB hated Hussein for being a secularist; Hussein knew an Islamic uprising would threaten his power.
Iraq was not a global terrorist organization. AQ was and is.
We spent over a hundred billion dollars, over 500 soldiers' lives, and our international goodwill on a war that *missed the freaking point.*
BushCo makes a big deal about "stepping up" the hunt for OSB now. What the hell have they been doing for the past couple of years?
Concentrating on Iraq, that's what. A war that everyone knows by now BushCo wanted from the moment it took office; a war that was pre-determined, regardless of actual national security; a war that -- this cannot be said often or loudly enough -- DIVERTED RESOURCES from the war on terrorism.posted by: DemocracyNo on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Aw, jeez. That's what I get for posting before I've finished my coffee.
OSB = OBL (Osama bin Laden)posted by: DemocracyNo on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Texas Toast, on the subject of Mumbles Bush and his legitimate war on Iraq you said:
"The point is that he didn’t convince the allies and he didn’t even convince a large portion of the American people."
Hmmm.... seems to me that there were over 30 countries involved in the UN mandated regime change (17 resolutions and counting!) in Iraq. Which allies are you speaking of? France and Germany? I'd say convincing over 30 allies to take part represents a rather effective job of convincing, wouldn't you? And as more information comes to light regarding the rotten to the core oil for food scam as well as reports of what France stood to gain via exclusive oil deals with the Hussein regime, your position looks even shakier on this one.
Also, I distinctly remember polls putting support for an Iraqi action at over 50% here in the States pre-regime change, despite the best efforts of the shrieking left. That to me represents a "large portion" of the American people- what percentage represents a large portion to you?
To the topic:
Spain made a bonehead play on this one, but it is their democratic right to do just such a thing. As it is our democratic right to lambaste them for their ridiculous shortsightedness. So be it- look at it as a macro version of "I don't agree with what you're saying, but I will defend your right to say it." Hopefully their incoming puppetmasters give them the same consideration, but I'm doubting that'll be the case- governance through randomly exploded ordnance generally tends to work with a broader brush.
I agree with some of the posters on this board, and will watch with regret as Spain sinks into the Islamofascist muck- but at least they know how to function in fascist regimes, yeah?
In effective terms, I don't see the huge impact of losing 1300 troops in the Iraqi theatre. I also find it laughable that this new dingbat is trying to leverage his newfound status to demand the US hand over power to the UN in Iraq or he'll take this "critical" contingent home. One need only examine the rowsing success of UN administration in Kosovo or the UN's abilities to establish a secure base of operations in Iraq (wasn't that a blast?) to determine how well they'd do in the lead dog position.
Ah well- time to drink a beer. Happy St. Pat's to all. Remember, the key to a good life is remembering to now and again take the time to stop and smell the hop leafs.posted by: the Idler on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Not to get off topic, but a quite note, DT:
That’s simply not accurate. The Bush administration rightfully perceived Saddam Hussein as an overall funder of terrorism and other anti-west activities.
The perception that SH funded terrorist movements is pretty much backed in fact. He supported anti-Iranian and anti-Israeli movements like Abu Nidal and the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. I've always thought his $25,000 checks were pretty much propoganda to give him support in the Arab street of places like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
As for anti-west....you do remember he was an ally who helped Westernize Iraq and supress Islamic Fundamentalism, don't you? He kept doing it post 1991 too. If he was anti-west, then how can anyone be pro-west?
Instead, he would discretely aid the terrorists and later claim not to be involved. Publically announced, internationally broadcast presentation of checks to the mothers of sucide bombers is not discrete.
it's better than the Weekly World news....
Carolinaposted by: Carolina on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
>Going into Iraq diverted resources, attention and manpower from hunting AQ.
That's crap. We have been finding al qaeda all over the map, including in Iraq (surprise, surprise). The head of al qaeda has just been killed in Saudi Arabia. 8 of the 10 Cole bombers who were broken out of prison last year have been recaptured in Yemen. Pakistan has finally been convinced to send their army into the tribal regions to flush out the sewage from their remote villages into the waiting arms of US soldiers. And we are making the final push to clean out Afghanistan of the pockets of Taliban left over from their defeat.
On the other hand, our so-called allies are intent on setting us back in the war on terror.
Germany just can't restrain itself from releasing Mohommed Atta's cell members from prison, just to piss off Bush. And they are so concerned with terrorists' rights and America's death penalty that they are not forthcoming with evidence and intelligence that could prevent further bloodshed.
The Spanish had some of the Al Qaeda bombers who committed the latest bombing under surveillance for years, but failed to aggressively round them up. And why? Because of Europe's soft underbelly, and their unwillingness to alienate their muslim voters. Well, that came back to bite them in the ass.
And everybody is whining about the detainment of terrorists in Gitmo. And about the Patriot Act. Anything we have done to SUCCESSFULLY protect ourselves from this scum is coming under attack by socialists the world over, including the Kerry camp.
Europe has been a total obstacle in getting Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. It's a good thing we kept Europe in the dark about Libya's programs, or that would still exist.
And the war in Iraq has, despite the whining to the contrary, deprived the world of many terrorists who had gained safe haven under Saddam's wing. And there is a lot of funding for terrorism now out of circulation, including the "Oil for Food" payola.
The internationalists have done everything in their power, every step of the way, to neuter the US, and to defend terrorists and tyrants.
As far as the claim that we "squandered the good will we got on 9/11," well fuck that good will. It's a hollow lie. The people who only like us when we're getting killed by the thousand can take their good will and shove it up their champagne holes.
This new PM of Spain, by the way, is coming off as a total jerk.posted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
And to stay off topic....
The Idler wrote:
What UN resolution mandating regime change? I thought we were asking Iraq to cooperate with the IAEA and stop developing WMDs. The resolution to mandate regime change failed in the SC, which is why the US (and friends) did it unilaterally. Did I miss a meeting?
And as more information comes to light regarding the rotten to the core oil for food scam as well as reports of what France stood to gain via exclusive oil deals with the Hussein regime, your position looks even shakier on this one.
However, you're right about the electorate. They backed the President on this one (despite all the protests on the left coast) and bought his b.s. hook-line-and-sinker. He used an honest man, Colin Powell, to send lies to the UN and because we all trusted him, and because he and all the rest of the Cabinet said we were in imminent danger, we supported the invasion. Oh, what fools we mortals be.
CAUTION - Wildly OFF TOPIC
The “Coalition of the Willing” consisted of Britain, Australia and who?
Countries in which a large majority of domestic opinion opposed the invasion of Iraq or countries where domestic opinion doesn’t count because they aren’t democracies or are brand new democracies traumatized by a perception of continuing external threat. The fact that we could get governments like Aznar’s in Spain to support us says more about our power than it does about support for our invasion by foreign populations.
As for domestic “support”, Bush did have majority support, but not the almost unqualified support he had for our actions in Afghanistan. The large percentage of the domestic support he did have was due to a misperception of the Iraqi threat by the public arrived at in part because of the “shaping” of intelligence released to the public in support of that misperception. I think the latest polls show that support has dropped markedly.
As for the UN as “lead dog”, Bush seems almost desperate to put the UN in that position as the fun “ain’t we tough” military part is over and the messy nation-building part is upon us. “Yuck! I want to fly a Navy jet – not referee between the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds. They all look alike to me.”
posted by: TexasToast on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
DT & Carolina:
It's discreet not discrete
Discrete means 'done in parts'
Got nuthin' else!posted by: Spelling Nazi on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
>Carolina who will give brownie points to anyone who can show us a single UN Security Council resolution mandating regime change in the last 50+ years.
And I will give you a gold star if you show me a single instance where the UN made a positive difference in resolving any massacre or punishing any tyrant in its entire history. I can only show case after case where they made things infinitely worse, and robbed the US blind at the same time.
The UN _should_ be mandating regime change when it encounters a Saddam Hussein or a Mugabe or an Idi Amin. Such people lose the right to rule when they use their power to quench their sadism and support terrorism. Otherwise, why have a UN? Oh, that's right: to keep dictators like these in power! I forgot! (I was distracted by the pocket-lining.)
The reason the League of Nations failed was that they failed to face down Hitler and remove him from power, and to enforce arms limitation treaties of the time. They had every legitimate right to do so, they had a mandate to do so, and they failed, because they had a conflict of interest. And now history repeats itself with the UN.
Stick a fork in the UN. It's done.posted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
>As for domestic “support”, Bush did have majority support, but not the almost unqualified support he had for our actions in Afghanistan.
That's because, my dear, the Taliban did not have Oil-for-Food contracts to dole out, or lucrative oil contracts to promise to the French if they blocked the US from acting.
And because Russia and Germany were not selling weapons (totally illegally) to the Taliban.
And because the Taliban was not giving George Galloway millions of dollars to make a stink in Parliament.
The entire anti-war crowd has been proven corrupt and disingenuous. The leader of Spain made an unpopular decision because it was the right thing to do, regardless of the polls. That's what men of conviction do.
That's why Kerry must never be elected. He is not even a man. He's a weather vane.posted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Get back on target, sort of to address points by TT & McMick...
The US has been begging the UN to get involved with Iraq so the president can "transition" (what ever that really means) the CPA & some US troops out of Iraq by July 30.
Personally, I can't see how this will help the war on terro, or improve the US's security. I can see how it will mean that the President can use our disengagement as a nice way to sidestep Iraq questions come Ocotber 2004. Does anyone see a benefit in the transitioning of Iraq to Governing Council/UN control?
The UN is most useful in coordinating international resources. The fighting in Zaire, the genocide in Rwanda and the Brundi civil war are all cases of internationally unpopular contlicts receiving attention and mediation throught the UN. Another case of a massacre stopped would be East Timur - Australia secured the beachhead, but the UN secured the peace.
I can see the UN picking up where the NGOs have falters - esp. with medicine. Thank god for the Italian Red Cross. I can see the UN trying to improve humanitarian conditions, and negotiating between ethnicities. But I can't see how a UN presence is going to make America safer.
First, UN peacekeepers who replace US marines, the Spanish, the British, the Poles, and the Austrians are notorious for their corruption. The Peacekeepers do less peackeeping then they do arms trading. Put them inplace of the relatively incorrutible coaltion forces will likely given support to the Islamists contentions that the west is a hive of wretched scum and villiany.
Second, the UN has pretty much gotten in bed with Sitani who is a good friend of Brahimi, the Special envoy for the SG to Iraq. Sistani is not a friend of the US and he's implied he wasts Iraq to be a shia state with a theocratic consitution...just like Iran. Avoiding a Shia state on the Arabian Pennisula has been the goal of Sunni Islam for about 1700 years. can you see the Wahabbist lying down and taking this? Or the Kurds? Iraq would be a new Arghanistan.
So, yes, the UN has intervened and stopped massacres (I'll take that gold star now). But I think in the case of Iraq, it's past record as peacekeepers and it's biased choice of a negotiating partner will just make matters worse for the West.
Carolinaposted by: Carolina on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Hussein had been and was in material breach of UN sanctions..over and over. those who signed on to latter resolutions were willing to show teeth but not use them. Whether WMDs were there or nnot, he was playing games and not explaining disposal of them, a key element of compliance. If you don't think removal of a bankroller of Palestinian suicide bombers helps make th eworld safer, so be it. It was time for him to go for the Iraqi people and it is part of a larger strategy to transform that area of the world. No, the terrorists didn't go away. BTW, if this is everyone's concern, I haven't seen anyone stopping the rest of the world from getting OBL. After all, many of them don't have the "distraction" of Iraq. Where are THEIR results? That's right..they're too busy complaining about the US.posted by: Rich Reilly on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Carolina just a point about East -Timor the Indonesia attack after elections only stopped when Clinton said to Indonesians No more IMF or world bank money. Australian troops never had to size a beach or enter in full combat.posted by: lucklucky on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
They are actually doing that very thing (the French, no less).
Is this the tread that refuses to die, or what ?
Hi Rich Reilly,
I notice they were working alongside US troops.
"And the French general is quoted as saying capturing Bin Laden won't change anything directly since he's "a hydra, so if you catch one head, there will be others."
Actually, that seems to be a common sentiment in the US as well. CNN has a poll right now that asks if OBL's capture would mean the end of Al Qaeda: 92% of 17,000 respondents (myself included) have said no so far. Of course, I assume that the people who clicked were mostly Americans.
This is why Iraq matters.
I don't think that Iraq mattered much before we went there. But now that we went in, I agree, it definitely matters. Was it wise to make it matter by picking this particular fight ? For the record, my personal opinion is that it wasn't.
cheers and happy St Patrick's day,posted by: ch2 on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
People tot this day can't say with certainty why Hussein played the game he did. But in a post 911 context, letting him play the game under the assumption he was bluffing(who assumed that?) would have at minimum sent the message that non-compliance has little consequence and left the possibility open that he did have WMDs and could share them with those who, despite differences, shared the same disdain for the US. (Note:As I write this, Blix is saying we could not have known for certain before the occupation) It has been suggested that Saddam had critical "allies" bought and paid for via oil or feud kickbacks and lucrative/debt holding contracts. Thinking he had the necessary UN veto(s) in place, he could play out his bluff to look powerful in his region in hopes of maintaining power. We (with most others)may have been wrong in our intelligence but what good did it do him to be right..in his stupidity?posted by: email@example.com on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
So are we finally down to the argument that we "had to" make an example of Saddam? At least this is honest, rather than the evasive previous justifications. Allowing Saddam to flaunt his non-compliance of international law would have been a good justification to put down a "mad dog" rogue state, EXCEPT that the Bush Administration made clear its absolute contempt of international law, norms, diplomacy, and "non-compliant" allies of long standing even questioning the relevancy of the UN.
Hmmm ... what were Dick's words? Oh yes, "We will not hesitate to discredit you." I wanted Saddam to go down as much as anyone, but it's ridiculous to pose the invasion after the fact as somehow attempting to strengthen international norms against non-proliferation. Yes, Libya capitulated but Iran and NK hardened their policies and China has recently openly rejected the validity of US intel regarding NK enriched Uranium processing.
Doh! And if my fellow conservatives wish to call the Spainish appeasers, then they should also be willing to assign responsibility to Bush for falling to adequately support Aznar. Aznar went to the hilt in order to support Bush, and what did he get for it? Precious little. This complaint is making the rounds in other coalition of the willing countries as well, including Poland and Britain.
In every possible way, this Administration has not only undermined foreign relations in general but specifically through neglicence or arrogance undermined the support of friendly governments. Those that have supported us have paid a high price, and those that have opposed us have prospered. Is this any way to conduct foreign policy? No!
So much for a strengthening international norms argument.posted by: Oldman on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
To be even more blunt,
Senator Kerry has it within his power to save American lives by preventing terrorist attacks. Help spread the word:posted by: Ryan on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Well, you know what? I didn't know what to tell him!
Heck -- pardon my strong language! -- but sometimes it seems like folks nowadays are just itching for a fight!
Well, fighting's OK for the boxing ring -- but not for our homes and business and places of worhship! After all, we're all Americans. And there just isn't a better country than America, now, is there?
Some of things you folks have been saying -- why, I wouldn't want June to even see such things, let alone The Beaver!
So remember, let's exercise our freedoms, but still remember to keep some of the "good-old-American" politeness and respect for the other guy!
Ward Cleaverposted by: Ward Cleaver on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
You write, "The main difference between Bush41 and Bush43 was the way they dealt with the members of the Atlantic Alliance."
um, 9/11 and its consequences just might could, in Texas parlance, be viewed by historians as a more important difference. Put another way, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have no doubt been hamhanded in their diplomacy but the far greater shift--which any president will have to come to grips with--is the vastly diminished importance of Europe in an Asia-centric world.
Let's face it: China and India are of more consequence to us than France and Germany. As to the other European nations, I care much more about how AQ perceives us than I do about Spaniards or Belgians or Poles.
This is because the Asian (near and far Eastern, to be exact) nations have a far greater ability to either hurt or help us than do the Europeans.
This is the meaning of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We just didn't perceive it until 911--or rather, until Rummy begin beating it into everyone with a two-by-four.
Clumsy, arrogant, sure. Perhaps inept as well. But this is Asia's century, and given the fact that every one of the critical security, political and economic challenges to us arise from that Aisan arc running from Palestine to Pyongyang, I think we should spend a lot less time worrying about the Europeans. And start working intensively with India, Turkey, Russia and other crucial "swing" nations that really can help or harm us greatly in this fight.posted by: tombo on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Young Zapatero's still finding his way in the world. Whoever wins in November will give him a good slapping down shortly thereafter. As much of a turkey Kerry is, I don't expect him to put up with the adolescent insults that this little mierda continues to spout.
Sorry, no gold star for you there.
The UN failed to stop genocide in East Timor, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the list goes on and on. Mugabe? Idi Amin? Pol Pot? Children walking around with their arms chopped off? Don't bother the UN about that; they are busy organizing an afternoon tea for UNICEF.
They don't have the moral authority or backbone to forcefully stop mass murder. Nor do they have the motivation, especially when the tyrants have lots of money or oil to bribe them with.
How long was Saddam allowed to continue murdering and torturing and gassing helpless victims? The UN prolonged it for profit.
How many atrocities did the Taliban get away with? Nothing from the UN or Amnesty or the Red Cross except pieces of paper. Useless.
And when the US finally does something about it, they paint us as the villain. Well to hell with the UN. They can get out of my city, thank you.
We can use that area as a great parking lot.posted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
...that wasn't for you tomboposted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
The jihadists are laughing at us and the Euros.
They know that the West's anti-Bush and the anti-anti-Bush factions would rather slit each other's throats than figure out a way to halt the grand transatlantic pissing match and agree on a joint posture vs jihad.
On and on it goes: the anti-Bushites cry "LIARS!" and the anti-anti-Bushites cry "APPEASERS!".
War without end, indeed. Easy pickings for a clever jihadist. Or a not-so-clever one
To clarify above comments:
I don't really care anymore whether my side in this debate is right or wrong.
The notion--the fact--that islamist terrorists can pick a soft target that no amount of security measures can secure and time their attack in accordance with a major decision point for a democracy is to me more terrifying than any terror act could be.
The optimistic view is that we are in a formative period similar to 1945-1947 in which partisan sniping (cf Taft Repubs vs Truman) overrides the sense of national or civilizational danger.
My own realistic view is that there are so many sub-layers to this internal debate that it's very unlikely that the Venus and Mars factions will put aside their differences anytime soon. So long as the West is divided against itself, we will be exceptionally ripe targets for kamikazes whose only goal is to kill.
If the price of halting Spanish and other left-Euro appeasement in its tracks is for Bush to go to Canossa, then he should go to Canossa.
In response for a pledge by Spain not to pull out, and by each other NATO country (and France) to commit troops to Iraq, Bush should make a public speech before the European parliament in which he
--admits that the intel on WMD was botched and pledge to do better
--praises the French commandos helping our Special Forces in Afghanistan.
--challenges the UN to reform itself and become an equal partner in the war on terror.
--and pledges to use every diplomatic tool he has to make America's cause the world's cause.
The stakes are too high now for more of this asinine internal squabbling.
No more Euro-appeasement / no more Bush-Rummy manipulation and arrogance. Deal?posted by: tombo on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
But is it arrogance that's driving Bush and Rumsfeld, or are they RIGHT in acting unilaterally, here?
Jen at The Greatest Jeneration is running a story this morning that says in part:
"In its testimony, the GAO said the United States has had mixed results in recovering Saddam's hidden assets. The United States has seized about $926 million of the assets of Saddam's regime in Iraq and other countries have frozen about $3.7 billion of Iraqi regime assets. But little progress has been made in identifying and freezing most of Saddam's hidden assets. GAO said the regime was believed to have illegally acquired $10 billion to $40 billion."
Jen adds to the story by suggesting, as I have many times in the past:
Suffice it to say that a good chunk went into the pockets of UN functionaries and the rogue régimes they represent (Need any countries' names be mentioned?).
Yes, Jen, I thnk they do need to be named.... repeatedly.
France and Germany.
Explain to me again why we would possibly want the UN to be involved with Iraq, much less France and Germany... and tell me again how our leadership is arogant to have acted unilaterally.
And by the way, who could blame us for adding Spain to the 'pariah' list since Spain has all but announced they're going to crawl in bed with France and Germany.
Sorry, Tombo.. no deal.
posted by: Bithead on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
Tagental, based on last post:
I have to wonder about this.
For example; If these folks benefited from the oil for food program continuing, wouldn't they be motivated to arrange for the continuance of the program.... say, for example, UN teams not finding WMD, for example.... or even having the WMD moved out to say, Syria, after the gig was up, to cover their butts....
Given the number of dollars we're dealing with here... between 10 and 40 billion so far, there seems a lot of directions this corruption that we are only now finding, could have gone.
Is it possible our intel on Iraq was so far off after all?
The last debate we had that involved the topic of lies, you came out the worst.
If you do say so yourself....
In the long run, this would have helped him more than searching for "plausible deniability".
I think you're going to have to explain why you think he was searching for escape from something he was blameless for in the first place.
The Spanish election came down to trust, credibility, and transparency issues in the end. This I believe was unfortunate, because Aznar's government was almost certainly more fit to battle terrorism than his successors.
True. I'll admit I am suprised at your comment to tha effect, however.
ETA used to be a scourge in Spain, and Aznar broke them. that's a fact.
And on that basis, was as logical a suspect as AQ was.
And even with that said, there's still the issue of your suggeting that WMD was all a lie, which was the cause of my comment.posted by: Bithead on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
I totally agree with the comments above on the detriment wrought by this puerile, churlish trans-Atlantic sniping on the terrorism issue when it’s never been more important for us to coordinate efforts. There’s a common enemy here and we need cooperation. I’m also all for a coordinated, vigorous, aggressive effort to root out al-Qaeda and affiliated groups. That’s the dangerous enemy here.
In any case, I vehemently disagree with the assertion that the vote in Spain reflected some sort of appeasement; that’s a specious claim by some commentators here in the US and almost certainly does not reflect the prevailing public opinion in Spain. It’s not sensible to automatically assume that the Spanish people tossed out Aznar’s party because they wanted to appease al-Qaeda in the wake of the train attacks (i.e., by purportedly removing themselves from the “target list” of Iraq war participants). Why do so many people (including Thomas Friedman, in one of his lousiest op-eds recently) blithely presume this to be the mindset of the voters?
This seems to be a classic begging-the-question fallacy, with both sides debating based on a premise before that premise itself has been validated. In this case, there are 3 false premises IMHO: (1) Spanish voters tossed out Aznar’s pro-Bush, pro-Iraq war party on election day b/c of the train attacks and, specifically, b/c they felt that Spain’s participation in Iraq had made them targets of al-Qaida (and by implication they could remove themselves from the target list by decamping from Iraq); (2) new Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero is a milquetoast who won’t effectively combat terrorism; and (3) the war in Iraq is an essential aspect of the fight against terrorism. All three of these premises are extremely dubious.
The nub of the issue is that Jose Maria Aznar took his country into a war that was extremely unpopular among his people (over 90% opposed), with such vehement opposition stretching back to early 2003. The Socialists had already been drubbing Aznar about this in the final weeks of the election, and when decision time neared a sense of betrayal and disdain toward Aznar’s policy may already have been cementing. It’s likely that the train attacks did have an effect on the voters’ expulsion of Aznar’s party, but not in the way people claim. That is, I don’t think the vote was some lame “appeasement” attempt toward al-Qaeda: “Oh, look! Please don’t attack us! We’re getting out of Iraq!” Rather, following the Atocha train attacks, the voters were flat-out *angry*-- principally because they felt that the government had been manipulating evidence and prematurely blaming ETA almost to the exclusion of al-Qaeda or affiliated groups, even as evidence pointed away from the Basques. People probably did see a connection between Spain’s participation in Iraq and the bombings, but this has squat to do with “appeasement”—people probably thought that anti-terrorist resources and intelligence were siphoned away from the domestic front, and that Spain’s participation in Iraq opened channels for terror groups to attack. Moreover, Aznar exacerbated the problem by arguing (alongside his allies) that the war in Iraq would make Spain safer from terrorism—a claim that was obviously refuted by the train attacks. So it’s a thoroughly logical conclusion for Spain’s voters to be irate at the government about participation in Iraq, w/o claiming that they voted based on “appeasement.”
As for the second premise, that Zapatero would effectively withdraw from the war on terrorism—where is the evidence for this? Zapatero himself has uttered repeatedly that he will vigorously pursue terrorist groups within Spain and Europe in general, and cooperate with anti-terrorist efforts internationally. How could he do otherwise after the Atocha attacks? If anything, Zapatero’s actions may be even more effective against terrorists that Aznar’s, since Zapatero will redirect scarce resources from the Iraq theater to rounding up al-Qaeda sleeper cells and stopping them before they can act. Which brings up the third premise.
The war on terror and the war on Iraq are two different species of political bird. What Europe is able to do far more effectively than the US, is to distinguish the war on al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups (which is absolutely essential) from the war on Iraq (which—whatever its justifiability on other grounds— had nothing to do with 9/11 and, before March 2003, had a secularist government that was as apprehensive about al-Qaeda as the US). I don’t think anyone is pretending that they’re safe from al-Qaeda if they stay out of the Iraq war. After all, Indonesia, Morocco, and Turkey (among others) all suffered severe terrorist attacks despite their non-participation in Iraq. But it can be fairly argued that the war in Iraq has inflamed Muslim sentiment, giving currency and boosting recruitment for extremist groups and silencing moderates, while draining away precious resources from the fight against al-Qaeda to the war on Iraq. There may be some links between the two, but overall the war on terror and the war on Iraq are separate animals.
>the war on Iraq (which—whatever its justifiability on other grounds— had nothing to do with 9/11 and, before March 2003, had a secularist government that was as apprehensive about al-Qaeda as the US).
You conveniently ignore that this is not, despite the charge of many of the anti-Bush crowd, a war against Islam. So this much-waved flag doesn't flutter.
It is a war against terror, and Saddam and Bin Laden were in total agreement on this one topic. And both advocated, quite openly, the destruction of the U.S.
It is a war against threats. Both were threats. And we had to deal with both. The bogus argument that Saddam was safe because of his "secular" nature are also steadfastly ignoring his more recent embrace of islamic jihad against the west, plus his pathetic support of Hamas, et al.
The war was the right thing to do. Any other option would be ignoring atrocity, and welcoming a burgeoning danger.posted by: Mick McMick on 03.16.04 at 11:06 AM [permalink]
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