Thursday, March 18, 2004
While it may be true that many voters could have been turned off by the ETA claims, the circumstancial evidence at the time made the assumption not unreasonable. More importantly, though, is the message the March 14 elections sent to the terrorists. Regardless of the motives of Spanish voters, there is no denying that the Madrid bombings influenced the election results to some degree, and that is a dangerous message to send to the enemy.
The Spanish people are free to choose their own government. Any Spaniard is free to, as Mark Steyn put it, "stick [his] head in the sand and paint a burqa on [his] butt." But what they have done is made the rest of the free world all the more dangerous by encouraging terrorists to strike at the very heart of democracy.
But even more culpable is the new Socialist government. If the people of Spain voted them into power to punish the Populists, the last thing the Socialists should do is take advantage of the people's blind rage to further their appeasement strategy. When Zapatero was elected, I was already worried, but there was an opportunity for him to reassert the West's strength. All he has to say was:
"The attacks on the people of Spain are a dangerous attempt by terrorists to intimidate the West. In light of this, an unequivocal message must be sent that we are not afraid of them. Therefore, my government will maintain Spain's military commitment to the stabilization of Iraq. While I had pledged to remove Spanish troops if the UN does not assume responsibility for security in Iraq after June, such a move now would send the wrong message to terrorists and murderers."
But no, he pulled Spain into scurrying out of Iraq, and for good measure, poke a stick in America's eye a couple of times and ran into the arms of the Berlin-Paris Axis (which is a bad move in any case, considering that Spain stands to lose big in the EU if the Axis gets its way in distributing EU power). It would be breaking a campaign promise, sure, but then, Bush ran on a noninterventionist foreign policy in 2000. I don't blame him for getting out of that.And if Spain thinks that it's out of trouble by appeasing to Bin Laden, it needs to remember that it's still sitting on a big chunk of Andalusian irredenta, and old Islamists grudges die hard.