Yielding to the Global Bully

In the immediate wake of the bombings in Madrid now attributed to Al Qaeda that killed over 200, Socialists won an election that days before the massacre, conventional wisdom believed the more conservative party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar would win by a safe margin. The public did not support Aznar’s modest contribution of troops to the Coalition that is now stabilizing Iraq, but given the totality of issues, they were set on returning Aznar’s party to power. Now apologists for the Spaniards suggest that the last minute electoral reversal was not appeasement to the killers of 200 Spaniards, rather it was a show of anger and frustration over the fact that the ruling party had at first attributed the explosion to the native Basque Separatists.

There may be some merit to that argument, but that is certainly not what the Spaniards and the Socialists, in particular, are saying. The New York Times made a point of highlighting the quote from a Spaniard, who lamented “Maybe the Socialists will get our troops out of Iraq and Al Qaeda will forget about Spain so we will be less frightened.” Yes, and maybe the Nazis will be satisfied with the Sudetenland.

Let us stand back for a moment. An evil (Why are people so reluctant to use such an obviously apt description?) group decides that to advance its political agenda (Which is to impose a global Islamic theocracy?) it will deliberately kill innocent civilians. The response of the Spanish people is to grant the Islamofascists the political victory they crave. A dangerous precedent is set: kill a large number of random civilians and you can change elections. Will this make groups like Al Qaeda more or less likely to plan similar actions against countries that are ambivalent about the War on Terror? Will the Basque terrorists that have plagued Spain for so long be persuaded that force is a fruitless strategy? British Prime Minister Tony Blair is under political pressure. Is it not more likely that terrorist groups will now try to influence British elections by killing British citizens?

The new Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero calls the situation is Iraq a “fiasco.” Current Iraqi problems are not the fault of the majority of the Iraqi people who want to move to a democratic government. They are not the fault of the Coalition forces that are trying to provide security and are helping Iraqis build a free and prosperous Iraq. Before the war, Iraq was slowly collapsing with negative growth rates, Iraq had enormous economic growth in the last year and in 2004, it expected to achieve experience 19% growth. All of this while schools and hospitals have been rehabilitated and opened. Before the war, thousands were killed by the oppressive Iraqi regime who skimmed enough money from the Oil-for-Food program to insure the death of thousands of children from malnutrition. Now the Iraqis have a provisional legal structure that protects individual liberties.

The remaining problems in Iraq are primarily the consequence of a minority of Baathist Party remnants angry at their loss of totalitarian control and Al Qaeda bent on nipping an incipient Arab democracy in the bud. The Spanish have just granted such forces a symbolic victory. If everyone followed the Spanish example and pulled out of Iraq without completing the necessary economic and political development, it would invite untold hardship and oppression of the Iraqi people by the same movement that killed 200 Spaniards.

The new foreign minister of Spain Miguel Moratinos has sagely intoned, “We think we have to use very complex and different instruments to counter terrorism, rather than simply force.” This statement is so deliberately and willfully untruthful that it is not even wrong. Certainly, force has not been the only response. A large fraction of the effort in Iraq, a noble effort that the Spanish may be withdrawing from, is to build a functional and free society in Iraq that will help stand as a bulwark against terrorism. Moreover, Moratinos’s statement illustrates a systemic confusion about terrorism. The cause of terrorism is not poverty or ignorance any more than Nazism was justified by the German post World War I experience. There are many who are poor or disenfranchised who will not target civilian populations with bombings calculated to maximize deaths. Islamic-radicalism like Nazism is an evil ideology based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature and rights of man.

Hundreds of Spaniards are killed, millions in Iraq need help, and Spain cowers behind its borders congratulating itself on its fine-tuned moral sensitivities. Others will remember the admonishment of Dante, that “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in time of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

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