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March 16, 2004

Did the Terrorists Win in Spain?

I'm disappointed that Kevin Drum has joined the chorus that a Spanish vote to end its involvement in Iraq in response to terrorist attacks would be a win for Al Qaeda:

another possibility is that the voters (or at least some of them) were upset that Aznar's support for the Iraq war was responsible for al-Qaeda targeting Spain, which seems to be the theme of this Washington Post story. This would be a considerable victory for al-Qaeda and would reflect very poorly indeed on the Spanish electorate.
Must we oppose everything Al Qaeda supports, regardless of its merits? That's a recipe for a macho cycle of deliberately promoting global hatred against the West just to spite Al Qaeda.

Bush Did What Bin Laden Wanted: And as someone who believes that Al Qaeda wanted the US to launch its global violence in Islamic countries, all the better to recruit new jihadists, the Bush administration has so given Bin Laden what he wanted by going into Iraq, that it becomes ridiculous to base our votes on "what Al Qaeda wants" rather than deciding what is the best way to end the terror.

Let's face it-- terrorism is designed to put its targets in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. If you ignore their demands, especially when those demands reflect broader global social grievances, you just help them recruit new supporters. If you give into the demands, you look weak and might encourage more attacks seeking similar concessions.

So screw the opportunistic response to the attacks themselves.

Do What Makes Sense: If getting out of Iraq was a good idea for Spain before the attacks, they are a good idea after the attacks. And while I'm not for the US abandoning Iraq without a decent attempt to prevent full-scale internal slaughter in our exit's wake, I think Spain and other countries removing cover for our unililateralism is the best way to pressure Bush to create a real international administration of the country.

Al Qaeda won the minute Bush decided to match violence with violence. Since then, global support for the terrorists has risen and support for the US has plummeted.

So in cleaning up after Bush's dance to Bin Laden's tune, we need some hard-headed decisions that ignore opportunistic responses to terrorism but address the fundamentals.

BTW Hamas has been trying to derail peace talks through terrorism in Israel. Sharon just cancelled peace talks in response to terrorist attacks. So does that mean the terrorists have won, since Sharon is doing what they wanted? Probably, but somehow I suspect that those condemning Spain now are applauding Sharon.

Posted by Nathan at March 16, 2004 07:41 AM