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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Sunday, 14 March 2004

Topic: World View

The Bombing and then the Vote in Spain Explained: The Two Opposing Views of What It All Means

What to make of the vote in Spain, two days after the bombing that killed two hundred commuters? What to make of the folks tossing out the government that was with us in the Iraq war - in spite of the fact ninety percent of the population in Spain bitterly opposed that decision? It seems the voters are enthusiastic about installing a government more independent and less compliant with anything George Bush says. Perhaps they felt their former leaders simply made them a target for no good reason.

If you hadn't noticed, there are two schools of thought on this. Over at the Financial Times (UK) they run a wire item from Reuters.

See Authorities have no clear response for Madrid
Peter Graff, Reuters - March 14 2004 16:53

LONDON (Reuters) - If it was Islamist militants who struck out of the blue in Madrid last week, then it will dash hopes that Western security forces had blunted the threat from al Qaeda since September 11 and all Europe is at risk.

Despite billions of dollars spent tracking Islamic radicals over the past 30 months, despite destroying their Afghan bases and putting thousands of agents on the streets, Western spies heard not a trace of "chatter" from Muslim militants before the bombers killed 200 rail commuters, security analysts said.

While responsibility remained unclear on Sunday for the worst ever guerrilla attack on a European city, a claim from a purported al Qaeda ally and the arrests of three Arabs caused Spain to play down early accusations against Basque separatists.

The broader implication, experts say, is that security is still worse -- perhaps far worse -- than policymakers feared, even in countries like Spain with experience of dealing robustly with political violence and which were well aware their support for U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Iraq had made them targets.

Well, the implication here is that these folks didn't like the price they just paid for that decision to go to war in Iraq beside the United States, and further, the whole war in Iraq seems to have had the net result of making the world far more dangerous. And the war was supposed to have the opposite effect.

This in turn would point to more and more future elections around the world coming to be an exercise in punishing those who stood with Bush and his (our) idea that removing pesky, irritating governments was the best way to fix the problem with terrorists - and with "evil" in general.

Yeah, well, but on the other hand the conservative voice of Glenn Reynolds summarizes the view from the supporters of Bush, the Republican right.

See TERRORISTS HAVE SUCCEEDED IN TOPPLING THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT where he links to many, many people seeing the vote as a victory for the Islamic Fanatical Devils.

Jeff Jarvis observes: " In any case, it's a damned shame that terrorists can have an impact on the election and can help bring in the side they apparently wanted."

Eric Olsen has more thoughts on what is, I'm afraid, a bad day for the forces of civilization.

UPDATE: Roger Simon:

I walk out on my deck, looking across the Hollywood Hills at Runyon Canyon, but my mind is in Madrid, at its splendid Puerta del Sol where I have spent so many wonderful days and where sadly fascists have walked before and for too long. But this time they are not under the flag of Generalissimo Franco. This time, ironically, they rally behind the words of a man, Osama bin Laden, whom El Caudillo would have reviled. But of course the cry of both men is the same: Viva la muerte!

Indeed. Meanwhile Mark Aveyard notes a contradiction: "Remember being told by the left that Saddam's regime and Al Queda had no relationship, that they actually hated each other? Now they're saying that Al Queda attacked Spain because the US ousted Saddam!"

And Eric Kolchinsky emails: "Al Queda (or any other terror organization) will rightly perceive that they can influence elections through violence. This vote has greatly increased the probability of a pre-election attack -- here and in Europe." Yes. And it's reduced the likelihood of addressing this problem without major bloodshed. The Spanish electorate has made what seems to me to be a very shortsighted and cowardly decision, and the world may suffer as a result.

So the short-sighted cowards of Spain - the majority of voters - are destroying civilization by thinking only of their safety and thus "letting the terrorists win."

If you click on the Reynolds item he has links to all his sources and many, many more. Everyone on the right is appalled that majority of voters in Spain could be so cowardly, gutless, weak, craven and pusillanimous as to decide that siding with Bush and the United States was not in their self-interest, and in the interest of the greater good. I guess the idea that these Spanish folks just don't get it. They don't understand the evil of fanatical Islam.

They don't? I think the year was 711 when Muslim forces invaded and in seven years finally conquered the whole Iberian Peninsula. Their rule didn't end until 1492 when Granada was conquered. El Cid and all that. Glenn, they know. The center of Muslim rule was southern Spain -- Andalusia. They know. The French know too. If Charles Martel hadn't stopped the Islamic army at what is now Lyon the Rh?ne valley in 739 France would be even more Muslim than it is now. They know too.

So Glenn, maybe this is about Bush more than it is about Al Queda. The Spanish, it seems, don't want to stand with a madman who stirs up all this stuff one more time.

Ah, but what to I know?

And a bit of disclosure... One of my five surviving nephews is getting engaged to a lovely woman who grew up in New Jersey. I like her. But she's Muslim, and he's converting. On the 9th of next month I'm off to Orange County for a ceremony of some sort celebrating this. One would have to assume that Ashcroft and his guys will be watching the whole family from now on.

But I'm used to it. In the mid-seventies I was best man at my friend Phil's wedding. He married the daughter of the head of personnel at the United Nations. The father of the bride was... Chinese! There we were at this nice outdoor ceremony at the family's summer place in the green Hudson Valley, not far from West Point. And the government guys were across the road in their Ford sedans with telephoto lenses, taking pictures of us all. Oh well.

Hey, it's all part of being an American.

Posted by Alan at 23:06 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 14 March 2004 23:13 PST home

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