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March 14, 2004

THE SPANISH ELECTIONS....Just time for a quick note on the Spanish elections. Although Jose Maria Aznar's PP party was ahead until recently, it looks like the Socialists have come from behind to win. Why?

  1. If it was simply a show of displeasure with Aznar's support of the Iraq war, it doesn't mean much except that the voters threw him out because they didn't like his policies. Not a big deal, really. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem likely since PP was ahead until just a few days ago and the Socialists only surged ahead after Thursday's bombings.

  2. Evidence has also been piling up that it really was al-Qaeda behind the bombings, not ETA. So 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. It also doesn't smell right to me.

  3. The third possibility is that the electorate was upset with Aznar because they thought he was playing politics with the bombings by insisting ETA was responsible even as the evidence mounted that al-Qaeda was behind it. If it turns out that Aznar was indeed doing this, then he simply got what he deserved.

For now, my suspicion is that there's a little bit of #2 and a lot of #3. I don't have any special evidence for this, but it's my gut feeling at the moment.

UPDATE: In comments, lots of people are asking why I think #2 would be a victory for al-Qaeda. Sorry, I thought that was obvious.

The goal of terrorism is to affect public opinion and to scare people into not opposing the terrorists' aims. If (if!) the Spanish electorate was punishing Aznar solely because they perceived his actions as being anti-terrorist enough to provoke an al-Qaeda attack, the terrorists have accomplished their goal: the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists.

Remember, this is all about perceptions and it's all hypothetical. But if (if!) it's true it gives al-Qaeda reason to think that they can affect elections simply by committing a terrorist attack. Sounds like a victory to me.

Posted by Kevin Drum at March 14, 2004 08:23 PM | TrackBack


Comments

>This would be a considerable victory for al-Qaeda

Why?

Posted by: grytpype at March 14, 2004 08:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, my gut feeling is #3 with a dash of #2.

Please explain what exactly you mean by,

This would be a considerable victory for al-Qaeda and would reflect very poorly indeed on the Spanish electorate.

Not sure I would agree with the Al Qeada and reflecting badly bit, seems second hand reasoning to me.

Posted by: postit at March 14, 2004 08:29 PM | PERMALINK

it seemed like every other quote I saw sounded like, "I wasn't even going to vote until Aznar screamed 'ETA' to win the election."

#3.

Posted by: wcw at March 14, 2004 08:29 PM | PERMALINK

Grytpype: Sorry, I thought that was obvious. The goal of terrorists is to scare people. If an attack causes people to punish politicians solely because their toughness on terrorism has brought on the attack, the terrorists have accomplished their purpose.

I'm not saying that's what happened in this case. I'm just saying that if that's what happened, it's a victory for the terrorists.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at March 14, 2004 08:31 PM | PERMALINK

This is why...
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2004/03/13/international0654EST0467.DTL

Posted by: Alagator at March 14, 2004 08:31 PM | PERMALINK

And invading Iraq was "toughness on terrorism?" I thought you've been paying attention the last year or so. Iraq had no goddamned thing to do with Al Qaeda or terrorism.

Posted by: grytpype at March 14, 2004 08:33 PM | PERMALINK

The anger of Spaniards marching against terrorism was directed against terrorists. I suspect the government turned this against itself when it began its FUD campaign.

Posted by: MattS at March 14, 2004 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

All three explanations contain a troubling implication: the Europeans continue to be unserious about the threat that the radical, nihilist ideologies of the Middle East and the Islamic world poses to liberal civilization. If they cared one bit about it, none of the three things you describe would have been a deciding factor.

Posted by: Gary Manca at March 14, 2004 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

This would be a considerable victory for al-Qaeda and would reflect very poorly indeed on the Spanish electorate. It also doesn't smell right to me.

Sorry....I guess I'm not tracking on this one. Reflect poorly on the electorate? It seems to me that 90% of the Spanish population didn't agree with their country's involvement in Iraq. Even so, a majority of the population must have forgiven their government to some extent if Aznar was leading in the polls until a few days ago. That actually speaks generously of the electorate, if you ask me. The terrorist strike which appears increasingly and increasingly al qaeda in nature jolted the electorate back to their original opposition to Iraq. How does this reflect poorly on them?

Posted by: Bailey at March 14, 2004 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and there is absolutely no reason to believe the Socialists would go easy on terrorists. None whatsoever. But like most of the world, they would not have followed Bush on his Iraq folly.

Posted by: grytpype at March 14, 2004 08:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cut and pasted from somebody's comment on Atrios:

I'm just getting sick and tired of the intellectual bankruptcy of the hawks. They see the only options as "DO IT OUR WAY" or "CAPITULATE TO THE MUSLIMS". They can't even CONCEIVE that maybe their might be another explaination: "DO IT ANOTHER WAY BECAUSE YOUR WAY OBVIOUSLY ISN'T FUCKING WORKING". Since they can't see this, they call their former allies "capitulating" "cowards" simply because the Spaniards no longer agree that the Bush way of fighting terrorism is the best way.

Posted by: grytpype at March 14, 2004 08:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bingo Grytpype, if the Spanish electorate is willing to whack ETA terrorists, why not Al Queda? Their beef was with Spain's Iraq policy, not mushiness in the face of terrorism.

#3,Aznar's alleged manipulation re: an ETA bombing, amplified #2 and served as a late tipping point in the election.

Posted by: Stephane at March 14, 2004 08:40 PM | PERMALINK

#4 Aznar, for all his tough guy talk, did not protect us in a dangerous situation.

Why has no one mentioned this? Why is a gov'ts responsibility to provide safety to its citizens forgotten?

If it impossible to protect from this stuff, what does that mean?

Posted by: bob mcmanus at March 14, 2004 08:46 PM | PERMALINK

Polls, schmolls! You can't expect 90% of a country that didn't support a war that their leader did support to then not consider that fact, at least residually, when they're casting their votes.

Posted by: QuickSauce at March 14, 2004 08:49 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously Al-Quada doesn't see Iraq as being irrelevant. They see the potential establishment of a pluralistic democracy in Iraq as a grave threat to their own vision of the Middle East.
Which is why they're trying to spark a civil war there, and why they've gone after Spain: to frighten any nation willing to help Iraq make progress. And they won. The Socialists, and a plurality of the voters, viewed the old governments help to stabilize Iraq (Spain didn't even participate in the invasion itself) as somehow bringing on the terrorism. So they plan to leave Iraq to its fate, in the hopes of staving off future attacks on themselves.

Posted by: rd at March 14, 2004 08:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bailey beat me to it.

I'd agree that #2 reflected poorly on the Spanish electorate if that electorate had originally supported the Iraq War, and then switched positions after a terrorist attack. That would show a lack of will.

But that's not what happened.

Spaniards were overwhelmingly opposed to the war, but their costs of involvement were relatively low, so it might not have been a major election issue. But Thursday's bombings may have provided an especially bitter reminder of how the ruling party defied their earlier opposition. In that case, throwing the ruling party out isn't giving in to terrorists -- it's punishment for ignoring the will of the electorate.

Before drawing any conclusions on how AQ fared in the election, we'll have to see how the new government responds to the attack.

Posted by: scottd at March 14, 2004 08:49 PM | PERMALINK

"And invading Iraq was "toughness on terrorism?" I thought you've been paying attention the last year or so. Iraq had no goddamned thing to do with Al Qaeda or terrorism."

grytpype, I think Kevin's been paying attention; his point I believe was that IF Al Qaeda attacked Spain in order to punish Spain's leaders for supporting the U.S. AND IF the electorate voted Aznar's bunch out because of the attack THEN Al Qaeda accomplished their objective by carrying out terrorism.

Kevin is saying in his post that he's less inclined to believe the electorate voted that way because of the terrorism itself but because of a perceived cover-up by Aznar and co.

Posted by: Ted at March 14, 2004 08:50 PM | PERMALINK

I liked Peter Preston's article in the Guardian (Guardian.co.uk):


"The difficulty, of course, is a dreadful glibness. So first, after the bombs go off, there is shock and horror and bemusement. We are all frailly human for a moment, all Madrileños under the skin. Pause. And then the usual suspects - the politicians, the pundits, the "experts" - get to work, reading the runes, preaching the lessons. Which - guess what? - tend to reinforce exactly what they were saying before they were so violently interrupted.

Thus those, such as Tony Blair, who issued global warnings and launched international invasions, take solace in rectitude; while those who wanted to steer clear of Iraq march through the streets of Madrid or Barcelona waving placards and blaming José María Aznar. More carnage is more glib grist to the same old mills, the righteous number you first thought of. Nobody quite confesses the brutal truth: that they just don't know. That none of us really know."

Trying to make the case now that this must reinforce your own dearly beloved previously-held convictions seems rather a waste of time.

I like the way Kevin has stuck to what the Spanish voters were thinking, and now about whether it means that America should spit on Spain or that the terrorists have won or whatever. Personally I vote for #3. The Spanish government went after the ETA very, very quickly.

Posted by: Diana at March 14, 2004 08:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Grytpype: Sorry, I thought that was obvious.

It was me postit that asked the question but grytpype seems to have brought you up on it too.

Essentially if #2 is correct it wasnt "toughness on terrorism" but the misguided adventure in Iraq that brought out the terrorism. I see no contradiction in rejecting the Iraq party while simultaneously rejecting terrorism.

Posted by: postit at March 14, 2004 08:52 PM | PERMALINK

All three explanations contain a troubling implication: the Europeans continue to be unserious about the threat that the radical, nihilist ideologies of the Middle East and the Islamic world poses to liberal civilization. If they cared one bit about it, none of the three things you describe would have been a deciding factor.

Perhaps Europeans do want to get serious about terrorism and the Spanish decided the 1st step would be to get off this impending train wreck of a US policy.

Posted by: postit at March 14, 2004 08:56 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect number 3 was the primary cause. You just can't appear to be trying to profit politically of something like this.
On the question of number 2, retaliation by the enemy is a normal part of the evaluation of a military decision. Deciding against an action because the costs are bigger than the benefits doesn't seem very unusual.

Posted by: carlos at March 14, 2004 08:58 PM | PERMALINK

This would be a considerable victory for al-Qaeda and would reflect very poorly indeed on the Spanish electorate.

So, if Americans don't vote for Shrubya this Fall, will it reflect very poorly on the American electorate? I mean, if we're not for the guy who put together the Coalition of the Willing, doesn't that make us just like those Spanish Socialists who voted against a Coalition backer?

Or, does this all mean that, despite proclamations and assurances otherwise, the world really isn't safer now that Saddam has been removed from power?

This is all too confusing. I'm gonna pick #3.

I wonder what's on Fox...

Posted by: josef at March 14, 2004 09:00 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Al Qaeda wanted Aznar's PP party to win and it backfired on them. Making assumptions about terrorist motives can be dicey.

Posted by: alias at March 14, 2004 09:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think that a major issue is what the Islamists are likely to conclude from the Madrid bombings and the Spanish elections. Their conclusion is that mass-casualty terrorism is likely to cause the electorate to change their government to one less hostile to the Islamists.

I expect the Homeland Security folks to be very, very busy this October. Hopefully they'll be busy enough.


Posted by: John Bragg at March 14, 2004 09:01 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, notice that in the videotaped message claiming responsibility, Spain's participation in Afghanistan is given equal billing with Iraq as a reason for the Iraq. If people really think the terrorists will only attack b/c Bush made a "wrong turn" in the war on terror, think again.
They hate the whole thing, and will go on killing regardless of what happens in Iraq.

Posted by: rd at March 14, 2004 09:02 PM | PERMALINK

#3 for sure.

Listen, 90% opposed the Iraqi war. I'm sure there were a lot of people upset with the duplicity surrounding that operation.

Aznar jumping to the same sort of conclusion regarding ETA, frankly, I'm surprised it was so close.

And I'll chime in with the rest. Iraq had absolutly nothing to do with the war on terror.

Please stop pretending that it did.

Posted by: Karmakin at March 14, 2004 09:04 PM | PERMALINK

Keep a few things in mind:

1. This has nothing to do with whether Iraq really had anything to do with fighting terrorism It has to do with whether support for the war was perceived as being anti-al-Qaeda. I think it was, both in the West and by al-Qaeda itself.

2. We already know that 90% of the electorate opposed the war. But PP was winning anyway. Clearly it was the bombings that caused the last minute shift, not the longstanding opposition to the war.

If it was the bombings themselves that caused the Socialist victory, then it means that terrorists can affect elections. That's bad no matter what. How bad depends on how big the shift was and what the underlying reasons were.

However, if the voting shift was caused primarily by Aznar's handling of the bombings, that doesn't really demonstrate anything at all. (Except that politicians shouldn't play politics with terrorist attacks, which is a salutary lesson.)

Posted by: Kevin Drum at March 14, 2004 09:07 PM | PERMALINK

Rejection of Bush and pals DOES NOT EQUAL captitulation to Al Qaeda.

Posted by: grytpype at March 14, 2004 09:08 PM | PERMALINK

Rejection of Bush and pals DOES NOT EQUAL captitulation to Al Qaeda.

Exactly. In fact it expresses a preferences that our elected governments actually concentrate on confronting al qaeda.

Posted by: Bailey at March 14, 2004 09:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it was much of #3. They initially suspected ETA but within hours they were already talking about Al Qaeda. They arrested some muslim terrorists unconnected with ETA before the election even started. If they wanted to exploit it as Al Qaeda then they would have held off another day.

I think it was a little bit of Iraq combined with a lot of fear that the Conservatives couldn't stop Al Qaeda. Of course, I also think fear that the party didn't do enough to stop Al Qaeda is unfounded because a government can't stop every attack.

-Brad

Posted by: brad at March 14, 2004 09:11 PM | PERMALINK

How do we know Al Qaeda isn't secretly happy with the response (ex. Iraq) from Bush/Aznar/Blair? Seems to me the whole "clash of civilizations" concept plays right into their overall strategy.

Posted by: alias at March 14, 2004 09:12 PM | PERMALINK

They see the potential establishment of a pluralistic democracy in Iraq as a grave threat to their own vision of the Middle East.

I wish I were selling what this guy seems to be smoking.

al-Qaeda may be delusional, but to see any realistic possibility of a "pluralistic democracy" emerging from the clusterf*ck in Iraq, they'd have to be brain-dead. That, or in the employ of Halliburton, and I don't have enough tinfoil in the house to entertain the latter possibility.

Posted by: sagesource at March 14, 2004 09:14 PM | PERMALINK

It is my impression that the Socialists have been "tough on terrorists" in the past, chiefly ETA. To think they will be more hospitable to Al Qaeda doesn't seem to fit with the facts. More importantly, there are many ways to attack terrorism; Bush's isn't the only way. The Spanish seem to have wanted a more diversified approach, to the extent that the vote was a comment on how to deal with terrorists. That would be #4. They do seem to have rejected Aznar personally, probably for trying to use this like the Bush people tried with 9/11 ("Sweep it all up. Things related and not." per Rumsfeld.) Maybe there is a lesson for us in that. On the whole, I think Europeans are mroe serious about terrorism, having lived with its effects for decades. And they have much larger (proportionately) Muslim populations than we do, especially in France. i just think they are capable of thinking about terrorism in a much braoder and more complex way than we typically are, with our get tough and shoot first mentality. In short, that the Spanish opposed the war in Iraq says nothing about their position on dealing with Islamic fundamentalism.

Maybe Osama is still smarting from the loss of Al-Andalus, as he said on one of his tapes. Maybe he just wanted to hit the part of Europe that the Arabs ruled for centuries, until they were finally driven out in 1492. That makes as much sense as speculations related to the Spanish election.

Posted by: Mimikatz at March 14, 2004 09:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, it's two all the way. The Spanish electorate rolled over and cowered in the face of a terrorist attack.

No other way to spin this: Al Qaeda brought down a Western government.

Posted by: Blue at March 14, 2004 09:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists.

All candidates on the slate opposed the terrorists but one of them also joined the Iraq bandwagon which might, might have made Spain a juicy target for no other reason than idealogical kinship. Such a candidate would not endear himself to the voting public by doing so and could be expected to pay the price regardless of the perception of victory to Al Qeada.

Yes there may well be a perception that Al Qeada has scored a victory but that doesn't equate necessarily to reflecting poorly on the electorate.

Posted by: postit at March 14, 2004 09:21 PM | PERMALINK

There's a point that everybody's missing, as far as I can see. I think you may be making a mistake, Kevin, about Al-Quaeda's intentions, not Spain's.

If I remember, going back a few years to Bin Laden's kick off of the grand jihad against "Jews and crusaders," the overall goal of Al-Quaeda is to reclaim all Muslim lands for Muslims. That primarily meant getting American's out of the Arabian peninsula and driving the Israeli's into the sea. But the land of Islam once went all the way to the Pyrennes. Spain itself is part of the territory that Al-Quaeda wants to reconquer. That may sound crazy. But I am talking about Al-Quaeda.


Please note that if Spain pulls out of Iraq it will no more mean that the terrorists have won than it did when George Bush pulled out our bases in Saudi Arabia. Or, rather, it would be as foolish for Spain to keep troops in Iraq just to spite Bin Laden as for us to keep those bases when we no longer needed them. The new government of Spain may want to think about how it can use its soldiers to protect itself -- rather than how it can use them to serve Bush's imperial vision.

Posted by: Brian Zimmerman at March 14, 2004 09:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think this can mainly be attributed to increased voter turnout.

There were about 2.5M more voters in this election, with a 3.0M increase for the PSOE, and .7M decrease for the PP which isn't a huge amount. Much of the rest can be seen with a big shift to the Catalan party at the expense of the PP.

It's a question of increasing turnout, which tends to benefit mainstream left parties. I see that the leftist party IU (3rd largest party) didn't change its vote total.

Any talk about the opposition being "terrorist friendly" or "less hostile to Islamists" is, frankly, juvenile whining.

Posted by: Spinning Tops at March 14, 2004 09:22 PM | PERMALINK

It's not a victory for Al Queda. If you hired a security company to guard your property and then your property was burglarized, would you rehire that company? I doubt you would. Aznar didn't get the job done. He didn't protect his country because he, like Bush, has allowed all the resources to be tied up in Iraq. And Iraq had nothing to do with Al Queda. Why is it still so hard for people, even reasonable people, to see clearly that as far as the war on terror is concerned, Iraq was and is a horrible misstep. Say it again, Iraq had nothing to do with Al Queda and did nothing to help fight terrorism. In fact it probably made things worse. Good for Spain, now the question is, will we be able to do the same in November.

Posted by: magurakurin at March 14, 2004 09:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is right in focusing on the timing here. Had the electorate rejected the PP over its relationship to Bush then the polls would have shown a huge advantage for the PSOE much earlier. My thinking is that #3 is probably right, but there are a lot of other things to consider. First, apparently the PP's lead was much greater until fairly recently and had closed to 4% before the bombings. There was already a trend in the PSOE's favor so it's not outrageous that an electorate angry over Aznar's politicization of the bombing would push the election over to the PSOE (which still didn't exactly win in a landslide). Second, the PP's electoral success hinged on a booming economy in a country that started to "get over" the Iraq war. Conducting a war against the will of 90% of the people is equivalent to a scandal. The people seemed to have put the "scandal" behind them until the bombings reminded them of their outrage at the scandal. Third, if the terrorists influenced the elections it would not be the first time. Remember the 2002 Congressional elections? Remember a man named Max Cleland, who mysteriously became Saddam Hussein AND Osama Bin Laden with the miracle of television? Al Qaeda's goal here is to lure the world into a catastrophic war, by pitting Western powers against Islamic nations (or Western powers against other Western powers). The quandary is that only a war of elimination will destroy al Qaeda. But such a war could, if managed poorly, end up reaping more chaos, ultimately imperiling the final objective. If a bombing in Spain convinced the electorate to choose a government that would back out of the war on terror as currently defined by Bush then it is no more a capitulation to the desires of Al Qaeda than the US electorate voting to sustain a hawkish policy vis-a-vis Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Posted by: Elrod at March 14, 2004 09:26 PM | PERMALINK

"But if (if!) it's true it gives al-Qaeda reason to think that they can affect elections simply by committing a terrorist attack."

Nope. In your construction the terror attack would be a necessary but not sufficient condition to affect an election.
The Spanish electorate does not, to my knowledge, oppose the 'war on terror' in any general sense; they, like many others, specifically oppose the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq, as we all know by now, has no real relationship to the 'war on terror'.
Therefore, it does not follow that actions by a Spanish government, genuinely targeted to al Queda, which spawned retaliatory bombings would necessarily generate increased support for an anti-WOT faction. Its far more likely such a scenario would generate an 'us against them' increase in support for the party in power.

Posted by: flory at March 14, 2004 09:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum:

This has nothing to do with whether Iraq really had anything to do with fighting terrorism It has to do with whether support for the war was perceived as being anti-al-Qaeda. I think it was, both in the West and by al-Qaeda itself.

Wrong.

al-Qaeda did not perceive the war on Iraq as an assault against al-Qaeda itself.

To wit, this tape:

A speaker believed to be Osama bin Laden said on an audiotape that the U.S.-led war in Iraq was the beginning of the "occupation" of Gulf states for their oil and called on Muslims to keep fighting a holy war in the Middle East.

By the way to paraphrase Tom Friedman:

Just because Osama bin Laden says doesn't mean it is necessarily wrong.

Posted by: -pea- at March 14, 2004 09:26 PM | PERMALINK

Blue

Sorry, it's two all the way. The Spanish electorate rolled over and cowered in the face of a terrorist attack.

No other way to spin this: Al Qaeda brought down a Western government.

You supercilious self centered jerk, how about spinning it as a victory for democracy, as a victory for the electorate of Spain. The whole world doesn't revolve around the 'needs' of the United States or the 'needs' of this administration.

Sheesh, get a world view you pedant.

Posted by: postit at March 14, 2004 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Aznar couldn't tell the difference between terrorists and Saddam Hussein, and the voters could. That is no victory for al-Qaeda.

Posted by: J Edgar at March 14, 2004 09:32 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt very seriously that al-Qaeda will be any more happy with the new government but then again, I don't know. I have an equal amount of doubt that there are many non al-qaeda members who are qualified to make that judgement. For the most part, i would agree with a couple of the earlier posters who pointed out that we end up on pretty shaky ground when we try and play a guessing game on the terrorists' motives. Although, I suppose that approach is better than overly simplistic platitudes like "they hate us for our freedom."

Posted by: brent at March 14, 2004 09:32 PM | PERMALINK

1. This has nothing to do with whether Iraq really had anything to do with fighting terrorism It has to do with whether support for the war was perceived as being anti-al-Qaeda. I think it was, both in the West and by al-Qaeda itself.

Eh? We gave up on al-Qaeda and Osama for Iraq. Seemed a very al-Qaeda-friendly thing to do then. Still does. I think what you mean is that it was perceived as anti-Arab. If so, you'd be right.

2. We already know that 90% of the electorate opposed the war. But PP was winning anyway. Clearly it was the bombings that caused the last minute shift, not the longstanding opposition to the war.

Or the response to the bombings. There was apparently much chanting of "liar!" going on.

I'll vote against lousy leadership, whether al-Qaeda wants me to or not. I'm sure a Spaniard would feel the same. What kind of idiot would choose to impose bad governance on himself just to *maybe* spite a terrorist group?

Posted by: Robert E at March 14, 2004 09:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think #4 is an option people should consider. The kind of Bush administration line thinking about terrorism is very much a minority view around the world. Axiomatically, people oppose terrorism. But people in almost every other country in the rest of the world were very dubious about what the real motivations for Iraq were. A quick check of the Project for a New American Century website gives them reason to be. Iraq was tangential to terrorism and was attacked for three reasons that existed well before 9/11 made the invasion a political possibility: 1) democratization project of Middle East, 2) control of oil supply - put pressure on OPEC, allow petrodollars to remain petrodollars and not become "petroeuros", 3) establish a military presence outside of Saudi Arabia, on the border of both Iran and Iraq, at a strategic crossroads to the Far East, 4) demostrate the power of the US military against a weak opponent that will allow the US military to appear truly overwhelming. All this done with a mind to the rising might of China. That the Spanish electorate essentially saw this and decided not to be aid to the Project for a New American Century, well good for them.

Albeit, the Socialist victory from the jaws of defeat does suggest that terrorists CAN influence elections, although what the terrorist attack probably did was remind people why they didn't like Ansar's Iraq policy in the first place. His attempt to cover it up only exacerbated the situation. This being said, I think it is much more complicated than to say that the Spanish electorate "appeased" the terrorists - this is extremely sloppy thinking.

Anyway, who's to know what Al Qaeda thought was going to happen? Maybe they wanted Ansar's party to get reelected because they believed a more hardline approach would advance their cause in the Islamic World. Maybe the timing had nothing to do with the election.

Finally, we also "lose" to terrorism if we succumb to the idea that the democratic process has to be in some ways suspended because we need to demonstrate a "united front." Please, please, please stop with all the hopelessly inaccurate WWII analogies, suggesting we need to be some how "Churchillian" in our resolve. Al Qaeda can cause a lot of havoc and destruction, but they CANNOT seriously destroy western civ. In no way do they offer a threat quantitatively similar to Hitler or the USSR. They are dangerous, but also a very weak adversary. That's why they have resorted to terrorism in the first place.

Ben P

Posted by: Ben P at March 14, 2004 09:38 PM | PERMALINK

I like that Kevin does a good job pointing out stories. But in the few weeks I've been following here, I don't think he thinks very clearly or makes very good observations at all.

The fact that the spanish electorate was going to re-elect a man who played lap dog to a foreign leader, supported a war opposed b 70% to 80% of the population, did not object to spanish journalists being killed by allies in the war, and send their soldiers into a quagmire - that spoke poorly of the spanish electorate.

The fact that they believed the lies that thier government foisted on them, and told them that they were safer for the reckless anti-terrorism policy their government claimed would make them safer - that spoke poorly of the spanish electorate.

I have no doubts that Al Qaida planned this attack to demonstrate to the people of spain that their government's policies in the middle east were not making them safer. Al Qaida has been punishing all of the major coalition members, especially the poor Iraqi's who are now put out as easy targets and cannon fodder to protect the European and american troops.

But that does not mean Al Qaida has somehow duped Spanish citizens into voting in a way they didn't want to. They made a truth clear to Spain - you will not defeat terrorism in this way, you will not make your lives safer with these policies. If the spanish people had stupidly voted to keep Aznar after his policies had been revealed as ineffective - THAT would have really spoken badly about the Spanish electorate.

To put it one way - if Al Qaida could control a country's population to vote in a self defeating way, that would have been really bad. The fact that Al Qaida has influenced the election towards an outcome they wanted - bringing forth a government that will not obey the US like a faithful puppy, does not mean that it wasn't something that was bad for spain.

In contrast, the major civil rights changes and military actions that we have made supposedly to to protect us from Al Qaida have weakened out international standing and damaged many individual americans lives. Though we are supposedly doing these things to be defiant and "get tough" against terrorism, we are really just hurting ourselves. If Al Qaida launches an attack against the US, and in response we do things that really hurt our way of life in a way that the terrorists could never hope to achieve on their own, we have really played into the terrorists hands. If we keep George Bush because we are afraid of terrorists, that is a victory for Al Qaida, because george bush is a fantastic recruiting tool for terrorists. He has legitimized Al Qaida as underdog opponents in a war, when they should have been trivialized as cowardly criminals.

Posted by: TMorgan at March 14, 2004 09:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I still don't think it's "obvious" that even if the results of the election were in reaction to the bombing it was necessarily a victory for Al Qaeda.

That kind of reasoning is flawed because it assumes that we know what Al Qaeda's goals in the bombing were. We don't. For all we know, Al Qaeda agreed with the *conventional wisdom*, that nearly everyone believed until today, that an attack close to an election would solidify support for an incumbent government. Al Qaeda might not have expected Aznar to have dropped the ball as badly as he did in his bumbling reaction. For all we know, Al Qaeda hoped to inflame and empower right-wing reckless warriors through an attack on Spain. If that was their goal, then today's results were not a victory for Al Qaeda, but a stunning defeat. Instead of a country turning right-wing and becoming a bigger follower of Bush's recklessly divisive and confrontational policies, Al Qaeda instead get a new government with a mandate from the people to reject Bush's failed policies and to go after REAL terrorists. I don't think that ranks up at the top of Al Qaeda's "Things that are good" list.

But, I *don't* know what Al Qaeda's motives were. And, the only evidence we have is Al Qaeda's public statement that the Spain attack was "revenge for Iraq". And there's NO WAY in hell that I'm going to take that at face value, because it's propaganda that's it designed to get us to react a certain way. I highly doubt anyone can say with a straight face that Al Qaeda saw one or two thousand Spanish troops in Iraq as any kind of real threat to them. The irony is, the right-wing hawks are the ones taking Al Qaeda's statement at face value and assuming that this was, in fact, Al Qaeda's motive. My guess is they're falling right into Al Qaeda's trap and believing the propaganda because it comports with their worldview. Of course, it's highly unlikely that Al Qaeda would just come out and say, "We bombed Spain to continue to throw fuel onto militant recklessness of the right wing so that we can hasten the clash of civilizations", if that was their REAL goal.

And, if that WAS their real goal, they've failed tremendously. They now have a new government in Spain who's #1 mandate is stopping them, but doing it in innovative ways based on a mandate rejecting the failed, distracting policies of the Bush adminstration in Iraq.

Posted by: emjaycue at March 14, 2004 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Can't agree with you, Kevin.
There is a simple precondition that any country should ask for when it's government plans to attack
terrorists, and that is increased security.
For example, Bush has left this country porous to terrorist attack, alloing more nuclear proliferation than we've seen in decades; he has scanted port security and first response money, etc.
If Al Qaeda attacks AGAIN, then we the voters would be STUPID to re-elect Bush. I think this may be what has happened in Spain, and it does NOT reflect poorly on the Spanish electorate. It means they want a government which has effective anti-terrorism policies, as they should.

Posted by: Marky at March 14, 2004 09:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Remember, this is all about perceptions and it's all hypothetical. But if (if!) it's true it gives al-Qaeda reason to think that they can affect elections simply by committing a terrorist attack. Sounds like a victory to me."

Yes, after all we know that the socialists were running on a platform to capitulate to terrorists. And we also know that if you did not support the iraq war, then you cannot possibly be tough on terrorism in any way. And now that the scoialists won, we know AQ will be given full diplomatic recognition.

Exactly what did they win, anyway, beyond bragging rights, that is, if opne assumes the Spanish are a bunch of cowering sheep?

Posted by: obe at March 14, 2004 09:47 PM | PERMALINK

Does anybody doubt that Al-Quada wants Iraq to fall into chaos?

Does anybody doubt that coalition troops are needed to keep Iraq from falling into chaos?

A Al-Quada attack that causes a government to withdraw from Iraq on the grounds that staying there brings on terrorist attacks is by definition an Al-Quada victory.

People can argue that Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism before the way, but failure there after the war would surely be a massive boost to terrorism.

Spain actually had no military participation in the invasion itself. Its role has been limited to post-war stabilization. Anybody who thinks that that's unrelated to the future of terror both in the Middle East and the Western world is crazy.

Posted by: rd at March 14, 2004 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

Mimikatz and Brian Zimmerman explained this well. Only thing I'll add is that to assume that the Spanish electorate is too stupid to do anything but do al-Qaeda's bidding, as you assume, Kevin, is deeply insulting to their intelligence, but I suppose that's what you get from liberal hawks.

And, I will also say that Kevin's listing of options is an American list. It assumes that there isn't a valid European option for opposing governments that needlessly, recklessly provoke terrorism. Spanish politics has long been of a carrot-and-stick mindset on dealing with ETA, and your three listings ignore the European alternative path that Americans refuse to countenance.

Posted by: eugene at March 14, 2004 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

Damn. Bet you never thought you'd miss Bill Schneider & his handy exit poll analyses.

Posted by: ned at March 14, 2004 09:51 PM | PERMALINK

Another fact to consider:

To my counting, this is the 4th world election in which Bush administration foreign policy has seriously influenced - if not decided - the outcome against it.

Spain
Germany
South Korea
Turkey

Posted by: Ben P at March 14, 2004 09:55 PM | PERMALINK

per BBCi:
Outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his wife were booed and jostled as they arrived to cast their votes.

As he tried to address supporters, he was drowned out by cries of "manipulators", "liars" and "peace."

[Falsehood: 2, Peace: 1, Wimps: 0]

Posted by: greenbird at March 14, 2004 09:59 PM | PERMALINK

Just read Josh Marshall; he has a much better analysis of the situation than Kevin this time.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_03_14.html#002698

Posted by: John de Hoog at March 14, 2004 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

"People can argue that Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism before the way, but failure there after the war would surely be a massive boost to terrorism."

Yes, that's what many were saying before we went in, that going it alone was idiotic, the surest way to fail. And the failure to have a post war plan that had a prayer of working is not the fault of the Sapnish voters, it is the fault of the war planners and their reliance on stove-piped intelligence and pipe dreams. Yup, it has been a "massive" failure all around, as you note.

Posted by: obe at March 14, 2004 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

TMorgan: I like that Kevin does a good job pointing out stories. But in the few weeks I've been following here, I don't think he thinks very clearly or makes very good observations at all.
Your opinion. I disagree.
TMorgan: I have no doubts that Al Qaida planned this attack...
The jury is still out on whether Al Qaida was even actually involved and you've got a lock on their motives. Nice work! Kevin's are tempered by evidence.

Whether Al Qaida wanted one result or another is immaterial if they managed to effect a result by their actions. Generally the desire of terrorism is to terrorize in order to draw attention to thier agenda. It virtually doesn't matter what response they elicit so long as it is clear that they are driving the agenda.

I have no opinion whether it's option 1,2,3 (or now 4). But I hope it's not too much of 2, it doesn't bode well.

Posted by: Conjo at March 14, 2004 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Socialists' position on Iraq seems responsible, given the mess they've inherited. They want Spanish troops out by June 30 unless the UN has by then taken charge.

Posted by: otherpaul at March 14, 2004 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Feel free to substitute correct spellings for "their" if it's important to you. (I hate it when I post before checking my spelling...)

Posted by: Conjo at March 14, 2004 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin, although not to the extent that the result (if #2) reflects poorly on the Spanish electorate. I just don't understand them.

They were 90% against the war and still ready to vote for Aznar's successor? I don't understand Spanish politics, evidently, but that seems to be a major disconnect already.

For those commenters who point out that Iraq and terrorism are different: well of course. Let's see what Spain, and the Europeans (led by Germany, who has called an urgent E.U. meeting), now do extra against terrorism.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher at March 14, 2004 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wrote,

If it was the bombings themselves that caused the Socialist victory, then it means that terrorists can affect elections. That's bad no matter what.

Kevin, we know terrorists can affect elections. See Iran in 1980, the second Intifada, the 2002 congressional elections...

Note in all these cases that the conservatives benefited. My guess is that terrorists like to increase conflict, believing their opponent is corrupt and likely to overreach and collapse.

It behooves democracies to pay attention to the actions of terrorists, but saying one shouldn't vote for a party because that's what the terrorists wanted - that strikes me as nonsensical. I think it's perfectly sensible if the Spanish voted out Aznar for diverting resources to Iraq and failing to protect his own country.

Posted by: rilkefan at March 14, 2004 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

By your reasoning Kevin, if Bush uses the alleged (and false) ties between al-Queda and Saddam, and wins re-election, then al-Queda will have influenced an election simply by committing a terrorist attack. Is this what you are really trying to say? If a candidate ties everything to the war on terror, and wins, your statement seems equally applicable.

Posted by: Koll Jensen at March 14, 2004 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

You guys READ this link more on Bush a MISLEADER without results. This may have legs!

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/15/politics/15VIDE.html?ei=5062&en=54335bbfb5679db0&ex=1079931600&partner=GOOGLE&pagewanted=print&position=

March 15, 2004


U.S. Videos, for TV News, Come Under Scrutiny


By ROBERT PEAR



ASHINGTON, March 14 — Federal investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, which would be offered to help elderly Americans with the costs of their prescription medicines.

The videos are intended for use in local television news programs. Several include pictures of President Bush receiving a standing ovation from a crowd cheering as he signed the Medicare law on Dec. 8.

The materials were produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, which called them video news releases, but the source is not identified. Two videos end with the voice of a woman who says, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting."

But the production company, Home Front Communications, said it had hired her to read a script prepared by the government.

Posted by: FLP at March 14, 2004 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You beat me to the same point. It's hard to parse the reasons behind a vote - especially such an emotional one - but i hope #2 isn't the main one.

I started writing about this here.

Posted by: plibin at March 14, 2004 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

"It may well be" that Al Qaeda determined the election, analyst Charles Powell of Madrid's San Pablo University said. "Voters are obviously making the connection to Thursday's attack. They are saying it was Aznar's fault, that we wouldn't have been a target if it weren't for him."

Posted by: Blue at March 14, 2004 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

"But if (if!) it's true it gives al-Qaeda reason to think that they can affect elections simply by committing a terrorist attack. Sounds like a victory to me."

Good reason to not include terrorism imagery in your political ads

Posted by: doug r at March 14, 2004 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Once you start determining a complex national election in a Western democracy based on superficial claims about which result al Qaeda or some other terrorist group might desire and invalidating or calling into question any other outcome, guess what... the terrorists have already won. It's also quite stupid to think that terrorists' motive is to influence an election in any way other than to cause chaos. Spaniards had plenty of reason to throw out the government. And if the existing government is not above using terrorist attacks to bolster their own credibility no matter how unsound their actual leadership (sound familiar ?) they deserve the boot...

I hate to see the kind of "the terrorists win if so-and-so gets elected" argument on a liberal website. The terrorists win when assholes of any party use terrorist threats opportunistically and attempt to smear the other side as somehow favored by our enemies. This kind of bullshit is reminiscent of the garbage posted right now on the RNC website claiming that Kim Il Jong supports John Kerry, not to mention the Max Cleland ads picturing him with Osama.

Posted by: brucds at March 14, 2004 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

The commenter above is right. It's Door #4: Votes punished Aznar for pretending Islamoterrorists were being fought in Iraq, while really they were planning terrible atrocities in the homeland.

Poor Aznar; do you think he would have won if he'd flown to an aircraft carrier to pose with the sign "Misión Lograda"?

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at March 14, 2004 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

If you guys don't check the trackbacks, a Spanish blog has linked to Calpundit. We might want to listen to the view, straight from the horses mouth:

A spanish blogger on the US blog reaction:

I'd do a translation, but I'm to tired, so here's the pigeon Spanish translation via Babelfish -- it'll give you the gist of it:

The elections were legitimate

Many means of rightist ideology are denying the legitimacy of the result of Sunday, alleging yesterday that they were the terrorists who really gained the general elections, and not it incompetencia of a government who commanded to our troops to occupy a country in which lost nothing is had to us.

In other words, they are calling to us cowardly.

I would formulate a question to them very simple to respond, if they are sincere and honest: if the author of the attack had been ETA, would the same say respect to an overwhelming victory of the Popular Party? No, she would not be worth that to me of "was an unequivocal answer of the Spanish town against the Basque terrorist barbarism".

Know clearly that the Spanish, sovereign town and owner of its acts, has escupido in the face of those who superfluous and illegal wars have put to us in, of which urge on the nest of cockroaches of the international terrorism making worse the problem, turning it a subject of armies before of judges and police. The Spanish town has been brave because it has formulated a clear and unequivocal desire: PEACE. Spain wants PEACE. And you will not force to us to fight more in adventures than they will only cause his own destruction.

POSTSCRIPT: Like counterpoint and example of good documentation, they read this article in Crooked Timber, these other two of Matthew Yglesias and this one of .

Posted by: emjaycue at March 14, 2004 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm, Kevin:

Concerning #2, why should al Qaeda get all bent
out of shape at Aznar for supporting the taking out of _Saddam_?

Just wondering. . . .

Cheers,

-- Arne Langsetmo

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo at March 14, 2004 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

that last period is the link to calpundit, that somehow got cut off.

Posted by: emjaycue at March 14, 2004 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think the question of whether or not this is a victory for Al Qaeda and an encouragement for terrorism has nothing to do with the Spanish voters motives. A donor in Pakistan or a militant is Indonesia isn't going to analyse the mind of Spanish voters. He's going to think "we hit them where it hurt, we just have to do it during an election".

Similarly if a bomb goes off in the US before the election and Kerry wins. It is not going to matter whether or not Kerry needed it to win. Al Qaeda propaganda will still frame it as a win.

I am not trying to knock Kerry's patriotism. I believe he would not want an attack on the US on any terms or attempt to exploit it. However the extreme anti-bush vote will. If they have to find a clever spin before the elections to use an attack ("Bush lied!, We're not safer")to get a few votes they will. In a close election it might be enough.

My question is this: If the socialist government taking over finds there is ETA involvement (in getting the explosives) or finds that Islamist involvement was not covered up, will it resign because its mandate was earned on false pretenses?
No. So unless (3) is proven to be true, Al-Qaeda has done real well.

Posted by: Researcher at March 14, 2004 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

That the attacks in Madrid came exactly 911 days after September 11th, 2001 should put to rest any continued resistance to the idea that this was an al Qaeda inspired op.

The Spanish election might cause some countries allied with the United States in the Coalition of the Bought and Cajoled to do some serious soul-searching. Can they get re-elected with the Bush-monkey on their backs? In the countries that make up the traditional Anglo-alliance with the U.S. (namely Canada, Great Britain and Australia), the people aren't buying the propaganda anymore. Howard is in trouble, Blair is treading water, and the majority of Canadians believe Bush is the worst president in the history of the United States.

In Spain today it wasn't terrorism that defeated Aznar, it was his wholesale surrender of political foresight. He bought into the Bush administration's strategy to meet the terrorism threat by volunteering for buck-sargeant duty in a war in the wrong place for the wrong reasons. The discontent of the Spanish electorate that materialised as a consequence laid the groundwork for the apparent coup de grace delivered by Aznar himself, when he sought to immediately charge ETA with an al Qaeda crime.

Indeed, many world leaders are haplessly maneuvering themselves into nastily similar positions where their citizens are smelling the bullshit over the gunpowder. Certainly it seems aiding and abetting the Bush administration in Iraq with varying degrees of generosity and/or silence will not garner a lot of voter sympathy come election day.

Evidently, the people of not only Spain get it but all Europe, too. Resoundingly and in one voice, Canada gets it. Come this November, will the majority of Americans get it too?

Posted by: Times New Roman Online at March 14, 2004 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

"If the socialist government taking over finds there is ETA involvement (in getting the explosives) or finds that Islamist involvement was not covered up, will it resign because its mandate was earned on false pretenses?"

I don't see why they should. They in no way orchestrated the disgraceful attempts by the PP to pin it on ETA before they knew the truth.

Posted by: Alan at March 14, 2004 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I have thought up a way Kerry could reduce the risk of terrorism being used to influence the US elections and look really hawkish. He could call a press conference and announce:

"If a terrorist attack is timed to influence the US election, I reserve the right to adopt a policy of unilateral, pre-emptive war against terrorist sponsors based on best-intelligence. I am making this statement to make absolutely sure terror knows where I stand".

He's clinched the nomination and is safe enough to move to the center on foreign policy. The Madrid bombing could be his excuse. The danger of course is Bush would say, "I won't wait for a terrorist attack before adopting that position".

Posted by: Researcher at March 14, 2004 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

if the problem is not that the Spanish people gave into terrorism but that Al Qaeda will see it that way--aren't the people wringing their hands about how the Spanish people gave into terrorism part of the problem?

Posted by: Rosa at March 14, 2004 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you are making a bad assumption here; that Al Qaeda and Iraq really were allies. NOW there seems to be connections, but before we attacked I think Iraq wasn't friendly towards Al Qaeda.

I could've sworn that the US attacking Iraq was a GOOD THING from Al Qaeda's point of view. It sure took the heat off them for a little while. And now they can use this latest attack as a recruitment tool in Iraq.

Posted by: Jason at March 14, 2004 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

"The extreme anti-Bush vote" wants an al Qaeda attack on the U.S. ?????

Aside from being a malicious asshole, I wonder what "Researcher" actually researches. First of all, if there's a "conventional wisdom" regarding an al Qaeda attack prior to the November U.S. election, it's that it will redound to Bush and that he will not only benefit, but experience with his political style makes it obvious that he will exploit it shamelessly , relentlessly and ruthlessly. So if any "extreme anti-..." voters are hoping for a terrorist attack - which I doubt - it is more likely the pro-Bush crowd who start their anti-Kerry digs with lines like "I'm not trying to knock Kerry's patriotism...BUT "

The idea that the Spanish socialists should resign if ETA was involved in the terrorist attacks because their victory would supposedly have been won on "false pretenses" is absurd beyond belief. What is false and pretentious here is the idea that "Researcher"s superficial right-wing hackery actually relates to anything that goes on in the real world.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan has dutifully and predictably posted his "Bin Laden wins in Spain" offering. That is reason enough to reject this malignant line of argument.

When the leaders of a democracy go against the majority of citizens on a life-and-death matter, foolishly buy into a world-class deception about actual threats and not too surprisingly produce a chain of counter-productive events that they try to cover up, the idea that getting rid of them is a victory for anyone other than the citizens of that country is pure unhinged partisan ideology unfettered by even a modicum of reason.

Posted by: brucds at March 14, 2004 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm coming in a bit late here, but from a UK perspective. The BBC coverage (which might benefit from a closer proximity and a European perspective) suggests that it is mostly #3. People in Spain seem to be seriously p****d off, not because Aznar painted a big bulls-eye on their backs by going into Iraq, but by how they were messing with the reporting of the investigation to cover themselves.

Not hard evidence for your theory, but more anecdotal support.

Posted by: Jay at March 14, 2004 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

So it's looking like "Aznar lied -- people died"?

Posted by: peter at March 14, 2004 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wrote,


If it was the bombings themselves that caused the Socialist victory, then it means that terrorists can affect elections. That's bad no matter what.


As previous posters have shown before, clearly terrorist attacks have influenced elections in large western democracies. One need only look at the US election results of 2002 to see that voters preferred the chickenhawk repubs who spoke of vengeange and fear in their panic reaction against 9-11. No need to make a special case out of this election in Spain.

My vote- #3 and #4, about equal...

Posted by: non economist at March 14, 2004 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hey...maybe that oughta be "People died -- Anzar lied".

What a world.

Posted by: peter at March 14, 2004 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I believe you have fallen into Bush's trap: "You're either for us or against us" -- you're either for Bush or you're for Al Quaeda.

In logic, this trick is called a "false dichotomy". The intent is force you to choose between two alternatives, when in reality many more options are available.

As others have pointed out, you can be against Al Quaeda and for many reasons still be against the Bush Administration. In fact, if your goal is to eradicate the terrorists, an incompetent and venal moron like Bush would probably be the last person you would want to hire to lead the effort.

Don't let the Bushies mess with your head, Kevin. Beware of the false dichotomy.

Posted by: Carbo at March 14, 2004 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the sentiment that: #4 The Spanish government failed to protect its citizenry, so they lost their jobs.

Posted by: Another Bruce at March 14, 2004 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

"UPDATE: In comments, lots of people are asking why I think #2 would be a victory for al-Qaeda. Sorry, I thought that was obvious."

Kevin,
This isn't obvious for this reason:
If the attacks were Al-Qaeda and Aznar is perceived as being soft on attacking terrorists (because it would rather divert resources into attacking Iraq), then anyone who is serious about the war on terrorism would want to replace Aznar with someone who would go after Al-Qaeda.

How is that a victory for the terrorists??

Posted by: seaquench at March 14, 2004 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the millions of extremist Muslims around the world will analyze this in a "nuanced" style just as Kevin Drum has.

They will perceive this as a renunciation of being lied to.

I'm absolutely positive that millions of extremist Muslims will not see this as a victory for AQ.

Meanwhile, there's more on Osama's desire to reclaim al Andalus here.

Posted by: The Lonewacko Blog at March 14, 2004 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

I don't believe I've ever disagreed so strongly with Kevin about something.

The exercise of democratic freedoms cannot, by definition, be a victory for terrorists. A victory for Al Qaeda, or whoever the perpetrators were, in this case would have been the postponement of the election, or some other disruption of the process. Instead the people of Spain spoke, despite the tragedy.

If you buy that there is a War on Terrorism, then you must accept that the conflict is between ideologies -- freedom versus repression, democracy versus tyranny.

Our side won today, not theirs.

Posted by: Erik at March 14, 2004 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the way you phrased #2 is very U.S. centric. The people of Spain have their own terrorism problem already. Why does it reflect badly on them if they decide that it is a bum deal for them to embroil themselves in ours? I don't see any U.S. soldiers in Basque.

If I had to pick from your options, I'd say that #3 clinched it. But then again, lets not forget that the Spanish people was overwhelmingly against the war all along. The bombings might have simply pushed this issue to the forefront and that would have been enough without any of #1, #2 or #3. Who knows. If the Spanish electorate was mostly pro-war to begin with maybe the attacks would have galvanized support behind the government.

In any case. Don't pass judgement on the Spaniards, who just suffered a great loss and are reacting with great dignity and impassioned outrage.

Posted by: Angelica at March 14, 2004 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Rosa- Yes. I reverse my position. The election was about the jobless recovery in spain.

Alan- I am still suprised that anyone believes that a government can release substantial information on investigations within 72 hours of the bomb going off. However that is an opinion. A socialist government is now taking power. They can take Aznar to court if he did wrong. My point is that even if he's blameless or is eventually proven right- there is no way they are giving up power. Spanish troops are coming home. Al Qaeda has achieved a stated objective.

Brucds- I stand by my comment that the extreme anti-bush vote wants Bush out at any cost. I'm not talking mainstream or even fringe. I'm talking about the most extreme idiots who would do anything to get Bush out. You can be a patriot and wish for an Al Qaeda attack on the US. You just have to believe 1) That it would get Bush out; 2) Getting Bush out would save more US lives than would be killed in an Al Qaeda attack. Tell me honestly that people like that don't exist.

Brucds- I know conventional wisdom says Bush would exploit it. After Madrid, conventional wisdom might change. Secondly, some idiot will start a rumor that "Bush let this one through as his October suprise" and justify anything.

I still Kerry has room to reposition himself as a result of this attack. Maybe he can issue a press release, telling the new socialist government to "I speak to the incoming Spanish government. As a Vietnam Veteran I say stay in Iraq if Al-Qaeda was involved. Whether or not you agree with the war, its benefiting the Iraqi people now. Whether or not you agree with the war, you can never reward terror". Totally statesmanlike. A great move to the right.Exactly where he needs to go.

I think Bush should spin any move by Spain to pull out of Iraq to his advantage. He can say, "America must always be willing to act alone. The U.N. can be intimidated. Americans can't"

Posted by: Researcher at March 15, 2004 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

I'm absolutely positive that millions of extremist Muslims will not see this as a victory for AQ.

How "millions" of extremist muslims see the election result has nothing to do with the Spanish electorate's choice. The PP govt's reaction to the bombing was squalid.

I would counsel the Bushies not to accuse the Spanish people of cowardice in the face of terrorism. Given the country's experience of terrorism this is a ridiculous assertion, and will not help Hispano-US relations.

Posted by: Alan at March 15, 2004 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

I am no Spaniard and I’m no pundit for spanish politics. But I live in Spain for many years, I read the newspapers, I watch TV (horrible!!) and I talk to people.
You don’t see the very central point: Out of the spanish electorate, a 77% voted this year (imagine this in the US, by the way), what is about 2.7 m more votes than in 2000. (About 8% more) It’s quite sure that a lot of these people would have stayed at home without the assessinations and what followed, because they thought it wasn’t really time for a change – the economy works relatively well and this is the point in Spain too, stupid. But then they were badly reminded of what happened here several times before in the last years: they remembered how Spain was brought into the coalition of the billing, they were reminded the way their government dealt with the wreckage of the “Prestige”, they saw they were thought to be betrayed again and they got angry and said: not this time.
And that’s the story: lies don’t pay. Not in the long run. Let’s hope ShrubCo will be told so, too.

Posted by: Tiller Wald at March 15, 2004 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

There is something missing in the logic. We (almost) all agree that Iraq and AlQaeda are two separate things. Why then would AlQaeda be "punishing" Spain for contributions to overthrowing the least Islamic power in the region? I think it possible that this would be the work of some other group, more immediately connected to Iraq. I think we tend to use the AlQaeda name as a simple descriptor for a more complex compendium of islamic or arabic terror groups without much understanding for their intricacies.

Posted by: Francois at March 15, 2004 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Look at the issue in the simplest possible way, from the point of view of a Spanish voter.

The question they might ask themselves is: will we be safer if we get a new government that does NOT support Bush's adventure in Iraq? I think the ONLY rational response to that is YES.

Why is it any kind of "cowardice" for Spaniards to vote for their obvious self interest here? What does it matter to the Spanish people if al Qaeda regards this as a victory? How or why would this ever come back to haunt Spain in particular? Isn't that possibility VERY far fetched, if Spain does not join any further ill conceived Bush adventures in the Arabic world?

The notion that everyone must, on all occasions, "stand up" to terrorists is completely unmotivated. A splendid example of a nation that has taken precisely this stand, to its endless grief, is Israel.

AVOIDING terrorism should ALWAYS be the real goal here, not "standing up" to it, or avenging it.

Posted by: frankly0 at March 15, 2004 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

This is from the Washington Post article:

The government conceded defeat at 10:30 p.m., just 21/2 hours after the polls closed, with exit polls and early official returns showing the Popular Party trailing badly. Government officials promised to work with the new government for a smooth transition.

"The Popular Party accepts the result of the ballot," said Rajoy, speaking to supporters with Aznar at his side. Referring to the tumult of the prior 72 hours, Rajoy added, "The Spanish people have eloquently shown that they can behave with civility, and this has been a tribute to the memory of those who have fallen."


This is not a failure of democracy, it is the hallmark of a successful application of democracy. It also disputes a suggestion made earlier that terrorism has toppled four governments. The Spanish democracy still stands. The people of Spain have excercised their voice - despite the prompting - and their elected officials (old and new) are acting accordingly.

Posted by: Conjo at March 15, 2004 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

What Al-Queda wants: global islamic fundamentalism.

Did the war *increase* or *reduce* the power of islamic fundamentalism in Iraq?

If the Islamic fundamentalists have more power now, then the war was a victory for Al-Queda. I think the fact that the Iraqi constitution came *this* close to being based on Sharia law, and the fact that Sistani is practically calling the shots, demonstrates that islamic fundamentalism has gained a foothold where it had nothing before.

In other words: I think that Al-Queda is glad that we attacked Iraq. Even if Sistani only ends up controlling 60% of parliament, that's 60%, whereas before, they had nothing.


Posted by: Josh Yelon at March 15, 2004 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Alan- I am still suprised that anyone believes that a government can release substantial information on investigations within 72 hours of the bomb going off.

Yes, and the Spanish electorate were rather surprised to be told within hours that it was ETA.

Posted by: Alan at March 15, 2004 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Lonewhacko wrote:
"I'm sure the millions of extremist Muslims around the world will analyze this in a "nuanced" style just as Kevin Drum has."

Millions of extremist muslims view the results in Spain as a big victory for al-Qaida.

Just like Western war hawks.

Funny how these two groups are always on the same wavelength. Funny how both groups get their rocks off on death and destruction. Funny how both groups do their damndest to frame all events in "clash of civilization" terms.

Posted by: BP at March 15, 2004 01:03 AM | PERMALINK

Francois says, "There is something missing in the logic. We (almost) all agree that Iraq and AlQaeda are two separate things. Why then would AlQaeda be "punishing" Spain for contributions to overthrowing the least Islamic power in the region?"
If Al Qaeda was behind the attack, they didn't hit Spain because Spain hurt AQ by helping out in Iraq. They hit Spain because they think they can become more popular by doing so, or by attacking any country involved in the occupation of Iraq. Someone (jd?) earlier mentioned that in the statement released in connection with this bombing in Spain, the (possibly) AQ operative said it was done because Spain was involved in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Lots of countries participated in Afghanistan but not Iraq, and they're not being targeted. You'd think it would be the Afghanistan operation that would do more to trigger the AQ attacks, since they were hurt more by that than by the Iraq invasion. It must be that people in Arab countries, while many of them opposed the Afghanistan operation, didn't feel as deeply about it. However, the invasion and occupation of Iraq stirs much stronger feelings in Arab countries and perhaps other parts of the Muslim world. AQ knows that, so, while they're not sorry to see Saddam go, they'll attack anyone who's seen to be participating in the Iraq occupation. In effect, Bush has handed AQ a golden PR opportunity: AQ wins more popularity and recruits any time it is seen to be lashing out at the perceived aggressors in Iraq, the people whose invasion/occupation has led to the deaths or suffering of so many Iraqis. Maybe this explains how some people in Spain voted. They weren't saying, "You made us a target by attacking AQ." They were saying, "You made us a target by making us look like an old colonial aggressor against the Arabs, an aggression that AQ could then claim to avenge by bombing us."

Posted by: otherpaul at March 15, 2004 01:05 AM | PERMALINK

To state categorically that there is a significant element among the anti-Bush oppositon who would like to see an al Qaeda attack on the U.S. in order to win the election fits the definition of crackpot right-wing lunacy quite explicitly - not that there's anything wrong with that.

And to venture that the "conventional wisdom" on who mostly likely benefits politically from a terrorist attack in the United States might change after Spain is to ignore the fundamental differences between the way the related issues have played out in the two countries. The Spanish electorate was pushed into a war they overwhelmingly opposed. The U.S. electorate was pushed into support of a war they were told was necessary to protect them from the threat of terrorists gaining access to WMDs and a psycho dictator from gaining access to nuclear weapons. Now that we know this was bullshit, Bush may have opened up a wedge for people wondering in the wake of another 9/11, why the hell we were fighting the wrong enemy so zealously while al Qaeda regrouped.

If Bush cannot exploit another terrorist attack as successfully as he did 9/11 - both to gain political legitimacy he sorely lacked and to promote an attack on Saddam that had little or nothing to do with the problem at hand - it doesn't mean "al Qaeda wins". It means that Bush was such a failure that he lost - fairer and squarer than he won - and the American people get another shot at restoring integrity and decency to the White House. If any fools like Andrew Sullivan would dare call that a victory for bin Laden, they can kiss my American ass and had better bone up on the meaning of democracy. The victory for bin Laden is that he was given a pass when he could have been nailed in Afghanistan and has since become a poster boy for an administration that wants to scare the public into supporting incompetent or counterproductive policy.

Posted by: brucds at March 15, 2004 01:21 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think #2 reflects poorly at all on what we voted yesterday. Most people here said we should not have participated in the Iraq war because:
a) It was an illegal war of aggression.
b) Doing so would make us a target of AQ terrorism. Openly supporting the war had very few benefits for the country (practically none in terms of fighting terrorism), but huge potential costs, since the country is NOT prepared to deal with terrorism of the massive, suicidal, AQ kind.

Therefore the proper response to 9-11 was to offer full collaboration to the US in the fight against terrorism, but NEVER to blindly support the demented position of the US vis-a-vis the Iraq war.

The bombings just brought home in a dramatic fashion how right these arguments against the war were. That we really are much more vulnerable than we were before because we supported an idiotic, unjust war wholly unrelated to the fight against terrorism.

Posted by: Luis at March 15, 2004 01:30 AM | PERMALINK

It appears as if the new Spanish Prime Minister elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has blown the magic wad. Spain is going to withdraw its forces from Iraq, with the BBC reporting Zapatero condemning the U.S. led war:

"The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster."

Kerry: "And over here, President Bush, is the door..."

Bush: "After you, Mr. Blair."

Blair: "Shut up you swine bastard..."

Posted by: Times New Roman Online at March 15, 2004 01:41 AM | PERMALINK

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says his number one priority is to fight terrorism....

Yeah, sounds like Al Queda wanted him...Kerry says the same thing....
But doesn't mean it...

I think when Kerry says he talked to world leaders who told him they want him to defeat Bush, he must have been talking to Osama Bin Laden, Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Khameini in Iraq and Kim Jung in North Korea.

That is probably why he refuses to dislose the names..just like he rufuses to disclose his medical records, just like he refuses to disclose his military records.

Posted by: keiser at March 15, 2004 02:03 AM | PERMALINK

Patience everyone. He's lost.

Posted by: Times New Roman Online at March 15, 2004 02:08 AM | PERMALINK

Otherpaul gets it totally backward:
I"""AQ wins more popularity and recruits any time it is seen to be lashing out at the perceived aggressors in Iraq, the people whose invasion/occupation has led to the deaths or suffering of so many Iraqis."""""

The FACT is Al Queda has used Iraq for years as a tool to fire up radicals by showing video of children straving and saying it was US sanctions killing them.....Osama Bin Laden declared war in 1998 based on the US containment and sanctions policy on Iraq - -- -Duhhh read his own FATWA.

The only way to show Osama was wrong, and it was Hussein and not the US hurting the Iraqi people WAS TO LIBERATE THEM....DUHHH AGAIN.

The differce is what Clinotn did left osama alone to recruit, train and kill and use Iraq as a recruiting tool...for 8 years...what Bush did may allow Osama to continue to use Iraq for propanganda - - but only in the short run..not once the Iraqis take back over a liberated Iraq.

Think strategically for once...where fo you want to see the Middle East 10-15 years from now???

Posted by: keiser at March 15, 2004 02:11 AM | PERMALINK

You have written off #1 without giving a full explanation as to why #1 may be part of the choice or a different variation of #2. I do believe that it is partially number #3. I do not believe that voting Aznar and the PP out of office is a win for Al Queda and them acctacking Spain for supporting war in Iraq. The variation that you are leaving out is that yes they voted him out because he supported the Iraq war. But by supporting the Iraq war they allowed Al Queda to survive and grow. If they hadn't followed America into Iraq then perhaps they could have focused efforts on the real problem, Al Queda. This and Aznar trying to cover up the Al queda bombing by blaming it on ETA is the variation that you are leaving out. The mistake that Kevin is making is that he is equating going to Iraq as being tough on Terrosism. That is not the case. Hopefully Kevin has seen the err in his ways by reading these comments.

Posted by: Erik at March 15, 2004 02:17 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: If (if!) the Spanish electorate was punishing Aznar solely because they perceived his actions as being anti-terrorist enough to provoke an al-Qaeda attack, the terrorists have accomplished their goal:

The Spanish electorate were right in the first place. This only brought them back to reality. One needs to see why Aznar was being supported recently in polls. The Spanish electorate said in order to fight terroism you can't go looking to start erroneous wars against a country that has nothing to do with Al Queda. You must go after the real problem Al Queda. Aznar failed to this and that is why the spanish electorate punished him going into Iraq and diverting attention away from Al Queda.

Kevin: the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists.

You are equating going into Iraq with being strong on terrorism. Not so. Going into Iraq with most Spaniards was the wrong thing to do. This diverted attention away from the real problem Al Queda. Now if you were talking about America, who for the most part supported the war you might be right in your assessment. If America was attacked and red-blooded conservative started voting against Bush becasue he went into Iraq and they say that Bush shouldn't have gone to Iraq then number would be a legitimate reason and AlQueda would have won. But Spain did not agree with Aznar in the first place.

Posted by: Erik at March 15, 2004 02:30 AM | PERMALINK

One more thing. If America was attacked and red-blooded conservatives voted against Bush it would most likely be becasue he has done nothing to prevent terrorism, instead focusing on Iraq which he wanted before 9/11. Thus voting against someone because of their actions is usually never the case. It's because of either there misguided actions or their inactions that they are voted against. I think you have to think this one through a little more Kevin.

Posted by: Erik at March 15, 2004 02:37 AM | PERMALINK

Keiser,

Please, consider this a polite suggestion. Save the "DUH" stuff for elsewhere, perhaps a personal diary. I appreciate you are a very bright fellow with much to say but it's never wise to venture heated opinions laced with such seething malice, especially among strangers, for your words get lost in that netherworld between raised eyebrows and crooked smiles, invariably betraying them as unimportant to the reader.

Posted by: Times New Roman Online at March 15, 2004 02:38 AM | PERMALINK

Alan wrote at March 15, 2004 12:52 AM:

I am still suprised that anyone believes that a government can release substantial information on investigations within 72 hours of the bomb going off.

Yes, and the Spanish electorate were rather surprised to be told within hours that it was ETA.

Spain has been enduring Basque terrorists (the ETA) for many years, so its anti-terrorism investigators aren't just starting from scratch.

Finding chemical "signatures" from the train blasts, that match explosives previously used by the ETA, didn't take very long, and was at least a good prima facie indication that the ETA participated in this attack.

Tracking vehicles, and the people who drove them, can take longer, and may seem to indicate al-Qaeda instead.

That would be a case of a legitimate early suspicion, followed by a legitimate shift in suspicion. No Spanish government cover-up required, it's just how the trail leads.

What I'm waiting to see is the third suspicion, that both groups were involved — ETA providing the explosives, al-Qaeda providing the personnel — which would explain all the evidence so far.

Posted by: Raven at March 15, 2004 03:06 AM | PERMALINK

I did not see any Spaniards say they shud put up their arms in the fight against terrorists, but they felt let down by their leadership which arrogantly did not listen to 90% of its population (if you beleive opinion polls). I guess the people resented the government taking them to war with Iraq more than anything else and that the bombing gave the anti-war people a more solid reason to come out and vote. Also coupled with the initial decison to link ETA, which came undone in the last few hours govt spin machine just collapsed. But this event should not be construed as surrendering to Al-Qaeeda, instead my guess is all the Euroopean govts will co-operate and act more aggresively against terrorism which is the real enemy facing the world.

Posted by: Rahul at March 15, 2004 03:52 AM | PERMALINK

The goal of terrorism is to affect public opinion and to scare people into not opposing the terrorists' aims.

The Iraq war was already massively (90%!) impopular in Spain, long before the bombings. But the electorate drifted towards PP again because of the demagogue appeal of authoritarian policies. But those horrible explosions brought back the memories of this democratic betrayal.
It's simplist to call this an irresponsible victory for Al-Q. If anywhere, the responsibility lies in those who started an unrelated diversionary war.

Posted by: Mat at March 15, 2004 03:56 AM | PERMALINK

VEry important to remember it is not a repudiation of fighting against terrorism --
it is a repudiation of the US acting without the UN

the new govt. of Spain said they would participate under the UN

Posted by: ann at March 15, 2004 03:57 AM | PERMALINK

"""FranklyO:
AVOIDING terrorism should ALWAYS be the real goal here, not "standing up" to it, or avenging it."""

What a great idea...so when Osama Bin laden says..remove all infidels from the Middle East or we will kill you, then we should actually make the 450,000 Americans who live and work in the Middle East move.

What about when Osama says, CREATE GAY MARRIAGES IN THE UNITED STATES and we will kill you?

Gay Marriage right out the window right??

What if he says, turn over Frankly0 to us some the boys can have a little MOnica fun with him??

There goes Frankly0, shipped over to Osamas gave to be an 'intern' for the boys.

Posted by: keiser at March 15, 2004 04:00 AM | PERMALINK

"""New Times Roman: Save the "DUH" stuff for elsewhere""""

Sorry, New, but, you know, its like, you know I was trying to sound like the, you know, young kids, you know, like John Kerry was, you know, in his, you know, of the cuff remarrks about Republicans being, you know, crooked, and your know, liars.

Posted by: keiser at March 15, 2004 04:05 AM | PERMALINK

Most of these comments are really interesting, and spot on. Im skipping down here to say that I think Kevin is, with his logic, falling into the "with us or against us" binary model that bushco has been pushing since the beginning. I didn't buy it originally, because as an anti-war democrat I knew I was just as concerned--if not more concerned--with ending terrorism and protecting my family than Bush and his neo-con friends. So, if it isn't true of me, or of any other American, that we are "soft on terrorism" or that we "want al quaeda to win" why on earth would it be true of the spaniards? They threw a government out of power that they thought was either incompetent, or lying, or endangering them or all three. Yay. The next government will have just as much chance, choice, and opportunity to prove it can do a better job as any government. It will be just as full of visionaries, knaves, and bureaucrats as any government. Thinking that one and only one path can "save" us, and one and only one party cares about the wellbeing of the country, is a recipe for dictatorship. We are all in the same boat, here in this country (the US)and Bush's failure to fight the real war against terrorism affects us all and we are all (in a democracy) entitled to choose other leaders who might do what we want them to, and do it better. What al quaeda thinks it wants, and what it gets, are two different things.

And by the way, just to take Bush and his policies as an example. Exactly what do you think bush would or could do if the bombs had gone off here, in this country? Literally: who is left to invade? And if we did decide to invade someone as "payback" ('cause it worked so well the last time) who on earth would we send to do the work? What have we got left in terms of army and supplies? These are all legitimate questions for the voters to ask, and to answer by saying "Throw the bums out."
aimai

Posted by: aimai at March 15, 2004 04:12 AM | PERMALINK

For those too lazy..here is what Osama Bin laden said in his FATWA (Why he is going to all out war with us)in Feb 1998..shortly before the planning for Sept 11th began:

""""The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.
Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.

So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
......
The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival.

All these crimes and sins committed (AGAINST IRAQ) by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger, and Muslims.
On that basis, and in compliance with God's order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims .....

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it....""""

I think it is pretty clear to any thinking person that Osama believes his war against American is mostly about Iraq...he doesn't even mention Afghanistan in his declaration of war.

Posted by: Keiser at March 15, 2004 04:23 AM | PERMALINK

So, one wonders exactly just how apesh!t Bush & fiends are at the idea of a bunch of socialists replacing one of their putative allies.

Is Blair the next tree to fall?

Posted by: Rex Snuvvle at March 15, 2004 04:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I normally love your analysis because it is intelligent, concise and trenchant, however you are conflating the war on terrorism, ie the war against Al-Quaeda and its copycats with the war in Iraq. Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with Al-Quaeda. Azner's support of Bush in Iraq was not an anti-terrorism policy, it was "support a conservative led hegemon and pray that the blowback ain't all that bad" strategy.

Posted by: fester at March 15, 2004 04:57 AM | PERMALINK

>The goal of terrorists is to scare people.

But Kevin, the goal of voting is to get people in charge that know what the f*ck they're doing...

So why do you immediately assume that, if the bombings did change the election, it was because the electorate was "scared."

Maybe they were MAD- maybe a lot of them had spent the last few years thinking "well maybe the Aznar way makes sense against Al Queda, and maybe it doesn't... we'll see what happens."

And then the bombs went off, and they then thought "Ok, the critics were right, this is a stupid way to proceed, let's get these assholes out of there and get somebody with different ideas."

Posted by: doesn't matter at March 15, 2004 04:58 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Europeans do want to get serious about terrorism and the Spanish decided the 1st step would be to get off this impending train wreck of a US policy.

That's spot on. I think your analysis is wrong- the spanish threw out the guys who lied to them and failed to protect them. It sounds like eminent common sense to me.

Keiser, suggesting that anyone would like to see another terrorist attack on US soil is the height of asshattery.

Posted by: four legs good at March 15, 2004 05:44 AM | PERMALINK

Brian: "But the land of Islam once went all the way to the Pyrennes."

Further north, actually. Perpignan in Southern France and the surrounding countryside was under Moorish control.

Posted by: james at March 15, 2004 05:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not good at sports analogies, but consider it a "sacrifice fly" for Al Queda. That doesn't mean a victory, even though they, in theory, got an out, the other team advanced a runner or scored a run. That is how Al Queda benefited from this. It isn't always an either/or situation: either victory or defeat.

That is what is wrong with the whole "War on Terror"-style thinking. There can be no compassion, no quarter for the enemy, or anyone -- enemy or not -- who gets in our way. It is all bluster and bombs.

Posted by: Ananna at March 15, 2004 05:47 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think that yesterday's vote in Spain was a victory for al-Qaeda at all. I think that Spain's joining the United States in the attack on Iraq, however, was a victory for al-Qaeda. I believe that the Spanish people actually want to get serious about the war on terrorism, rather than the hollow and disastrous fanning of the flames of terrorism that the invasion of Iraq represents.

On the other hand, the Palestinian terrorists are almost continuously given victories by the policies of Sharon. It seems like every time there is a terrorist attack in Israel, the Israeli government shuts down the process towards any kind of resolution because of the attack... which is precisely what the terrorists want.

So, Kevin, I ask you. Do you think al-Qaeda prefers that the US and its allies make thoughtful inroads against them, like having a world wide cooperative coordination of anti-terrorist activities or do you think they want more events like the invasion of Iraq?

Hey! I know! The Spaniards should be invading Morocco, shouldn't they? That would put them on the par with US current policies.

Terrorists want knee jerk, fearful reactions. They want to terrorize. What the Spanish people are doing by going to the polls in unprecedented numbers and voting Aznar's ilk out is not knee jerk and fearful. They want this to stop and they want reactions that are meaningful not political.

Here in the US people are finally getting it. The current 'war on terror' by this administration fosters more fear and terror. This is not going to work. We want terrorism to stop and we can reduce it by putting our minds and hearts together and make decisions from a mind set of understanding, peace, love of life, freedom and justice for ALL.

Posted by: Janusz at March 15, 2004 05:49 AM | PERMALINK

Why on earth would AL Qaeda want Bush or Aznar out? They would lose their best recruiting tool.
Consider it a loss for AQ.

Posted by: Marky at March 15, 2004 05:52 AM | PERMALINK

Janusz,

That's just the point, AQ wants us DEAD! You can't have peace with an enemy that doesn't want peace. AQ doesn't have your same love of life; in fact have a love of death; both on you, the infidel and them, as martyrs.

You don't think a flip in 10% of the public was knee-jerk?

Even, though I hate the Socialists economic plans, I hope that it is #3... What would happen if it turned out that Aznar was telling the truth and the signs/clues pointing to AQ were planted by ETA or worse yet, Socialists. Is there such a thing as a recall election in Spain?

Posted by: JFH at March 15, 2004 06:00 AM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin is trying to be fair the way the media in general does: Make it appear as if the manipulators in charge (the hawks in case of terrorism) had a point.

They don't. As others pointed out, there is no reason to think that the Socialists would be easy on terrorists. Being German, I also resent the implication that Germany and France are easy on terrorists. There is significant cooperation with the US in the war on terror.

But there is no cooperation in the war on evil dictators. Nor should any American expect it.

The Iraq invasion has had real consequences and Europeans are now finding out that they are not confined to Iraq, or their embassies abroad.

Posted by: Wolf at March 15, 2004 06:00 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

A few others have touched on this point, here and elsewhere.

Since the Spanish populace seems to approve of chasing down ETA and backed sending troops to Afghanistan, they are obviously not "soft" on terrorism. The crucial question is whether having Spanish troops in Iraq has anything to do with the "War on Terror".

If the adventure in Iraq has not made Spain demonstrably safer (no WMDs, no Al Qaeda link, and Al Qaeda is free to strike the Spanish capital), it is perfectly logical for the Spanish people to criticize a fruitless use of resources.

It's been said that insanity is repeating the same action over and over in hopes of getting a different result. The Spanish people seem to be saying, "Okay, sending troops to Iraq isn't helping, let's try something different."

Posted by: conspirator at March 15, 2004 06:05 AM | PERMALINK

Note the inherent lack of coherent thought with people like gryptotype:

"Iraq had no goddamned thing to do with Al Qaeda or terrorism."

And yet, they say that the spanish government was defeated because it was in Iraq and therefore encouraged al qaeda terrorism against it.

"and around and around and around it goes"

Posted by: aish at March 15, 2004 06:06 AM | PERMALINK

The goal of terrorism is to get the enemy government to over-react. Terrorism is a tactic for groups which have fewer resources (people and money) than their enemies. So, they need to begin to even out that balance, and they thus choose tactics which redress that balance. If, by you tactics (which cost few resources, e.g., terrorism), you can get your enemy to expend lots of resources--money and supplies tracking you down, and people, alienated by them through their over-reactive policies; plus, if the enemy over-reacts, it may cause resources to actually be attracted to your side.

At any rate, the goal of terrorism was never so simple as to make people afraid. What would that benefit a terrorist. It's about resources, and over-reaction.

And Bush, not the Spanish electorate, has played into AQ's hand perfectly--a veritable wet dream of an over-reaction.

Posted by: Raenelle at March 15, 2004 06:15 AM | PERMALINK

"""FranklyO:
AVOIDING terrorism should ALWAYS be the real goal here, not "standing up" to it, or avenging it."""

What a great idea...so when Osama Bin laden says..remove all infidels from the Middle East or we will kill you, then we should actually make the 450,000 Americans who live and work in the Middle East move.

You conveniently neglect to quote the previous sentence from my post, which establishes the context:

The notion that everyone must, on all occasions, "stand up" to terrorists is completely unmotivated. A splendid example of a nation that has taken precisely this stand, to its endless grief, is Israel.

As this sentence implies, it's obvious enough that there are many instances in which one MUST stand up to terrorist demands. Clearly, no nation should or would give up basic freedoms or be coerced into anything important it would not otherwise do to placate terrorists.

But the point of the Spanish elections is that there was NOTHING they gained by the Iraq war, no positive thing for which it stood that would make it important that they resist al Qaeda's "demand" that they back off in their support of it. As the post from an apparent Spaniard above, Luis, makes clear, the vast majority of the Spanish people believed that the Iraq war was a war without point as far as Spain was concerned. The question then becomes, WHY should they continue their support of the government that chose to back that war simply to "stand up" to terrorists?

Again, the exemplar of the view that that is what one should do is Israel, a nation that virtually NEVER fails to "stand up" to terrorists, or to resist ANY terrorist demand, or to avenge ANY terrorist act, or to deny terrorists any "victory". And what are the consequences? Only more terrorism, NOT less.

Is that the fate Spain should want for itself? Or that we in America should want for ourselves?

Again, the clear goal here should be to AVOID terrorism, not to avenge it, or stand up to it -- with the obvious provision that one should not give up things that are otherwise very important.

Posted by: frankly0 at March 15, 2004 06:22 AM | PERMALINK

My previous post should have begun with the first TWO paragraphs italicized, since they were both quotes from another post.

Posted by: frankly0 at March 15, 2004 06:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Finally, we also "lose" to terrorism if we succumb to the idea that the democratic process has to be in some ways suspended because we need to demonstrate a "united front." Please, please, please stop with all the hopelessly inaccurate WWII analogies, suggesting we need to be some how "Churchillian" in our resolve."

Good point. I'd like to add that we got through the Cold War (to which our conflict with AQ and Islamic fundamentalists is much closer than it is to, say, WWII) without going into hysterics at every election about changing leaders in the middle of a "war". The War on Terror is somewhere between a rhetorical device along the lines of War on Poverty/War on Drugs and a real but unconventional (in that it does not follow traditional precepts of war, re. declaring war, sending uniformed troops into defined battlefields etc.) conflict similar in some ways to the Cold War.

Posted by: Gary at March 15, 2004 06:26 AM | PERMALINK

Over dinner Sunday evening, we were discussing the bombings in Madrid and the effects on the Spanish electorate. My hostess told me that she had believed Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, based on what Bush and his spokepeople had been saying over and over, and for that reason supported going to war against Iraq. She now realizes she was wrong--and essentially lied to by Bush. She said she was done with Bush and was sorry she had voted for him previously.

My friend has a master's degree plus additional education. She also has an extremely demanding job with very little time for blog reading, even newscasts. She is exactly the type of voter Bush and the admin hoped to hoodwink with their conflation of Iraq and 9/11, with their either/or presentation of choices to the American people.

She was glad the Spanish voters had turned out the government which supported Bush's war.

I offer this only as a small snapshot of one American voter. It's taken a long time for the major media to include information not approved by the administration, but, finally, enough may be getting through to affect even those who have little time to follow the news. The failure to find WMD's has made an impression!

Now we all need to teach everyone to recognize "false dichotomies," whoever presents them. It's seldom just "either/or," but talking heads don't get bookings pointing that out.

Posted by: jawbone at March 15, 2004 06:33 AM | PERMALINK

Good related comments at Matthew Turner's blog.
It's a shame how the view from the US is so distorted by the gov's propaganda that even the a centrist like Kevin sounds like our moronic pro-war left...

Posted by: Mat at March 15, 2004 06:33 AM | PERMALINK

This is the first time I have seen Kevin write something that makes no sense. He is conflating Aznar's support for Bush and the war in Iraq with being strongly "anti-terrorist". On that mistaken basis, he concludes that Aznar's defeat is a victory for the terrorists.

Posted by: Richard Joseph at March 15, 2004 06:34 AM | PERMALINK

Of course this is a HUGE victory for Al Qaeda. Anyone who can't see that has their head in the sand..

Posted by: Del Simmons at March 15, 2004 06:34 AM | PERMALINK

"he concludes that Aznar's defeat is a victory for the terrorists."

Why is this so confusing? The terrorists used murder as a political device, and they got what they wanted. That's what a "victory" is. Why are so many people willfully blind about this?

Do you think AQ attacked Spain to test out their explosives, or for a lark, or to get on television?

Posted by: me oh my at March 15, 2004 06:39 AM | PERMALINK

#2 and #3 big time. Four opinion polls showed the Popular Party in front one week before the election. To the extent that the bombings changed peoples' votes one way or the other, al Qaeda influenced the outcome of the election.

Posted by: Bird Dog at March 15, 2004 06:41 AM | PERMALINK

Wish I had more time to read the whole thread, but I have to say emjaycue at 09:45 PM nailed it. The historic response would be for a populace to rally around their government after such an attack. The PP had been losing significant support the closer the elections approached and had fallen to within the margin of error by the time of the attack. The timing of the attack also struck me as an attempt to re-solidify support for the ruling party which would have maintained Osama's stated goal of some Final Battle.

Posted by: Thumb at March 15, 2004 06:43 AM | PERMALINK

I've been seeing some arguments to the effect that regardless of the actual reasoning of the voters, the election is a victory for the terrorists because of the perception that the voter's reasoning was based on #2. That bothers me, because of the implication that in a world that contains terrorists, the need to send the appropriate message to the terrorists trumps all other considerations of how you'd like to be governed, up to and including the need to fight the terrorists intelligently.

The way I see it, if you behave as a predictable automaton in response to terrorist attacks instead of voting your conscience (possibly informed by knowledge of terrorist attacks and the response thereto), that's bad regardless of whether you're rallying around your leaders or kicking the bastards out. To vote somebody out of office as a capitulation to terrorist demands is bad; to reelect somebody you'd rather vote out of office because he can't fight terrorists properly, in order not to be perceived as capitulating to terrorist demands, is equally bad.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin at March 15, 2004 06:44 AM | PERMALINK

Your remark that dumping the party that has exposed the Spanish nation to additional danger reflects "very poorly" on the Spanish electorate seems to me to be idiotic. I don't know what your moral values are but they sure aren't the same as mine.

Posted by: dellaRovere at March 15, 2004 06:44 AM | PERMALINK

"The goal of terrorism is to affect public opinion and to scare people into not opposing the terrorists' aims. If (if!) the Spanish electorate was punishing Aznar solely because they perceived his actions as being anti-terrorist enough to provoke an al-Qaida attack, the terrorists have accomplished their goal: the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists."

Ah Kevin, you reveal yourself as neocon tool. The Iraq invasion HAD nothing to do with Al Qaida terrorism, i.e., Aznar was NOT fighting terrorism. Equating the Iraq invasion as fighting terrorism is a neocon excuse to do what was planned long before 9/11. NOW (after Bush's Iraq invasion [with Aznar's support]), Iraq equates to terrorism since Bush made the invasion a recruiting tool and cause celeb of Al Qaida. The fact that Spain suffered retribution for their part in what was in fact AN UNPROVOKED ACT OF AGGRESSION on the sovereign nation of Iraq, and as a result the Spanish electorate rejected the Spanish neocons, is no victory for terrorism, but rather a return to sanity.

Furthermore, Aznar ignored his constituency and suffered as a result. This could never be construed as anything but a resounding victory for democracy.

Posted by: gak at March 15, 2004 06:47 AM | PERMALINK

%90 of Spaniards opposed the war, and the grisly deaths of the Spanish intelligence agents in Iraq last year have kept it a sore subject. There was little margin for error for Aznar's party.

Posted by: BobNJ at March 15, 2004 06:47 AM | PERMALINK

But..but...but...

I thought you said that Iraq and al qaeda aren't related at all.

I thought you said that Bush was a lying weasel for invading Afghanistan and Iraq on the pretext of their being connected to al qaeda.

I thought....oh never mind.

The bottom line is this:

if you Bush haters had even a glimmer of a hope that an attack similar to that which happened in Madrid would result in a defeat for Bush, you would pray for one to happen (presumably in a location far enough away from you and your family).

Posted by aish at March 15, 2004 09:40 AM

Posted by: aish at March 15, 2004 06:49 AM | PERMALINK

"This would be a victory for Al-Queda" and "reflect poorly on the Spanish electorate.."
Gimme a break - Aznar supported Bush's idiotic Iraq War even though over 90% of the spanish public was against it.
Don't you think the spanish public was saying more like "we were against it, you ignored that and did it anyway, and now we're getting hit with terror: you're out of office NOW.."

Posted by: Steve at March 15, 2004 06:50 AM | PERMALINK

If (if!) the Spanish electorate was punishing Aznar solely because they perceived his actions as being anti-terrorist enough to provoke an al-Qaeda attack, the terrorists have accomplished their goal: the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists.

Kevin, doesn't that presuppose that the Spanish electorate saw Aznar's support of the Iraq War as being an action "strongly opposed [to] the terrorists?" Isn't it also possible that the voters saw the Iraq War as being largely immaterial to the war on terrorism, but tolerable, until al Qaeda extracted a price for it?

And BTW ... no, just because al Qaeda attacked Spain as a reprisal for Spain's support of the US in Iraq, it doesn't follow that Spain's participation in the Iraq War was necessarily a blow to al Qaeda. "The friend of my enemy is my enemy," even if he hasn't struck me directly. Spain's support of the US was open, obvious, and well-known. That made them a perfect target for someone like Osama, seeking to isolate the US, regardless of whather Madrid had done anything hurtful to al Qaeda.

Posted by: Californian at March 15, 2004 06:51 AM | PERMALINK

Your update is sillier than your comment. As much as we hate al-Qaeda it does not ALWAYS mean that their "victory" is our "loss". If they don't want Europeans in Iraq, we must now put them there to deny al-Qaeda a victory. Perhaps they want Kerry for President. Well, let's all vote for Bush... Real dreck.

Posted by: dellaRovere at March 15, 2004 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

Victory for al Qaeda? That's the wrong question. The proper way to fight Al Qaeda was not to rush into Iraq. We're seeing the fallout from that decision.

This was predictable from the day after the war began. Many of us thought that several governments would fall because of their support for the Iraq invasion. The only question was when and which ones first.

Tony Blair's government should start looking for alternative occupations now to avoid the rush--it's just a matter of time.

Hopefully, the U.S. government will lose in Nov. because of the incompetent and arrogant way they ran the diplomacy leading up to the war, and the deceitful way they promoted the war not just to the American people but to the world.

Posted by: Jeff at March 15, 2004 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the rejection of the previous Spanish government by voters WAS a victory for al Qaeda. And the ending of the Vietnam war WAS a victory for the Viet Cong and the Communists. In general, if you go to war WITHOUT good reasons, and then you back out, it's VERY likely that some authentically evil entity will be able to declare "victory" (even if it's only tangentially related to the war, as is al Qaeda to the Iraq war).

Does that mean that nations should always just stay the course, even if the downside to the war is far greater than the upside? No. The obvious lesson to learn instead is that one should NOT enter wars without VERY compelling, very broadly understood and accepted reasons, because if things get tough, people will, quite reasonably, seek to get out of the war, even though it provides some encouragement to some very evil players.

Posted by: frankly0 at March 15, 2004 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I have to agree with the above comments. I think Josh Marshall at Talking Points nails it. This isn't a rejection of any "anti-terrorist" worldview. As Marshall puts it, in a nutshell, the Spanish (along with most Europeans) thought that the war in Iraq was a sideshow to or counterproductive to the actual fight against terrorism. With this attack, the country's attention became hyperfocused on terrorism (rather than the economy, immigration, and other issues), which was bad for the PP.

This idea is about to hit the mainstream media, as basically everyone I talk to these days (especially on the left, but increasingly so on the right) is starting to accept this, as reflected above: if Bush were serious about the fight against terrorism, he would not have invaded Iraq.

Posted by: Dave Min at March 15, 2004 06:53 AM | PERMALINK

"that Spain suffered retribution"

As you probably know, the Spaniards were against the war. The quasi-moral target would therefore be the government of Spain, not the people.

"rather a return to sanity."

So, people getting their viscera blown out of their bodies is a sort of sanity pill? Good one. Why don't you try that one out on yourself?

Posted by: me oh my at March 15, 2004 06:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Why is this so confusing? The terrorists used murder as a political device, and they got what they wanted."

This is a leap of faith. Given the great success of the Iraq invasion in inciting improved recruitment for Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations, the logical conclusion was for the terrorists to want Aznar elected, just as they want Bush elected. The expectation was most likely that the fear resulting the bombings with ensure Aznar's election. The Spanish electorate rejection of Bush's 'Whar on Terra' is most likely the exact opposite of what Al Qaida expected. Surely in the US, a terrorist attack would drive the sheople into the arms of the necon all-war, all-the-time machinery.

Posted by: zoot at March 15, 2004 06:56 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with many commenters: #2 reflects shallow analysis.

I think the prevailing mood among late-switchers (or late-deciders-to-vote) in Spain was that Aznar's policies created the terrorists who carried out the train bombings.

Kevin, you are interpreting the causality backwards. It's not that terrorists disliked Aznar's policies, and therefore influenced the electorate to vote against the policies, thereby expressing a preference for the terrorists' policies. It's that Aznar's policies created the terrorists, who struck against Spain, thereby vividly demonstrating that the amount of violence in the world was increased rather than decreased by the Iraq war.

Posted by: globecanvas at March 15, 2004 06:56 AM | PERMALINK

(a) To put motivations into the Spanish people's heads is completely bogus -- we have no idea what they thought when they voted and a few anecdotes from various voters does not mean the entire populace voted out the ruling party to appease al Queda.

(b) I think #2 has actually been spun beyond belief -- its just as conceivable that the Spanish people were motivated to vote out the ruling party because, after the terror attack, they believed that the current leaders had not done enough to prevent a terrorist attack. In fact, that being the motivation, the Spanish people would be signalling a strong desire to FIGHT al Queda in order to prevent future terrorist acts -- its obvious that the policies of the former leadership (including the war in Iraq) were unable to stop this terrorist event.

Posted by: Dave at March 15, 2004 06:57 AM | PERMALINK

...bombings WOULD ensure Aznar's election....

Posted by: zoot at March 15, 2004 06:58 AM | PERMALINK

Remember kids, it's only "influencing the outcome of the election" if conservatives lose. If the PP won, it would be "being tough on terror".

Al-Qaeda prefers the Socialists to the PP the way you prefer Red Ants to Black Ants. That is to say, not at all. Ask the ETA members tortured under the previous Socialist administration how tough they are on terrorism. I like how not a single news story that I have seen so far states that Al-Qaeda considers Spain to be their rightful territory, the same as Mecca, even though this is one of their key tenets.

I agree with those who look at it this way:

1. The PP convinced a skeptical population to participate in Iraq under the promise of making them safer.

2. They are clearly not safer- and this is a country that has a lot of experience with bombings.

3. Aznar and the PP lied and spun to make it seem that domestic terrorism was responsible, which would have HELPED them in the polls.

4. Spaniards want to be safer- the guy on the job did not make a convincing case. Out he goes.

5. Spain will continue to fight terrorism at home and in Afghanistan, but Iraq has had no payoff, so off they go.

I don't get the logic that says "Only Bush can make us safer from terrorism, therefore if there is a terror attack before the election, it proves his competence". People arguing this usually cite the 1993 WTC bombing, Khobar Towers et al, as evidence on how Clinton was INcompetent. And if terror attacks just can't be helped or prevented, you should just vote for hte guy with the best tax plan- it won't matter who's in office.

The Spanish response makes sense to me- "Let's try something new, the old stuff didn't work".

Sorry to be so long, but what I think I am seeing here from Righties in the US is pure, unadulterated fear- the Socialists have a couple of months to make some public arrests and investigations. If they do a good job, and fight terror well, the Bush Selling Point (liberals willl surrender) goes straight down the toilet, and they know it.

Posted by: Souffle at March 15, 2004 07:02 AM | PERMALINK

Spain threw out Aznar for the same reason we will throw out Bush in November. We are both tired of lies and manipulations and the fact that Iraq did NOT equal terrorism. If all our efforts had been put into defeating Al Qeada for the past 2 1/2 years, this bombing would most likely never have happened.

Posted by: wilfred at March 15, 2004 07:02 AM | PERMALINK

If an attack causes people to punish politicians solely because their toughness on terrorism has brought on the attack, the terrorists have accomplished their purpose.

I'm not going to read the long thread at this point, so apologies if I repeat something said earlier...

Kevin, you're making an interesting assumption: that people punished Aznar and the PP because they were "tough" on terror. I'd say it's more likely that the voters decided they weren't tough enough, or tough in the right way. In other words, the gov't was ineffective and incapable of stopping this attack.

Aznar followed a mistaken, vastly unpopular policy of allying with Bush in Iraq, which had NOTHING to do with the "war" on terror, and he got booted out. This is a victory for democracy, not AQ.

Posted by: NTodd at March 15, 2004 07:03 AM | PERMALINK

What it is, is a resounding defeat for Bush, and yet another of the adverse, unintended consequences of Bush's flaming mendacity in pushing through his long-anticipated Iraq invasion as though it were a response to a terrorist threat.

The fact that al Qaeda gets to profit so much from the way Iraq went down is yet another reason why it's such a bad idea to have a reckless, simplistic foreign policy (given the Orwellian title of "moral clarity").

Since the beginning of 2003, US credibility is down, and al Qaeda's is up. I wonder why.

Did people really think that the only adverse consequence of lying our way into an invasion would be the number of dead in the war and a mild, nagging sense of guilt? Credibility has value, and it's hard to restore when it's gone.

Hard for Bush, at least. If a new president were elected, he would lend instant credibility to the United States with regard to international issues precisely BECAUSE he has repudiated Bush and his ways.

Throwing Bush over would go a long way toward righting the wrong of Iraq, and would put the government out of the business of costly diversions from the direct conflict against al Qaeda.

I'm at a loss to understand how that would be a "victory" for al Qaeda.

Posted by: hueyplong at March 15, 2004 07:05 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding the war with “al Qaeda” in your memo this morning about Spain.

The United States is in a world-wide war, a war to the death, with an enemy that is bent on our total destruction. Our inability of focus on our true enemy is allowing our enemy to win the war. This lack of focus is the fault of our national leaders and their wrongheaded thinking about the war and our enemy. With regard to the war nothing is so powerful as a bad idea implemented by a true believer.

Imagine how different the world would be today if, when we were attacked on 9/11 the President and Congress had committed the country to a war against “al Qaeda”. Instead we went to war against terrorism; it’s as if after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor we had declared war on airplanes. Airplanes and terrorism are just tactics; it’s the enemy that we should be fighting, not the tactics.

But because we are confused about who we are fighting, because we cannot focus on the true enemy we are losing the war. Because we are confused we diverted our efforts and army into Iraq, and while we were diverted our enemy has only grown stronger.

The solution to this problem is to accept that we have made a strategic error and for congress to declare war against “al Qaeda”. We should make it the national policy of the United States to track down and kill all members of all cells in “al Qaeda”. We should pay a bounty for information that leads to the death of members of all the cells. We should direct all of our Special Forces to this task. Most importantly, we need a President who can figure out who the enemy really is and make war on them, instead of being distracted into fighting the wrong targets.

John-otti@earthlink.net


Posted by: John Otti at March 15, 2004 07:05 AM | PERMALINK

It is worthwhile to sift the polls for the causes of the Spanish vote. But I doubt that any parallel process is going on inside Al Qaeda. These folks decided long ago on their basic worldview, and are, shall we say, somewhat selective in admitting new information about the viability or sense of that worldview. From their perspective, I have little doubt this day will long be remembered as a great victory - the day they toppled a Western government in a single bold stroke.

Is that what happened? Maybe, maybe not; we don't really know yet. But it's hard to doubt that's the way they'll want to see it, and it's not so prima facie wrong that they will be prevented from seeing it that way.

Even if you call into question one of the most damaging premises, and say that the voters rejected the government for its stonewalling after the fact, rather than its support for the war, you can still easily spin this as a victory from Al Qaeda's perspective. By inflicting damage so close to the election, in an environment where the population did not support the war, you forced the government into this dissembling. Even if this is something of a bank-shot argument, it's far from implausible, and it is very hard to escape the conclusion that the bombing was the primary cause of the movement in the electorate, which was pretty clearly in the direction Al Qaeda intended.

As for how this will be spun among potential recruits in the region, obviously we don't know, but it is not hard to see this being an effective tool.

Note that this analysis is entirely independent of any judgment about how the Spanish *should* have voted. That's entirely beside the point. I don't know anything at all about Spanish politics, and it's entirely possible that this was a better outcome for Spain, even in the context of the bombing. But whatever the outcome for Spain, there is an independent bad event.

Finally, and far more ominously, as Josh Marshall points out, preparations for this attack went entirely undetected by Western intelligence. What are we going to do, in the next eight months, to prevent an attack on our soil?

Posted by: TedL at March 15, 2004 07:06 AM | PERMALINK

the tremendous diversion of resources from fighting Al Qaida to invading and occupying Iraq (a former enemy of Al Qaida) was the best thing that ever happened to Al Qaida.

Posted by: dentrite at March 15, 2004 07:16 AM | PERMALINK

We've long known that our intelligence capability is handicapped by the dearth of Arabic speakers. The administration flat out admits that when they hint at drafting people with that special talent.

So every Arabic speaker who was diverted to Iraq is someone who wan't helping out on al Qaeda. The same is true of soldiers and materiel.

al Qaeda is an outfit that we can beat. So let's go about doing it, and stop merely holding them up as a bugbear to exploit so as to enact the hard right agenda at home and an adventurous neocon policy abroad.

Moreover, al Qaeda wants a general war of East v. West. Bush actually moved to grant them that wish when, instead of narrowly targeting al Qaeda, he went after Iraq, which every Muslim in the world knew was unrelated to al Qaeda. 90% of Spaniards knew it too.

Four more years of Bush would be a disaster of literally biblical proportions in the area of foreign policy alone, without discussing his domestic "ideas."

Posted by: hueyplong at March 15, 2004 07:18 AM | PERMALINK

"improved recruitment for Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations"

Entirely possible. For instance, the Japanese army tended to swell after 1941. I'm not sure what that signifies.

"the terrorists to want Aznar elected, just as they want Bush elected."

The terrorists that are dead, on the run, or still at large? What polls are you using as source material?

Listen: The Populists were ahead before the election. 200 Spaniards were killed. The Socialists won the election.

Unless we have some solid information that this was a statistical burp or something, it's clear that the election was altered by murder.

Posted by: me oh my at March 15, 2004 07:20 AM | PERMALINK

It's obvious that some writers know nothing of the Spanish elections and the ongoing fight with ETA. If Aznar's people had not overreacted and immediately blamed ETA, without all the evidence and so resolutely, the outcome might be different. The Spanish are sick of ETA, most of the people in the Basque region no longer support them.

Reports of the found video tape and the stolen truck surfaced immediately in Spanish and British media. We did not hear abouth them until Saturday. I came across that news development on Thursday (Their Friday).

It was the Aznar staff reaction that changed this election....not the terrorist action. With close to 8 million Spaniards protesting terrorism, ETA lost big. Batasuna party (ETA political wing) lost many seats they thought were sown up. Most people are not talking about that.

Spaniards became incensed with Aznar's people, because the information regarding Quaeda connections surfaced immediately. They were still insisting it was ETA in a farcical manner that enraged the public. The election was close and they panicked. It is as simple as that.

90% of the electorate was against the Iraq war, that is true, but Aznar's party was still popular. Spain's economy has improved under Aznar and the tough stance against ETA had shown results. People were feeling pretty good and were in no mood to change. Aznar's group's panicked efforts to do damage control, smelled overwhelmingly like coverup. Every single member of that group repeatedly insisted that ETA was responsible as overwhelming evidence poured in that is was more likely Quaeda.

In doing so, they are responsible for their own downfall.
Compounded with all the information on how this war was promoted through exaggeration of evidence. People were quick to make their decision about the Aznar group's veracity. To say Spaniards are afraid to deal with terrorism is illogical. They have been dealing with it far longer than Americans. They simply prefer to target the right organizations.

We all know now that Sadam does not equal Quaeda. Anyone who still are argues that fact has his head in the sand. By the way, how many of you out there feel safer now? The truth is we wasted time and money and lives in Iraq. We should have focusted our resources on Afghanistan. This is about the fighting the fights that need fighting. NOT the ones to prove how macho we are.

The Spanish, as well as most of Europe, were against this fight, not against fighting terrorists.

Posted by: RitaM at March 15, 2004 07:27 AM | PERMALINK

You are showing your American-ness. Remember that the people of Spain were 90% opposed to the war? Remember that there is no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq?

So, how does Aznavar show his strong anti-TERRORIST leanings by going to war with Iraq? What he's doing by going to Iraq is kissing GWB's butt, that's all.

I applaud the Spanish people for kicking the bum out on his ass.

Posted by: Michele at March 15, 2004 07:28 AM | PERMALINK

I've been in Madrid during these events, so here's my take. I basically agree that #3 is the main reason. However, nothing that Aznar, Rajoy, and the PP have done in response to the attacks has been that egregious - I don't think that the charges that he was manipulating and politicizing the bombings would have had legs unless there had already been widespread discontent against the war in Iraq. This discontent had not been a major issue - people had been more focused on domestic issues like the economy - but the terrorist attack brought the issue of Iraq to the fore.

There was some of #2, but I think that people can put up with civilian deaths from terrorist attacks, just as they can put up with the deaths of soldiers in the field, if they think that the deaths stem from a fight for a cause that they believe in. Spaniards did not believe in the war in Iraq (though they do believe in fighting terrorists), so they wanted to get rid of the government that led them into Iraq, since they see the attack as a consequence of that war.

These effects are not as big or as clear-cut as these explanations make them appear. First, there is little party affiliation in Spain, so many people don't decide who to vote for till the last minute. Second, the terrorist attacks led to increased turnout, because the solidarity that followed encouraged people to participate in the democracy and because some people who didn't care about politics may have decided to oppose the PP because of reasons #2 and 3. Thus, the socialist win was probably more a factor of undecideds deciding than of people changing their minds.

Posted by: Dan at March 15, 2004 07:32 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe they were punishing PP for buying into the dubious Iraq/WOT connection, thereby diverting resources best spent going after AQ . . . this would NOT be considered a victory for terror.

Posted by: Charlie at March 15, 2004 07:34 AM | PERMALINK

One can't help but wonder if the money, effort, and resources devoted to deposing Saddam had been spent building coalitions and rooting out Qaeda terror cells around the world, the Spanish tragedy could have been avoided. I'm struck the reports today that the intelligence agencies of the West had no idea this was coming - no increase in chatter, etc. I dread the caterwauling we're going to hear on talk radio and on FOX about how Spain lost it's nerve, Osama wins (see Sullivan already), and on and on...

Posted by: joe at March 15, 2004 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

On Political Wire today:

Kerry Dogged By Remark On Foreign Leaders

Spain's new prime minister supports John Kerry!!

Posted by: Frank Li at March 15, 2004 07:39 AM | PERMALINK

me oh my asked: "Do you think AQ attacked Spain to test out their explosives, or for a lark, or to get on television?"

They could have tested explosives anywhere. If they were testing anything, it was to gauge the political reaction to a massive attack on the eve of an election. What would the ruling party do or say? What would the electorate do?

In this case, the ruling party denied and played politics, and the electorate threw them out. If AQ, God forbid, decides to take an active role in the U.S. elections, they now have one concrete experiment to use as a precedent.

A second test would be to judge European reaction. Would this bombing increase or decrease their appetite for participating in any real or fantasized War on Terror?

Question: What do AQ really want? a) U.S. and allies out of Iraq, b) U.S. isolated in Iraq, or c) Iraq as the locus of the great jihad?

Posted by: bizutti at March 15, 2004 07:41 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody expects the Spanish Election! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...Amongst our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again...

Posted by: Austin Mayor at March 15, 2004 07:43 AM | PERMALINK

Why would a terrorist attack in the US help Bush if an attack in Spain may go against the staunch anti-terrorists?

Posted by: Pat at March 15, 2004 07:45 AM | PERMALINK

The spanish vote is the consequence of the combined incompetence of Bush, Blair and co!

Instead of diminishing the terror threat, they have elevated it by their war in Iraq.

The anti-war people told them so, but they chose to ignore it. They're all-wise. The other people are just dumb and numb minds. I hope John Kerry will win the US elections and the world ten can, AT LAST, really concentrate on the war on terror!

ps. I bet Silvio is making in his pants right now ...

Posted by: Kryptos at March 15, 2004 07:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I find it astonishing that you wrote:
"...the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists..."

This makes little sense. Aznar did little to oppose or fight Al Qaeda by supporting the war on Iraq. Indeed, it is increasingly obvious that the Iraq war was "objectively pro-Al-Qaeda". Spaniards may well be sending the message that it was BECAUSE he failed to attack Al Qaeda (and wasted his country's time and resources on Iraq) that he deserves to be ousted - given that Al Qaeda presumably struck Spain while he was sleeping.

Posted by: TR at March 15, 2004 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Funny how these two groups are always on the same wavelength. Funny how both groups get their rocks off on death and destruction. Funny how both groups do their damndest to frame all events in "clash of civilization" terms."

Lots of tortured reasoning here today. Kevin had it about right. So those who fight terrorism and the terrorists are "on the same wavelength" ? Chamberlain's policy at Munich was hugely popular in 1938. Not so popular in 1940. Churchill was a warmonger in 1938. He was a savior in 1940. Time makes changes and those who have limited vision are unable to look ahead and see the consequences of decisions that may be popular one moment and a disaster a few years later. I don't see much vision here. Mostly pacifist platitudes.

"The notion that everyone must, on all occasions, "stand up" to terrorists is completely unmotivated. A splendid example of a nation that has taken precisely this stand, to its endless grief, is Israel."

I love this comment. What would you suggest the Israelis do ? Walk into the Mediterranian until their hats float ?

The Arab culture has no respect for democratic procedures or sentiment. They understand only force and the shame-honor traditions of primtive cultures. If the Palestinians wanted a country, they could have had it in 2000. The same is true going back to 1948 when they tried to eradicate the Jews who had bought land in what became Israel going back to the 1880s. They want revenge, not a country. The last thing they want is peace.

The Spanish voters elected a government that has promised to cut and run by July 1. They reacted to a terrorist bombing in exactly the way the terrorists wished. They retreated. We can do the same in November. Just elect Kerry.

Those who don't understand geography (it's now Social Studies, a meaningless term) can't understand that the UN war opponents (we now know many were on Saddam's payroll) wanted to delay the invasion "a few more months", as Blix says, so that it would be called off. Summer temperatures in Iraq are as high as 140 degrees. We could not wear the MOPP gear in such conditions. They also don't understand the pause in Afghanistan during winter when the mountains along the Pakistan border are deep in snow. Everything to them is politics, leftist, pacifist politics preferrably.

Posted by: Mike K at March 15, 2004 07:51 AM | PERMALINK

Argh, I wish I could have seen the face of Dubya and his hawks when they learned about the spanish vote and the announcement the new government would pullout their soldiers!!!! :)

But perhaps Georgie doesn't know it yet? Since he doesn't read newspapers ...

Does he watch TV in fact? I mean real news on TV? Not Foxnews and not the Teletubbies version?

Posted by: Your mom at March 15, 2004 07:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I really like reading your blog but here I think your conclusions are way wrong. I won't enumerate why now though, since a lot of people here have done it before me.

I'm curious if you have to add something to your statement?

Posted by: Soulhunter at March 15, 2004 07:53 AM | PERMALINK

I already wrote this in the other thread, but I think it bares repeating here since nobody seems to be mentioning it (either that or it's just a crappy point, who knows).

Al Queda can claim victory for *any* outcome of their attacks, due to the amorphous nature of the "organization" and its goals. Depending on the particular conversation at hand, people are happy to believe that Al Queda:

a) have sincere, ideological beliefs that they want to see implemented (e.g. U.S. out of Middle East)

b) simply want to maximize a 'war of civilizations' in order to overthrow the current order and make way for a worldwide Islamic revolution.

Depending on whether you take (a) or (b) as primary for any given attack, you can spin the results any way you want. Victory for Spain's conservatives gives them a victory on (b), and victory for the Socialists gives them a victory on (a).

And I would point out that people usually take (b) to be the primary motive for these guys. Conventional wisdom is certainly that Bin Laden wants Bush to be re-elected.

Guessing motives and victory conditions is a losing proposition with these guys.

Posted by: skip at March 15, 2004 07:58 AM | PERMALINK

"I wish I could have seen the face of Dubya "

It's considerably easier to imaginge the face on Saddam. Grow up.

Posted by: me oh my at March 15, 2004 07:59 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin's statement does make sense. I would also note his strong emphasis on the "if" caveat.

In other threads, many have argued that we should look at the perceptions held by the terrorists. Please do so with respect to this issue:

1) Popular Party is in power, is allied with US in Iraq (please don't get caught up on whether or not you think Iraq has anything to do with fighting terror, as the terrorists feel it does)
2) Popular Party leading substantially in polls prior to Thursday's bombing.
3) Bombing occurs; the claim of AQ responsibility indicates that it relates to Spain being an ally of the US.
4) Socialists, who are against this particular alliance with the US and were trailing in polls prior to the bombing, win.

I don't see why people find it so astounding that this would be perceived as a victory for AQ, and that this will encourage additional attacks of this nature.

Of course, the potential wild card in the causal links is people reacting to Aznar's response to the bombing (Kevin's theory #3). That's why Kevin's #2 is just one of his theories.

Posted by: Hubris at March 15, 2004 08:00 AM | PERMALINK

Excuse me if someone else has already mentioned it, but is it possible that adherents to the underdog party in the Spanish elections may have helped plan, coordinate, time, or assist in the bombings in Madrid? I mean, the new ruling party gained a victory in an election they were sure to lose prior to last Thursday. They gain power and Al-Quaida cells pull off a major attack against an international coalition designed to defeat it. Is this just a coincidence? I hope I'm wrong...

Posted by: Matt in France at March 15, 2004 08:07 AM | PERMALINK

To all the mystic numerologists out there...11Mar2004 is 912 days after 11Sep2001, not 911.
Did leap year fool you?

Posted by: hexatron at March 15, 2004 08:11 AM | PERMALINK

hexatron: but 3/10 wouldn't look as good as 3/11 to 9/11 ...

Posted by: Kryptos at March 15, 2004 08:14 AM | PERMALINK

If popular opinion (and thus votes) changing as a result of terror is a sign of victory for the terorists, then do you know who supplied Al Quaeda with the biggest victory? Bush!! He was a minority-elected president stumbling on almost every issue he touched, and with pretty bad approval ratings for so early on in an administration, IIRC. The Al Quaeda struck, and his approval ratings skyrocket! Obvoiusly Osama (fearing an impeachment or early resignation and a return of the White House to the Democrats) wanted to prop Bush up and keep him in power - and the American people bought into this!! Victory for terra!!! The only logical thing to do is to correct this situation in November.

I mean exactly half of this in jest: I leave it up to you to figure out which half.

Posted by: peejay at March 15, 2004 08:14 AM | PERMALINK

Matt in France,
The socialists were so far behind that they only way they could win was by a terrorist upset?
A terrorist act, that once unraveled (as the socialsts and the rest of Spain demands) would reveal that the socialists were involved and guarantee that the socials would never, never, ever, ever, win another election?

Maybe that is why the idea hasn't been mentioned.

Posted by: J Edgar at March 15, 2004 08:17 AM | PERMALINK

hexatron: 9/11 and 3/11 not counted, there are 911 days between those two dates

Posted by: John at March 15, 2004 08:18 AM | PERMALINK

Re my previous post:

I've reread it and decided that I meant only 33% in jest, and was dead serious about the other 66.7%.

Posted by: peejay at March 15, 2004 08:20 AM | PERMALINK

Dear John.
And 9+1+1=11, the same number of letters in Osama Bin Laden, if you don't count the O at the beginning and the n at the end.
Those subtle orientals!

Posted by: hexatron at March 15, 2004 08:23 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin says that "But if (if!) it's true it gives al-Qaeda reason to think that they can affect elections simply by committing a terrorist attack. Sounds like a victory to me."

I cringe whenever I hear this basic argument: "If we do so-and-so, then it will prove that the terrorits have affected our daily lives, which means the terrorists have WON."

Of course terrorists can affect elections by commiting a terrorist act. Of course circumstances affect elections. I think this is a bad bad way to frame a debate - esp the terrorist debate. Haven't Israel and Palestine shown us all that, if you make decisions based on what you think your opponent DOESN'T want, that we are relegating ourselves to a cycle of violence and overall badness?

Posted by: Teej at March 15, 2004 08:26 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, were the conspiracy theorists as quick as this to pin the blame for the WTC attacks on the US government/the Mossad/what have you back in 2001?

Posted by: Menshevik at March 15, 2004 08:31 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, it could be some, or even a lot of #2, without it being the Spanish hitting back on Aznar for "strongly opposing terrorists." In fact, that would only make sense if there was some mass insanity going on in Spain since almost all sane people want their government to strongly oppose terrorists.

It may just be that the Spanish, who opposed the Iraq war by 90%, feel that Aznar went in exactly the wrong direction vis a vis fighting terrorism by supporting Bush's war and ended up making them less, as opposed to more safe evidenced by the Madrid bombings. Therefore Aznar was punished because his government not only failed to stop the Madrid bombings but made Spain more vulnerable to such incidents by 1) inviting them by openly helping in the occupation of Iraq and 2) more importantly, diverting resources and attention to Iraq instead of directing it at the real threats.

Posted by: Dawn at March 15, 2004 08:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin

I think a lot of the adverse comments your item #2 has spawned can be related to the apparent subornation of your analysis, on this one point, to a US centric view of the world and the WOT.

Step back, or out of that domestic political bubble, try to empathise with the European view and take another look at your analysis.

If I could distill it for you it would read like this,

it was irresponsible of Bush et al to have wasted the unity among nations after 9/11 by forcing an invasion of Iraq before bringing enough of the world onboard. We could be facing Al Qeada much more effectively as a united grouping under better US leadership if it weren't for the self inflicted wound of Iraq.

Please, review it again.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 08:35 AM | PERMALINK

Someone I'm sure must have pointed this out already, but this is not a zero-sum game. Hitler's defeat was a win for Roosevelt and Stalin. Azanar's defeat may be a win for AQ under certain premises, and for the partisans of a meaningful campaign against terrorists under another set of premises.

Posted by: Lupin at March 15, 2004 08:38 AM | PERMALINK

I guess when Blair is forced to resign, that will be the work of Osama, also.

It's great that everyone is an now expert on Spain's democracy when the first post on this election didn't happen until AFTER the bombing.

Maybe the very attention we have given to the election demonstratres our own misguided support for the terrorists?

Remember, Bush said we should just go own our business or the terrorists have won - so lets ignore foreign affairs like good citizens and get back to the shopping centers.


Posted by: peBird at March 15, 2004 08:38 AM | PERMALINK

"it was irresponsible of Bush et al to have wasted the unity among nations after 9/11 "

...they knew about the Iraqi war previous to the recent attacks. Despite their opposite to it, the Populist party was ahead. The NEW variable was the attack itself. The - attack - swayed - the - election.

Posted by: me oh my at March 15, 2004 08:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'm skipping the comments to post this thought, apologies if it's already been raised.

It seems to me that, in the long run, it's not a victory for AQ if it causes world goverments to focus on the real terrorists as opposed to false terrorists for Machiavellian purposes.

At some point people are going to have to address the real roots of terrorism, and when that happens some serious actions will follow. But, that is not going to happen under the "7 Sins Admin" of George W Bush, or his stupid non-Coalition, whose purpose in life is to loot the coffers of the world for the Oligarchs of the Corporate world.

Posted by: Duckman GR at March 15, 2004 08:44 AM | PERMALINK

al Qaeda did target Spain before 911 and before the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. (I note the redundancy). This has been pointed out already, and it's worth remembering.

al Qaeda does not oppose America (or Spain) just because of the Iraqi war, but for a whole variety of reasons that have been enumerated above. al Qaeda opposes America and Spain in part because of the first Iraqi war and the Afghan war: the first of these had a UN war resolution, and the second had a very large coalition following the American forces.

al Qaeda is more like a fungus than an army -- that is, it is many tiny threads living inside the body politic, almost invisible. America's war on terror has mostly targeted organizations that are connected to al Qaeda by some of the threads: money, communication, travel (e.g., into and out of the Iraqi terrorist training areas.) al Qaeda has announced its intention to spread as far as it can.

About a year ago an al Qaeda attempt to bomb areas in the French city of Strasbourg was prevented. That al Qaeda attack had nothing to do with French support of American in general or Bush in particular. (The contrast with the Madrid bombing, of course, is that the Strasbourg bombing was prevented.)

I mention these things, and a list much larger could be drawn up, as a reminder that al Qaeda is not a simple, narrowly focused, reactive organization. It is diffuse, diverse and aggressive. No matter what the "true" meaning of the recent Spanish vote is, al Qaeda will attack Spain again and again until they are defeated. That is their announced intention, and that's the way they have acted everywhere else.

The next question is: Suppose the new Spanish govt. keeps its promise to withdraw its troops from Iraq by July 1 unless there is stronger support in Iraq from the UN. Does that make it likelier that al Qaeda will target the homelands of the other coalition partners? Probably -- I expect to read soon of efforts by Colin Powell to persuade the new Spanish govt. to keep its troops in Iraq so as to diminish that probability.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at March 15, 2004 08:45 AM | PERMALINK

Spain diverted resources to Iraq that would have been valuable in stopping these attacks before they started. Spaniards recognize this and voted accordingly. This is really more plausible than 1, 2, or 3 and also deals more with reality than trying to cope with the dissonance of the neo-con mentality of a good vs. evil struggle that Spain must win or lose (which CalPundit evidently has bought into).

As long as we have ten times as many people in Iraq as Afghanistan, it will be hard to convince me that our leadership is on the right side of the war against terror...and that is where this pious judgmentalism of Spaniards come from. It demeans the dead in Spain and insults the intelligence of the victims there.

Posted by: Don at March 15, 2004 08:52 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with you. I think it is rather obvious that the Spanish election result is a victory for al Qaeda. In the same manner a victory for Kerry with his weak stance on terrorism would also be a victory for al Qaeda. we are at war and we may have lost an ally, but the war is not lost...at least not yet.

Posted by: Rick at March 15, 2004 08:53 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, were the conspiracy theorists as quick as this to pin the blame for the WTC attacks on the US government/the Mossad/what have you back in 2001?

Yup.

Posted by: NTodd at March 15, 2004 08:55 AM | PERMALINK

As said by many before, to conflate Iraq and terrorists is wrong and misdirection. We used terror as an excuse to attack Iraq. And AQ returned the favor, using the iraq war as an excuse for further attacks on us. Both Bush and AQ got what they wanted -- war.

The recent attack in Spain brought home all the lies of their administration. and they voted. Will we, in turn, see all the lies of this Administration? People want more effort to stop AQ, and less on global domination by Bush and AQ.

Posted by: Sammy at March 15, 2004 08:55 AM | PERMALINK

Late reaction, but since when does opposing the war in Iraq equal an unwillingness to combat Al-qaeda?? How America answers that question will decide the election.

Posted by: Peter at March 15, 2004 08:55 AM | PERMALINK

Please! It’s essential this argument is not clouded, which is exactly what the ‘right’ wants to do and I feel even ‘calpundit’ has fallen for.

This was NOT a vote against the war on terrorism, it WAS a vote against the war in Iraq. These are two completely different issues, and failure to see as much, puts one lock step in with republican propaganda, i.e. to not vote for Bush, is to vote for OBL.

Posted by: PW at March 15, 2004 08:56 AM | PERMALINK

Beware of the false dichotomy: "We only have resources for the war in Afghanistan, or only have resources for the war in Iraq. One diverted the resources to fight the other." Actually, if people actually put some value in national security and the fight against terror (terrorists, Saddam's regime, Iran's theocracy, etc are all threats to national security, albeit in different ways), we could easily realize that have the resources for both and much more (especially if we get rid of Social Security, welfare, and most of all the other useless junk that most of the commenters above probably support, especially the lefty ones!). But then, most of them probably don't take defense and the war on terror seriously enough to see this, so nothing's gonna change much anyway, so keep the useless blabbing going, I guess. It's all about priorities, but some kids never learn...

Posted by: Neo at March 15, 2004 08:58 AM | PERMALINK

Correction: Saddam's regime "was" a threat to national security. Anyways...you get the point.

Posted by: Neo at March 15, 2004 09:02 AM | PERMALINK

The - attack - swayed - the - election.

No duh, just like Bartman swayed the Cubs/Marlins game. Unfortunately, AQ doesn't wear baseball caps that tell us who they want to win, and I'll bet they're as much prone to error as any other human beings. For all we know, they could've wanted the PP to win in a landslide and mistakenly thought their attack would accomplish that, just like 9/11 solidified the GOP's hold in the US.

All events sway elections. The important thing is that the Spanish people still got to vote, despite the attack. Trying to guess what AQ wanted is as silly as the "battle of wits" in Princess Bride.

Posted by: NTodd at March 15, 2004 09:04 AM | PERMALINK

"And then the bombs went off, and they then thought 'Ok, the critics were right, this is a stupid way to proceed, let's get these assholes out of there and get somebody with different ideas.'"

So Al Qaeda's bombs were able to change people's votes. Al Qaeda has got to be pretty pleased with that. Terrorism as a method to change the outcomes of elections in democratic countries. They've gotta love that.


Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 09:08 AM | PERMALINK

The Arab culture has no respect for democratic procedures or sentiment. They understand only force and the shame-honor traditions of primtive cultures.

You can always tell the utterly clueless in discussions of the Mid East by their sweeping generalizations about how Arabs only understand force. You know--unlike Republicans.

Posted by: Molly, NYC at March 15, 2004 09:14 AM | PERMALINK

The right wing arguments here only make sense if (1) the way Bush is conducting The War on Terra is the ONLY way to do it, and (2) there was an Iraq-al Qaeda link.

Both premises are, of course, wrong.

Who cares if delay of a couple of months would have meant that it was too hot to go into Iraq? As it turns out, not going at all was the "A" answer, as there were no WMD and, as most of the world knew, Saddam not only wasn't in bed with al Qaeda, he was an enemy of al Qaeda.

If changing from a stupid foreign policy to a more intelligent one gives temporary succor to the terrorists, then fine. They'll lose out in the end. Remember that we, like the Spanish, are choosing a leader for ourselves, not for al Qaeda.

As for changing leaders during a war, that's only a bad idea if the existing leader is competent/doing a good job. Bush could f*ck up a wet dream. Why on earth is it "imperative" to keep his incompetent tail in the White House?

It ain't. Vote Kerry, and focus the war on the entity (al Qaeda) that attacked us, while simultaneously giving the economy a boost similar to the one you'd give yourself by ceasing to hit your own temple with a ball peen hammer.

Posted by: hueyplong at March 15, 2004 09:14 AM | PERMALINK

"For all we know, they could've wanted the PP to win in a landslide..."

Yeah, and for all we know, Al Qaeda could really WANT democracy in Iraq.

We really know so little about Al Qaeda. Maybe they're really democrats, fighting for the little guy.

It's all so confusing...

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 09:19 AM | PERMALINK

I'm going to give Kevin a little bit of support, but only a little, because I think a lot of people are talking past each other here.

Kevin's point is that if these bombings changed the outcome of the Spanish elections, then by definition terrorist attacks can change the outcome of elections.

My answer: of course they can. So can snowstorms, earthquakes, power outages, Supreme Court decisions, personal charisma of movie stars, mayors performing gay marriages, misleading ads, and Willie Horton.

People go to the polls and make decisions based on how they're feeling at the time. Some of how they're feeling depends on the news of the day. Some of the news of the day might be deliberately timed by somebody so as to try to affect the election. Sometimes it sways enough public opinion that it does so. This is not really a great revelation.

Of course al-Qaeda wanted the PP out, and they got what they wanted. They didn't do it by changing minds -- they did it by changing priorities: by framing the debate, and making the election in Spain more about the US war on terror than about the conditions that favored the PP (which I don't know -- economic, perhaps?)

Why did they want the PP out? To isolate the US, of course; to get Spain to stop cooperating with the US militarily, and to send a message across the world that it's a mistake to be allied with the United States.

That message couldn't resonate and wouldn't work if the US weren't being a mindless bully that's already alienating most of its allies.

One can extrapolate. Al-Qaeda of course wants Bush to remain in the White House (after all, Kerry might prosecute an actual war against terror, instead of being a recruitment tool for terrorism). What they'll choose to do in October -- and whether it will work -- depends on how well they can gauge the American electorate. My sense is that an October terrorist attack in the US would influence our elections by helping Bush.

However, there's one sense in which this makes a terror attack in October less likely, and that's the crude spinning (and lying) that the PP did, and the degree to which it backfired. Even al-Qaeda has to know that the White House are masters of spin and lie, and may note the American electorate is getting more suspicious. An October terror attack could backfire against Bush, since they'd reflexively lie and spin -- which would not be what al-Qaeda wants.

But if by the end of October Bush is still behind in the polls, stay out of large cities and away from crowds.

Posted by: eyelessgame at March 15, 2004 09:21 AM | PERMALINK

Very short sighted in my opinion Kevin. Obviously if Spain now ceases to go after terrorists,,,,then perhaps you would be right. However, I highly doubt that will be the case. I think Spaniards want their efforts towards defeating terrorism to be directed toward terrorists,,,,,,NOT IRAQ. Lets not get into if Sadaam was a bad guy,,,of course,,,,despicable. But HE didn't bomb them. REFOCUS on terrorists,,,,,oh and I think you are right. Not only did Aznars party follow Bushs' lead into war, they also followed his example of lying to his own country. Shame on both of them.

Posted by: EK at March 15, 2004 09:23 AM | PERMALINK

This was not just about Iraq. If it was the polls would have shown that the Conservative party in Spain was going to lose. It was only after the bombing that sentiment changed.

If the Spanish people believe they were attacked simply because of Iraq they are ignorant and short-sighted. Iraq may have been one of the reasons, but they were also attacked because of Afghanistan and the fact that Spain is no longer a Muslim country when it once was. They have bought their own safety at the expense of ours and the rest of the world -- at least until Al Qaeda wants them to do something else and bombs them again.

The war on terrorism may never be won, but we certainly will not win it if countries cave in to the terrorists like the Spanish just did. This is a very sad day for the world.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 09:24 AM | PERMALINK

The goal of terrorism is to affect public opinion and to scare people into not opposing the terrorists' aims. If (if!) the Spanish electorate was punishing Aznar solely because they perceived his actions as being anti-terrorist enough to provoke an al-Qaeda attack, the terrorists have accomplished their goal: the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists.

Kevin, I never thought I'd see you start to think like Tom "If Bush loses, Osama wins" Cole of Oklahoma. This line of reasoning is just pure hogwash. Aznar strongly opposed ETA and if the attack had come from ETA, his party would have been swept back into office. The fact that the attack was perceived to have come from al-Qaeda brought a tremendous backlash because Aznar was not perceived to have opposed al-Qaeda as strongly as necessary, but instead to have gone haring off to Iraq on a Bush-led wild goose chase for non-existant WMDs that diverted manpower and other resources from the real struggle against terrorism.

Posted by: on and on and on at March 15, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

I think this event is going to become more complicated when the investigation reveals that the Al Queda agents were supplied by an ETA bomb maker. Not that ETA wanted a massacre, but they just didn't care.

This makes the Popular Party slogan of no to all terrorism everywhere more logical.

I also suspect that the Socialists will not pull out of Iraq. There will be a lot of pressure from US and other Euro countries. It is also strategically dangerous and could reroute a lot of terrorism back into Europe, IF the islamicists believe they can pick off Euro Allies one by one. Bomb their capital and they send their troops home -magic formula.

Only after another Euro country has agreed to fill their space will the Spanish leave.

Posted by: Scott McArthur at March 15, 2004 09:26 AM | PERMALINK

"This was NOT a vote against the war on terrorism, it WAS a vote against the war in Iraq. These are two completely different issues, and failure to see as much, puts one lock step in with republican propaganda, i.e. to not vote for Bush, is to vote for OBL."

Your argument doesn't hold any water. It all boils down to this: THIS WAS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE ALLIES OF AMERICA. If this was a vote against the war in Iraq the polls would have indicated that, but people changed their vote only after the attack.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 09:29 AM | PERMALINK

what???

Kevin, usually your logic works, this time I think analysis of the election outcome is flawed.

You describe reason #3 as PP taking a fall for playing politics with the 11-M tragedy by ignoring/covering up the radical islamist role and trying to lay blame on the ETA. That works.

But in reason #2, you say the defeat of Aznar, if connected to his support of the Iraq war and anger/fear that that war made the Spanish more vulnerable or even ensured 11-M, would be a terrorist victory...because the Spanish would have thrown out a leader out of fear that his behavior was too anti-terrorist?! This is where you crash and burn. Hard.

1. First, your argument assumes "strongly opposing terrorists," (I assume that means al Quaeda) and supporting the Iraq war are the same thing. As you know, there's been no link made to date between al Quaeda and Iraq/Saddam. For this reason, many believe that supporting the Iraq war has nothing to do with opposing terrorists (i.e., al Quaeda) and that the war has probably even been counter-productive to fighting terrorism by sowing the seeds for more of it without getting rid of any in the process.

2. While you suggest that Aznar was strongly "opposed to terrorists" in your explanation for #2, you state pretty clearly in #3 that he may well have been playing politics with the whole thing by not admitting that al Quaeda/radical islamists had anything to do with 11-M. While that is not the same as supporting al Quaeda, it doesn't exactly square with taking a tough line on terrorism. He comes off like as the worst kind of opportunist.

Arguably, Spaniards were pissed about getting shoved into a war they didn't believe in, having to pay the ultimate price for it and then having the government try to cover it up until after the elections. It was a lose-lose-lose situation, clearly.

One last little thing: Doesn't the game Aznar tried to play (ignore al-Quaeda, blame ETA) seem sorta analogous to what the Bush administration has done/is doing re: downplaying Osama/al-Quaeda and highlighting Saddam/Iraq? Just a thought.

If my thought train is convoluted (which is likely, I'm in a rush) read Josh Marshall on this (www.talkingpointsmemo.com).

Posted by: maria at March 15, 2004 09:30 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it that when the DC snipers were caught everybody - incl the media - put front and center the question: "Why did they do it?" The same goes for any murderer? "Why?" is always the first quesiton asked.

But with the terrorists (ie.e 9-11 and Madrid), this question is not asked by the US media or by the US public at large. Bush tells us it is because they hate our freedom. We are expected to believe that just because they are terrorists, the reason they do these things is simply because they hate us westerners. Is it that nobody cares because of inherent racism? Are we all brainwashed? Are all of the possible reasons so complex that we have just given up?

And if we don't know why they do these things, then how can we be so bold as to guess that Aznar's defeat was a win for the terrorists?

And as an unrelated aside: I think it is high time the media came up with a good solid definition of the word "terrorist" and use it only when it applies.

Posted by: Teej at March 15, 2004 09:30 AM | PERMALINK

...they knew about the Iraqi war previous to the recent attacks. Despite their opposite to it, the Populist party was ahead. The NEW variable was the attack itself. The - attack - swayed - the - election.

Just because they new about it didn't mean they fully appreciated the consequences, now they do.

They decided the 1st step of a serious effort against terror was to unhitch their wagon from the impending train wreck of US policy known as the Iraq distraction.

Their is a distinction, a cleavage between fundamentalist islamic terrororism and Iraq of which Europeans are well aware off and have consistently been so aware, perhaps the US electorate will also acknowledge that reality come november.

Here's hoping.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 09:30 AM | PERMALINK

Only after another Euro country has agreed to fill their space will the Spanish leave.

I heard this morning that the Poles have agreed to replace an equivalent number of Spanish troops with their own.

Posted by: FastNBulbous at March 15, 2004 09:33 AM | PERMALINK
I have to agree with you. I think it is rather obvious that the Spanish election result is a victory for al Qaeda. In the same manner a victory for Kerry with his weak stance on terrorism would also be a victory for al Qaeda. we are at war and we may have lost an ally, but the war is not lost...at least not yet.

Rick: I'm trying to decide if you're a troll or just a gullible and passive watcher of tv news, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for now.

First, many many posts above have talked about the fallacy of calling something a victory for al Quaeda, for a host of reasons. I'll summarize:
1. We have no idea what the sick minds who lead al Queada want to happen - or at least I don't, since I cannot live in that madness.
2. We, as a nation, are so ignorant about the goings-on in other countries, and have very little idea of the motivations of the Spanish electorate.
3. Even if AQ wanted the socialists to win and the socialists won because of the bombing, that still does not mean that the Spanish voters are siding with AQ, or throwing up a white flag, or any other such drivel. It could very well mean that what AQ wants is not really in their best interests. This is just as likely true as the claim that what the Spanish people chose was not in their best interests. More likely true, actually, since Spain is a democracy, which is far more likely to come up with the right answer than a secretive, autocratic group run by madmen.
4. Why must we always chose the opposite of what we perceive the enemy wants? Is that not also a blind reaction to terrorists, giving them huge power to influence our lives?
6,7,8,9,10...Many, many other reasons, more eloquently written and carefully argued, all in above comments.

Second, in what way has Kerry demonstrated he'd be weak on terror? What did Bush say in 2000 that led you to believe he might be tough on terror? Was it his personal history of shirking duty in time of war? Was it his declaration that America was "not the world's police force"? Or did you wait to decide that Bush was the right guy on 9/11, when he hid in a bunker in Nebraska?Kerry's made some good statements about what he'd do, and I like the way he's trying to get us out of this whole stupid "with us or against us" dichotomy, because that does not work. For a number of reasons I believe Kerry makes a better choice to defeat the terrorists, but I won't go claiming that if he loses, it's a victory for terror. The country would be a better place if you did the same if your boy loses.

Third, I very much count Spain as an ally in the cause of democracy and civilization and freedom. I sometimes question whether the world sees us as one, and I'd hope that we can show the world a thing or two this November.

Posted by: peejay at March 15, 2004 09:34 AM | PERMALINK

Al Queda-type terrorists no doubt rejoice when they can throw some instability into Western political processes and affect the outcomes of elections. I don't think, however, that they really have a preference for one side or the other - they just go for the maximum impact.

These people are not political strategists - they are religious fanatics. You can't assign rational political motives to them.

Posted by: WVMCL at March 15, 2004 09:35 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/15/spain.election/index.html

"Zapatero pledged at the news conference to develop better ties with Morocco, even though three of the five men in custody as suspects in last week's bombings in Madrid are Moroccan, and investigators suspect that one of them, Jamal Zougam, has ties to the ringleader of al Qaeda in Spain. (Full story)

Asked if last week's attacks that killed 200 affected the election outcome, Zapatero said if the actions of terrorists can affect elections, that is not a victory for them. "

I guess Zapatero's position is that whether or not he benefits from terrorism, a win is a win. If he is really smart, he should invite more terrorists in. His next campaign slogan is, "Too many terrorists are already here, we must cooperate with them. You cannot vote for any other government".....


Posted by: Researcher at March 15, 2004 09:39 AM | PERMALINK

Al Qaeda wants to take out America. We are clearly the #1 target. If they can sway our allies then we are all alone. Spain was attacked mainly because they are a strong US ally. I suspect they will be rewarded by Al Qaeda with no more attacks -- for now.

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 09:40 AM | PERMALINK

Leave it to right wingers to presume cowardice whenever anyone votes the opposite of what they wish.

Let the Spaniards poll themselves about this over the next few days. For all we know, the Spanish people are against al Qaeda, thought Iraq had nothing to do with it, and "lost their nerve" mainly over the prior administration's competence in handling those issues, not to mention their credibility in spinning a security disaster.

It's not always 1938, and not every issue is Munich Redux.

Posted by: hueyplong at March 15, 2004 09:40 AM | PERMALINK

"The right wing arguments here only make sense if (1) the way Bush is conducting The War on Terra is the ONLY way to do it, and (2) there was an Iraq-al Qaeda link.

Both premises are, of course, wrong."

Let's take a look at the second "premise" that is "of course, wrong."

1) Abdul Rahman Yasin was the only member of the al Qaeda cell that detonated the 1993 World Trade Center bomb to remain at large through 2001. He fled to Iraq. U.S. forces recently discovered a cache of documents in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, that show that Iraq gave Mr. Yasin both a house and monthly salary.

2) In 1999 the Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that Farouk Hijazi, a senior officer in Iraq's mukhabarat, had journeyed deep into the icy mountains near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 1998 to meet with al Qaeda men. Mr. Hijazi is "thought to have offered bin Laden asylum in Iraq," the Guardian reported.

3) In October 2000, another Iraqi intelligence operative, Salah Suleiman, was arrested near the Afghan border by Pakistani authorities, according to Jane's Foreign Report, a respected international newsletter. Jane's reported that Suleiman was shuttling between Iraqi intelligence and Ayman al Zawahiri, now al Qaeda's No. 2 man.

http://www.techcentralstation.com/092503F.html

But, of course, these facts can be conveniently ignored, because we all know there was no link between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 09:45 AM | PERMALINK

"The goal of terrorism is to affect public opinion and to scare people into not opposing the terrorists' aims."

No--this is a tactic, not an aim. OBL's true aim is to bring down the pro-western Saudi regime and replace it with one more to his liking. And you know what? I doubt that many Americans really care who runs Saudi Arabia, as long as we are no longer dependent on Saudi oil.

Posted by: Christopher at March 15, 2004 09:47 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe they're really democrats, fighting for the little guy.

Gee, Mark, thanks for throwing up a strawman. So how exactly do you know what Spanish election results AQ really wanted? Got a connection in the organization?

Posted by: NTodd at March 15, 2004 09:49 AM | PERMALINK

THIS SAYS IT ALL (from yahoo news):

The head of the EU executive arm, European Commission chief Romano Prodi, agreed, in an interview published by Italy's La Stampa newspaper Monday.

"It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," Prodi said. "Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago," and all of Europe now feels threatened, he told the paper."

So what the Europeans are trying to say is they are willing to appease the terrorists. Wow.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 09:50 AM | PERMALINK

Reasercher you seem to be typical of the wingnut brigade posts at this blog championing the idea that Al Qeada intimidated the Spanish electorate.

Your self centered, US 1st, subornation of the Spanish elections to the policies and politics of this administration sickens me.

It was irresponsible of the Bush administration to have wasted the unity among nations after 9/11 by forcing an invasion of Iraq before bringing enough of the world onboard. We could be facing Al Qeada much more effectively as a united grouping under better US leadership if it weren't for the self inflicted wound of Iraq.

Much of Europe is well aware of this fact even if the apologists for our current administration are not.

That is why they voted Aznar out, that and his governments clumsy attempts to spin the attack as ETA inspired for political advantage. If GWB feels secure in his re-election strategery to talk up the Iraq WMD 9/11 nexus then he should heed what happened in Spain as a warning and start coming clean with the American public.

Not that any of this will change your fixed perspective I'm sure. Get an education kid.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 09:52 AM | PERMALINK

"1. We have no idea what the sick minds who lead al Queada want to happen - or at least I don't, since I cannot live in that madness."

I know what the Nazis wanted, I know what the Communists wanted (and still want), and I know what Al Qaeda wants.

Al Qaeda wants the entire world to be ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, according to Sharia Law.

I guess maybe it isn't so confusing after all...

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 09:53 AM | PERMALINK

Christopher:

"OBL's true aim is to bring down the pro-western Saudi regime and replace it with one more to his liking."

Yeah, that's why he blew up a chunk of Manhattan instead of a palace in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: tbrosz at March 15, 2004 09:54 AM | PERMALINK

Mark Bahner's post somehow forgot the current administration's ADMISSION that there is no credible evidence of any significant connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The crap he cites could link nearly ANY nation to al Qaeda. Wingnuts like to talk about how hard it is to find anything in such a large place as Iraq, and then want us to draw conclusions of "conspiracy" when a single al Qaeda type takes advantage of that same vastness to hide out in an area under no real control (and arguably more UN control than Saddam's control at the time).

Misleading to support a point kind of makes the other side's point.

Posted by: hueyplong at March 15, 2004 09:55 AM | PERMALINK

Re "Al Qaeda wants to take out America. " And I want to have sex with Pamla Anderson but I know it will never happen so I won't put all my eggs into the Pamela Anderson basket.

Brad's conclusion: that AQ won't attack Spain in the near future because they are after the US and have hit Spain hard enough for now - is ridiculous.

If we want to know AQ's motives and reasoning, then let's ask them. Let's have a national discussion about what AQ's beef is. Because, obviously, we don't know. Of course I do not favor appeasement in any way, but how can we intellectually discuss AQ's strategic thinking without knowing their motives?

Posted by: Teej at March 15, 2004 09:56 AM | PERMALINK

"the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists.""

I'm disappointed in Kevin's logic here..Does this mean that if Al-Qaeda attacks the NYC subways in October, but we still vote Bush out of office, that "the terrorists have accomplished their goal"? I think not. The election in Spain was not a lock for Aznar's party. Polls prior to the attacks were close to the margin of error. If anything, the attacks brought the issue of the Iraq war to the forefront again. If 90% of America was against a war, but the govt went anyway, would you be surprised if that govt was voted out of office next time?

I agree with the above posts that this line of thinking gives too much credence to Bush's linking of the Iraq invasion with the "War on Terror".

Terrorists are using the invasion of Iraq to further their goals as much as the Bush admin is doing the same. They may read this as a "victory" for themselves, but that kind of thinking should be treated with the same skepticism that we have for Bush's "mission accomplished" in Iraq.

Posted by: MarkinNC at March 15, 2004 09:58 AM | PERMALINK

At least in the short run, it doesn't really matter what was in the minds of the Spanish voters on Sunday. What matters is what Al Q was trying to accomplish, and whether in their minds they accomplished it. If they were trying to get Spain to elect the Socialists because they (whether rightly or wrongly) believed the Socialists would go easier on them, then Al Q right now believe they won at least a tactical victory, and we'll see more of this in the future.

Did they win a strategic victory? We will only know once we see the actions of the Socialist government (and no, I'm not equating the Iraq war with the war against Al Q -- I mean the government's actions with regard to Al Q).

Posted by: Don K at March 15, 2004 09:59 AM | PERMALINK

"TMorgan: I have no doubts that Al Qaida planned this attack...
The jury is still out on whether Al Qaida was even actually involved and you've got a lock on their motives. Nice work! Kevin's are tempered by evidence."

Mine are tempered by the evidence. ETA has never done a bombing like this. ETA tries not to kill innocents, gives warnings, unless they are targetting a specific person. Their worst civilian attack they /appologized/ for, a concept which is silly on its face, but still gives a look into their mindset. It makes no sense at all for ETA to do this at this time, while they still had tentative negotiation inroads with the government. Attacking random Spanish civilians would eliminate any remaing Spanish sympathy for the Basque independence cause. ETA would have taken credit for the bombing if they had done the bombing, otherwise there was no purpose to the bombing.

Al Qaida does do attacks like this - coordinated multiple bombs are a signature and almost unique to Al Qaida. We know they have been targetting countries assisting the US and sending troops into Arab and Islamic nations. We know that they intentionally target civilians, without remorse. Al Qaida does not care about Spanish sympathy, they are performing for the disenfranchised in Arab and Islamic countries. Al Qaida will kill Muslims, but claims that they were working for the foreign enemy.

The only reason to think that ETA did the bombing I've seen offered is because spanish explosives were used in the bombing, like with ETA bombings. Well, to quote kevin, DUH. If there are readily available explosives in spain, why wouldn't you try to use what was there already instead of trying to sneak explosives over the borders, providing clues as to Al Qaida's transport network? I would not even be surprised to find out that Al Qaida bought or stole a stockpile of ETA explosives, either.

I can't say(and haven't said) that I "know" al qaida or one of its franchises did the attack. But I have no doubts that this will be shown when the details are uncovered. I still have an open mind on it, I could easily be convinced that a new ETA leader has changed their mode of operation, or that Lester Mendoza the disgruntled ex-train conductor had a score to settle, but unless you can offer up a compelling alternative to the Al-Qaida-did-it scenario, I don't see why anyone should pretend Al Qaida isn't the most likely culprit by far.

Posted by: TMorgan at March 15, 2004 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

If Mark and Brad are to be believed, the Spanish electorate should have "appeased" Bush. Or not been allowed to vote at all.

It's awfully messy when your allies are democracies, in which a majority of the people can change a course they consider to be a failed one.

Again, how can it be true that Bush's way is the only way to fight al Qaeda? If all our strong-armed allies change their governments, who says that's a bad thing? Last I heard, Spain's new government was NOT made up of Islamic fundamentalists.

The wingnuts are whining about the fact that their way isn't working out so well and trying to paint any other way as al Qaeda's way, as opposed to merely a different way.

Watch for more of the same here. "We lied our way into Iraq? So what? Either go along with it or else you're in favor of al Qaeda."

That argument would demand support for ANYTHING Bush does, no matter how stupid.

Posted by: hueyplong at March 15, 2004 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Gee, Mark, thanks for throwing up a strawman. So how exactly do you know what Spanish election results AQ really wanted? Got a connection in the organization?"

No, NTodd, I can guess that the Spanish election results were what AQ wanted, because I can actually use my brain. (Unlike others.)

I know that:

1) Al Qaeda wants all foreign troops out of Iraq (so that civil war/anarchy can be achieved, possibly followed by a repressive religious theocracy),

2) The Socialists have committed to pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq, and

3) The Spanish troops are in Iraq because of Aznar.

This ain't rocket science. It's pretty simple deduction from known facts.

Al Qaeda wanted Spanish troops out of Iraq. It looks like they'll achieve their goal.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

re (2): Ok, but what is the electorate to do? Vote back in the very government that gave them Iraq, notwithstanding a 90% disapproval of the war? The ballot box comes around only so often. al-Qaeda knows this as well as anyone and their timing was exquisite. The Spanish people have a brain ('reflect POORLY on the Spanish electorate...'???) and they have spoken, mustering the single most potent voice they have: the vote. Blair, Bush and Howard here in Australia might yet have Iraq bite them on the bum the same way, though mercifully minus the bombings.

Posted by: jb at March 15, 2004 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Brad's conclusion: that AQ won't attack Spain in the near future because they are after the US and have hit Spain hard enough for now - is ridiculous."

Teej,

That wasn't my conclusion dumbarse. They probably won't hit Spain for a while because they got what they wanted out of Spain, which is getting rid of the Pro-US regime. They won't attack Spain again until they want something from them and I'm speculating that for now they got what they wanted. They attacked Spain for their support of the US and it would be counterproductive if they attacked them again once they already had what they wanted.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Mark Bahner's post somehow forgot the current administration's ADMISSION that there is no credible evidence of any significant connection between Iraq and al Qaeda."

I challenge you to provide the Administration "ADMISSION" of that "fact."

The Adminstration HAS, as far as I know, stated that they have no evidence connecting Iraq and 9/11.

There is substantial evidence of the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, starting with Saddam's protection of (in fact PAYMENT of) a key participant in the 1993 WTC bombing.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

"If Mark and Brad are to be believed, the Spanish electorate should have "appeased" Bush. Or not been allowed to vote at all."

The fact is they were going to vote for the Conservative party until they were attacked. That is what the people wanted and then they changed their mind after they were attacked. All I'm saying is that if they changed their mind simply because of Iraq they are short-sighted. Al Qaeda attacked them for many other reasons including the fact that they are a US ally, they supported us in Afghanistan, and they used to be a Muslim country. It said in one of the Al Qaeda tapes that they had "old scores" to settle with Spain and clearly Iraq doesn't fall into that category.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

1. Bush does something stupid (invading Iraq, which posed no threat to the US), instead of concentrating on al Qaeda.

2. al Qaeda (along with most of the rest of the world) wants Western troops out of Iraq. Mark's right about that one.

3. al Qaeda wants Iraqis to support them. They weren't getting anywhere with that one before, but in the chaos of post-invasion Iraq, they get to recruit there and attack Westerners there as part of the overall goal of an east-west jihad and a middle east full of anti-western theorcracies that share their views. In other words, they opportunistically make hay out of Bush's blunder.

4. Mark concludes that we should support Bush's known-in-hindsight mistake and encourage more of the same, because otherwise you're supporting al Qaeda. In other words, keep on the wrong path.

That's using your brain, all right.

Posted by: hueyplong at March 15, 2004 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"re (2): Ok, but what is the electorate to do? Vote back in the very government that gave them Iraq, notwithstanding a 90% disapproval of the war?"

Well, that's exactly what they intended to do before the attack. Clearly the war in Iraq wasn't that big of a deal until they got scared. It'll probably help them in the short run but it will not help the US or any of our allies.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

One thought that occurred to me right after the Madrid bombing was that maybe this was a test (by Al-Q, or whoever pulls their strings) to see what the impact would be of an attack, right before an election. I don't think it necessarily proves much as far as the US is concerned as far as what our response would be, the WOT and the Iraq war being a bit more popular here than they were in Spain.

It's interesting that my Republican friends think that the political consquences of another terrorist attack on the US will be a plus for the Democrats in the election and my Democrat friends feel just the opposite. All I know is that I hope it doesn't happen.

One thing it does prove,BTW, is that Al-Q can pull off a devastating attack in a Western country, prior to an election, without our intelligence people knowing a damn thing about it. That is a very bad thing.

Posted by: It's all bad. at March 15, 2004 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Spanish lost 11 people in Iraq to free 25 million and they still think the war in Iraq and occupation was a disaster.

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure other people have said this but, by Kevin Drum's logic:

Say I'm an independent and uncertain about whether to vote for Bush in November. Say there's another terrorist attack in October and the terrorists announce that they want Bush out of office, and his policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world reversed. Must I now vote for Bush? Say I'm a liberal and already want all the things the terrorists just said they wanted. Must I now vote for Bush? Say I mildly felt many of those things the terrorists want to be true, but was more fixated on domestic issues (as many Spaniards were)--must I blindly remain fixated on old domestic issues despite the new evidence that the Iraq war is radically changing domestic security?

A terrorist "victory" stinks, but in this case the alternative seems worse, and an election is all about choosing the less worse alternative.

Posted by: Nick at March 15, 2004 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I don't agree with your premise that:

"Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists"

In Europe, many believe that the Iraq war is promoting terrorism and that the real danger, namely Al Qaeda, is again being ignored.

Using this logic people like Bush, Blair, and Aznar are not only viewed as ineffective leaders, but as leaders that are making a difficult problem WORSE.

Why more people don't view Bush, Blair, and Aznar as ineffective is what I'd like to know. In the case of 3-11 they were caught unaware, in the case of 9-11 they ignored good advice, in the case of Iraq they have made a mess, in the "war on terrorism" they have misunderestimated their enemy.

I, for one, can't wait until America is run by adults again.

Posted by: Maurice J Dubreuil at March 15, 2004 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

European View on Fighting Terror

From the head of the EU executive arm, European Commission chief Romano Prodi: "It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," Prodi said. "Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago," and all of Europe now feels threatened, he told the paper."

Is this how you Democrats feel too?

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by Mark Bahner,

1) Al Qaeda wants all foreign troops out of Iraq (so that civil war/anarchy can be achieved, possibly followed by a repressive religious theocracy),

I think we are doing a pretty credible job on Al Qeada's behalf then by removing Saddam as far as the Civil war/anarchy and repressive religious theocracy part.
After all Saddam was nicely holding that part in check until GWB turned up.

2) The Socialists have committed to pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq, and

Correction, they will pull out if no UN mandate suplants the current US occupation. God for them.

Nuance I know you guys don't do it, doesn't make it less factual or relevant though.

3) The Spanish troops are in Iraq because of Aznar.

Correct and the crux of the matter.

Al Qaeda wanted Spanish troops out of Iraq. It looks like they'll achieve their goal.

I would propose contrary to conventional wingnut theory that Al Qeada most probably welcome GWB's adventure in Iraq. Maybe he should send troops to Gaza next, or make an ostentatious show of increasing readiness on the DMZ in Korea, perhaps increasing support of Taiwan independance should be tried.

After all we do have 2 oceans, the TSA and homeland security and our soon to be instaled ABM system protecting our lilly whites don't we ?

If we don't force this unstable regime from office come november there will be hell to pay, mark my words.


Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Leave it to right wingers to presume cowardice whenever anyone votes the opposite of what they wish.

That's basically it. Rightwingers didn't get their way, so they're going to whine and whine and whine. It's always somebody else's fault for them.

Posted by: Will G. at March 15, 2004 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

The idea that Aznar was dishonest is a rumor. There is evidence for it but no proof. The opposition will form a government and are in a position to hold an inquiry, reveal the truth and punish Aznar accordingly. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, it is strong evidence that the rumor was false.

Regardless of whether or not the rumor is true or false, Al-Qaeda will have achieved its stated objective. To punish the West for "your actions in Iraq and Afghanistan". Terror has won. It has at the very least swung the election and got troops out of Iraq. Iraq may be wrong but it certainly wasn't the primary issue in polls prior to 3/11.

The average Spanish voter may not view it as appeasement. The average Al-Qaeda symphatiser will view it as appeasment.

Based on the success in Madrid, terror can theoretically influence the US election. They just need to "nuance" their message to get the support of the left. I can think of 3 possible strategies:

1. For example, they bomb New York again. Then send a message, "We have bombed New York to show your government has lied to you. We are strong and you are not safe. Withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and you will be safe in your own border".

2. They could attack the Supreme Court. They could send a message, "We have punished the infidels who awarded Bush the Presidency, we have no quarrel with peaceful Americans and act only in self-defense"

3. They could poison the water supply or use a bacteria bomb. Then say, "We have done this so your country feels the pain and suffering your economic crusade inflicts on Muslim children. Your lives lost are a fraction of the deaths we suffer from Western exploitation and negelect."

Any one of these messages, would sell to the left the same way the "Aznar cover-up" story sold.

Posted by: Researcher at March 15, 2004 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Why more people don't view Bush, Blair, and Aznar as ineffective is what I'd like to know. In the case of 3-11 they were caught unaware, in the case of 9-11 they ignored good advice, in the case of Iraq they have made a mess, in the "war on terrorism" they have misunderestimated their enemy."

Anyone who believes you can stop every terrorist attack is ignorant. There have been a ton of terrorists caught in the past few years and there's no way to tell how many attacks that prevented.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

If the White House declared ignorance on the matter of whether the moon was made of green cheese, Mark Bahner would be telling the whole world the moon IS made of green cheese.

Posted by: marky at March 15, 2004 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Saddam was nicely holding that part in check until GWB turned up."

Wow, you've got to be joking, right?

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

The biggest terrorist "win" to-date has been the trashing of the US Constitution with the PATRIOT ACT and holding people without accusation or representation, followed closely by the invasion of Iraq; repeated non-sensical color coded alerts; Guantanimo;....what's that you say, those are all the actions of the Bush. mmmmm imagine that?

Posted by: gak at March 15, 2004 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Saddam was nicely holding that part in check until GWB turned up."

Wow, you've got to be joking, right?

-Brad

Posted by Brad at March 15, 2004 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Perfectly serrious, it's part of the realpolitic answer why GHWB left Sadam in power.

Your observations ?

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Could much of this debate be solved by the Spanish equivalent of Zogby (Don Zogby)? Will there be a poll of what actually guided voters' decision-making?

Posted by: Hubris at March 15, 2004 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

seems everyone forgot to mention that it was Bush that "appeased" OBL with his number 1 complaint 'get US troops out of Saudi Arabia'. BIG, BIG win for OBL.

Posted by: gak at March 15, 2004 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

This entire argument is silly...Aznar wasn't even on the ballot...its is the same as people voting for Clinton who didn't like his hand-picked successor Algore.
This has much more to do with European politics than the war on terrorism. If the new Spainish prime minister wants to remove his 1300 troops in June, who were allready scheduled to leave in July
then so be it...Of course he says if the UN passes another resolution, the troops will stay.....Hmmmmmm.....

NOW IS IT WORTH DOING OR ISN'T IT?

iTS EITHER THE RIGHT THING TO DO WITH THE UN OR WITHOUT THE UN...THE UN DOES NOT CHANGE THE
RIGHTNESS OR WRONGNES OF LIBERATING A PEOPLE
OR ALLOW THEM TO CONTINUE TO SUFFER AND DIE.

Posted by: kesier at March 15, 2004 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Brad,

OK, I got your conclusion wrong, sorry. But my point remains that these speculations hold no water whatsoever. Your speculation that "for now they got what they wanted" has what evidence to back it up? All I am asking is why do we all make such sweeping speculations about AQ's actions when we really don't know what is motivating them nor what they really want? And the only thing we know for sure about AQ's strategy is this: Hit western interests whenever and however possible. That's it.

Posted by: Teej at March 15, 2004 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Just think how much safer Spain might have been if they could have used the money they spent in Iraq to buy machines that detect explosives to put by the rail line entrances

they are properly reallocating their resources to the real target --not something that exists in Cowboy George's mind

Posted by: edie at March 15, 2004 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Perfectly serrious, it's part of the realpolitic answer why GHWB left Sadam in power.

Your observations?"

That was the argument our allies made in 1992 and to get their support Bush I had to agree to leave Saddam in power. Was it the right choice? I don't think so. Many more Iraqi's suffered for the next ten years as Saddam syphoned (sp?) money from the oil for food program. We also gave time for Saddam to possibly transfer some of his weapon's techonologies to other countries. Of course, we don't know if he did such a thing but it could have happened. After all, where are those weapons that we knew he had? Something happened to them and I highly doubt they were destroyed. Then there were all those anti-Saddam supporters who got massacred because we agreed to let Saddam walk which ultimately built up animosity for the US.

The funny thing is I heard many liberals criticize Bush I for not finishing the job, but it was exactly what we had to do to get popular support for the war.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

"But my point remains that these speculations hold no water whatsoever. Your speculation that "for now they got what they wanted" has what evidence to back it up? All I am asking is why do we all make such sweeping speculations about AQ's actions when we really don't know what is motivating them nor what they really want?"

Teej,

We know what they want -- at the very least they want control over the Islamic world controlled by them and their rules, and at the worst they want the world to be an Islamic world controlled by them. Do we really need to have a therapy session to find their motives each time they attack us? Of course understanding them is a key to defeating them, but I believe most people who suggest such a thing want to understand Al Qaeda so we can give them what they want and get them to stop attacking us -- appeasement.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who believes you can't stop every terrorist attack is ignorant. They are probably unpatriotic too.

Posted by: Maurice J Dubreuil at March 15, 2004 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

"Just think how much safer Spain might have been if they could have used the money they spent in Iraq to buy machines that detect explosives to put by the rail line entrances."

For the price of sending 1300 troops to Iraq for a year they couldn't have bought jack. Do you know how expensive it is to protect the train stations? It's MUCH more expensive than protecting the airlines because there are so many more passengers.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Brad, we're already pretty much alone, thanks to Bush, not al-Quaeda. We're alone because we don't, thanks to Bush, support Democracy beyond Bush's narrow self interests, as evidenced by his shameful behaviors towards Venezuela and Haiti. We're alone because Bush lied constantly in the run-up to the PNAC inspired mal-adventure in Iraq, his shallowness and his peevishness.

We're alone because BushCo lacks humanity, puts people like Eliot Abrahms and Ralph Noriega and John Negroponte in positions of influence in foreign policy relations, and has a demonstrably unprincipled Secretary of State completely lacking in the moral integrity to repudiate the lies he's been spouting, in part to protect the position of his ignorant and pliant son in government.

We're alone because Bush seems to have lost himself in his appointed role as Ah Shucks Cowboy President, and he's getting lots of innocent people killed in places like Israel/Palestine/Afghanistan/Iraq/Haiti/Liberia through neglect, relgious fervor, politics over policy, etc.

Do you think that his failure to follow through on his AIDS funding policy speeches, by properly funding AIDS research and treatments in Sub Saharan Africa is un-noticed or making us any friends?

Do you think his neglect of the Palestine problem at the beginning of his reign, his carte blanch to Sharon, has improved the situation? Do you think his neglect, nay, his torpedoing of the North Korea talks at the beginning of his term has made that situation better?

The world was with us on Sept 11, 2001. They aren't now. Why do you think that is? Al-Queda, the "master" spinmeisters? Or US policy and actions?

Posted by: Duckman GR at March 15, 2004 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

This morning on the radio, an op ed presented this analogy for Spanish elections:

If you reward crime, you get more crime.

I'd respond with the following counter-analogy:

If you ignore crime, you get more crime.

Aznar essentially tied his political capital to the idea that working with the US in Iraq would make Spain safer in the long run. If the opposite is true, then it's not a bad thing to take a different approach. For example invading countries that are actively sponsoring terrorism, rather than those who don't. Or working politically to stop money from flowing to terrorist organizations from sponsor nations.

We needed to get Afganistan right, so that Al Quada would never come back there. That fell to the wayside in the rush to Iraq. We also needed to get tough on the Saudis to stop them from supporting terrorism outright, and that too has failed because we needed their support in Iraq.

Terrorism can and should have an effect on politics. And I have no problem with the effect being that people who refuse to or fail to fight it getting voted out in favor of people with the will to oppose it.

Posted by: Michael McLawhorn at March 15, 2004 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Bomb sniffing dogs aren't that expensive and
would have done more for Spanish homeland safety than participating in the Iraq war which was neither timely or effective against terror.
And completely unnecessary for immediate issues.

Posted by: edie at March 15, 2004 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think there should be a #4. The bombings awakened the populace, causing a surge of voters to the polls. People who usually didn't vote probably voted in the election. Those people were probably more inclined to vote for the socialists anyway, but wouldn't have in most circumstances because they probably think that nothing would change, or that there's no real difference between the two parties. However, the bombings woke them up, so they voted.

Posted by: dawn at March 15, 2004 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Duckman, you make some good points although I don't agree with all of them. I think the Iraq war did alienate some of our supporters, but in the end I hope we will all be united to fight terror. Time will only tell. I'm out.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The victory for the terrorists occurred when their bombs successfully detonated in Madrid. Terrorists want to bomb the west regardless of who is in power. If some of the Bush defenders actually believe that a Kerry success would mean the United States would totally capitulate to Islamic terrorists --- well really, that's just insane, there is no way to counter an argument that is so ridiculous on its face.

The Democrats don't want to run from the "War On Terror", they just want to fight it in a way that actually makes sense. The Bush administration used the terrorist attack here to go after someone who had nothing to do with that attack. As a result, the actual perpetrators are still out there, able to pull off another attack without our intelligence finding out anything about it.

I'm just staggered by the idea that a display of democracy in action is being painted as the toppling of a government by terrorists. How incredibly insulting to the Spanish people.

Posted by: maurinsky at March 15, 2004 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Dawn on a #4...how many millions of ordinary everyday Spaniards came together en masse and marched in protest of the assault on their country..easy to persuade such masses that change now can't be worse than the status quo...

..though my first thought as a Spanish voter would be to punish the conservatives for failure to prevent the bombings...

Posted by: jry9onebay at March 15, 2004 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

'"OBL's true aim is to bring down the pro-western Saudi regime and replace it with one more to his liking."

Yeah, that's why he blew up a chunk of Manhattan instead of a palace in Saudi Arabia.'

Absolutely. Why do you think we pulled our troops from Saudi Arabia? For many Islamic fundamentalists, there's no difference between the corrupt materialists running the American financial system and those profiting from Saudi oil wells.

In fact, this is one of the neo-conservatives' favorite arguments in favor of Saudi regime change. The Saudis are "bad guys," and as long as we're associated with such a rotten lot, we'll continue to suffer the ill effects.

OBL is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Solving that problem means a lot of powerful people losing a lot of money, so we focus instead on the symptoms.

Posted by: Christopher at March 15, 2004 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The world was with us on Sept 11, 2001. They aren't now. Why do you think that is? Al-Queda, the "master" spinmeisters? Or US policy and actions?

Posted by Duckman GR at March 15, 2004 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I think you slayed that beast pretty effectively, thankyou.

Not that Brad or reasearcher or their ilk will pay a damn bit of notice of a logical thought process that doesn't bow before the great untruth of Iraq/WMD/Al Qeada, but we have to try, for the sake of the country.

Regards.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Here's Kerry today in the NYTimes:

"I don't fault George Bush for doing too much in the war on terror, as some do," Mr. Kerry said. "I believe that he's done too little and done some things that he didn't have to. When the focus of the war on terror was appropriately in Afghanistan and on breaking Al Qaeda, President Bush shifted his focus to Iraq and to Saddam Hussein.

"He pushed away our allies at a time when we needed them the most. He hasn't pursued a strategy to win the hearts and minds of people around the world, and win the war of ideas against the radical ideology of Osama bin Laden."

And he's just pushed another ally away.

BTW, that doesn't sound like Kerry's going to be weak on terror. So, honestly, is there any reason left to vote for Bush? I didn't think so.

Posted by: peejay at March 15, 2004 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Hello Kevin,

First, let me say I read and respect your writings very much.

But I can't seem to follow you on this one.

While terror is political in nature, I can't seem to fathom that aQ would do anything differently, or think anything differently based on Madrid reaction. They need no more reason - in their own stated mission; fatwa- to keep doing what they always have done.

It is analagous to saying that because the 9/11 attacks prompted the US into spending billions on Homeland Security, aQ had a 'victory' because we responded to terror.

What plays directly into their hands is the fostered perception that they have overiding influence on government policy and public opinion.

That infers we are a bunch of rubes, doesn't it?

I'm not trying to be sarcastic here. IMO, if aQ drives the strategy, and if the timing in regards to the elections were tactically important , then it would be more likely that it was based on the heightened disruption, chaos, and confusion it would bring.

aQ thinks only themselves worthy. I don't think they care at all who is in power, if it is not themselves.

Posted by: worldwise at March 15, 2004 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

OK, Brad, you are saying: The reason that radical islamists are blowing up western civilians is because they want control over the Islamic world.

Well no shit they want control over their part of the world. But that is hardly the reason they are blowing up western civilians.

Maybe, just maybe, their beef is that the western world is trying to control the islamic world from the outside. If some islamists came and tore up the US Constitution and started ruling me by their laws, I would go and attack the islamists too. You are ignoring a lot of critical factors here Brad.

But again Brad, I don't know their motives, and I'd like to know exactly. And you believe that people like me just want to know AQ's motives so that we can give them what they want. Well, yeah, dumbarse - after they are punished for their crimes and as long as what they want is reasonable. You are telling me that having control over their part of the world is unreasonable - why is that? Sure we both disagree with their ways, but we can't just take a rifle and go force them to change their religion and customs.

But apparently you are you one of those tough guys who thinks that might always makes right - am I correct?

Posted by: Teej at March 15, 2004 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

The goal of terrorism is to affect public opinion and to scare people into not opposing the terrorists' aims.

Read your Lennin man, the goal of terrorism is to prod a repressive power into further repressive acts thereby further alienating the people and making them side with the terrorists goals.

Bush has already reacted EXACTLY as the terrorists wished him to. The Spanish socialists, having obviously paid attention to old Vladimir, are refusing to play into the terrorists hands.

Option 2 is a slight victory for the good guys and something of a wash for the terrorists.

Posted by: Tuttle at March 15, 2004 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

From Atrios (http://www.dailykos.com/):

"So, did the terrorists "win"?
No more so than Osama Bin Laden "won" when the US pulled out of Saudi Arabia -- a key demand of Al Qaeda.

Fact is, Spain was taking casualties -- in Iraq and at home -- for a war in which it had no reason to be involved. Bush lied to get his war, and Spain's Aznar was a willing and eager accomplice. The Spanish people opposed the war and their nation's involvement in it, and spoke the way true Democracies speak -- via the ballot box.

The system worked. Democracy won. Spain won."

Posted by: Teej at March 15, 2004 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.haloscan.com/comments.php?user=atrios&comment=107937658703451781

This is the kind of mindless Bush-hatred that Atrios fosters that gets the debate nowhere. Also I want to know from John Fu**ken Kerry what world leaders he talked to and when?

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

John Fukken Kerry is such an assclown, I can't imagine him being elected. If he is elected, I'm leaving this country immediately!

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

The fact is they were going to vote for the Conservative party until they were attacked.

Like much of what you're trying to pass as "fact," this also misreads reality. Polls clearly showed a sharp erosion of support for the conservative party in the weeks leading to the election before the bombing. Even without the bombing the trend lines looked good for the Socialists. In fact a) the bombing didn't occur until after the PP had lost most, if not all of their lead to the socialists and b) a very small percentage of the Spanish population changed their votes based on the bombings but rather the election was swayed more so by large numbers of people who previously hadn't planned on voting that were inspired to vote after Anzar tried to pin the blame on the ETA.

Posted by: Thumb at March 15, 2004 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

We can't even perfectly divine the motives of the American electorate, much less those of the Spanish. Yes, the Socialists were behind in the polls until right before the attack, but not by all that much, I had thought. I think Spain was headed for a relatively close election no matter what.

I suspect the voters who gave the election to the Socialists were varied in their makeup. Some (probably most) always vote Socialist, no matter what, because the agree with the party's economic policies. Some were perhaps inclined to support the Socialists because of the party's opposition to Spain's involvement in the Iraq War. And, some, perhaps, may have even changed their vote at the last minute (post-attack) because they strongly suspected al-Qaeda, and were upset with the government's initial insistence that ETA was behind the attack (thus ironically it may be that it was pissed-off conservatives and moderates who tipped the scales in favor of the Socialists).

In any event, what cannot be concluded definitively is that that the unpopularity of Spain's contribution to the Iraq project is what defeated Aznar's party. It's just that it's being spun that way (with unfortunate possible consequences for the U.S.).

Posted by: P. B. Almeida at March 15, 2004 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Gunslinger

John Fukken Kerry is such an assclown, I can't imagine him being elected. If he is elected, I'm leaving this country immediately!

Sounds like we wil be well rid off you, perhaps you could pop over to Europe, sort of roving ambassador without portfolio, I'm sure they are willing to hear your diatribe about the Buh centric universe. I bet Texas is as far as he gets.


Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Aznar was thrown out because (1) his policies made Spain more exposed to a terror attack, and (2) he or his government failed to take steps to protect Spain from such an attack.

Posted by: Annie at March 15, 2004 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

If Aznar failed to protect his people from terror, how is his defeat a victory for terrorists?

If Aznar was in denial about AQ's involvement, how is his defeat a victory for terrorists?

Since Aznar abused his power to obscure AQ's involvment, how is his defeat a victory for terrorists?

If Aznar's lead had dissapeared by the time of the attacks, how is his defeat a victory for terrorists?

Good work, Thumb. I've noticed the same ignorance all over right blogistan today: they know what the results mean, but they don't know a thing about what happened in Spain. Just keep filling in what they have to leave out...

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Annie: a third possibility:
http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=22856

political use of a tragedy actually had consequences for once, I guess

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Almeida:
Aznar's use of state media to pin the blame on ETA seems to have depressed his bloc's turnout, while energizing his opponent's supporters.

Aznar's lead was

As unpopular as Iraq is in Spain, it clearly wasn't the only issue. Opposition to the war ran at about 9-in-ten, while the parties were split evenly.

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, politely, is there a fourth possibility? Or perhaps a subset of possibility number two?

Namely, that having decided support for the Iraq war put Spaniards in Al-Qaeda's sights, and deciding that they did not like being targeted by terrorists, Spaniards voted out someone who they believed had weakened their security by putting them in that position? Thus, in their own way, trying to make themselves stronger? I don't think that's a victory for terrorists, I think it's a decision to stay the hell out of a fight that doesn't concern them, or didn't before the Great Iraq Adventure.

I don't think there's any need to see this as a victory for the terrorists in any way. If they believe it is, well, there's really nothing anyone can do to convince them otherwise. But I believe the Spanish people voted the way they did because of how they felt, not because they handicapped how Al Qaeda would take it.

A.

Posted by: Athenae at March 15, 2004 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

whoops, haloscan thought I was adding tags

should've been
Aznar's lead was less than the margin of error eight days before the election, and he had been trending sharply downwards for some time.

What I have seen (one example: link above) confirms whatever Thumb's been reading: that Aznar's bungling of the bombing brought people to the polls who hadn't planned on voting.

The whole notion that Spain voted socialist to appease terrorists is revolting, but here in the US we've seen the right use the terror threat this way for some time (Bush's defeat is bin Laden's victory is only the latest example).

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Yes, the Socialists were behind in the polls until right before the attack, but not by all that much"

Correct , and the lead the PP had had been narrowing all through this year. Checking out the media stories on the election since jan you can see this

BBC on the 19th jan -
"opinion polls indicate his Popular Party will comfortably win another term in government"

BBC on the 27th feb -
"Polls suggest the Popular Party will stay as the biggest party, but may lose its parliamentary majority."

Guardian on the 5th march -
"Support for the Spanish People's party government is ebbing away as concern about terrorism and separatism dominates the general election campaign, according to opinion polls published yesterday. "

Obviously the bombing and the aftermath had an effect but possible not as big as some people think.

Posted by: kenny at March 15, 2004 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Terrorists can affect elections."

Very true. After all, look how Bush stole the election from Al Gore.

Posted by: Malcs at March 15, 2004 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Maybe, just maybe, their beef is that the western world is trying to control the islamic world from the outside. If some islamists came and tore up the US Constitution and started ruling me by their laws, I would go and attack the islamists too. You are ignoring a lot of critical factors here Brad."

I'd say the US has been a much better influence on the Middle East than any other group including the people in the Middle East. If it wasn't for the US Saudi Arabia wouldn't even know they were sitting on top of all that oil -- remember we helped them find it. If it wasn't for the US Kuwait and possibly Saudi Arabia would be under control of Saddam Hussein. Besides, it's not like any of these Middle Eastern dictatorships have a constitution to follow anyway.

I'm sorry you can't figure out Al Qaeda's goals but to me they seem pretty clear.

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's odd that both Kevin and right blogistan talk about this election as if there were one mind being made up or being changed by events. Electorates are not so simple, and those polled are not exactly the same as those voting.

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

"At some point people are going to have to address the real roots of terrorism, and when that happens some serious actions will follow. But, that is not going to happen under the "7 Sins Admin" of George W Bush, or his stupid non-Coalition, whose purpose in life is to loot the coffers of the world for the Oligarchs of the Corporate world."

And the root causes are ? The loss of the Caliphate with the Turkish defeat in WWI ? That's what OBL thinks the root causes are.

"The Arab culture has no respect for democratic procedures or sentiment. They understand only force and the shame-honor traditions of primtive cultures.


You can always tell the utterly clueless in discussions of the Mid East by their sweeping generalizations about how Arabs only understand force. You know--unlike Republicans."

And your source is ? Have you read Fouad Ajami or Bernard Lewis or David Pryce-Jones ? I thought not. Maybe you should do a little reading. Or name the Arab democracy.

"Bomb sniffing dogs aren't that expensive and
would have done more for Spanish homeland safety than participating in the Iraq war which was neither timely or effective against terror.
And completely unnecessary for immediate issues."

How do you think they found the other caches of explosive ? They had identified vans with bombs in them during the weeks before the election. That's one reason why they suspected ETA at first. They had the explosive chemical signature and it seemed to match ETA. The first inkling that it could be al qeada was the cellphone in the unexploded bomb and the van with the Koranic verses on tape.

Those of you who complain about the Patriot Act, or the POWs held in Guantanamo, don't realize how much you benefit from the precautions we have taken. The Moroccan they are now holding was arrested two years ago but released. There are terrorists all over Europe who cannot be held based on civilian legal procedures. They just released a guy probably involved in 9-11 in Germany.


Posted by: Mike K at March 15, 2004 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say the US has been a much better influence on the Middle East than any other group including the people in the Middle East.
I'm sorry al-Quaeda can't figure out your version of our goals, but to me they seem pretty clearly oversimplified.

If not for the US, Iran would have been a democracy in the mid 1950s...

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Political Wire has an interesting quote from Spain's new prime minister... he came out in support of John Kerry!

See Kerry Dogged By Remark On Foreign Leaders

Two other pieces you need to read on Political Wire:

Early Campaign Rattles Bush Family

How's That For Rapid Response?

Posted by: Frank Li at March 15, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The actual causes of terror in that region are the superpowers of the Cold War. We trained these people and their predecessors, we made Afghanistan into a petri dish for terror, and were happy to do it.

The continuing support for terror is more simple: govt.'s in the region can prop themselves up, no matter how odious, by pointing to the US and Israel. It's not much different from how Latin American dictatorships used us.

Since the Cold War is over, however, we no longer need Israel to tie up so many Soviet resources, and our continuing lockstep with the Likud is, I guess, just an old habit.

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

If it wasn't for the US Kuwait and possibly Saudi Arabia would be under control of Saddam Hussein.

If it wasn't for the US Iran would still be a democracy and Saddam would never have been installed in the first place.

Smarter monkeys please.

Posted by: Thumb at March 15, 2004 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Whoops! Forgot to mention Egypt's "Greenshirts," organized by the Italians and Germans during WWII. Plenty of blame to go around, folks!

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

even more cya: I was talking about the Islamic world. I have only the barest notion of what fuels terrorism in Sri Lanka, etc., which is even bloodier than the Middle East.

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

[quote]would be a victory for al-Qaeda. Sorry, I thought that was obvious.[/quote]

Sorry, your analysis is moronic.

People are choosing to *do something* because what you are doing has nothing to do with combating terrorism and everything to do with black gold.

Posted by: peter at March 15, 2004 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

So Al Qaeda's bombs were able to change people's votes. Al Qaeda has got to be pretty pleased with that. Terrorism as a method to change the outcomes of elections in democratic countries. They've gotta love that.

Hold on there. Aren't you one of the same crowd that keeps saying 9/11 "changed everything" -- whenever someone mentions, say, civil rights, habeas corpus, or due process? It's pretty rich for the folks who went into non-stop "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" hysteria then, and used every ounce of it to win the 2002 elections, to be complaining now about terrorism changing votes.

Posted by: Canadian Reader at March 15, 2004 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Brad

I'm sorry you can't figure out Al Qaeda's goals but to me they seem pretty clear.

Well that's one advantage of a closed mind, doesn't help debate though which is why you would be more conservative sharing spittle at a conservative blog I'm sure.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

why you would be more happy sharing spittle at a conservative blog I'm sure.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Woo Hoo!
Last Post!

Posted by: craigie at March 15, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

More proof that terror is perceived to have had just won one. They've inflicted economic damage. I quote "Security fears are the overriding factor weighing on sentiment right now," Paul Cherney, chief market analyst at Standard & Poor's. "If al Qaeda was involved, it appears they were able to heavily influence the election in Spain. The markets were very susceptible to bad headlines and they still are."

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=568&ncid=749&e=1&u=/nm/20040315/bs_nm/markets_stocks_dc

I have thought of a way in which Spain/Nato could react intelligently. They could pull out of Iraq
then send Spanish or Nato troops to Afghanistan. This would fulfil their election promise and not reward Al-Qaeda. If not, they would have to follow up on the funding of the attack and retaliate in some way. Anything else means Spain has been successfully deterred from action by terrorist attack.

One question I have is why Kerry isn't commenting on the election results? I suspect he is trying to straddle the situation. He wants the votes of those who agree that terror attacks are the fault of the Bush government and he wants to look patriotic. I see no comments on the election results in his press room.

http://johnkerry.com/pressroom/releases/index.html

Alternatively, he is setting himself up to benefit from a terrorist attack by reiterating the "Bush underspent on domestic security" line using surrogates. Evidence for this:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20040314/ts_alt_afp/us_vote_iraq_dean_040314210941

http://johnkerry.com/pressroom/releases/pr_2004_0315.html

Posted by: Researcher at March 15, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I have found one piece of evidence that
Aznar did try and spin the investigation.

http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2514441

"This came as one of Spain’s leading newspapers, El País, revealed a memo that it said the foreign minister, Ana Palacio, had sent to Spain’s diplomats. In it, she instructed them to “use any opportunity” to blame ETA for the attacks, “thus helping to dissipate any type of doubt that certain interested parties may want to promote.”

Posted by: Researcher at March 15, 2004 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Just like to say to our Spanish visitors, please try to understand our heartless debate over your loss.

We're pretty sensitised to politcal events over here, and we've seen so much death and so many lies in our name, sometimes we leap past the reality of the horrors in hopes of stopping them.

Peace.

Posted by: perpwalk at March 15, 2004 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Kevin, but your analysis is somewhat off the mark on this one.

Al-Qaeda scored its victory when Bush & Co., Ltd. charged headlong into Iraq under false pretenses, thereby inflaming public opinion worldwide against the United States and any allied country foolish enough to hitch a ride on the Bush war wagon.

The tide will turn against al-Qaeda once the punch-drunk American people sober up from their pummelling at the hands of the Bush Bullshit Spin Machine, and summarily toss out on his ear the president whose arrogant dick-swinging ways alienate world opinion -- thus playing right into the hands of anarchists and malcontents.

This election is first and foremost a glorious victory for the people of Spain, and by extension for their King, Juan Carlos.

In history, it is the rarest of individuals who voluntarily divests himself of such absolute control and power. Juan Carlos' inherent faith in his own people led him to dismantle the absolute monarchy left him by Gen. Francisco Franco. He then forcibly protected the nacent Spanish democracy when Franco's Falangist Party allies sought to overthrow his government by coup d'etat.

The King's faith was well-placed. The Spanish people have shown the world that democracy does work, giving the opportunity. Turnout was well over 80%.

Perhaps His Majesty could tell our "war president" -- and the U.S. Supreme Court justices who installed him -- a thing or two on that subject.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii at March 15, 2004 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

In what capacity could Kerry legitimately comment on the election results? I think Kerry's speech deals with some of the same issues without specifically mentioning Spain, i.e., that phony wars won't make us safer, and that the clock is "ticking."

Those who want to paint Spain's decision as capitulation (by ignoring what's actually been going on in Spain) are by far the loudest today, with the factcheckers playing catchup. Eventually, I think this will go the way of the "capturing Saddam changed everything [again]" kerfuffle, but in the meantime, what would Kerry say beyond what he's already said?

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Researcher: here, too
http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=22856

state tv, calls to foreign correspondents, etc

full court press

Posted by: Visualize Dead Thugs at March 15, 2004 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

researcher

From reading your posts I now understand that it must be terribly difficult to come to terms with other than administration inspired logic leading to alternate constructions of world events when
YOU HAVE YOUR HEAD JAMMED SO FAR UP GWB'S ASS !!!

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry you can't figure out Al Qaeda's goals but to me they seem pretty clear.

Well that's one advantage of a closed mind, doesn't help debate though which is why you would be more conservative sharing spittle at a conservative blog I'm sure.

Postit, why do we need to delve deeper into the psyche of the terrorists when they've stated their demands and motivations over and over again in videotaped threats and letters? You're the liberal posting comments on a liberal blog. At least I have the balls to come over here and post my opinions rather than participate in the circle jerk that I'm sure goes on at other right-wing blogs just like it does here.

I have my doubts about Bush but your Cumbaya approach is not giving me much encouragement that the Democrats will do much better. Why should I believe that Kerry knows what it takes to defeat terror when he has been anything but a military and intelligence advocate over his entire career? Instead of bashing Bush and the Conservatives give me some answers. Anyone?

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Postit-

If Kerry is on first name terms with unknown foreign leaders, he has enough stature to appeal to the new Spanish government to "take bold, decisive action against Al Qaeda to prevent the appearance of appeasement". He still has plenty of time to do so but if he dodges commenting on the issue all the way to the election, he has to have a strategic reason for it.



Posted by: Researcher at March 15, 2004 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

"I have my doubts about Bush but your Cumbaya approach is not giving me much encouragement that the Democrats will do much better. Why should I believe that Kerry knows what it takes to defeat terror when he has been anything but a military and intelligence advocate over his entire career? Instead of bashing Bush and the Conservatives give me some answers. Anyone?

-Brad
Posted by Brad at March 15, 2004 12:47 PM | PERMALINK"

"Enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think of my hair?"


Could do much worse than bush, Brad. How many people in Spain blame Bush as much as they do al queda for those dead, do you think?

Posted by: perpwalk at March 15, 2004 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

Couldn't.

Posted by: perpwalk at March 15, 2004 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

"COALITION OF THE WILLING"--LOOKING FOR AN EXIT-- The neoconservatives(read zionist) ship of fools is sinking. Who will be next Blair?

Posted by: Robert at March 15, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

Brad

The answers are quite simple to see if beyond the comprehension of most conservatives.

The invasion of Iraq was premised by this administration on Saddam's possesion of WMD's and the supposed nexus of terrorists and WMD taking place in Iraq.

At the time of the invasion a majority of the US population when polled believed Iraq was connected to 9/11, for all I know they still do.

Since the invasion and occupation no WMD have turned up, no nexus of terrorism/WMD evidence has been brought out. The UN inspectors report effectively clears Iraq of WMD posession since the early 90's, GWB's own arms inspector says there is no there there and Bush ought to come clean with the american people.

The whole world knows Iraq was a mistaken distraction from the real target Al Qeada.

From a US centric viewpoint, as a supporter of this administrations policies, you are operating on defence. This alone should tell you something is wrong, something stinks.

As far as Kerry is concerned, could he be any worse ?

You were given the ball on your opponents 10 yard line, now we are back on our own ten yard line. Time to regroup.


Why invade Iraq when Saddam poses no 'imminent' threat, posseses no WMD and has no concrete links to Al Qeada.

Why persist in lumping together Iraq and the response to 9/11 all as part of the global WOT when most of the world is perfectly able to distinguish between the two.

Where are this administrations explanations to the public post Iraq regarding WMD and Terrorist/WMD nexus.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

researcher

If Kerry is on first name terms with unknown foreign leaders, he has enough stature to appeal to the new Spanish government to "take bold, decisive action against Al Qaeda to prevent the appearance of appeasement". He still has plenty of time to do so but if he dodges commenting on the issue all the way to the election, he has to have a strategic reason for it.

Kerry can 'dodge' the issue as long as he likes for me, it's not his Iraq pre-emption policy under scrutiny. The 'appearance' of appeasement is your perception of events and not one generally shared by most of the civilized world.

Self deception I'd call it.

As far as strategery is concerned ABB is fine with me that covers a lot of sins and is a measure of the outright contempt I and many fellow citizens have for this administration and this president.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

If (if!) the Spanish electorate was punishing Aznar solely because they perceived his actions as being anti-terrorist enough to provoke an al-Qaeda attack, the terrorists have accomplished their goal: the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists.

Sure, but that's not necessarily implied by your #2. #2 would be consistent with the public punishing Anzar because they perceived his support of the Coalition in Iraq as playing into al-Qaeda's attempt to frame the War on Terror (limited, prior to Iraq, to al-Qaeda and its clear allies) as a clash of civilizations between the (Christian, or notionally so) West and the "Islamic World", and thereby making Spain an al-Qaeda target to further that framing.

This is consistent with your description of #2, but it would make the defeat of the Popular Party -- as a refusal to by Spaniards to accept and further al-Qaeda's framing of the war -- a defeat for al-Qaeda, rather than a victory. So, if the public is punishing the PP for a perceived linkage between the attacks and the PP's Iraq policy, its not clear that its a rather than a loss for al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

researcher

Why should I believe that Kerry knows what it takes to defeat terror when he has been anything but a military and intelligence advocate over his entire career?

And if your here looking for advice, leave behind the GOP talking points about Kerry's military and congressional record.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 01:25 PM | PERMALINK

They could pull out of Iraq then send Spanish or Nato troops to Afghanistan.

NATO troops are already in Afghanistan; NATO runs the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF 4) in Afghanistan. Spanish troops are, IIRC, part of ISAF and the Socialist Party in Spain has said nothing that I've heard about withdrawing or reducing their commitment in Afghanistan.


Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

Postit, why do we need to delve deeper into the psyche of the terrorists when they've stated their demands and motivations over and over again in videotaped threats and letters?

For those still looking to solve the "root causes" of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, here's a direct answer from the Islamic Web site Al-Muhajiroun that also contains a picture of a burning Capitol building (remember they hate Democrats and liberals as much as they hate Republicans and conservatives):

"This Saturday's LIVE talk on Paltalk will discuss one of the greatest forgotten obligations in Islaam - Inciting religious hatred. Allaah (swt) orders the believers to hate all other religions, way of lives, creeds,
doctrines and beliefs that contradict with Islaam, and one cannot be Muslim without to declare animosity and hatred towards kufr, bid'ah, shirk and nifaaq (Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Democracy, Freedom etc.)."

Root causes, indeed.

Posted by: FastNBulbous at March 15, 2004 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

"UPDATE: In comments, lots of people are asking why I think #2 would be a victory for al-Qaeda. Sorry, I thought that was obvious."

The blanket assumption is obvious but not necessarily correct.

For example if a al-Qaeda attack hit the US in late October and Kerry is then elected, is that automatically a victory for al-Qaeda? Sure, the GOP would love to frame it that way but do we really want to help them do so?

Posted by: Eric at March 15, 2004 01:38 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderfull news everyone, a liberal webzine with cahonies, think I just found a new will to fight.

Check it out,

http://gadflyer.com/

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

Fraid you blew this one, my man. "A considerable victory for Al Qaeda" is precisely the neocon line, and does not make more than the most superficial amount of sense. It might make sense if Aznar were actually strongly fighting Al Qaeda. But in fact, all he's done is support (in a relatively insignificant way) our invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism. In fact -- and I don't need to tell anyone on this site this fact -- Al Qaeda and Saddam were mortal enemies. I'm quite sure bin Laden was quite pleased at how Aznar and Blair and Bush acted. I'm not sure if anyone is really making a dent in the bin Laden empire, but if so it wasn't Spain.

Posted by: ColoDem at March 15, 2004 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what you left loons are going to do in November when the Greatest President ever gets re-elected. You could all perform Harry Carry.

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

our invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism. In fact -- and I don't need to tell anyone on this site this fact -- Al Qaeda and Saddam were mortal enemies.

Then why is Al Queda retaliating for the invasion of Iraq if there is no Saddam/AQ connection? You LLLs are making me laugh so friggen hard!

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

Brad --

As an unabashed liberal, I don't necessary agree with your analysis on this issue, but I do appreciate your willingness to engage in thoughtful debate, and to consider other viewpoints than your own. Dialogue between political factions is essential if any democracy is to thrive and survive.

That being said, I couldn't disagree more with your characterization of thoughtful Democrats' response to terrorism as a "Cumbaya (sic) approach". Rather, I would like to believe that I and other liberals are looking at this problem three-dimensionally, rather than as a Warner Bros. "Looney Tunes" cartoon, where we all get to watch the Bush Administration play Wile E. Coyote to al-Qaeda's Road Runner.

My vocal willingness to consider addressing the root causes for discontent in the Middle East, which is the real source for anarchy and terror, does not make me "soft on terror." Rather, I consider it an essential step if we are ever to undercut the popular appeal of fanatics like Osama bin Laden to the disenfranchised masses in Islamic nations.

Enforcing one's rule by armed intervention and brute intimidation can only work for so long -- (see "Pahlavi, Reza -- Shah of Iran").

After all, how does the threat of armed force act as a deterrent against those individuals or peoples whose plight is so desparate that they feel they have nothing to live for, that they are willing to literally blow themselves up in order to take you out?

You are literally trying to impose a rational response -- armed force -- to what has become an irrational problem -- suicide attacks.

Sure, you can try and pick them off before they get to you. But then, you have to be constantly vigilant, which means living in fear for the duration. They only have to be lucky once.

Let's try, for once, to consider a multi-pronged holistic approach to our current dilemma. That means being pro-active in not allowing the root causes for terrorism to germinate in the first place.

Having lost my father in the Vietnam War, I freely admit that I am -- by the very nature of my personal experience -- repulsed by war in general, and in particular by the cavalier willingness to consider war before all other means of resolution have been exhausted.

However, my inherent pacifism does not blind me to the realities of the world in which we live, in that we must be willing to defend ourselves when attacked. That is why I supported the decision to move into Afghanistan and remove the Taliban and al-Qaeda from power after 9-11.

If the Bush Administration was indeed serious about addressing the issue of world terrorism, then its decision to invade Iraq made absolutely no sense to me, any more than would a decision by Franklin Roosevelt to invade Argentina following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor have appealed to my grandparents' generation.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii at March 15, 2004 01:52 PM | PERMALINK

Rightwingers sure whine alot when they don't get their way.

Posted by: Will G. at March 15, 2004 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

If any LLL is willing to actually debate the issues, go to Little Green Footballs, http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog, the BEST blog on the net!

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Rightwingers sure whine alot when they don't get their way.

And your blind partisanship gets in the way of understanding that it is all of us in a war against Islamofascism, not just right-wingers. It's ok, I guess it will take an AQ bomb in Berkeley, or Tacoma Park, MD to really get the message home to your LLLs that this is not neocons vs AQ.

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 01:55 PM | PERMALINK

Gunslinger is right on that.

And that is exactly the question in asked.
Then a friend and I came to the conclusion that it must be only the left in American that believes there was not Saddam/AQ connection

Posted by: cube at March 15, 2004 01:55 PM | PERMALINK

Blue wrote: "Sorry, it's two all the way. The Spanish electorate rolled over and cowered in the face of a terrorist attack.

No other way to spin this: Al Qaeda brought down a Western government."
Posted by Blue at March 14, 2004 09:20 PM | PERMALINK


The Spanish had an election and they tossed out their Prime Minister because he went against the will of 90% of his public to join George W. Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Madrid violence was tragic.

Posted by: MarkH at March 15, 2004 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

I tend to believe that either way, whether it's military action in order to show the general population that something is being done to avenge violent acts or the de-seating of the previous leadership in Spain, that it is a reaction to the terrorists. They have succeeded. So i'll go for #3. Sensing that the attacks were bad for the Popular Party, Aznar wanted to believe that ETA was responsible for the bombings.

Posted by: notsoevil at March 15, 2004 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I've not the time to read all the posts here, but let me say that in Spain Al Qa'ida was not a factor in the elections, ETA was. The PP had at the end of 2003 a dwindling expectation of votes. However a childish act of one of the leader of ERC, who tried to convince ETA to renounce terrorism like his party had achieved quite a few years ago with "Terra Lliure", backfired since it did not achieve anything and worse, was publicized by the PP as an intent to defuse terrorist attack from Catalonia to te rest of Spain. That was a big gulp of air for the PP, whose electorate hates nationalists and tends to conflate then with terrorists. Even so the estimation of votes was once again in the direction of losing votes, nearly certainly the absolute majority the PP had enjoyed these last 4 years would not happen. And the PSOE had some remote possibility of a relative majority. That bore badly for ETA who gains when crispation rise, since it gives the backing of the Basques. So everyone expected an ETA attentate, and the detention of to militants with more than 500 kg (1100 pounds) of explosives pointed in that direction, in itself that detention was another boost for the PP. When the explosions happened, the first thought was "ETA did it again", the foreign rumours pointing to AQ were discounted as wishful thinking. However it was thought that in such case the PP would lose some votes, and PP analysts seem to have agreed, so any link to AQ was downplayed, and even when they turned more solid, the government insisted to claim it was ETA. People got angry, very angry, at this shameless intent to manipulate.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume at March 15, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

Whine, whine, whine. That's all these rightwingers do. Waaah! Waaah!

The election is over. Get over it.

Posted by: Will G. at March 15, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

You LLLs are so full of it, with your hateful, vile rhetoric against good Christian Americans.

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 01:58 PM | PERMALINK

Whine, whine, whine. That's all these rightwingers do. Waaah! Waaah!
The election is over. Get over it.

We're not whining, we're stating the fact that terrorism won yesterday and we have no sympathy for the Spanish people for whatever will happen to them from here on out.


Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

Waaaah! Waaaah! They didn't do what I told them to! They're terrorists! Waaaah! Waaaah!

Posted by: Will G. at March 15, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

doug smith, the wit of bush country

Then why is Al Queda retaliating for the invasion of Iraq if there is no Saddam/AQ connection? You LLLs are making me laugh so friggen hard!

You come here for laughs I go to bushworld, were even.

Go read something not pushed by Faux news, Freeper world or the Bush campaign, you appear in dire need of an education boy and I'm just not inspired by the raw material on offer to even attempt to shape it.


Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

"If it wasn't for the US Kuwait and possibly Saudi Arabia would be under control of Saddam Hussein."

True and it was a close call.


"If it wasn't for the US Iran would still be a democracy and Saddam would never have been installed in the first place."

How does this follow ? Mohammed Mossadegh, who I assume you mean, was no democrat. Let's go back to 1943 when Roosevelt signed a declaration demanding that the USSR leave northern Iran if Britain left the south. If it wasn't for us, Iran would have been part of the Soviet Union after WWII. We (actually the Brits) installed the Shah because his father was a Nazi. We supported him against Mossadegh but that was not the same as overthrowing the legitimate government. The Pahlavis weren't exactly democrats either but they had been in power since the 1920s.

What does this have to do with Saddam ? Surely you know that Iran and Iraq are different countries. Don't you ?

Maybe you think we installed Saddam in Iraq ? That is a conspiracy theory worthy of an Oliver Stone movie. This is not Democratic Underground. Those theories are thick over there, along with the theories that Bush blew up the trains in Madrid.

"Smarter monkeys please."

I'll sign that, if you will.

Posted by: Mike K at March 15, 2004 02:02 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what you left loons are going to do in November when the Greatest President ever gets re-elected.

I'll be marvelling that Abraham Lincoln was raised from the dead, and congratulating the people that predicted that the Republicans would find a last minute way to replace Bush on the ballot.

Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 02:03 PM | PERMALINK

>Go read something not pushed by Faux news, Freeper world or the Bush campaign, you appear in dire need of an education boy and I'm just not inspired by the raw material on offer to even attempt to shape it.

So I should watch CNN aka Al Jazeera West for "truthful news reports". Umm, ok. I'll stick to reading 100 different news sources ranging from left to right, to get a truly BALANCED opinion. Sorry if I don't fit your easy definition of evil neocon.

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:04 PM | PERMALINK

>I'll be marvelling that Abraham Lincoln was raised from the dead, and congratulating the people that predicted that the Republicans would find a last minute way to replace Bush on the ballot.

Well, that's some progress at least. No longer is Bill Clinton the "Greatest President Ever", you admit that Lincoln the first Republican is. BTW, there is precedent for what Bush/Ashcroft are doing, Lincoln suspended habeus corpus. Oops, another inconvenient historical fact for LLLs!

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Spanish voters elected a government that has promised to cut and run by July 1.

Actually, no. They've promised to leave Iraq (not the War on Terror, which they are involved in in, for instance, Afghanistan), if the UN doesn't take a bigger role there by July 1st.

Not at all what you said.

Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 02:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Why should I believe that Kerry knows what it takes to defeat terror when he has been anything but a military and intelligence advocate over his entire career?"

And if your here looking for advice, leave behind the GOP talking points about Kerry's military and congressional record.

Postit, facts are facts. Kerry did vote against most major military bills and he also proposed cutting intelligence. I know he's said we need better intelligence work but how can we believe that he is really committed to that course? Once again please tell me how Kerry will handle the war on terror better than Bush.

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

doug smith

So I should watch CNN aka Al Jazeera West for "truthful news reports". Umm, ok. I'll stick to reading 100 different news sources ranging from left to right, to get a truly BALANCED opinion. Sorry if I don't fit your easy definition of evil neocon.

If your truly reading all that stuff and still opine the drivel you spew up in this blog then I'm not exactly sure what you are but since an open mind is a beautifull thing I have every reason to believe you are downright Fugly.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

Canadian Reader asks, "Aren't you one of the same crowd that keeps saying 9/11 "changed everything" -- whenever someone mentions, say, civil rights, habeas corpus, or due process?"

No, I'm not. I'm a Libertarian. We Libertarians are more committed to the Bill of Rights than ANY other U.S. party, including the Democratic Party.

"It's pretty rich for the folks who went into non-stop "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" hysteria then, and used every ounce of it to win the 2002 elections, to be complaining now about terrorism changing votes."

As I noted above, I'm a Libertarian. I did not vote for **ANY** Republicans in the 2002 (or 2000) elections, except perhaps in the few places where Libertarians weren't on the ballot. (Libertarians were on the ballot for all federal offices, and most state and local offices.)

Now that I've corrected your mistaken assumptions, I'll once again point out that it looks pretty clear that Al Qaeda's bombings (presuming it was them, and not ETA) were able to affect the Spanish elections in a manner that pleases Al Qaeda. They've got to be pretty happy with that.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 02:12 PM | PERMALINK

>Actually, no. They've promised to leave Iraq (not the War on Terror, which they are involved in in, for instance, Afghanistan), if the UN doesn't take a bigger role there by July 1st.

Cut and run by any other name is still the same. Spin, spin, spin. Oh, the LLL spin-machine in full gear! Where is Al Franken to spin the spin?

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

Nice "Brazil" reference, Tuttle.

Which by the way is a great movie and sadly prophetic. "Brazil" is a very black comedy/sci-fi flick. It portrays a depressing future where ongoing terrorism is used as a justification for oppression by the government and large corporations.
And their definition of terrorism covers not only the bombers, but concerned citizens and free-lance repairmen as well.

Posted by: Librul at March 15, 2004 02:14 PM | PERMALINK

"We're not whining, we're stating the fact that terrorism won yesterday and we have no sympathy for the Spanish people for whatever will happen to them from here on out."

i think the feeling is mutual- support for the Americans are dwindling by the numbers. Nice to be equal isn't it.

Posted by: notsoevil at March 15, 2004 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

Let's try, for once, to consider a multi-pronged holistic approach to our current dilemma. That means being pro-active in not allowing the root causes for terrorism to germinate in the first place.

Donald from Hawaii, what do you think the Bush administration is doing? They are going directly to the root of terrorism -- lack of freedom, education, poverty, etc.... The cure is Democracy and that is what we are trying to bring to Iraq and Afghanistan. That is what this is all about. The Bush administration believes Democracy is the cure for the Middle East. I tend to think they're right.

What is the one common characteristic of nearly all the Middle Eastern countries? Lack of Democracy!

-Brad

Posted by: Brad at March 15, 2004 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

Postit, facts are facts. Kerry did vote against most major military bills and he also proposed cutting intelligence. I know he's said we need better intelligence work but how can we believe that he is really committed to that course? Once again please tell me how Kerry will handle the war on terror better than Bush.

Posted by Brad at March 15, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK


A little research, admitedly not found on most wingnut sites, will avail you of the fact that a republican congress and no less than the current vice president agreed with Kerry at the time on most of the items listed in GOP talking points regarding his military and intelligence votes. In point of fact turns out they cut more than Kerry voted for.

I'm not inclined to waste any more ime with you, your hear because you are feeling uncomfortable with the current administration and I commiserate but I'm not going to do all the work for you.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 02:18 PM | PERMALINK
No longer is Bill Clinton the "Greatest President Ever",

"No longer"? When did I say Bill Clinton was the "Greatest President Ever" (in the last 50 years, maybe I would have said that, but ever?).

you admit that Lincoln the first Republican is.

Well, it was mostly a humorous dismissal of the suggestion that GW Bush was the best.

BTW, there is precedent for what Bush/Ashcroft are doing,

Precedent for it being unconstitutional, you mean, surely.

Lincoln suspended habeus corpus.

Yeah, he did. And it was unconstitutional, unnecssarily so (since he could have gotten Congress to do it, and then it would have been Constitutional even if perhaps undesirable) -- and arguably bad policy, too. But no President is or has been perfect, and Lincoln also did some good things for freedom, too, and admirably attempted to avoid war until it was clearly necessary, rather than rushing into it because there was a phantom of a future threat of need; and to all indications he would have done a better job at running -- or at least initiating the running of -- the post-war situation than the way Reconstruction was actually run, had he had more of a chance.

Oops, another inconvenient historical fact for LLLs!

It would only be inconvenient if they wanted to think of Lincoln as a sinless, infallible, Messianic figure like Christ, rather than as merely a better-than-most President.

Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 02:19 PM | PERMALINK

Uh-oh, looks like "We hate Spain and Spanish people" is now playing on the RNC spin machine. Breathe easy French people, it's Spain's turn. Think I'll go to the trendy Freedom Appetizers restaurant and see if they have ice cold Liberty Soup.

(uh, that's tapas and gazpacho for you playing along at home).

Another thought: if it were conservatives who defeated a socialist government after a terrorist act, would our resident Republicans be so upset about Al Qaeda's supposed victory? Terrorists would have influenced the election, right?

Posted by: Librul at March 15, 2004 02:21 PM | PERMALINK

>What is the one common characteristic of nearly all the Middle Eastern countries? Lack of Democracy!

But that's their right to have dictatorships! We have no right ot meddle in that! That's what Gore Vidal told me!

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll be marvelling that Abraham Lincoln was raised from the dead,..."

Good L@rd! Abraham Lincoln was not even close to the greatest U.S. president! He couldn't hold a candle to George Washington!

At virtually every turn, George Washington declined to seize powers that were offered to him. At many (if not most) turns, Abraham Lincoln seized powers that were NOT available to him, according to The Law (the U.S. Constitution).

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 02:23 PM | PERMALINK

keiser: "Think strategically for once...where fo you want to see the Middle East 10-15 years from now???"
Posted by keiser at March 15, 2004 02:11 AM | PERMALINK


still in the Middle East ... duh!

Posted by: MarkH at March 15, 2004 02:23 PM | PERMALINK

>Another thought: if it were conservatives who defeated a socialist government after a terrorist act, would our resident Republicans be so upset about Al Qaeda's supposed victory? Terrorists would have influenced the election, right?

No, it's a victory for AQ when a party that is for appeasing AQ wins. Conservatives winning is a defeat for AQ. Kapich moron?

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:24 PM | PERMALINK

>still in the Middle East ... duh!

and you LLLs wonder why the rest of us laugh at you.

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:26 PM | PERMALINK

What does this have to do with Saddam ? Surely you know that Iran and Iraq are different countries. Don't you ?

Saddam and his party received serious support during their rise to power (and throughout thereafter - at least until GWI) by the US as a bulwark against the rising fundamentalism that was growing our of the mess created when the US got involved in the overthrow of Mossadegh (because, after being elected, he stated a goal to nationalize Iran's oil industries - can't have that) and subsequent installation of the Shah. That's what Iran has to do with Saddam: the creation of one disastrous pro-US puppet to protect against the fallout of another.

Posted by: Thumb at March 15, 2004 02:26 PM | PERMALINK

The Gunslinger wrote: "No, it's a victory for AQ when a party that is for appeasing AQ wins"

Tell you what, Gunslinger, when you find such a party, let us know. Until then, this is just meaningless nonsense.

Posted by: PaulB at March 15, 2004 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I missed this one last night.

Obviously, more information has come to light, so Kevin's comments ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

Apparently, the opposition party had been gaining before the attacks, and it's a simplification of reporting in the media that continues to assert that the Conservative Party had it locked up before the attacks.

In a sense, this a giant straw man.

Also, today's LA Times reported that it interviewed dozens of people, none of which claimed to have changed their vote because of the attacks.

What was reported, however, is that voter turnout was probably affected, and that this more likely than not went against the incumbent party.

Last, most of the anger on the street was focused less on the fact that the terrorist attacks happened but the perception that the government was being deceptive about who the perpetrators were.

Combine a deceptive government, clearly nervous about being perceived as inviting these attacks, with the fact that terrorist attacks occurred after the government took the nation to war in Iraq when 90% of the people were opposed, and you have a clear mandate for change.

That's what happened.

We never should have gone to war in Iraq, and blurred the popular support we had for the war in Afghanistan, and against Bin Laden/terror.

The ironic thing is that Bin Laden probably doesn't even care about Iraq that much, but is taking advantage of weaknesses we've created by lumping Iraq in with the war on Terror.

When you go to war with only 10% support of your people, especially a war that is clearly not necessary, both before and after, it's hard to ascribe attacks upon you as against "democracy and freedom".

We have Bin Laden this opportunity, and he took it. Bush and his team don't seem to have the wits or the clarity to fight this battle. They blew popular support and sentiment for us after 9/11, and created a blur when there was real clarity when the twin towers came down.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 02:45 PM | PERMALINK

We have Bin Laden this opportunity, and he took it. Bush and his team don't seem to have the wits or the clarity to fight this battle. They blew popular support and sentiment for us after 9/11, and created a blur when there was real clarity when the twin towers came down.

We "gave" Bin Laden this opportunity...

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, we can't go backwards now. We did go into Iraq, and we have to deal with it. But, along the way, we've done some very serious reparable damage to the clarity of our mission, and sympathy to our struggle, and the reputability of our name (brand, if you will).

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

>We "gave" Bin Laden this opportunity...

And we're on a major offensive in Eastern Pakistan right now to get his sorry a$$. But I'm sure you LLLs are quakin' in your shoes wondering how the hell you're gonna beat Bush when he will have Bin Laden on a stick soon.

Posted by: The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

Saddam and his party received serious support during their rise to power (and throughout thereafter - at least until GWI) by the US as a bulwark against the rising fundamentalism that was growing our of the mess created when the US got involved in the overthrow of Mossadegh

And as a bulwark against Communism. Actually, I think until after the Islamic revolution in Iran, most of the US support for Iraq was oriented toward resisting Communism.

Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 02:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Enforcing one's rule by armed intervention and brute intimidation can only work for so long -- (see "Pahlavi, Reza -- Shah of Iran")."

It worked for Saddam Hussein for 24 years. And Saddam Hussein and his sons probably could have managed another 24 years, if not for the U.S. military knocking them out of power.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 02:52 PM | PERMALINK

And we're on a major offensive in Eastern Pakistan right now to get his sorry a$$. But I'm sure you LLLs are quakin' in your shoes wondering how the hell you're gonna beat Bush when he will have Bin Laden on a stick soon.

I see no reason to expect that this "major offensive" to get Bin Laden will do better than the last one. The question I wonder about is who we'll invade as a distraction if this one fails, too.

Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

doug smith

Are you still here, didn't I spank your ass hard enough the last time ?

Now bog off !

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 02:55 PM | PERMALINK

And we're on a major offensive in Eastern Pakistan right now to get his sorry a$$. But I'm sure you LLLs are quakin' in your shoes wondering how the hell you're gonna beat Bush when he will have Bin Laden on a stick soon.

Gunslinger, I'm not concerned about that at all. Catching or killing Bin Laden is something we should do at the earliest possible moment, and with maximum and focused attention.

You just don't want to acknowledge that our leaders have allowed themselves to become distracted from this mission, and in the process have undermined our name, alliances, and even democracy all around the world.

After 9/11, there was unprecedented clarity and consensus around the world that we needed to get Bin Laden. We ruined that by insisting on getting Saddam, when we could have instead stirred feathers and debate, and rattled sabers, and then settled on an even more onerous inspections regime on Saddam (which he would have accepted).

Then, there would be no confusion about our or terrorist intentions. If Spain had been attacked without Iraq, and only because of supporting us in Afghanistan and the larger war on terror, there would be no controversy.

There is, and it's not the fault of democracy.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 02:58 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, we should have got Bin Laden by now.

Beside that, are you really trying to make this a political issue? Is that what catching Bin Laden has come down to you for you?

You're a sick bastard, and someone needs to take away your gun.

Pakistan is the nation that needs to be shown some Saddam-style treatment, in terms of international reproach. Look at what they've done to destabilize the globe and spread WMD. Further terror.

Only, somehow, they've maneuvered so that we need them in order to catch Bin Laden.

Why does it seem that everyone seems to outsmart Bush except for Saddam?

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:02 PM | PERMALINK

No, it's a victory for AQ when a party that is for appeasing AQ wins. Conservatives winning is a defeat for AQ. Kapich moron?

Let's see . . .

AQ wanted Saddam removed from power, conservatives remove Saddam from power. AQ wanted US military out of the Saudi peninsula, conservatives remove US military from Saudi peninsula. AQ wanted to be treated seriously as a world class player locked in a fundamental clash of nations (for recruiting purposes) as opposed to rogue criminals, conservatives declare them world class players locked in a fundamental clash of nations. AQ wanted the US to restrict freedoms on it's citizens, conservatives restricted freedoms on it's citizens. AQ wanted the population to be afraid, conservatives tell the population to be afraid.

Your right. It's a victory for AQ when a party that is for appeasing AQ wins. So therefore a Kerry victory would be a defeat for AQ. A HUGE defeat based on the disgusting, ongoing conservative appeasement of AQ.

Posted by: Thumb at March 15, 2004 03:05 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking spanish cowards thanx to those "frenchie" bendover take it up the behind morons, were not gonna see an al-qaeda firm in the belief they can win. This will no doubt lead to more actions and more innocent deaths in europe all on the head of spain. Also a thank you for proving yet again that the majority of the european population is too fucking stupid for democracy and it Just got one more opponent.

Posted by: mono at March 15, 2004 03:07 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking spanish cowards thanx to those "frenchie" bendover take it up the behind morons, were NOW gonna see an al-qaeda firm in the belief they can win. This will no doubt lead to more actions and more innocent deaths in europe all on the head of spain. Also a thank you for proving yet again that the majority of the european population is too fucking stupid for democracy and it Just got one more opponent.

Posted by: mono at March 15, 2004 03:08 PM | PERMALINK

Gunslinger wrote: "... we're stating the fact that terrorism won yesterday [ in Spain ] and we have no sympathy for the Spanish people for whatever will happen to them from here on out.
Posted by The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK


Typical, but still surprising. Where's the 'compassionate' in 'compassionate conservative'?

A Democrat president will show compassion and will work with the Spaniards, of any political stripe, to end the violence.


Posted by: MarkH at March 15, 2004 03:10 PM | PERMALINK


Gunslinger: "and you LLLs wonder why the rest of us laugh at you."
Posted by The Gunslinger at March 15, 2004 02:26 PM

Ya mean it's not because yer all loons?

No, actually I don't wonder why you laugh at anything. I don't think of you at all.

Posted by: MarkH at March 15, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

Thumb, bravo!

From Clarity To A Blur

Snapshot of Spain (Two images)

Also, everyone remember that this is a giant straw man!.

If you read the news carefully, and past the first few paragraphs, you'll find that a Conservative victory was not a foregone conclusion before the attacks, and that the opposition was gaining.

Also, you'll find that people are more angry at a deceptive government trying to use the attacks to their advantage, or at least neutralize the impact, than about the attacks themselves.

Finally, you'll read that it's thought that the larger turnout as a result of the bombings shook people out of political malaise and to a record turnout at the polls.

Democracy won, and along the way the Conservatives lost. The greater turnout assured a greater mandate for change.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

"You just don't want to acknowledge that our leaders have allowed themselves to become distracted from this mission, and in the process have undermined our name, alliances, and even democracy all around the world."

1) "...our name...": Dr. Samuel Mudd forever destroyed his name by following his Hippocratic oath in treating John Wilkes Booth. Dr. Mudd did the right thing. His "name" was forever ruined. "Names" mean nothing. Popularity means nothing. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Dr. Mudd did what was right.

2) "...our alliances...": You mean like our alliance with the corrupt Saudi royal family? Or perhaps the French government that built Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear reactor (that the Israelis wisely destroyed)?

3) "...even democracy all around the world...": How does overthrowing a brutal dictatorship that had lasted 24 years, and probably could have lasted 24 more, "undermine...democracy all around the world?"

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 03:13 PM | PERMALINK

The people of Spain also proved they will not be cowed by terror. Rather than the attacks striking democracy, the Spanish people rose up united and gathered in the streets, expressing grief and solidarity, and went to the polls in record numbers.

The Conservatives didn't necessarily lose as a result, but they probably lost worse for sure because of the greater turnout.

The hearts and minds of the people of Spain are clear. They chose democracy, and in record numbers they rebelled against the Conservative leadership that acted against their will.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:15 PM | PERMALINK

Bin Laden can't see this as a true victory, because he is not trying to inspire more democracy, unless one would want to argue that more democracy and participation would result in actions that Bin Laden would find appealing.

In essence, these attacks strengthened democracy, and will actually return the focus to the war on Terror pre-Iraq, which will not work to Bin Laden's advantage.

One almost has to wonder if he really authorized this attack. If anything, it will assure that Bush loses allies in Iraq, but that the world gets more serious about getting Bin Laden, along with Bush who will have to follow suit, while also holding the fort down he built in Iraq.

Lose conventional thinking people. We've just started thinking about all the aspects, factors, and impacts.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:18 PM | PERMALINK

"AQ wanted Saddam removed from power,..."

AQ wants EVERY government removed from power that isn't (Sunni) Islamic fundamentalist.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

"A Democrat president will show compassion and will work with the Spaniards, of any political stripe, to end the violence."

There's a very easy way to end violence from Al Qaeda. Convert to Islam, and run your country according to Islamic Shariah Law.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 03:22 PM | PERMALINK

"If anything, it will assure that Bush loses allies in Iraq, but that the world gets more serious about getting Bin Laden,..."

"More serious?" Like trying to find out what he wants, and seeing if we can do it, so he'll stop the bombings?

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 03:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bahner, you of all people need to start thinking out of the box.

Democracy in Iraq would be great, but I'm not holding my breath yet. Democracy in Spain is not well-served when 90% of the population opposes bloodshed in a war against an opponent that is clearly not a direct threat to them (Saddam never threatened Spain, of all places), and their government joins the unnecessary war anyway for ideological considerations.

As for our alliances, they are badly frayed due to Iraq, as is world public opinion. Winning the hearts and minds of people around the world was a lot more viable before Iraq, and in the aftermath of 9/11.

Bush ruined that. In the process, he has taken us down an uncertain path, transformed clarity to blur, turned the opinions of millions upon millions of people negatively as regards to us, and when we're talking about democracy the will, hearts, and minds of the people are what count.

Instead, Bush turned his back on the free nations who chose to listen to their people, disparaged them, convinced a few to go along with him even against the will of their people, and then rounded out the alliance with dictatorships (some known to torture).

That is not an alliance for democracy and freedom.

Period.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:28 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq is not part of the war against Bin Laden and Islamicist terror.

We just need to admit that, and explain Saddam as a separate action that has been done.

A return to clarity, and solidarity, from the blur we created by fradulently claiming a war to remove Saddam as part of post/911 efforts to bring Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to justice.

And justice is what we all want. Not hubris.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:31 PM | PERMALINK

After all, the people of Spain now want Bin Laden as bad as we did.

We just need to distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam.

Otherwise, terrorists will try to take advantage of that blur.

Though, as I mentioned, it may not work out as they think, as the bombings in Spain assure that Al Qaeda is going to be sought out and destroyed.

The bombings also strengthened democracy in Spain, causing greater solidarity and voter turnout, and who's going to argue that Bin Laden wants to inspire greater democracy?

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:35 PM | PERMALINK

And another annoying thing about those darn "Spainards" from a wingnut POV: One can't even use the "ingrates" meme that was so popularly bandied about re. the "Franch" (Spain was part of the coalition that helped bring the USA about in the War of Independence, and what thanks did they get? None at all, and about a century the US attacks Spain in its colonies using trumped-up charges ("Remember the 'Maine'!"). And later US governments cozied up to Franco - well, if those "Spainards" get it into their heads to vote for socialists, no wonder they thought democracy in Spain might be a bad idea.)

BTW, I find it hard to believe that a significant number of Spaniards believe that by pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq (but not e.g. out of Afghanistan and other places where they are stationed to combat terrorism(1)) they will appease Al Qaeda, in the sense that this will make Al Qaeda stop mounting terrorist attacks on Spain or on Spaniards abroad. Also, Aznar playing politics with the attacks on March 11 by trying to blame them on ETA from the start did not exactly win him many sympathies in some European states (e.g. Germany) because it served to mislead re. the appropriate precautions to take in the aftermath (all European countries are potential targets for AQ attacks, not as many are likely to be targeted by ETA).

(1) If they don't get involved in combat, you don't hear about them in the news, so I have no idea how many and where Spanish military units are stationed, but I guess there probably are a few. And they're likely to be in various Middle Eastern nations. (A year ago, when the war against Iraq began, even anti-Iraq-War Germany did not withdraw its little Bundeswehr anti-ABC weapons team in Kuwait).

Posted by: Menshevik at March 15, 2004 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

Given the lefts mentality on terrorism...what is to stop an Iraqi Liberation Group from telling Spain,,,SEND MORE TROOPS TO LIBERATE US OR WE WILL BLOW UP TWENTY TRAINS????

Shouldn't Spain then send 30,000 troops to Iraq??
To cave into terroists..the Al Queda will say we will blow up 30 trains..the the Iraqi liberation front blows up 40 trains.

If you let terrorism work...then both sides can play the game.

Posted by: keiser at March 15, 2004 03:47 PM | PERMALINK

Menshevik, you're right. The Spanish people never believed that Bin Laden and Saddam were teaming up.

That propaganda seemed to work best here in the U.S., and largely thanks to our clueless monopoly media.

But the bombings underscored that the war in Iraq singled them out in the Islamic World as backing Bush in a vastly unpopular war in Iraq and effort to claim that Saddam was in league with Bin Laden.

It also reminded them that they opposed the war in Iraq by 90%, which any democratic leader surely wouldn't ignore.

So, wherever there are Spanish troops, you can only guess that the quid quo pro is that they are not really risking serious blood and lives.

For, if they experienced serious casualties, when only 10% of the country was in favor, the leader of Spain, democratically elected or not, would be running for his life.

As, if that happened, he ought to be, since he would be clearly responsible.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:51 PM | PERMALINK

keiser: If you let terrorism work...then both sides can play the game.

Terrorism didn't work. Spanish forces are not signifigantly helping us anyway (see why in my comment above this one). It's diplomatically where the change in leadership in Spain, and support for Iraq, really stings.

The effect of the attacks was not to cower the Spanish people, or even a victory for terrorists. If it was ordered by Bin Laden, it was a misstep, because it inspired more democracy, and a greater turnout, in Spain.

The hearts and minds of people in Spain decided to stand up for democracy, and the election was about a lot more than the bombings (though turnout was affected).

Last I checked, a greater turnout, something like 76%, is good for democracy, and something we can't even get close to here in America.

Like I said, much of this thread is a big straw man, because of very simplistic and shallow characterizations of the election (overly focused on the bombings).

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 03:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Bahner, you of all people need to start thinking out of the box."

I already do. I vote straight ticket Libertarian. Less than 1% of the people in the U.S. have climbed out of the "Big Government = Good" box that Democrats AND Republicans are in.

"Democracy in Iraq would be great, but I'm not holding my breath yet."

No, you shouldn't hold your breath. But there's an almost INFINITELY better chance that there will be democracy in Iraq in the next 1-10 years than there was if Saddam Hussein and his sons had stayed in power. If they had stayed in power, there was virtually ZERO chance of democracy in Iraq, for at least the next 20+ years.

"Democracy in Spain is not well-served when 90% of the population opposes bloodshed in a war against an opponent that is clearly not a direct threat to them (Saddam never threatened Spain, of all places), and their government joins the unnecessary war anyway for ideological considerations."

Well, democracy is not "well served" by ANYTHING short of every single decision of government being decided based on a national referendum.

I'm not a big fan of democracy. I'm a big fan of *liberty.* (Which is why I'm a Libertarian, and not a Democrat.)

"As for our alliances, they are badly frayed due to Iraq, as is world public opinion."

Again,

1) "world opinion" means nothing. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. We should do what is right, and to H@ll with "world opinion."

2) "our alliances" with whom? The Saudi royal family? The French government that built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor?

"Winning the hearts and minds of people around the world was a lot more viable before Iraq,..."

"Hearts and minds" mean nothing. The U.S. should do what is right, and not do what is wrong. World opinion means nothing. Right and wrong can't be decided by votes.

"Instead, Bush turned his back on the free nations who chose to listen to their people, disparaged them, convinced a few to go along with him even against the will of their people,..."

You seem to equate governments with "nations." In my opinion, a "nation" is comprised of it's people. That is separate from the federal government of that nation. G.W. Bush *perhaps* "persuaded" leaders of *governments* to go against their people's desires. (Or perhaps those leaders didn't need G.W. Bush's persuasion. I don't think Tony Blair did, for example!)

"...and then rounded out the alliance with dictatorships (some known to torture)."

What dictatorships known to torture are part of the alliance in Iraq?

"That is not an alliance for democracy and freedom."

I don't expect the leaders of the U.S. government to form alliances "for democracy and freedom." I expect them to defend the Constitution (first and foremost) and defend The People.

The question is whether the invasion of Iraq made people in the U.S. safer, or less safe. I don't know the answer for certain (more time will help in judging), but my guess so far is that it made the U.S. more safe.

I don't see that there is any question that, before the U.S. invaded Iraq, the Middle East was "broken"...and "broken" in a way that was dangerous to people in the U.S. The question is whether the U.S. invasion of Iraq made the Middle East even more broken and dangerous, or less broken and dangerous.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

KERRYS' MAN SADDMA WAS NOT SUCH A NICE OLD MAN AS HOWARD DEAN WANTS US TO BELIEVE:

Report: Saddam Harbored Terrorists Who Killed Americans

Saddam Hussein supplied financial support, training and shelter for an array of deadly terrorist organizations right up until the onset of the Iraq war a year ago, including such notorious groups as Hamas, Ansar al-Islam, the Palestinian Liberation Front, the Abu Nidal Organization and the Arab Liberation Front, according to a comprehensive report released by the Hudson Institute.

Titled "Saddam's Philanthropy of Terror," the report details the role played by terrorists supported by Saddam's regime in an array of infamous attacks that have killed hundreds of American citizens both inside and outside the U.S. before and after the Sept. 11 attacks - including the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the Palestinian Intifada.

Compiled by Deroy Murdock, a Senior Fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Va., and columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, the report chronicles Saddam's support for:


Abdul Rahman Yasin, who was indicted for mixing the chemicals for the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six New Yorkers and injured over 1,000. Yasin fled to Baghdad after the attack, where he was given sanctuary and lived for years afterward.

Khala Khadar al-Salahat, a top Palestinian deputy to Abu Nidal, who reportedly furnished Libyan agents with the Semtex explosive used to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. The attack killed all 259 passengers, including 189 Americans. Al-Salahat was in Baghdad last April and was taken into custody by U.S. Marines.

Abu Nidal, whose terror organization is credited with dozens of attacks that killed over 400 people, including 10 Americans, and wounding 788 more. Nidal lived in Baghdad from 1999 till August 2002, when he was found shot to death in his state-supplied home.

Abu Abbas, who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, during which wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghoffer was pushed over the side to his death. U.S. troops captured Abbas in Baghdad on April 14, 2003. He died in U.S. custody last week.

Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who ran an Ansar al-Islam terrorist training camp in northern Iraq and reportedly arranged the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan. Al Zarqawi is still at large.

Ramzi Yousef, who entered the U.S. on an Iraqi passport and was the architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as Operation Bojinka, a foiled plot to explode 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific. Bojinka was later adopted by Yousef's cousin Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the blueprint for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Arrested in Pakistan in 1995, Yousef is currently serving a triple life sentence in Colorado's Supermax federal lockup.


Mahmoud Besharat, the Palestinian businessman who traveled to Baghdad in March 2002 to collect funding from Saddam for the Palestinian Intifada. Besharat and others disbursed the funds in payments of $10,000 to $25,000 to West Bank families of terrorists who died trying to kill Israelis.
After Saddam announced his Intifada reward plan, 28 Palestinian homicide bombers killed 211 Israelis in attacks that also killed 12 Americans. A total of 1,209 people were injured.

For more details on Saddam Hussein's sponsorship of the terrorist networks that killed hundreds of innocent U.S. citizens, go to: http://www.hudson.org/files/publications/murdocksaddamarticle.pdf

Posted by: KEISER at March 15, 2004 03:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Iraq is not part of the war against Bin Laden and Islamicist terror."

"We just need to admit that,..."

There's no need to "admit" that, if it isn't true. In WWII, there was a lot of fighting in North Africa. Joseph Stalin would have preferred to have an immediate U.S. and British assault on France. But the governments of the U.S. and Britain chose North Africa first.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 04:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Spanish are COWARDS. Why? Because a terrorist group just KILLED over 200 of their people and instead of taking on this terrorist group and making them pay for their crimes, they start pointing fingers at their government and saying "ohhh, you shouldn't have gotten us involved in the first place!". That's a COWARDLY RESPONSE. How did the United States respond when Osama hit us on 9/11? The U.S. went in and wiped out the Al Queda and their sympathizers in Afganistan. On 3/11, when the terrorists struck Spain, how did the Spanish people respond? They voted out their current government and put in a new government that vowed to take their petty 1,300 peacekeeping force out. The next thing the Spanish Goverment will probably do is issue a public apology to Al Queda and beg their forgiveness so that the terrorists will leave Spain alone in the future. You know what...DREAM ON. This sign of weakness by Spain and its people will make it the prime target of terrorism everywhere.

Here's a good analogy of Spain's reaction to their 3/11 crisis. Al-Queda punches Spain, and instead of punching that person back, it cries foul and points a finger at its Government and say "Oh it's all YOUR fault...you caused it all!" and take their troops out in prays that they won't get punched by Al-Queda again (good luck!!!). On 9/11, when someone hit the U.S., the response was an all-out-war on Al-Queda and the US gave them a good beating.

I'm not racist -- I'm just telling it like it is...The Spanish voters clearly showed they are cowards and run away from danger. They think Terrorism applies only to the U.S. and that somehow, it is ONLY the US's problem, not theirs. They responded to terrorism by GIVING INTO IT -- by withdrawing their troops shows their sign of weakness and their wavering stance on terrorism. They respond to terrorism by electing a government that has a WEAK stance against terrorism. They respond to terrorism by pointing the finger AWAY from the murderers of their 200 people -- the Al-Queda -- and instead, they choose to punish their ruling party which fought hard against terrorism in the world. They are weak because they place the blame of the terrorist attack on their government and on their involvement in Iraq rather than the terrorists themselves. The people of Spain, through their votes in the election, have declared that they are not angry at the terrorists -- they are angry at their government for the murders of their 200 people. One word to describe Spain is "WEAK" -- THE SPANISH ARE ALL COWARDS. Why? Because if someone punches you, you punch them back -- you don't point a finger at your government for the crimes commited by terrorists that killed your people.

Posted by: kenneth at March 15, 2004 04:12 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Bahner,

Last I checked, the war on Terrorism is supposed to be about democracy.

You defend the action in Iraq because it might bring democracy there, while not acting surely would have prevented it, and then go on to claim that you're not worried about democracy, but liberty, since you're a libertarian.

You have a strange and oscillating single vision on Iraq.

For, even if democracy comes to Iraq, I can assure you that liberty as you expect it for yourself will not be forthcoming there for an even longer period.

To my knowledge, Sistani will assure that democracy comes to Iraq, and it will not be libertarian, I assure you.

As for being a libertarian, you are quite the minority, aren't you? Not only supporting an unnecessary war, but also the Big Government Security State vision of Bush.

What is your libertarian pedigree, Mark Bahner? Von Mises? Hayek? Rothbard? You ought to come clean, because your argument is just confusing.

Though, I should add out of fairness, I find these words of yours more valuable...

The question is whether the invasion of Iraq made people in the U.S. safer, or less safe. I don't know the answer for certain (more time will help in judging), but my guess so far is that it made the U.S. more safe.

I don't see how it could have affected whether we're safer or not, since Saddam didn't have WMD. No WMD, no threat. If anything, it's weakened our alliances and perception around the world, and stirred up more terrorist recruitment, so the better guess, if one is going to be made, would be that we are less safe (though I don't think Iraq was a realistic threat to our safety at the time of war, so it's not even a question for me).

I don't see that there is any question that, before the U.S. invaded Iraq, the Middle East was "broken"...and "broken" in a way that was dangerous to people in the U.S. The question is whether the U.S. invasion of Iraq made the Middle East even more broken and dangerous, or less broken and dangerous.

But, where was Al Qaeda emerging? Surely not from Iraq. If anything, Iraq was run by a strongman who assured that Islamicist terrorists did not threaten his rule. So, though he was clearly a despot, one could argue that Iraq was one of the safer areas in terms of dealing with the Al Qaeda threat.

Instead, as I said, we blurred the picture, and no true libertarian, in my opinion, can support the Big Government and abuse of science of the Bush Administration.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 04:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Bahner, you of all people need to start thinking out of the box."

I already do. I vote straight ticket Libertarian. Less than 1% of the people in the U.S. have climbed out of the "Big Government = Good" box that Democrats AND Republicans are in.

So having proclaimed your irrelevancy for all to see will you be making any constructive contribution to continuing democracy in this country come november. Or are you just going to debate the pants off those that might actualy want to get something done.

Your vote is both a right and a privilige and you are very priviliged to live were you do and would do well to rumiinate on that fact.

Posted by: postit at March 15, 2004 04:14 PM | PERMALINK

There's no need to "admit" that, if it isn't true. In WWII, there was a lot of fighting in North Africa. Joseph Stalin would have preferred to have an immediate U.S. and British assault on France. But the governments of the U.S. and Britain chose North Africa first.

This statement is almost clownish Bahner. We fought in North Africa to secure the oil fields from German forces, which is why they were there. We weren't fighting North Africans, per se, but our enemies, the Germans.

Unless you want to claim that all Islamic people are our enemy, or all despots, than going to war with Iraq to get Al Qaeda is nonsense. As I mentioned, Saddam wouldn't have trusted Bin Laden at all, since he was only concerned with holding on to his own power and spreading his own influence.

As for despots, you asked earlier which of our alliance was a despot committing torture. Uzbekistan. Go look it up.

And, last I checked we went to Iraq to depose Saddam and not to fight the people of Iraq. What does that specifically have to do with getting Bin Laden and Al Qaeda?

To be honest, deposing Saddam at some point can be argued persuasively and successfully, but to do so as we did, in turning world opinion against us, only adds fuel to the fire of terrorism.

And that really does matter Bahner.

Also, there has never been real liberty (for all) without it being a condition that sovereignty lies in the people. This will only work practically, and with accountability, with democracy, by government being giving legimitacy by the people to represent their interests.

I never claimed you'd need a national referendum, or direct democracy, to determine every course of action. At the same time, when 90% of people you represent oppose an action, even after you've inundated them with your case through the media you have unprecedented access to, you need to listen to them.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 04:22 PM | PERMALINK

kenneth is still arguing against the straw man.

the spanish people were jostled from thinking of a positive economy by the bombings, noticed how their government was deceptively trying to blame the Basques in order to maintain power, and what resulted was a record turnout at the polls.

Democracy prevailed over both terrorists and crony capitalists.

Bin Laden lost, Aznar lost, and the people of Spain won.

Now, perhaps their leaders will listen to them.

And, don't forget, the election was really tight before the bombings, with the opposition gaining momentum, but Kenneth just wants to focus on the bombings and make up a story about the Spanish people changing their votes and pointing fingers at their leaders.

That's not what happened. Instead, they did notice that their leaders were cynically pointing fingers at the ETA when they pretty much knew all along it was Islamicist terrorists.

Accountability sucks, and I'm sure some champions of liberty, like Mark Bahner, would rather not have to deal with it. But that's the stuff of democracy, which assures more than anything every person's liberty and freedom of expression.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 04:28 PM | PERMALINK

And no matter what Bahner says, you can't defend the war in Iraq and not defend democracy.

Bush says it's about democracy. Blair says its about democracy. The EU responded after the bombings in Spain that it was an attack against "freedom and democracy".

Bahner seems to be arguing a case for war that doesn't exist and hasn't been championed by any real world actors.

Defending the Constitution doesn't mean suspending and trashing it in the aftermath of a single spectacular terrorist attack.

I'm ashamed of the cowardly "shepherding" by our leadership in America, spreading fear rather than rising above it.

Ashamed.

Posted by: jimm at March 15, 2004 04:36 PM | PERMALINK

Since the support for Aznar was dropping in the weeks leading up to the election, and since 90% of the Spanish voters opposed Spanish participation in the war in Iraq, it is not possible to tell whether this is a victory for al Qaeda, even if we think that al Qaeda did it to achieve a particular goal.

However, the al Qaeda spokesmen who claimed credit for the bombing said that they did it to punish Spain for participating both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. If the Spanish govt. now decides to withdraw from the work in Afghanistan, that will definitely be a victory for al Qaeda.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at March 15, 2004 04:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Last I checked, the war on Terrorism is supposed to be about democracy."

I don't even agree that there is a "war on terrorism." Terrorism is a crime. I don't think, under the Constitution, the U.S. is at war with anyone.

But if there WERE a "war on terrorism," I totally disagree that it would be "about democracy." The function of the U.S. federal government is to defend people in the United States...NOT to support democracy. (If supporting democracy defends people in the U.S., then that's great. Kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes.)

"You defend the action in Iraq because it might bring democracy there,..."

I defend the action in Iraq because it might bring democracy there ONLY because bringing democracy there also might make people in the U.S. safer.

"For, even if democracy comes to Iraq, I can assure you that liberty as you expect it for yourself will not be forthcoming there for an even longer period."

I can virtually guarantee you that the people of Iraq will be have more liberty (be freer) than they had (were) under Saddam Hussein! There are two organizations that rank freedom around the world: Freedom House ranks political and civil liberties freedom, and the Heritage Foundation ranks economic freedom.

I'd be happy to bet you any amount of money, up to $100, that both organizations will rank Iraq higher 3 years from now, than they did before the U.S. invaded Iraq. (In the case of Freedom House, that wouldn't be hard, because Iraq had the lowest possible ranking of political and civil liberties freedom!)

"I don't see how it could have affected whether we're safer or not, since Saddam didn't have WMD."

Saddam Hussein sheltered (and even paid) Iraqi Ramzi Yousef to mastermind the 1993 WTC bombing. That bombing killed 6 people, and wounded more than 1000. But it's pure luck that it didn't kill hundreds of people. And it's not out of the realm of possibility that it could have caused collapse of a portion of one WTC tower. (That was the goal!)

http://www.fas.org/irp/world/iraq/956-tni.htm

So if you think it's necessary for an organization to have "WMD" in order to kill lots and lots of people, you apparently haven't heard about the attacks in Spain! (Or 9/11.)

"But, where was Al Qaeda emerging? Surely not from Iraq."

Ramzi Yousef came from Iraq! As I wrote, and as the article I linked to says, Ramzi Yousef tried to bring down the WTC towers in 1993. The only difference between him and the 9/11 hijackers is that he didn't succeed.

Further, Saddam Hussein sheltered Abdul Raman Yasin AFTER the 1993 WTC attack:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-09-17-iraq-wtc_x.htm

But I don't expect those facts make any difference to you, do they?

"Instead, as I said, we blurred the picture, and no true libertarian, in my opinion,..."

Well, you're not even close to a "true libertarian"...and since I AM a "true libertarian" (even better, I'm a true Libertarian with a capital "L")...I don't much care what you think a "true libertarian" would do or wouldn't do.

"...can support the Big Government and abuse of science of the Bush Administration."

I think I've already posted here that I didn't vote for Bush in 2000, and I won't in 2004. And "abuse of science" is wildly off-topic.

A question that's at least closer to on-topic is whether G.W. Bush did the right thing to take out Saddam Hussein and his sons?

But the REAL question is, "Did Al Qaeda change the results of the election in Spain with their bombing?" (Assuming it was Al Qaeda's bombing.)

I think a preponderance (i.e. a majority) of evidence shows that Al Qaeda did change the results of the Spanish election.


Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 04:49 PM | PERMALINK

"So having proclaimed your irrelevancy for all to see will you be making any constructive contribution to continuing democracy in this country come november."

Yes, I will be making a constructive contribution to FREEDOM in this county come November. But Democrats and your Republican friends will be busily working to destroy freedom, so my contribution will likely be overwhelmed. Well, "Remember the Alamo!"

"Your vote is both a right and a privilige and you are very priviliged to live were you do and would do well to rumiinate on that fact."

There is ZERO doubt that Libertarians like me are more true to the Constitution of the U.S. on which this country is SUPPOSED to be based than Democrats or Republicans. We are THE Party of the ideals on which this country was founded. You Democrats and your Republican friends actively work against the ideals on which this country was founded. (And even worse, y'all completely support the federal government massively violating The Law as set forth in the Constitution.)


Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 04:55 PM | PERMALINK

There is ZERO doubt that Libertarians like me are more true to the Constitution of the U.S. on which this country is SUPPOSED to be based than Democrats or Republicans.

In your mind, that is probably true. Outside of your mind, there is considerable doubt of that.

Posted by: cmdicely at March 15, 2004 04:59 PM | PERMALINK

"We weren't fighting North Africans, per se, but our enemies, the Germans."

I didn't say we were fighting North Africans. I said we were fighting IN North Africa.

There are people (even within the governments) of both Saudi Arabia and Iran that want to kill U.S. citizens. But G.W. Bush has decided, as Commander in Chief, that it's not a good idea to militarily attack Saudi Arabia or Iran. That's a military decision.

By the way, do you agree with it, or disagree? Do you think the U.S. should militarily bring down the governments of Saudi Arabia or Iran?

"As for despots, you asked earlier which of our alliance was a despot committing torture. Uzbekistan. Go look it up."

How is Uzbekistan helping in the war against Iraq?

"Unless you want to claim that all Islamic people are our enemy, or all despots, than going to war with Iraq..."

The U.S. did not go to war with Iraq. The U.S. waged war on Saddam Hussein's completely unelected government.

"I never claimed you'd need a national referendum, or direct democracy, to determine every course of action. At the same time, when 90% of people you represent oppose an action, even after you've inundated them with your case through the media you have unprecedented access to, you need to listen to them."

As far as I know, Jose Aznar *did* listen. He thought they were wrong.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 05:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think a preponderance (i.e. a majority) of evidence shows that Al Qaeda did change the results of the Spanish election.

Then you shouldn't have any problems providing a link[s] to back that up.

Posted by: Thumb at March 15, 2004 05:11 PM | PERMALINK

"But that's the stuff of democracy, which assures more than anything every person's liberty and freedom of expression."

Bwahahahahaha! Apparently, you've never heard of Campaign Finance Reform, whereby you Democratic fascists, and your fascist Republican friends, get to throw people in prison for saying the "wrong" things too close to elections!

So much for liberty and freedom of expression!

I better get dinner, before I'm rendered too nauseous by your commitment to liberty and freedom of expression.

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 05:12 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote, "I think a preponderance (i.e. a majority) of evidence shows that Al Qaeda did change the results of the Spanish election."

Thumb responded, "Then you shouldn't have any problems providing a link[s] to back that up."

It's in all the papers, Thumb:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_16-3-2004_pg1_4

"Zapatero heads the Socialist Party (PSOE) which in a shock victory trumped the outgoing conservative Popular Party (PP)..."

Why do you think they characterized it as a "shock victory," if it wasn't an unexpected event?

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 15, 2004 05:18 PM | PERMALINK

The election in Spain was apparently decided by a higher turnout of young voters.
Traditionally young voters are more left wing and if you look at the results, the figures show that trend. The few percent difference between the polls before the attack and the result can be explained by their participation.
Of course, without the brutal murder of 200 people, they would not have taken part in the election, but the attack did not influence the way they voted significantly.
The voters did not vote for terrorism or against Bush: they simply voted to elect their government.
Now that government will do what it has said in its campaign: leave the Iraq quagmire and resume the fight against terrorism the way they think is best even if that, now, gives the impression that terrorism has scored a victory.

Posted by: ElderEurope at March 15, 2004 05:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I doubt you, or anyone, will read this buried at the end of this HUGE thread, but:

"If (if!) the Spanish electorate was punishing Aznar solely because they perceived his actions as being anti-terrorist enough to provoke an al-Qaeda attack, the terrorists have accomplished their goal: the Spanish public has shown that if they are attacked they will vote against a politician who strongly opposed the terrorists."

Not true! If (if!) so, then the Spanish might be saying they prefer someone who *moderately* opposes the terrorists.

Moderate methods might be more effective -- they may still result in the location and capture of existing terrorists, and yet not be so in-your-face and egotistical that they provide inspiration for new al Qaeda recruits to carry out new attacks and decrease the West's popularity with Muslim countries, as Aznar's (Bush's) over-the-top policies have.

In which case, how have the terrorists accomplished their goal?

Also: perhaps your assumption is wrong and al Qaeda's goal was not to cow Spain into choosing a less pugnacious leader, but to rile it up so that they could get their global war on and have a final worldwide jihad. That's what they've said their goal was in the past, anyway. In which case Aznar's defeat is a defeat for al Qaeda.

Posted by: DanM at March 15, 2004 08:21 PM | PERMALINK

RE: BRAD -- "Donald from Hawaii, what do you think the Bush administration is doing? They are going directly to the root of terrorism -- lack of freedom, education, poverty, etc.... The cure is Democracy and that is what we are trying to bring to Iraq and Afghanistan."

I'm somewhat baffled by both your leading question and your generic response that you so graciously supplied in answer to your own inquiry. You sound more intelligent that that, and I really expected better from you than glittering generalities

Frankly, while the Bush Administration and its supporters "talk the talk" -- and do so with aplomb -- their actions toward Iraq and Afghanistan with regards to details about funding, programs, planning, etc., belie your own statements.

Hell, they even initially failed to appropriate ANY funding for Afghanistan in their budgeting for last year! Does that sound like they're fully engaged to you?

Bush & Co., Ltd. have yet to "walk the walk" on Iraq and Afghanistan -- or any other issue, for that matter.

I'll bet that you probably couldn't even tell me within $5 billion dollars how much was actually appropriated for humanitarian purposes in Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone what was actually released.

Save the cheap and emotionally manipulative "terrorists hate freedom" rhetoric for the ignoramuses who watch FOX News Channel.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii at March 15, 2004 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

Bush withdraws troops from Saudi Arabia precisely as bin Laden demands...and of course the terrorists win ! Was the war against the infidel Saddam just a sneaky way for Bush to capitulate to al Qaeda on the Saudi question ? It seems likely, especially since Rumsfeld and his troop-lite approach to intervention let bin Laden slip away from Tora Bora.

Christ, the Bushies make the Spanish Socialists seem like intransigent enemies of terrorism when you compare threatening to withdraw 1000 Spaniards from Iraq to withdrawing tens of thousands of armed Americans from the Royal Oil Kingdom.

Rational, right-thinking people clearly understand that the only correct way to operate in the current world situation is to try to figure out what bin Laden wants and proceed to do the exact opposite. Which is why Bush would support gay marriage if he really had any guts.

Posted by: brucds at March 15, 2004 08:39 PM | PERMALINK

I've been off for awhile, and apologize to Bahner for not responding.

Bahner, I'm not going to rebut any of your assertions until you answer the question I asked of you previously:

What is your libertarian pedigree, Mark Bahner? Von Mises? Hayek? Rothbard? You ought to come clean, because your argument is just confusing.

Better study up real quick on your libertarian theory, since it is not a unified body of thought, but actually greatly differentiated in a few camps.

As for your rebuttals, we could take this thread ad nauseum, but let's save it for another battle.

In short though, you are right to say that Uzbekistan is not involved in Iraq, but they are one of our so-called allies in the war on terror, which uses primarily as a strategy winning the hearts and minds of the world over to our way of life, which is liberal democracy.

And Bahner, last I checked with the president, there is a war on terror, and not a law enforcement action. Wish all you want - I'll follow the facts where they lead (though I would much prefer that there wasn't a "war against terror" per se...).

Also, you probably ought to address that the Libertarian Party is vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq.

Until you do those two things, what more do we need to talk about? What libertarian camp are you in, and how, as a big L libertarian, do you support the war against Iraq?

Additionally, please submit the world you live in, and mind, as opposed to the real world, and why your version the rest of us ought to construct with you.

Posted by: jimm at March 16, 2004 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Cut the crap, tell us why the WOT is not a police action.

Differentiate, real world.

Posted by: perpwalk at March 16, 2004 01:52 AM | PERMALINK

brucds

But bush clearly has no guts, but well said, bravo, LOL!!!

Posted by: Duckman GR at March 16, 2004 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

The only victory for Al-Qaida has been the war in Iraq, which has taken down one of their "socialist" enemies and breathed new life into their organization by lifting the pressure on them in Afghanistan. The only appeaser around here is Mr. George W. Bush, for which he should be tried for treason and hung

Posted by: Kevin in Belgium at March 16, 2004 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

jimm writes, "I've been off for awhile, and apologize to Bahner for not responding."

I didn't miss you, so there’s no need to apologize to me.

"Bahner, I'm not going to rebut any of your assertions until you answer the question I asked of you previously: What is your libertarian pedigree, Mark Bahner?"

I'm a card-carrying, contributing, straight-ticket-voting member of the one and only Libertarian Party of the United States. And I don't appreciate big government mutts like you questioning my "libertarian pedigree!" My bona fides as a libertarian are a damn sight better than yours, I reckon!

"In short though, you are right to say that Uzbekistan is not involved in Iraq, but they are one of our so-called allies in the war on terror,.."

Probably much as the U.S.S.R. was an ally of Great Britain and the U.S. in WWII. (As Sir Winston Churchill remarked, "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.")

"And Bahner, last I checked with the president, there is a war on terror, and not a law enforcement action."

If you rely on any president--most assuredly including G.W. Bush--for interpretations of the Constitution, then you are a fool. The Constitution no more allows a "war on terrorism" than it allows a "war on communism" or a "war on drugs."

"Also, you probably ought to address that the Libertarian Party is vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq."

The Libertarian Party is composed of its membership. A substantial majority (maybe 70%?) of the members of the Libertarian Party were opposed to the war in Iraq. That means that 30% supported the war in Iraq. This is no big deal. Libertarians of goodwill, honesty, and intelligence disagree about many matters.

Here is a press release with some quotes from Steve Dasbach (formerly the LP Executive Director):

http://www.lp.org/press/archive.php?function=view&record=598

It contains a lot of Mr. Dasbach’s opinions, and a few errors in logic. There’s no need to go over every quote in detail: I agree with Mr. Dasbach in the parts where he’s right, and disagree with him in the parts where he’s wrong. And where he’s stating his opinions, sometimes I agree, and sometimes I disagree. In short, what a majority of the membership of the Libertarian Party thinks has absolutely nothing to do with what is right and what is wrong. As a Democrat, you seem to continuously make that mistake (thinking that right and wrong are determined by majority opinion).

“Until you do those two things, what more do we need to talk about?”

I don’t think we need to talk about anything more, jimm. I think you’re an arrogant jerk. You constantly assert things that are almost certainly NOT true (e.g., there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda) as though they were unquestionable facts. You obviously don’t have the first clue about the Constitution (“And Bahner, last I checked with the president, there is a war on terror,…”). Finally, you have the gall to question MY “libertarian pedigree,” while all your writing points to the conclusion that you are simply a big-government leftist Democrat. (Or perhaps even a Green.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 16, 2004 03:05 PM | PERMALINK

And invading Iraq was "toughness on terrorism?" I thought you've been paying attention the last year or so. Iraq had no goddamned thing to do with Al Qaeda or terrorism. -- grytpype --

I agree completely. The war on Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism - unless you consider taking the pressure off al-Qaeda to be fighting terrorism (effectively). Or super-charging anti-American sentiment.

If anything, the Spanish electorate punished Aznar for his assinine support of the Iraq invasion which consumed valuable resources which could have been better used to fight terrorism at home - ideally preventing the Spanish attacks.

As someone else mentioned, the electorate believed up until the times of the attacks that Aznar had done a good job of fighting terrorism - but he blew it by dedicating resources to Iraq.

Posted by: Peter at March 16, 2004 05:45 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, you have the gall to question MY “libertarian pedigree,” while all your writing points to the conclusion that you are simply a big-government leftist Democrat. (Or perhaps even a Green.)

Bahner, I guess neither of us are enjoying this, so I'll do my part and let it go.

I do understand our Constitution, and also understand that the Right ridicules the idea of police actions against terror. I, on the other hand, realize that it ought to be a police action, and also that our Constitution only allows the Congress to declare war.

If you pay any attention to my writings, you would find that I am anything but a Big Government Democrat. Day after day, I rail against Big Bigs, whether it's government, media, corporations, etc.

As a classical liberal, I find them all stifling, and with natural tendencies to use their powers to impose their will over others (often over others rights as well).

Also, as a classical liberal, your Libertarian Party arises out of that tradition, and I am plenty willing to pick through the good and bad portions of the various libertarian clans, whether the streams led by Rothbard, Von Mises, Rand, or Hayek.

Though, I must admit, I've never encountered a libertarian who wasn't fully prepared to defend his beliefs, but instead chose to just call himself a member of the Libertarian Party, and then ridiculed people for taking the very position on the war in Iraq that the leader of his party took.

Posted by: jimm at March 17, 2004 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Im spanish.
You are using an erroneous silogism:

Al Qaeda bombs -> spanish frigtening -> Aznar voted out

No, no and no. This is the right one:

We dont like wars -> Aznar brouht us a war -> we kickd Aznar

Posted by: jabalí at March 17, 2004 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that Aznar said from the beggining that the terrorist attacks were perpetrated by ETA is because he knew the Socialists would end up manipulating the feelings of the spanish people with this fact. As you may know, socialists all over the world manipulate the news most of the time.

I always thought it was al-Qaeda, and also tought that the gov't would be quiet on this just after the elections, but it so happens that a Madrid TV station received a phone call on some video taped by some muslims and they had to say that al-Qaeda might be behind the attacks, before this TV station came up with the news.

Also, at first I also thought it was ETA, but not because the gov't said so, but because ETA's been killing people for almost 40 years now, so...

I'm going to ask you a favor, when you refer to ETA, please don't call it a separatist group, but rather call it for what they really are, a terrorist group. Thanks in advance.

Kind regards,

Posted by: FrankPereiro at March 17, 2004 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

jimm writes, "I do understand our Constitution,..."

Then why in the world would you write, "And Bahner, last I checked with the president, there is a war on terror,..."?

If you truly do understand the Constitution, you must know that G.W. Bush couldn't tell the difference between the Constitution and a piece of toilet paper. (Just as Bill Clinton before him, and G.H.W. Bush before him, and Ronald Reagan before him, and Jimmy Carter before him, etc. ad nauseum.) Why would you "check with the President," if you truly know the Constitution?

jimm continues, "If you pay any attention to my writings, you would find that I am anything but a Big Government Democrat."

Well, who did you vote for President in 2000? How about for members of Congress in your district? And who did you vote for in 1996?

"Though, I must admit, I've never encountered a libertarian who wasn't fully prepared to defend his beliefs,..."

You did not ask me about my "beliefs." You asked me about my "pedigree." I took that as a questioning of my "purity" as a libertarian.

"...but instead chose to just call himself a member of the Libertarian Party,..."

I wrote that because I think the fact that I’m a straight-ticket-voting, contributing member of the Libertarian Party establishes my “pedigree” as a "libertarian." In fact, it establishes my "pedigree" as a libertarian far beyond those who claim to be "libertarian," and then vote for Democrats or Republicans. (Or Ralph Nader!)

"...and then ridiculed people for taking the very position on the war in Iraq that the leader of his party took."

As far as I can tell, this discussion started with your comment (to Gunslinger), "You just don't want to acknowledge that our leaders have allowed themselves to become distracted from this mission, and in the process have undermined our name, alliances, and even democracy all around the world."

I then made the point that our "name" is irrelevant; the question of whether what we do what is right or is what's relevant. I also asked you who you meant by our "alliances"...whether that included the French government (that deliberately built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor so that he could have nuclear bombs). Finally, I asked how overthrowing a murdering tyrant who'd ruled for 24 years without once being elected could "undermine...democracy all around the world."

As far as I can tell, you never answered my questions, but instead began asking about my libertarian "pedigree."

There are good reasons to oppose the "war" in Iraq. (Starting with the fact that it's not a war, because there was no Congressional declaration of war.) There are good reasons to support the war in Iraq.

I was never critizing your opposition to the war in Iraq. I was questioning/criticizing the reasons you've given for your opposition to the war in Iraq, e.g.:

1) That is destroyed our "name" (which I consider irrelevant),

2) That it destroyed our "alliances" (I want to know with whom),

3) That it "undermined...democracy around the world" (I don't understand how), and

4) That there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. (To me, it's very clear that there *were* connections between Saddam Hussein and various Islamic terrorists...especially including those who attempted to bring down the WTC towers in 1993.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 17, 2004 02:51 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, that should have been:

"I then made the point that our 'name' is irrelevant; the question of whether what we do is right or wrong is what's relevant."

Posted by: Mark Bahner at March 17, 2004 02:55 PM | PERMALINK

Just a note on part of the initial statement in this string--

"The goal of terrorism is to affect public opinion and to scare people into not opposing the terrorists' aims."

In some cases that is true, but generally only when the terrorists have a clear, specific, and well-known political goal toward which their victims can be stampeded.

However, there's a parallel thread in terrorist thinking that goes back at least to anarchism and the radical dialectic of the Marxist era, and it seems more applicable today than the "stampede the public" theory--because other than a little vague mumbling about the oppression of their Palestinian "brothers" or getting American troops out of holy territory in Saudi Arabia, al-Qaida hasn't really specified an intent. No tapes surfaced after 9-11 urging a particular American action--in fact, an overt claim of responsibility and purpose was glaringly absent in the post-9-11 chaos. The one consistency in the tapes which have been released is a devout wish for nothing less than the fall of America.

That kind of intent seems more in keeping with the old radical rationale for acts of terrorism which seemed random and pointless, like 9-11--that their real purpose was to compel government to crack down, suspend civil liberties, and suppress dissent, ultimately bringing about widespread resistance and revolution from within. Short of an actual collapse in our particular case, the point might be to make America turn itself into such a miserable place to live that young people under repressive regimes abroad no longer look to us with envy and longing. Sure easier to keep a fundamentalist lid on them if they have nowhere to turn.

Has terrorism succeeded in Spain? Maybe so. Is it succeeding in the USA? Maybe so.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at March 18, 2004 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

The Great Native American Geronimo once said, "I will fight no more." And looking through sands of the hour glass a century late, the wise will speak and few will listen. Eventually there will be a dangerous chemical that will create a behavior known as extreme violence in the human race. Those who partake in this chemical will be damned. The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse; War, Famine, Pestilence, Death,...Whisper words of wisdom,...Let it Be, Let it be, Look away oh brother, Look away.

Posted by: "Joe Cool" at March 19, 2004 06:37 PM | PERMALINK

And to add desert to the meal posted above; "What does not leave a bad taste in your mouth today, someday will. Hitler was a terrorist of his own government body, and eventually himself and his mistress, probably his dog as well. The world is in danger of the same abuse.

Posted by: "Joe Cool" at March 19, 2004 07:08 PM | PERMALINK

After dinner mint; Nine numbers! Man has been feeding these numbers until the beast has grown to an immense scale. We have become conveniently comforted to these nine digits. The great American Cowboy had only one thing, and that one thing was allways there the whole time. We may be the Coca-Cola generation, as we will allways be traditionally asking for our fathers blessing. We are made of the same elements as our fathers. Will we make the same mistakes as they did in the past. "Cowboy-up" and realize we will allways pay for the mistakes of the little boys feeding the greedy nine number beast that could never please his father. You will never please your father on earth. It leads to destructive patterns in all aspects of living. Be converse and "slam dunk" the aspect that your more than a concours d'elegance, a little rough around the edges, tattered at the seams! "You are on course for being you, because that is who you are." And you can tell Dad to he can take that to the Bank and cash that in! If you follow his idealisms, you are bound to be distructive towards others, maybe even the ones you are close to. So sons of the world clean up your own backyard before you attempt to clean up there's. They may not like being on the phone all the time anyway!

Posted by: "Joe Cool" at March 19, 2004 08:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hello to all. Big thread! It took a lot of time to read, I hope you don't mind a large comment then :)

I write from Spain. It's interesting to see how the rest of the world sees the sad events from 11-M in Madrid and how they influenced the elections. If you are interested I would like to add some information, facts and opinions:

FACT, before 11-M
The polls said the conservatives were expected to win by a narrow margin, maybe 5% more then the socialist. Then they would have to pact to form government. In practice they could only have pacted with one small regional party, because the rest of the parties were clearly against them.
This means, they had to win because no one (except one) wanted to pact with them.

OPINION:
After they got absolute majority 4 years ago, they lost contact with the people. They made people angry in many issues (Iraq war, control of information, dictator style government, despise of other political parties or ideas).
On the plus side, their economic actions were perceived as very good, Spain was proud of being "somebody" in the world (political influence), ETA terrorism was fought effectively.
Finally, the socialist were remembered to have been very corrupted at the end of their last government 8 years ago. They had had 3 leaders in the last 8 years. Today’s leader was considered to be a nice man but still not prepared to be president (young and lack of leadership even inside his political party).
Lastly, they had the ability to get more allies than the conservatives.

FACT, DAY ONE:
11-M. The biggest terrorist attack in Spain's history. At the very first moment everybody thinks in ETA. The government says there is "no doubt" it is ETA.
Along that day, some people start to have doubts about who is responsible. At the end of the day the Government admits there are other lines of investigation, but still says, "ETA is the first suspect".
One radio station and one newspaper, however, start to diffuse news that police is working mainly in AQ direction, as opposed to what the government says.
A demonstration is called for next day by the government, against the terrorism.

OPINION:
From the very beginning I sense there are disturbing similarities between 11-M and Islamic terrorism. The government claims it is a typical ETA attack. Is the government lying to me (I must say I have sensed that way in the past, and I was not going to vote them anyway) or just blind?. I start surfing the web and find people who think like me, especially abroad.
Very very disturbing.

FACTS, FRIDAY:
The information war gets more serious. ETA is still the first suspect for the government, who has called local newspapers and foreign journalist to confirm it is ETA. They even force the European Union to condemn ETA for the attacks. They accuse whoever says another thing to be lying themselves.
The demonstration against the attacks gets 11 MILLION PEOPLE in the streets, all over the nation. That is more than 25% of the population.
Some people, a minority, protest in the demonstration against the information the government is giving, calling it misleading.
At the end of the day Spain is completely divided between the ones who accuse the government to be lying and the ones who accuse the opposition to be telling lies to get political gain (very few people is talking about Iraq).

OPINION.
During Friday, every new clue that appears is telling me: "Islamic terrorism", but the government says, "ETA is still the main suspect". They don't give me any evidence. Just "trust us". I have to choose between my reason and my government.
I feel the government is trying to lie to me. My blood burns and I decide there should be no more lying.
(Of course other people feels the opposite, they feel the government is acting well and they must support them against the socialist liars).

FACT, SATURDAY. Day before elections.
Evidence is big for AQ, police arrest some Islamic people, coranic verses, and the explosives are OF A DIFFERENT TYPE THAT ETA USES. The government say ETA is not yet free of suspicions.
Some people demonstrate against conservatives without being officially supported by any political party, to express their anger. Conservatives accuse socialist of being after this illegal demonstrations. Demonstrators say it was "spontaneous", called by SMSs and Internet (blogs).

OPINION:
I think I won't change my vote because of the terrorist, but I am convinced the conservatives are dangerous for democracy, because I feel they have lied to me.

FACT, SUNDAY, election day.
Turnout over 70%. Socialists win by 5%. Enough to rule because plenty of parties are willing to support them.
Conservatives go down from 10 millions to 9.5 millions.
Socialists go from 8 to 11 millions.

OPINION.
With a normal turnout, conservatives would probably have won. 9.5 million votes would have been enough. But my opinion is that the people who were not going to vote were mainly against them. They were not going to vote socialist because they did not trust them either, or because they did not believe in politicians in general.
But the general opinion was that the government was lying to the people, voters got angry and decided to vote against the liars.
Some (fewer) conservative voters who also felt the government were lying decided not to vote (maybe a few even voted socialist).
However, most of conservative voters did not their votes. They remained with the conservatives and most of them believed they handled the crisis fine.
So, very few people changed their favourite party, the main influenced was that people who did not conservatives but were not going to vote changed their idea and voted them out.

CONCLUSION:
I did not see fear in Spain. However say that is seriously insulting a whole nation. I saw compassion. And division over what really happened, if the government was truthful or not.

LAST:
Spain have suffered terrorism many many years. We all know terrorist can kill many, but many of us think it cannot really defeat one country.

I have read many definitions of terrorism. Here is mine: "Terrorism is a strategy to get (usually politic) goals used when direct confrontation is not possible. To do that terrorists attack people or properties to show how powerful they are. By this at the same they get more followers (who are powerful by entering the group) and try to force others to do their will".

I personally do not like the Israel way of handling terrorism. Let's say I know there is a terrorist in that building. There are more people but they are probably his friends. So I shoot a missile and kill the terrorist, 5 more people who were with him in the room, and 4 more who were in other parts of the building. Now, I get rid of 6 terrorists and possibly created 20 more, because the familiars of the other 4 people and other people who survived now hate me.
What have I solved?

Now take Iraq. There is a dictator, mass murdered, criminal and ugly leader there, Hussein. I say, I want to kill/imprison him.
To do so I invade the country and try to kill as few people as I can, but of course, that is 20000 people. Some of them are soldiers, some of them are bystanders. In the end I find Hussein and imprison him, look around and say, "People, you are free".
Of course, I did one very good thing, but at what cost? 20000 people are not freer, they are dead. And they have fathers, sons, brothers, who now hate me. Lets say for each 10 person I carelessly killed 1 person decides to get revenge. That is 2000.
Of course they are not going to declare war to me, what the will do is to join AQ who gives them the chance to get revenge.

For me Afghanistan was necessary, Iraq was a manipulation. Bush went to Iraq to get electoral gains, like Caesar went to Gallia to win the power in Rome.

No, by wars like Iraq war the world is not a "safer place". Just the opposite.

Posted by: Daniel from Spain at March 21, 2004 08:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Now take Iraq. There is a dictator, mass murdered, criminal and ugly leader there, Hussein. I say, I want to kill/imprison him."

Yes, you can "say" that all you want. But the simple *fact* is that Saddam Hussein and his sons would have been in power for at least 1 more decade, and probably 2-3 more decades, without the U.S./British military intervention.

"Of course, I did one very good thing, but at what cost? 20000 people are not freer, they are dead."

You are including deaths in Iraq's military. The civilian deaths were far, far lower (almost certainly less than 5,000). And 23,000,000 Iraqis are now free.

"No, by wars like Iraq war the world is not a "safer place". Just the opposite."

How is the world less safe, now that a mass-murdering tyrant has been overthrown, and the first Arab democracy has a chance of coming into being?

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Hello Yanki, mira, te voy a responder en español, la razon por la que nos quitamos a Aznar de enmedio no es porque seamos unos indecisos, porque para llevar solo 25 años de democracia, en calidad os sacamos 3000 años como el resto de Europa, la razon es porque Aznar nos metio en una guerra que no queriamos ningun español, solo el y sus amigos y los españoles hablamos en las urnas, es decir cada 4 años, asi que no lo pudimos hacer antes, esta guerra que llenara vuestros coches de petroleo nos ha dad ya 202 muertos y miles de familias destrozadas que muchos de ustedes nisiquiera comprendereis, estoy con aquellas victimas inocentes que tuvisteis ese fatidico 11 de septiembre, pero kevin, no nos tomes a los españoles por gilipollas, el gilipollas lo eres tu

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Vamos a ver, yo tb contestare en español ya que es mi idioma y pais, dudo que un personaje de estas dimensiones sea capaz de decir cual es el sentimiento de los españoles respeto aznar, decir que no es solo una guerra lo que cambia el curso en la politica del pais, un gobierno de extrema derecha, las cuales su politica esta pensada para la gente de las altas esferas y no para un pueblo mayoritariamente obrero, los españoles cansados de una subida de precios muy importantente en productos de primera necesidad: (+ 50 %)
o la subida de la vivienda las cuales ha cuatriplicado ( almenos ) su precio.

los españoles elegimos unoa politica para todos , no una solucion covarde, la verdad es k no me extraña que los yankes piensen que el "ansar" es buen politico pues mirando su dirigente fuselaneo no cabe ninguna duda de que el que teniamos nosotros es mejor. solo decirios k el aznar en europoa esta considerado un meketrefe y que muchos mejor politicos rondan por este continente.
Lo que es realmente preocupante es como vais los yankes pues la politica que llevais no os llevara muy lejos, le llamais pais libre y os escandalizais por la teta de la jakson k en definitiva es lo mejor k ha llegado a europa de vuestro pais en años, soy capaces de hacer el ridiculo , mostrais por el televisor cientos de muertos al año, asesinos, violadores, cada dia en las famosas noticias de las 6, pero una teta os escandaliza.
precuparos mas por la trayectoria que llevais mas que por que los españoles hemos hechado al aznar, en definitiva nuestro pais no tienen tanta mierda como el vuestro.

Posted by: wiki at June 15, 2004 01:33 AM | PERMALINK

Vamos a ver, yo tb contestare en español ya que es mi idioma y pais, dudo que un personaje de estas dimensiones sea capaz de decir cual es el sentimiento de los españoles respeto aznar, decir que no es solo una guerra lo que cambia el curso en la politica del pais, un gobierno de extrema derecha, las cuales su politica esta pensada para la gente de las altas esferas y no para un pueblo mayoritariamente obrero, los españoles cansados de una subida de precios muy importantente en productos de primera necesidad: (+ 50 %)
o la subida de la vivienda las cuales ha cuatriplicado ( almenos ) su precio.

los españoles elegimos unoa politica para todos , no una solucion covarde, la verdad es k no me extraña que los yankes piensen que el "ansar" es buen politico pues mirando su dirigente fuselaneo no cabe ninguna duda de que el que teniamos nosotros es mejor. solo decirios k el aznar en europoa esta considerado un meketrefe y que muchos mejor politicos rondan por este continente.
Lo que es realmente preocupante es como vais los yankes pues la politica que llevais no os llevara muy lejos, le llamais pais libre y os escandalizais por la teta de la jakson k en definitiva es lo mejor k ha llegado a europa de vuestro pais en años, soy capaces de hacer el ridiculo , mostrais por el televisor cientos de muertos al año, asesinos, violadores, cada dia en las famosas noticias de las 6, pero una teta os escandaliza.
precuparos mas por la trayectoria que llevais mas que por que los españoles hemos hechado al aznar, en definitiva nuestro pais no tienen tanta mierda como el vuestro.

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