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Giving in to the Terrorists: Spain says, "You Win" to Al Qaeda
Having survived an ETA assassination attempt in 1995, Aznar understood the two basic premises of any war against terrorism: Firstly, that one shall not give in or cede to the enemy under any circumstances, and secondly, that one must hunt down and eliminate the enemy using all available resources.
Aznar applied these principles ruthlessly against ETA, the Basque terrorist group. The results were devastatingly effective, as reported below in the left-wing newspaper, The Guardian, after a foiled ETA attack just two weeks ago:
Eta has been much weakened in recent years. Its attacks claimed up to 90 victims a year during the height of its activities in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but killed just three people last year. Its last two victims were police officers killed nine months ago by a bomb attached to their car.In short, Aznar proved that one could be principled AND effective in the fight against terrorism. His government did NOT negotiate or cede to the demands of terrorists.
After the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, Aznar sought to apply this same principle and determination to the new, international war on terrorism. Firstly in Afghanistan then later in Iraq, he was a resolute supporter of Bush and Blair in their battle to eliminate terrorists and despots who had shown through their actions and words a desire and capability to inflict massive harm upon peaceful citizens of their own and other countries. Public opinion in Spain was massively against him, but he held firm to his convictions. Gradually, support had ebbed back to him and his party as the election approached, as the Iraq war was slowly forgotten and as attention shifted back on to his overall performance, and in particular Spain’s improving economy.
But then came the March 11th bombings in Madrid. It was logical at first to consider the destruction to be the work of ETA. Logical, but surprising given the fact that ETA is now a crippled shadow of its former self, with a greatly reduced number of fighters and resources. A similar bomb placed in a train just before Christmas 2003 had been removed by security forces, and Spanish intelligence seemed to have the better of ETA.
And so the marches of March 12th were both an outpouring of grief for the massive loss of human life, and a united expression of anger towards ETA. If, prior to the election of March 14th, the bombing had been proved to be the work of ETA, most pundits, including this one, concluded that Aznar’s party with its new leader, Mariano Rajoy, would have returned with a large majority.
But by March 13th, it was becoming clear that the bombs may have been placed by Al Qaeda. That evening, there were renewed protests throughout Spain. But, OH, how different from the ones 24 hours earlier! There was little evidence any more of anger towards the perpetrators of the attack, now that these were perceived to be Al Qaeda, and not ETA. Instead, the blame was being pointed at none other than José Maria Aznar, for making Spain a “target” by supporting America in it’s war against Saddam Hussein.
And the rest is history. The election became a pure referendum on Aznar’s support of “Bush and Blair’s War, and as a result, his Popular Party was thrown out of power.
In short, the *logic* went that if it was ETA that had placed the bombs, Aznar was right in fighting relentlessly against a proven threat to Spaniards’ safety.
But if it was Al Qaeda who had bombed, Aznar was wrong in fighting relentlessly against a proven threat to Spain’s and its allies’ safety.
Of course, Spain could have done what France, Germany and New Zealand did and conveniently “forgotten” that it had obligations to its allies.
It is possible (but not probable) that had they done so, Spain may have benefited from the removal of Saddam Hussein (and hence a future probable menace) without placing itself in the line of fire, and thus avoiding last Thursday’s massacre.
But at what cost? It is tragic that two hundred plus lives were lost in Madrid. But it must not be forgotten that it was Al Qaeda who placed the bombs, and that Al Qaeda will keep wreaking devastation for, like ETA before it, as long as it can..
So Spain has just decided to give in. It has decided to choose as its leaders a bunch of Saddam-succouring-socialists who vow to remove Spanish forces from Iraq unless UN takes over by June, and who will no doubt start negotiating (i.e. ceding) to political groups closely associated with ETA. Spain has decided to join the likes of cowardly nations such as Germany, France and New Zealand.
Al Qaeda will face less practical resistance, and must be reveling with delight that the moral resistance has been so easily splintered. They will quite possibly grow stronger, sensing fear and weakness, and more lives will be lost, not just in the countries that have resisted them, but also, eventually, in those free, sectarian, non-Islam, or not-sufficiently-Islam countries that chose NOT to join the fight. THAT is what happens when one cedes to terrorists and despots.
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