JosÃƒÂ© MarÃƒÂa Aznar
In the current issue of Imprimis, former Prime MInister of Spain, JosÃƒ© MarÃƒa Aznar, has advice on the problems facing Europe;
Another widely held belief, especially among Europeans, is that the allegedly simplistic, aggressive and imperialist reaction to September 11 by President George W. Bush’s administration has only served to fan the flames of anti-Western resentment and violence. Advocates of this view also believe that poverty is the result of the American system’s Wild West- style capitalism. What is more, they claim that if the United States had acted with the wisdom and tact that characterizes Europeans-supposedly acquired through centuries of internal squabbling and intrigue-the situation would be better today. These views are also grossly mistaken.
I hardly need to point out the fact that Bin Laden’s crusade dates back to long before President Bush entertained any presidential ambitions, although this matters little to anti-American minds. The current occupant of the White House represents to them nothing more than an evangelical radicalization of Bill Clinton, being the representative of the supposedly ultra-conservative American heartland.
In reply, I have only this to say, and it is something of which I am entirely convinced: Weakness only encourages terrorists to continue perpetrating their atrocities. And let us not forget, there is no greater success for terrorists than that of being able to continue their operations. The weak responses of the 1980s and 90s consisted of reacting to one Islamic terrorist attack after another with gestures rather than firm measures. We Europeans have always preferred to look the other way, in the false and comfortable belief that Bin Laden and others like him are punishing the Americans for their policies, rather than for what they are and what they represent. During the Cold War, we told ourselves that if a nuclear confrontation should actually take place, it would pass over our heads and scarcely affect us. Something similar has happened in the case of Islamic fundamentalism: all of its venom is directed against America, so we imagine that we can again sleep easily.