Terrorists Win in Spain II

A flurry of articles on this topic have hit the mainstream punditocracy. Christopher Hitchens notes the “nutty logic” exhibited by Spain’s Left:

Many Spaniards were among those killed recently in Morocco, where a jihadist bomb attack on an ancient Moorish synagogue took place in broad daylight. The attack was on Morocco itself, which was neutral in the recent Iraq war. It seems a bit late to demand that the Moroccan government change sides and support Saddam Hussein in that conflict, and I suspect that the Spanish Communist and socialist leadership would feel a little sheepish in making this suggestion. Nor is it obvious to me that the local Moroccan jihadists would stop bombing if this concession were made. Still, such a concession would be consistent with the above syllogism, as presumably would be a demand that Morocco cease to tempt fate by allowing synagogues on its soil in the first place.

The Turkish government, too, should be condemned for allowing its Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to visit the shattered synagogue in Istanbul after the latest mass murder (thus becoming, incidentally, the first Turkish prime minister ever to do so). Erdogan is also the first prime minister ever to be elected on an Islamist ticket. Clearly, he was asking for trouble and has not yet understood al-Qaida’s conditions for being allowed to lead a quiet life. Not that he hadn’t tried—he prevented the U.S. Army from approaching Baghdad through what is now known as the Sunni Triangle. He just hasn’t tried hard enough.

It cannot be very long now before some slaughter occurs on the streets of London or Rome or Warsaw, as punishment for British and Italian and Polish membership of the anti-Saddam coalition. But perhaps there is still time to avoid the wrath to come. If British and Italian and Polish troops make haste to leave the Iraqis to their own “devices” (of the sort that exploded outside the mosques of Karbala and Najaf last month), their civilian cousins may still hope to escape the stern disapproval of the holy warriors. Don’t ask why the holy warriors blow up mosques by the way—it’s none of your goddam crusader-Jew business.

Quite right.

Mark Steyn goes even further, charging that “the Spanish dishonoured their dead.”

At the end of last week, American friends kept saying to me: “3/11 is Europe’s 9/11. They get it now.” I expressed scepticism. And I very much doubt whether March 11 will be a day that will live in infamy. Rather, March 14 seems likely to be the date bequeathed to posterity, in the way we remember those grim markers on the road to conflagration through the 1930s, the tactical surrenders that made disaster inevitable. All those umbrellas in the rain at Friday’s marches proved to be pretty pictures for the cameras, nothing more. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the slain. In the three days between the slaughter and the vote, it was widely reported that the atrocity had been designed to influence the election. In allowing it to do so, the Spanish knowingly made Sunday a victory for appeasement and dishonoured their own dead.

And, if it works in Spain, why not in Australia, Britain, Italy, Poland? In his 1996 “Declaration of War Against the Americans”, Bin Laden cited Washington’s feebleness in the face of the 1992 Aden hotel bombings and the Black Hawk Down business in Somalia in 1993: “You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew,” he wrote. “The extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear.” To the jihadis’ way of thinking, on Thursday, the Spaniards were disgraced by Allah; on Sunday, they withdrew. The extent of their impotence and weaknesses is very clear.


For the non-complacent, the question is fast becoming whether “civilised society” in much of Europe is already too “undermined”. Last Friday, for a brief moment, it looked as if a few brave editorialists on the Continent finally grasped that global terrorism is a real threat to Europe, and not just a Bush racket. But even then they weren’t proposing that the Continent should rise up and prosecute the war, only that they be less snippy in their carping from the sidelines as America gets on with it. Spain was Washington’s principal Continental ally, and what does that boil down to in practice? 1,300 troops. That’s fewer than what the New Hampshire National Guard is contributing.

The other day, the editor of Le Monde, writing in the Wall Street Journal, dismissed as utterly false the widespread belief among all Americans except John Kerry’s campaign staff that France is a worthless ally: “Let us remember here,” he wrote, “the involvement of French and German soldiers, among other European nationalities, in the operations launched in Afghanistan to pursue the Taliban, track down bin Laden and attempt to free the Afghans.”

Oh, put a baguette in it, will you? The Continentals didn’t “launch” anything in Afghanistan. They showed up when the war was over – after the Taliban had been toppled and the Afghans liberated. And a few hundred Nato troops in post-combat mopping-up operations barely registers in the scale against the gazillions of Americans defending the Continent so that EU governments can blow their defence budgets on welfare programmes that make the citizens ever more enervated and dependent.

Thomas Oliphant takes the opposing view, citing the events of Saturday as “Spain’s vote against mendacity.”

Governments that lie and cover up on matters not only central to national security but also to the commitment of armed forces abroad are inviting rejection.

Governments that seek to use events as unspeakable as mass murder for political purposes are doing the same. It was clear something was wrong within hours of last Thursday’s bombings in Madrid. Virtually all of the sketchy information being gathered by US officials here and abroad pointed in the direction of Al Qaeda and away from the Basque terrorist group known as ETA.

But all the Spanish government’s statements pointed in ETA’s direction, and the Bush administration decided to suppress its own knowledge and evidence-based suspicions to the contrary in order to support one of its few unquestioning allies in the occupation of Iraq virtually on the eve of the national elections the bombings were obviously timed to influence.

This is indeed a fair point. Of course, the winning socialists were also playing politics with the terrorist attacks. As John O’Sullivan notes,

The People’s Party lost for one reason only: The police investigation increasingly suggested that the Madrid bombs were the work of al-Qaida. Hence they were seen as retaliation for the Aznar government’s support of the U.S. war in Iraq. And a majority of Spaniards decided by their votes to blame not al-Qaida but Aznar’s party for the 201 deaths.


Osama bin Laden will conclude, not unreasonably, that Zapatero won in coalition with himself. Al-Qaida as a whole will reckon that its bombs were the main factor in handing the election to an unworthy Zapatero. And that victory will instill the forces of Islamo-fascism worldwide with the belief that the people of Spain, Europe and the West are decadent — just as the 1930s Oxford Union refusing “to die for King and Country” convinced Hitler that the democracies then were decadent. Like Hitler they will then be emboldened by this belief to strike further — both against Spain and against other nations where resistance to Islamo-fascist terrorism is weak and uncertain. And the terrorist war on civilization will last longer and kill more people.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. dw says:

    I don’t know anyone who is rejoicing at what’s happening in Spain, and I know a lot of socialist types around here.

    What no one has mentioned is the pickle the Socialist Party has put themselves in with the troops. If they withdraw from Iraq, they will be seen as caving to Al-Queda, but if they don’t withdraw they will be violating one of their primary campaign planks.

    You know what this reminds me of? When Siegelman defeated Fob James in the Alabama governor’s race a few years ago. Siegelman thought that this was a mandate for him to push his lottery idea, but the reality was that the electorate was voting for him because he was not Fob James, a guy they felt had disgraced the state. Siegelman’s lottery went down in flames, and Bob Riley crushed him in the next election.

    I think Zapatero is about to have the same problem — he was elected not because he’s a Socialist out to get Spain out of Iraq, but because he’s Not Aznar. If he and his party forget that, they’ll be (painfully) shown the door next election.

    I hope the EU can talk some sense into him. The Madrid bombings were a wake-up call to Europe that their day of reckoning is coming, and France and Germany will not be spared despite what their sleepy populace thinks.

  2. Andy says:

    “The Continentals didn’t “launch” anything in Afghanistan. They showed up when the war was over – after the Taliban had been toppled and the Afghans liberated’

    Really? Tell that to the 100’s of French and German soldiers sharing the same foxholes as Americans. Fucking idiot.