#148643 - 03/16/0402:15 AMAl-Queda wins an election
From OpinionJournal.com, the Dutch economist's statement is crucial:<br><br>The war on terror suffered a setback yesterday when Spain elected a Socialist government, apparently in response to last week's terror attacks in Madrid.<br><br>The Socialists and the terrorists are on the same side, at least as far as the liberation of Iraq goes. "We declare our responsibility for what happened in Madrid, just two and a half years after the attacks on New York and Washington," says a video purportedly from an al Qaeda spokesman. "It's an answer to your collaboration with the criminals Bush and his allies. This is like an answer to the crimes that you have caused in the world and specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan and there will be more if God desires."<br><br>CNN quotes the prime minister-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, as saying, "I think Spain's participation in the war has been a total error." Zapatero still vows to withdraw his country's 1,300 troops from Iraq on June 30, unless the U.N. takes military command. (As we noted Friday, Zapatero is one of the few foreign leaders to have openly endorsed John Kerry.)<br><br>"Al-Qaeda or its affiliates have toppled a democratic government for the first time,'' Bloomberg News quotes Bernard Walschots, a Dutch economist, as saying, in a note to investors. "This may have dramatic implications for the Western democracies.'' The ruling Popular Party, a staunch U.S. ally, had been ahead in pre-3/11 polls. <br><br>The Weekend Australian reports that some 1,000 antigovernment demonstrators gathered in Madrid Saturday "to blame [last] week's bombs in the capital on the government's unpopular decision to support the US war on Iraq." The Associated Press interviews Spanish voters and finds this sentiment was reflected at the ballot box:<br><br>Some voters were angry at outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, accusing him of making Spain a target for Islamic extremists because of his support for the Iraq war, despite the opposition of most Spaniards. Aznar sent 1,300 Spanish troops to Iraq after the conflict and 11 have died.<br><br>''I wasn't planning to vote, but I am here today because the Popular Party is responsible for murders here and in Iraq,'' said Ernesto Sanchez-Gey, 48, who voted in Barcelona.<br><br>The urge to appease wasn't the only factor at work. The government was overly eager to pin the blame on Basques rather than Islamists; Agence France-Presse reports that Foreign Minister Ana Palacio "ordered all Spanish ambassadors worldwide to use every possible opportunity to 'confirm ETA's involvement' in the attacks." For reasons we don't quite understand, an ETA attack was supposed to have been good for the ruling party, an al Qaeda attack for the Socialists, and it did not inspire confidence that the ruling party was so quick to draw a conclusion that would be politically advantageous but was certainly unwarranted and probably incorrect.<br><br>It's too early to tell if al Qaeda's tactical victory in Spain will turn out to be a strategic one as well. An article in the Financial Times is encouraging:<br><br>Spain's new Socialist government will be quickly put to the test as Ireland makes a big push for the European Union to share more intelligence, beef up co-ordination on security issues and make fresh efforts to stem the flow of funds to banned terrorist organisations in the wake of last week's attacks in Spain that killed over 200 civilians. . . .<br><br>The issue of counter-terrorism issues has been catapulted on to next week's summit agenda, instead of the June summit. <br><br>Diplomats said member states were in no mood to suggest that only those countries that supported the US-led war in Iraq were vulnerable. "Terrorism affects every country. Terrorist networks use countries in which to 'sleep,' " said a senior EU diplomat.<br><br>On the other hand, Agence France-Presse quotes Romano Prodi, head of the European Commission, as saying, "It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," and, "Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago." Infinitely?<br><br>Still, Spain's vote for appeasement may turn out to be a lagging indicator; perhaps 3/11 will turn out to cause Europeans to wise up, even if Spanish voters were not quick enough to do so.<br><br>The election outcome has had a demoralizing effect on pro-war bloggers. "It's a spectacular result for Islamist terrorism, and a chilling portent of Europe's future," writes Andrew Sullivan. John Ellis calls it "the most depressing political development since 9/11, bar none," and says his "assertion that 3/11 would engage the EU in the War on Terror as never before was proven wrong in record time."<br><br>Buck up, guys. Every war has casualties and setbacks, and this isn't the end of the world. If we mope, the terrorists will have won. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, stop wringing the hands that should wring bin Laden's neck!<br><br><br><br>
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