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Mar 15, 2004 8:48 pm


More on Madrid Madness



Three quick thoughts on the remarkable elections in Spain. First off, this does run contrary to the famous political science theory of"rally 'round the flag" effect that political scientists have long talked about in the U.S. However I know of no extensions of the model to other nations, although I'm not a presidency expert.

Second, and I believe far more troubling to everyone, is the thought that Iraq, which was never seriously linked with terrorism, may now be used as an excuse for more terror attacks by the very groups that have benefitted from the U.S. invasion.

Anyone who's followed this war knows that Bin Laden and his fellow murderers were overjoyed at the overthrow of a secular regime in the Arab world. Now they not only have that regime removed, they can also use the invasion as a justification to murder hundreds of more innocent people in a nation deeply divided by Bush's adventure.

Third, despite my agreement with a lot of the other members of this blog, I can say with certainty I believe the Spanish people will come to regret their decision yesterday (and not just because socialists are, of course, socialists). Yes, the Iraq war is wrong. Yes, the Spanish support for the war was a mistake. But somewhere in the pit of my stomach doing EXACTLY what Bin Laden wants you to do seems deeply wrong to me. Perhaps I'm not seeing this clearly, and I'm more then willing to be corrected on it, but I'm pretty sure Spain picked the greater of two evils yesterday - Bin Laden over Bush.

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Oscar Chamberlain - 3/16/2004

My concern was less that tney might attack Spain again than they might be encouraged to use the same tactic elsewhere.

However, I do hope you are right. Your arguments are good. May they prove superior to mine.


Jonathan Dresner - 3/16/2004

Oscar,

As much as I sympathize and share your sadness, part of it, I think, is misguided. You say that you are "also sad that after being attacked that the Spanish are pulling out; for this will make such attacks more likely elsewhere." But if Spain hadn't pulled out, the terrorists would almost certainly have attacked them again. Until we directly address the terrorists resources, networks and supporters (very little of which were in Iraq), terror attacks will remain more or less a constant. I can't fault the Spanish for wanting to get out of the line of fire.


Oscar Chamberlain - 3/16/2004

These are all good comments.

Yet reading them, and thinking about these events, all I feel is an irrational (because contradictory) sadness.

I am sad for the bombing and the victims, sad for the bent, and yes imperialist, worldview that drives such bombings. Sad for the foolishly devised American occupation in Iraq; sad for the Spaniards whose will was ignored when their country joined the US in Iraq.

Yet also sad that after being attacked that the Spanish are pulling out; for this will make such attacks more likely elsewhere.

I hope there is good that comes out of this somewhere, but damned if I see it.


Robert L. Campbell - 3/16/2004

In other words, there's more than one set of imperial ambitions at work in these conflicts. Osama bin Laden may lack the means to conquer, but he still regards himself as entitled to rule.


Jason Pappas - 3/15/2004

The "reasons" given by Islamists after every attack are meant to add humiliation by "blaming the victim." Being propaganda they should never be taken as useful information. One has to understand the "humiliation process" in Arab/Islamic culture.

If one wants a statement regarding bin Laden's view on Spain (which he calls Andalucia) one has to look to statements far removed from the point in time of the attack. Such statements talk about the humiliating loss of Islamic land. Spain is in the same category as Israel as far as bin Laden is concerned.

We call all use more insight into the internal factors driving the Arab and Islamic cultures.


Jonathan Dresner - 3/15/2004

It seems to me that the Socialist victory is exactly the kind of "rally round the flag" response that you'd expect. Spanish voters took the terrorists at their word (which is always a bit dicy, but probably justified in this case) that Spain was a target because of its support for US policy in Afghanistan and Iraq (which, by the way, seems to mitigate somewhat the analysis that Iraq's conquest was irrelevant to the terror networks, though, of course, taking them at their word is always a bit dicy), and took the Socialists at their word (and being politicians in a multi-lateral system there's some question as to whether that's reliable, too) that they would get Spain out of the line of fire, and voted for national interest over the ironically internationalist conservatives. Apparently the conservatives couldn't make the case that their alliance with the US was making any progress in the suppression of terrorism....

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