A message to the people of Spain
Aftenposten's reaction to the Spanish election: Spain defies the terrorists(!)
The voters of Spain have given the terrorists a clear response .. Far more decided to vote this time than in the last election, and it can hardly be any doubt that this was caused by the cowardly terrorist attack on Thursday. ..
This is where idealization of voting alone as the essence of democracy leads you. If people vote, democracy wins, if they don't, democracy loses. By this logic, falling voter turnout in Western democracies means we become less democratic. Higher turnouts means we become more democratic. Since Al-Qaeda is against democracy, it follows that they want fewer people to vote, and that must have been why they attacked Spain. But the people of Spain did not budge, and yesterday took a stand against the terrorist by voting. Another al-Qaeda plot foiled!
That's if you believe Aftenposten - or Dagbladet, who believes that "no outcome of M11 could have been better" than yesterday's election. That's is if you live in that curious part of the world where it's more important that you vote than what you vote for, where the fact that voters send a message is more important than which message they're sending.
Well, I have a message to the people of Spain: You are weak, and you are stupid. By blaming your own government for the attack, and electing one that will carry out al-Qaeda's wishes in Iraq, you've given in to the terrorists. You had the opportunity to say "we may not agree fully with the war in Iraq but now that we're there we must hold the line against the terrorists", but instead you went for "um, that attack was really bad and we're angry and all that, but al-Qaeda's got a point about Iraq, and it's all really Aznar's fault".
(Update: Jan Haugland has more.)
Jan Haugland, Bergen | 2004-03-15 11:51 | Link
Tragically true, Bjørn.
And the European press, with very few exceptions, pretend not to understand this problem.
Now, which other countries will be perceived as potentially weak on terror and eager to give in to terrorist demands? Not the UK. Not Poland. Holland? Probably. Denmark? Maybe. Norway? You bet!
Thanks to the Spanish voters for placing a big "Please kill more of us. We will give in to all demands!" sign on our backs. Thanks a lot, Pedro!
Reid of America | 2004-03-15 13:23 | Link
Bjorn, I completely agree with your analysis. The 9/11 attacks initially seemed like a victory to the Muslim fundamentalists but resulted in massive blowback that they didn't think would occur. The Madrid attacks have resulted in almost instant success. The result of the Spanish elections is that many European capitals will get large scale bombings shortly before their elections.
One factor not mentioned is that homegrown groups in Europe may now be tempted to emulate the bombings to change the outcome of elections. Such as leftists in Germany who are facing certain defeat in the next elections or similar situations.
OG Norway | 2004-03-15 13:39 | Link
there is no question that a few of your arguments are valid bjørn, but can you possibly blame the voters of Spain for electing a party that wants peace? For electing a party that actually wants To get out of the mess that Aznar have got Spain into. Do you not feel any empathy whith this people? I do not know where you live, but if you live in scandinavia you should think again, and you might come to a different conclusion.Democracy is a fragile thing and can be manipulated through cheating or terror. That is the problem with democracy. On the other hand however, this election should have been postponed because of the terror attacs and the emotional turmoil it created,so close up to election day. One last thing: weak and stupid? Who do you think you are!
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-03-15 14:28 | Link
OG: "there is no question that a few of your arguments are valid bjørn, but can you possibly blame the voters of Spain for electing a party that wants peace? For electing a party that actually wants To get out of the mess that Aznar have got Spain into."
Yes I can. Even assuming that Iraq is a mess, to give in to terrorist demands encourages more terrorism. It's that simple. Perhaps if Iraq had been all that al-Qaeda cared about, it might be rational (though selfish) of Spain to pull out, but that's only al-Qaeda's current priority. To these people, the very _existence_ of Spain is an insult to Islam, partly because Spain is a Western/Christian nation, partly because it was once Muslim. Spain, you'll remember, was once part of a great Muslim empire, which was gradually conquered back by Christians. To us this is remote history. Most people are just vaguely aware of it. To bin Laden it was yesterday.
"Do you not feel any empathy whith this people?"
I do. I also feel sympathy with the people who will be killed over the next couple of years because of what the Spanish people did yesterday, possibly including friends and family of you and me. We have no choice but to hold the line. It will hurt, but fighting a war - even a strange one like this - always hurts. We didn't choose this war, (of which Iraq is just one of many fronts, one that happened to be opened by our side), and losing is not acceptable.
"I do not know where you live, but if you live in scandinavia you should think again, and you might come to a different conclusion."
I live in Oslo. What's your point?
"Democracy is a fragile thing and can be manipulated through cheating or terror. That is the problem with democracy."
Or the problem with cheating and terror. So Spain should have resisted the pressure and voted as they were planning to do before al-Qaeda attacked. You do agree that al-Qaeda got exactly what they wanted from this election?
"One last thing: weak and stupid? Who do you think you are!"
I'm just some guy with a website. But I'm right. Spain decided to appease the terrorists and get out of Iraq. That's weakness. They punished their own government and encouraged more attacks against themselves and other European countries. That's stupid. It's not polite and sensitive to say this, but I already know that. If you think I'm wrong, please explain why.
Leif Knutsen, New York | 2004-03-15 14:30 | Link
I agree with Bjørn and Jan - Al Qaeda's vote obviously counts for more among a decisive block of voters in Spain that doing what is right and couragous. And it'll only invite more terrorist attacks. And if Al Qaeda is smart, they'll try out more European countries to see how malleable they are.
If anyone wondered what motivates the European countries to be so tough on Israel and gentle on PLO, there can be no doubt now: cowardice, pure and simple.
I'll also note for the record that New Yorkers - overwhelmingly a liberal, left-leaning bunch - are overwhelmingly hawkish on terrorists after 9/11. If the terrorists should be foolish enough to attack New York again, they'll be shocked to find that the citizens here are tougher and more resilient than ever.
i1277 | 2004-03-15 15:25 | Link
The point about the message this sends out is valid. That's why I regret the election results, even though I would have preferred this outcome if this was a week ago. I agree this is no day for "cheering the democracy" as some of the papers has it to be.
But coining a whole people as stupid and weak? Give me a break. Not even spanish right-wing voters would agree. No pro-PP newspaper would dream to suggest such a thing. Elections are complex and many factors affect the outcome. A voter doesn't know how all others will behave, and can hardly be blamed for the aggregate of changed voting behaviour due to extremecircumstances.
It's not like 100% of the voters suddenly changed party. The bombings and the following large-scale rallies has certainly skyrocketed the level of political participation. The turnout was very high, and it's likely that most "would-be-non-voters" and the "undecided" groupvoted for change. Still this was no landslide victory.
Remember that Aznar got the sentiment against him after it seemed clear that he had done everything to give the impression that this was an ETA attack. In Spain, people rallied against ETA at a time the rest of the world was more or less confident that islamic terrorists were behind it. That does say something about the level of deception. A large part of the population in Spain found it deeply immoral that the administration would use this terrible terror in order to gain votes (or rather: Not to lose votes). And even if this was not the case, this is how it was perceived, no wonder anger is being directed at the government.
Also, the people in Spain were also reminded about the ETA situation, a situation that has tormented the country for years and years. Some feel that the current governments stance in this question has only made things worse. That probably didn't help Aznar in the election.
Clearly such terrible incidents right before an election will have an emotional impact that is hard to understand from the outside. Probably very few in Spain were thinking about this as "giving in to terrorism". The people of Spain does not see this as "I'll rather serve AL-Qaeda than George Bush". The message sent is clearly not the message intended.
But if the author of the weblog and the commenters believe this, why should we expect more from the fundamentalists? They too will read what they want to from this and not bother with looking into the complex internal affairs at play leading up to the outcome. Islamic fundamentalists aren't known for looking at the bigger picture and looking upon things from different viewpoints. They will read this as a message clear as glass:
"By the way of the bomb you have the power to alter a democratic process. This represents a whole new toolset of power to you". And that is one sad message.
I believe like the other poster that the only right thing to do would have been postponing the election. Moving an election would in itself be an "achievement" for the terrorists of course, but nowhere near as powerful as altering the outcome directly like this.
David Blue, Australia | 2004-03-15 15:25 | Link
I come from a curious part of the world where it matters that you vote, not who you vote for. I've always strongly believed in this principle. I've never seen a good reason to question it.
Australia is up for federal elections at the end of this year. Undoubtedly, the terrorist will want to choose our next government in the same way that they just chose Spain's. I hope we choose courage, loyalty and good sense, rather than cowardice and the usual empty accusations that the government lied and put us in harm's way. But whether we choose right or wrong, we will be very lucky for people not to die in this election period, because the Spanish just proved that this is an effective tactic.
Bjorn, I still believe in compulsory voting, that is voting as a moral and civic duty, even if you are not going to vote wisely. But the people of Spain have just provided a strong argument I'm wrong. I have to concede that much.
David Blue, Australia | 2004-03-15 15:34 | Link
On the other hand, my depressing speculation that the Europeans may be morally weak as well as infertile, and getting ready to give way when would-be successor peoples slap them in the face and demand that they surrender, just got a big boost. The future does not belong to a people who act like this.
I can't say I'm smart though. I was hoping and actually expecting to be proven wrong.
Leif Knutsen, I'm glad to hear New York is strong. I hope we are too. But maybe we're as weak as the Spanish. We're going to find out, one way or the other.
| 2004-03-15 15:57 | Link
What do you think the the result would have been, if the same thing were to occur three days before an election in Norway? The result would be the same becaus we are a (reasonable) healthy nation.My point is, that it´s a human reaction to an event like this! Israel has tried the other option.
that you are arrogant to other peoples suffering.
I agree with you,but we are humans, flesh and bones.And with a strange thing called psykology.
I like your web site,but don`t agree when you call healthy human behavior stupid or cowardice.
No hard feelings!
OG Norway | 2004-03-15 15:59 | Link
Michael Farris | 2004-03-15 16:22 | Link
Aznar's to blame for this loss (at least the magnitude) for spinning instead of being a leader. Trying to pin this on ETA at all costs made him look both ineffective and dishonest and the voters reacted accordingly. Also remember his party was losing its position in the polls before the bomb, being down to less than a 5% advantage and falling.
BarCodeKing, Florida, USA | 2004-03-15 16:23 | Link
Bjorn is 100% correct.
Judging from the Socialist Party's upset win in the Spanish elections, the people of Spain have drawn the wrong lesson from the terrorist attacks in Madrid last Thursday. All of those people were out marching in the street, in their millions, against terrorism. And yet, when they went to the polls yesterday, they voted for a party that is opposed to Spain taking part in the War on Terror. The response of the Spanish people hasn't been "Let's hunt down and kill the f***ers that did this." Instead, their response to Jose Maria Aznar and his Popular Party was, "See what happened when you helped the Americans? You stuck our noses in where they didn't belong and we got bloodied because of it. It's YOUR fault for getting involved." The new Socialist party government has promised to pull Spain's troops out of Iraq this summer.
What's wrong with this picture? You have all of the anti-war types in America who said, "Why are we attacking Iraq? They aren't connected to Al-Qaida!" Well, perhaps Al-Qaida would beg to differ. After all, if there was no connection between them and Iraq, then why would Al-Qaeda attack targets in Spain in retaliation for the Spanish assisting the American postwar occupation of Iraq? Obviously the terrorists know there's a connection, even if clueless leftists don't.
There's also fallacious reasoning by the Spanish and the other European countries, who felt that if they stayed neutral and kept a low profile, then they wouldn't be targeted by Al-Qaida. If they cowered in the corner, the bully would leave them alone. There's only one problem with that line of reasoning: The Spanish were already on Al-Qaida's sh*t list, even before helping the Americans. Why? 1492.
Now, you might be familiar with 1492 as the year in which Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. But it was also the year that Spain completed the Reconquista, in which they finally drove the last of the Muslims from western Europe. For a few hundred years, there had been an ongoing conflict between the Muslim Moors who had invaded from North Africa in an attempt to spread Islam across Europe by the sword, and the Christian Spanish. The Muslims have not forgotten that much of Spain was once Muslim territory, and they still view Spain as a "crusader" nation and an enemy of Islam. And because of that, Spain was already on the Al-Qaida sh*t list.
In other words, cowering in the corner wouldn't have saved them from this particular bully. Appeasement doesn't work. The only thing that works is hunting the terrorists down and killing them. But the Spanish have learned the wrong lesson from 3/11, and will probably go the Neville Chamberlain route.
One of my banner quotes from my site seems appropriate: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." -- Winston Churchill
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-03-15 16:48 | Link
i1277: "But coining a whole people as stupid and weak? Give me a break."
They're not in the concrete sense that every or even most Spaniards are stupid and weak, and that's not the sense I used here. But they are in the abstract / anthropomorphic sense we often use when we talk about what countries and peoples "are" and "do". To the degree that we can talk about "the people" of Spain "doing" anything, "they" have done something very, very stupid.
"Remember that Aznar got the sentiment against him after it seemed clear that he had done everything to give the impression that this was an ETA attack."
"And even if this was not the case, this is how it was perceived, no wonder anger is being directed at the government."
Quite so. And that was stupid. Listen - I agree with much of your analysis. I'm sure you're onto something about why particular voters voted in their particular way. And of course you're right that "probably very few in Spain were thinking about this as "giving in to terrorism"." But they _did_ give in to terrorism anyway, and they did something very stupid. There were all kinds of reasons why this happened, the same way there are always reasons for everything we ever do. But they _should_ have done better. They should have rallied around their government against this larger threat. Instead they focused on relatively petty and small issues, the ones you list above.
"But if the author of the weblog and the commenters believe this, why should we expect more from the fundamentalists?"
That statement doesn't compile. What is the connection between what I believe and what al-Qaeda believes? Do they read my weblog and say to themselves, "you know, I think Bjørn Stærk is onto something here - here we were thinking up all kinds of complex internal reasons for why the Socialists won in Spain, and it turns out they were actually trying to send us a message of encouragement!" Nah. They just notice that "A) We blew up a lot Spaniards", then "B) Spain broke away from the US and pulled out of Iraq", which leads to conclusion "C) Hm, perhaps if we do this to other people they too will abandon the US". Simple and logical - and correct. Talk about complex internal reasons all you like. What these reasons amount to is that when you raise the price a people must pay for cooperating with the US, they will turn on their own leaders for all kinds of petty reasons, and ignore the larger threat. That's what al-Qaeda has learned from this, and in their ears it amounts to what I wrote above.
Gard L. Aabakken, Bergen(OSLO IN MY HEART) | 2004-03-15 16:58 | Link
Admirabe and brilliant article, Bjørn, and I agree with its views 100% - "a victory for democracy" (in Zapateros victory speech) - that is a blunder in the scala of "I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman" - just far more dangerous - I have written a little bit about the subject here;
for anyone who is interested, in addition to a post 1 month ago, that terrorists are reaching their goals in general, a comparison between Palestine and Tibet. (This is still in norwegian, sorry!)
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-03-15 17:04 | Link
OG: "What do you think the the result would have been, if the same thing were to occur three days before an election in Norway?"
I fear the result would have been the same. I didn't mean to single out Spain as particularly weak and stupid, but so far they're the ones who have been tested. We may be next, and I worry about how we will react.
"The result would be the same becaus we are a (reasonable) healthy nation."
Or a very ignorant and spoiled nation. Our grandparents didn't give in to the Nazi's, even though it would have been safer to do so. First they fought openly for as long as they could, then they fought back covertly, with weapons, ideas or just plain stubborness. It would have been "healthy" in your sense to accept the inevitability of a Nazi victory, or at least not to risk our own skin while our allies fought the Nazi's elsewhere. Perhaps you believe this as well. If not, I'm curious about what the difference is.
"I agree with you,but we are humans, flesh and bones.And with a strange thing called psykology. I like your web site, but don`t agree when you call healthy human behavior stupid or cowardice."
What particular healthy human behaviors are you think of? Herd-thinking, cowardice, paranoia, pettiness? Of course there's a psychological explanation for this. There's a psychological explanation for everything, including murder and rape. But everything that is human isn't rational, and everything that is natural isn't right. In Europe's case, anti-Americanism appears to have poisoned the intellectual climate so that it feels more natural for people to punish those of their leaders who cooperate with the US than to hold the line against religious totalitarianism.
Michael: "How many people described the US removal from Saudi Arabia as giving in to one of OBL's main demands?"
Did they do this in response to a terrorist attack? Of course not. We can't set about to do whatever is the opposite of what al-Qaeda wants. But if al-Qaeda attacks us with the obvious purpose of making us do something, in this case voting out the Spanish conservatives, we should respond by not doing it, even if we might want to do it later on. Otherwise you encourage terrorism.
Leif Knutsen, New York | 2004-03-15 17:13 | Link
"What do you think the the result would have been, if the same thing were to occur three days before an election in Norway? The result would be the same becaus we are a (reasonable) healthy nation.My point is, that it´s a human reaction to an event like this! Israel has tried the other option."
The "other option" amounts to rule by terror, i.e., doing precisely what the terrorist want. In Israel's case that would amount to collective suicide. To be sure, that's a "human reaction" known as "cowardice," "moral spinelessness," etc., and Europe has a long tradition dealing with such threats that way. But as Churchill said: "Chamberlain had the choice between war and dishonor; he chose dishonor and shall have war."
OG Norway | 2004-03-15 18:30 | Link
Fear is a healthy reaction to a terrorist attack,and then if this is not dealt with it will grow to anger, and we get angry nations like America and Israel (Iran, north Korea a.s.o). Norway has a reasonable foreign policy(I think)(note). Domestic I think we have a lot of issues. The comparison you draw with the nazis, I wont comment, but my oppinion is not like yours.I do not think our granfathers were such big heros (except the sailors). There is a comparison i would like to throw back at you:Muslims might look at the western world as something like the nazis, except now we call it capitalism ( I think this is redicules but it will mach the comparison you came up with)
Sandy P. | 2004-03-15 19:10 | Link
Well, one could say Norway has a reasonable policy because of location and your size.
Iraq is a mess?? Read Hammorabi, Healing Iraq, Mesopotamia and they'll link to others.
--there is no question that a few of your arguments are valid bjørn, but can you possibly blame the voters of Spain for electing a party that wants peace?--
Peace, according to a news report I heard about 1 hour ago, ETA might have also been involved. They want out. What price peace? We found out Spain's price - 200 dead. Give it to them? That's what Spain wants the JOOOOSSSSS to do, so Spain voted to walk their talk, they just didn't realize it meant them.
How many of your inalienable rights are you willing to give up for peace or to get along?
What will finally cause you to say no more and take a stand? Cos while you don't believe it, OG, it's staring you in the face. It's not going away.
Read up on the Barbary Pirates - It's Europe's history and Europe still hasn't learned that after a certain threashold is crossed, it can't buy people off. This is not business as usual. Sometimes you have to take a stand. And people will die, possibly you, but since you're going to die anyway... All this has done is throw in some more variables.
And OG - you have a healthy case of misplaced white guilt, get over it, it's going to kill you.
Magnus, Norway | 2004-03-15 19:20 | Link
That line of reasoning is based on the belief that the "war on terror" will be won in the end. A lot of people do not think the invading and occupying parts of the "war" will stop terrorism, quite the opposite infact. Obviously a lot of people in Spain also feels this way.
Maybe they feel that the train bombing were all they would achieve by their involvement in the "war" and not an axceptable casualty on their way to victory.
Then again, maybe I'm just a coward...
OG Norway | 2004-03-15 19:30 | Link
That is sweet sandy, how do you know i am white?
I think there have been a different OG in this forum before.
Houston, USA | 2004-03-15 19:45 | Link
Don't miss the boat here.
There is a lot of arguing about what the people of Spain felt, were motivated by, thought, or believed as they went to the polls.
In the final anlaysis all of that is irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is WHETHER THE TERRORISTS BELIEVE THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE for affecting change (be they al-Qaida or other). It doesn't even matter if the rest of us believe something completely different or the intention from the voters in Spain was something completely unrelated.
If the terrorists believe they are responsible for influencing the outcome of this election then we are in for a real bumpy ride.
On another note: Bjorn et al - I understand your frustration, but don't become what you accuse the people of Spain of being - that is, don't blame Spain for future terrorist action. The blame still rests with the terrorists regardless if Spain chose Socialists, Pacificst, Appeasers, Communists, or ill mannered monkey-bird-men.
Kjell A, Eidsvoll | 2004-03-15 20:17 | Link
Maybe we will never win the war on terror. We will never win the war on crime, either. But a civil-civilized-society can not give up this struggle. Slavery still exists in this world, as does piracy. Shall we give up the fight against these evils because we haven't succeeded yet?
Is it in the long run better to emulate Chamberlain rather than Churchill?
I think history has given a clear verdict on that issue.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-03-15 20:18 | Link
Bjørn: I agreed with your posting almost 100% when reading it - it was reflecting my thoughts this morning when reading about the results of the spanish election, and that they're pulling out of Iraq this summer.
I still agree with you, but I've gotten another viewpoint. The viewpoint of one of my workmates, who is spanish.
The spanish peopled felt deceived by the government - that blamed it on ETA for several days. They felt deceived that spanish media blamed the ETA, while foreign media pointed at Al'qaida. They wanted to punish the government for deceiving them -- and didn't have time to think it through.
Al'Qaidas timing was perfect. They probably expected that ETA would be blamed by the government, and timed their "claim" so that the government would be shown to be wrong _right before_ the election, thus swaying the people by making them angry and vengeful against their government - without time to think things through.
The spanish people probably does not feel that they've given in to Al'Qaida. They've not realized it yet. They will probably realize it given a few more days. The problem is that it's too late.
The election should've been postponed.
i1277 | 2004-03-15 20:57 | Link
Rune Kristian Viken:
"I still agree with you, but I've gotten another viewpoint. The viewpoint of one of my workmates, who is spanish."
This change of mind goes to show how the view from the outside probably is skewed and incomplete, and I'm sure the Spaniards would be pretty annoyed with /resigned about condemnation from the outside ("Come down here then, you don't know what you're talking about").
"i1277: "But if the author of the weblog and the commenters believe this, why should we expect more from the fundamentalists?"
That statement doesn't compile. What is the connection between what I believe and what al-Qaeda believes?"
The connection is that both view this from the outside. Both might draw hasty conclusions based on the assumptions that may or may not be correct.
Say the people of Spain do not feel like they gave into terrorism. They know the bigger picture. But if other people in Europe draws this conclution immediately after the election results, why shouldn't the terrorists themselves do this? That's all. Radicals, be it right- or left-wing or religious fundamentalists have a tendency to paint with a wide brush and lose the finer nuances. I am sure the Al-Qaeda-followers will focus on the part of the story they like best and ignore the rest.
"The only thing that is relevant is WHETHER THE TERRORISTS BELIEVE THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE for affecting change (be they al-Qaida or other)".
Yes. Throwing insults or speaking of blame is meaningless, what matters is if these unfortunate circumstances leads the terrorists to believe they have the power to alter a democratic process and even force election results into a spesific direction. That's probably the sad result no matter what one finds to being the cause.
"That line of reasoning is based on the belief that the "war on terror" will be won in the end. A lot of people do not think the invading and occupying parts of the "war" will stop terrorism, quite the opposite infact".
Yes indeed. The pro-war crowd seems to forget that not all that are anti-war chooses this because they want to back off and leave problems to themselves. What if the assumption that the "war on terror" will lead to the end of terror is wrong, how do we know if it doesn't just widen the gap and just plants new seeds of "anti-westernism"?
Many fear that "loose retribution" (like attacking Iraq as a response to 9/11) will only solve as to ignite a spiralling effect of violence, not unlike what we see in you know where. Then again, what is the alternative? We can't predict the future and it is very hard for us to say in advance what's better in the long run. The questions are many and the answers are (probably) usually not to find in black or white but rather somewhere inbetween.
I followed a lead a little off-topic here- but it should be noted that what some people see as "cowardice" is not the only reason for opposing war.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-15 21:33 | Link
And one other thing, OG, if you think we're doing this out of anger - you're wrong. We're doing this out of self-preservation. What we're doing is the hard way, exposing ourselves to soldier and civilian deaths.
Anger is the ME would still be smoking.
But *the world* brought this on by not letting us finish Saddam in GWI for the sake of the alter of *stability* and what looks like bribery in the Oil-for-Palaces program.
Those who worship the UN as all-knowing, the future head of the one world government forget, who's watching them? And how can the ICC be impartial? Who's going to try this, since it goes really high up, possibly to Kofi?
Or does *the world* do the civilized thing, let him retire w/a big fat pension in France instead of going to jail?
Or maybe since the frauds were committed on the Iraqi people, the Iraqi people should try them??
Sandy P. | 2004-03-15 21:36 | Link
--that blamed it on ETA for several days.--
Several? 72 hours at the most?
And my radio station reported today that ETA might have had a hand in it. What happens if ETA did?
But I know the response, dismissed, doesn't change anything.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-15 21:38 | Link
OG - you live in Norway? Just because you might not be white doesn't mean you haven't been influenced by it.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-15 21:41 | Link
I also should have added, possibly using it for your own purposes.
Doesn't matter if you're purple polka-dotted, get over it.
BarCodeKing, Florida, USA | 2004-03-15 22:04 | Link
Magnus, an interesting comment re many thinking that the "War on Terror" cannot be won. The truth of the matter is that "War on Terror" is a misnomer. It actually should be called the "War on Islamist Terror," but that wouldn't be politically correct.
Be that as it may, the ultimate goal of the WoT is to change the nature of Middle East and the pathological societies that produced Al-Qaida and its ilk and gave us 9/11. As an American, my top priority is making sure that my government does all that it can to prevent any further attacks like that on American soil. If you want to get rid of alligators, you drain the swamp.
The war in Iraq and the subsequent occupation of that country are (hopefully) the first steps in reforming the Middle East. They can prove that Arab nations are capable of ruling themselves in an enlightened democratic fashion that doesn't threaten their neighbors or sponsor terrorism. And frankly, all of the naysayers in other countries should be hoping that it's successful, because the alternative could be grim and very bloody for the Arab world should another major attack occur in America. We were very restrained and showed great forebearance after 9/11. Should another major terrorist attack occur here, especially if WMDs are involved, that might not be the case again. And America is the world's most dangerous nation to have as an enemy. Ask the Germans and Japanese about that.
Werner, Germany | 2004-03-15 22:17 | Link
How exactly were the people of Spain deceived (a very strong acusation) when the evidence pointing to al Qaeda was published as it came up? The attack was THREE DAYS before the election. That is not nearly enough time to talk about deception. The first anti-government demonstrations began just hours after the attacks. I was not there, but this looks like a hysterical political and media campaign to me.
Rune, what evidence exactly did the foreign press have that the Spanish press didn´t have at the time? Evidence, not speculation? Maybe your workmate has an answer?
What if we find out that both groups cooperated? But the damage is done now.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-03-15 22:31 | Link
Werner: The spanish government pointed at the ETA, and so did the spanish press, both on Thursday and on Friday. There were evidence of Al'qaida involvement pretty early, and as Beorn posted in his previous post - there were heavy indication that Al'Qaida were behind it pretty early on..
But the official line was "It was the ETA! It was the ETA!" . The spanish people felt deceived.
I'm afraid the three days were not enough. Given a week, the spanish people may have had time to think it through. Three days were not enough by far.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-03-15 22:52 | Link
Houston: "On another note: Bjorn et al - I understand your frustration, but don't become what you accuse the people of Spain of being - that is, don't blame Spain for future terrorist action. The blame still rests with the terrorists regardless if Spain chose Socialists, Pacificst, Appeasers, Communists, or ill mannered monkey-bird-men."
Absolutely. I was pretty angry when I wrote this, and it needed to be said, but of course we can't blame anyone but al-Qaeda for whatever follows. The people of Spain have in their foolishness contributed to the encouragement of more attacks, but the responsibility for those attacks rests with the terrorists.
Let's hope the rest of Europe catches on to al-Qaeda's double victory (massive slaughter _and_ withdrawal from Iraq) before the next attack comes. If Rune-Kristian is right, Spain will wake up one day in the near future and realize what it has done. If it doesn't, and if nobody else catches on either, then the future really is pretty bleak.
John Elliot | 2004-03-15 23:32 | Link
"First they came for the Jews
Debra in California | 2004-03-15 23:53 | Link
My heart sank when I heard the news out of Spain. To capitulate so thoroughly after being bloodied dooms the people to more of the same. The only rational answer to the attack would have been an announcement that Spain was now going to participate much more fully in the WoT. Perhaps that would have put some backbone in the rest of the EU (France excluded, of course -- nothing will put a spine in their wormy philosophy.)
I can understand that the people of Spain voted while still in shock, running on nothing but emotional fuel. Americans understand this better than most. Israelis understand it. There is a distinct, and telling, difference in our reactions, however. There was not an adult in America, whether for or against, who did not know that we were at war.
It is stunning that a people with Spain's history could understand so little of what is happening to them, but their initial reaction is frightening. At best, it speaks of an childish emotionalism, one that isn't based on an adult's experience. At worst, it is a spectacular intellectual failure.
People would do well to remember that just because the US has the military, and, I hope, the conviction and stamina, to fight Islamism, there is no guarantee of our winning it. History is rife with Dark Ages; when reason goes out the door, darkness and death is all that's left -- no matter the name given the the evil of the moment, it is an ancient evil.
When we forget what the Enlightenment meant (and decry the use of the term "Dark Ages" to describe what went before), and engage in wide-spread willful self-deceit we are a doomed civilization. The Justice of Reality doesn't allow mankind to have his cake and eat it too. The justice of man may be nuanced into meaninglessness, but in Reality, Justice is absolutely blind and doesn't care a whit about political correctness or party affilication or any other kind of rationalization for moral cowardice.
Alrom, Spain | 2004-03-15 23:58 | Link
Hi you all,
I think I could give you an insight on what happened last sunday, as I am a spaniard and I have more or less followed the political situation in my country.
First of all, we are not novices on terrorism. We have had bombings for 30 years, and more than 800 people have been killed by ETA. I remember one night when pieces of a building rained all over my balcony because ETA had blown up a building next to where I lived.
We have fought ETA for a long time and we have suffered a lot. But we have never surrendered to them.
In fact, one of the main reasons of the election of the PP government 4 years ago was their hard stance on terrorism. This and their good management (I disgress but that was what the majority of my fellow spaniards thought ;)
But during the last 4 years we saw a very harsh government. The PP government didn't get an unanimous approval, in fact they angered lots of people with their actions, (I would name the confrontation with the autonomous communities, the Prestige spill management or the farce that was the fight against Morocco for a ridiculously tiny island, destroying a long relationship with this african country) so much that the polls started to show that they would lose their absolute majority. The fact that something like 90% of the spanish population was against going to war in Irak was one of the main reasons for those lost votes.
So the PP party was in the process of losing many votes, but not enough to lose their seats. You can check the polls before 11-march in this address:
Then the bombings happened.
At first they were attributed to ETA, mostly because some days ago a van full of explosives was intercepted on its way to Madrid. But it was soon quite clear that the attacks were not by ETA. The basque terrorist group uses to warn of their attacks in order to minimize civilian victims (and kill more policemen with hidden bombs) and people related to them denied their involvement. But the government tried to hide this fact, and relate the attacks to ETA because it would help them in the incoming elections.
This was an extremely sick action, and it disgusted many spaniards, as you may understand.
In fact, on saturday, the state-run TV changed their programming and put a movie about ETA terrorism, in a clear move to influence the vote. Those actions, the lies and the manipulation, angered lots of people.
Then the elections. You can check the results in here: http://www.elmundo.es/especiales/2004/03/espana/14m/resultados/congreso/globales/
The bombings and the outrage against the PP didn't turn into a great loss of votes for them. In fact, they went from 10,300,000 votes to 9,600,000. This loss was more or less expected, as I said before.
The fact is that lots of people that usually don't vote participated in the elections, trying to kick out the PP. The turnover rate increased from 69% to 77%. Those votes went to the PSOE, the main opposition party (it's the socialist party, I know, but forget about the name, it's more like labour or democrats) that rose from 7,900,000 to 10,900,000.
Anyway, it is true that some of the people that voted to PSOE may have done so trying to 'flee' in some way from the terrorist threat, but saying that spaniards voted against PP in order to avoid more attacks is a simplistic analysis. I would say that the reason for the results was the wrong decline in votes during the 4 years of their mandate, the outrage for the blatant lies of the government about the attacks,and the massive turnout that ensued.
Well I don't know if all this may help you. I wrote it most for myself. I have read opinions like the ones exposed in here in many places and thought that they were most of the times ill-informed. So here you have some information ;) and opinion of course.
Feel free to ask me any question. I'll try to get back in here and answer them, but it will be easier if you email me.
Adiós!!! and ah well, please forgive my english.
OG Norway | 2004-03-16 00:22 | Link
Thanks a lot for your insight, there is nothing wrong with your english.
Crepes | 2004-03-16 00:51 | Link
I'm actually a spaniard too, and though i can't add much to what's been said, i can add some facts that haven't been mentioned yet. I fact, though there has been a number of people who actually blamed the government for the attacks, creating a cause-effect relation between the war on irak and the bombs thursday, the main protests on saturday didn't point towards that direction, but were related to longer-running protests about the excessive manipulation of the media by the government. Yes, we know that happens all the time, but the last two years had been too much even for any media-driven society. The point is, this weekend it was too obvious for everyone that the government was hiding information in order to avoid being defeated in the elections. The effect was quite the opposite. I'm really sorry it looks differently from outside, especially since it's true terrorists may understand the election results the wrong way, but i don't think anyone can blame us for feeling sick of being lied to.
Reid of America | 2004-03-16 01:22 | Link
Alrom and Crepes have commented on the Spanish point of view. As far as the internal politics of Spain are concerned they are probably correct. But the Islamic terrorists will not view the results of the bombing the way a Spainiard will. They will nore that before the bombing Aznar's party was leading in the opinion polls and after the bombing they lost. The terrorists will view it as a great victory and will probably repeat the operation in other European nations.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-16 03:01 | Link
You said in a much earlier comment: "In Europe's case, anti-Americanism appears to have poisoned the intellectual climate so that it feels more natural for people to punish those of their leaders who cooperate with the US than to hold the line against religious totalitarianism."
This is an amazing development. What could the U.S. have done that was so terrible that Europeans will accept terrorism and dhimmitude over joining the U.S. to defeat this new form of totalitarianism? I'm still trying to understand European (at least Western European) thinking ever since I started reading blogs a year ago--just before the Iraq invasion.
True, the average European may not see the connection between Al Quaeda and Iraq, but surely the intellectuals and newspaper columnists could make more of a case for standing up to the terrorists.
Some have suggested that there is some kind of sick alliance between socialism and Islamofascism. See, for example, belmontclub blogspot. What do you think?
Michael Brazier | 2004-03-16 03:08 | Link
I don't doubt you when you say that the Spaniards were voting from disgust at the PP's "deception" and not from a wish to appease Al Qaeda. However, that still shows very poor judgement, amounting to folly, on the part of the Spanish electorate, since the PSOE will not effectively oppose Al Qaeda anywhere nearly as well as the PP would have. And the fact that the bombing influenced the election (never mind why) will inspire more bombings in other nations, to influence future elections -- so the effects of the Spaniards' bad judgement will not be confined to Spain. That's why so many people are appalled.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-16 03:15 | Link
But what happens if ETA did have a hand in the bombing?
All the more reason not to have state-run TV. Let them sink or swim.
And what's to say the state-run TV won't be used by Zippy?
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-16 03:18 | Link
Alrom, Spain . . .
Your English is excellent, and I appreciate your explanation. Maybe you could post it on a few other blogs too (Roger Simon, LittleGreenFootballs, Samizdata, for example).
Unfortunately, detailed political explanations almost never make it into mainstream thinking. Just as Europeans persist in thinking that Americans are "angry" over 9-11, I'm almost certain that Americans and others, including the terrorists, will think that Spaniards were "afraid" and capitulated to the terrorists.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-16 04:25 | Link
Alrom and Crepes . . .
Check out Mark Steyn's online column in the UK Telegraph for March 16, 2004. You'll see how the Spanish election looks to outsiders, and probably how it will look to Osama's followers.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-16 06:08 | Link
Message received. Via LGF's Friday Prayers roundup:
From the holy mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where the sheikh asks the poignant question, “Didn’t what happened in Madrid convince you Jews and Crusaders to convert to Islam?”
OG Norway | 2004-03-16 12:02 | Link
There are a lot of people here who knows everything like it is a fact, and it can`t be changed. I do not think everything is so obvious.If these opinions in this forum are mainstream in America,I will thank you all for the insight, and my "pro Americanism" will be thought about in a different perspective.
Og K - Santa Monica, CA | 2004-03-16 12:07 | Link
Election of Socialist appeasers in Espana is a very good thing!
In the 30's, had the French & English leadership demonstrated that they belonged to the phylum of vertebrates, then Hitler's remilitarization would have been kiboshed, the Rhineland not reoccupied, and WWII possibly averted.
Fortuneately we had jellyfish, sponges, annelids and other non-chordates in charge of things in Paris and London. As a result, when the fight came, it was exponentially more furious than it otherwise might have been: German cities leveled; Japan nuked; Nazidom destroyed along with the cancer of State Shinto.
And now, thanks to the majority of Spanish voters and like minded appeasers throughout Zeropa, our tiff with the Islamonazis and Ayatollhic theocrats may not end with just a few bruises.
My shekels are on a glassified Mecca & Medina, and plutoniumized Shiraz & Qom.
So thank youuuuuu Zeropa, for perpetuating your your proud, venerable & "progressive" heritage!
Chris Josephson | 2004-03-16 12:25 | Link
I'm not going to suggest any sites to avoid any accusations that I picked the 'best' ones. But, I urge everyone to use your favorite search engine (like a Google) and search out sites on the web put up by the radical Islamists. Lurk on their messageboards. (Try using jihad as one of the search criterea.)
You should be able to see that what these people want is nothing less than for the entire world to unite and become their type of Muslim. This is to be achieved by force of arms. If you won't convert, you'll be enslaved, as is being done right now in Sudan.
I say their type of Muslim because this is a radical subset of Muslims who will subject fellow Muslims, as in Afghanistan, to cruel treatment because the Afghani Muslims were not 'their type'.
In years past, European armies fought Muslim armies that wanted to impose Muslim rule in Europe. It's sad that the Spanish gave in to terrorist threats. It must have given the Radical Islamists hope that countries can be intimidated by terrorist acts.
I don't like war. I don't like this war. However, I must conclude, after reading what I have on the web, that the Radical Islamists are very serious and have declared war on all of us. They have demonstrated their ability to carry out their war.
If we want to remain free, we must acknowledge that a war has been declared upon us and we must fight it. Doesn't make any difference what your politics may be, far left to far right, you are their targets. Also doesn't make any difference what your religion is. You could even be a Muslim and not be 'their kind' of Muslim.
Do you want women to become second class citizens? Do you want many crimes, including homosexuality, to merit a death sentence? What about cutting off some digits, or a hand if you're caught stealing? Drink and drugs of any kind will be forbidden. Look at how the Afghans, who were Muslims, were treated and you'll have an idea about how life will be under the radical Islamists.
I expect another terrorist attack on US soil. I have expected it for a while. I pray my fellow Americans will react with fury and rage at those who did it and not decide to stop fighting the war on terror.
Once we stop fighting the war on terror, they have won. We let the terrorists know that our freedoms aren't worth fighting for.
i1277 | 2004-03-16 14:13 | Link
It's nice to see people from Spain sharing their view. Message after message where wiseacres sport their unbalanced and simplistic analysis kind of pales next to the stories such reports. After all, this election was held in Spain, and most of us had probably not even heard of the two parties in question before the bombs (And yes, I too am in danger of falling into this trap, not being from Spain).
"But what happens if ETA did have a hand in the bombing?"
"I don't doubt you when you say that the Spaniards were voting from disgust at the PP's "deception" and not from a wish to appease Al Qaeda. However, that still shows very poor judgement, amounting to folly, on the part of the Spanish electorate, since the PSOE will not effectively oppose Al Qaeda anywhere nearly as well as the PP would have."
This is again following an assumption that the PP way would more easily win the war on terrorism. Feel free to call that "poor judgement" just like I could use those words about Americans voting for Bush. Noone said that the only issue the voters had in mind was which party would oppose Al Qaeda the best.
"If these opinions in this forum are mainstream in America,I will thank you all for the insight, and my "pro Americanism" will be thought about in a different perspective".
"However, I must conclude, after reading what I have on the web, that the Radical Islamists are very serious and have declared war on all of us(...) Doesn't make any difference what your politics may be, far left to far right, you are their targets".
Yes. Those "islamofascists" are frightening indeed, and it's in the interest of the world that it doesn't become more of them. The problem is how to achieve this. Not everyone believes hunting down and killing them one by one is the answer.
Evidence suggests such behaviour (with some killing of civilians that is very hard to avoid thrown in) only serves to radicalize many of the followers of islam. To people in the Middle East, this is yet another example of how the West are bullying them around. The US has no popular position there, be it deserved or not, that is the situation that has to be dealt with.
It sure doesn't seem that the "war on terror" has frightened the enemy to surrender so far. And is it likely that they will? The more religious people become, the less they care about fear and common sense. A young fanatic convinced that he'll be rewarded in the afterlife is a ticking bomb (almost literally in some places). And if it's one thing the world doesn't need right now it's radical religion. However, forcing "nonreligion" and western way of life upon people with strong and firm traditions is not an option. Other ways of promoting modernism should be sought out. The world should strive to encourage moderate muslims and isolate the radical ones, not the other way round.
Erik, Sweden | 2004-03-16 15:00 | Link
The average european might very well see the connection between Iraq and terrorism, but if that view is presented as too extreme or simply untrue, then most people will simply adopt a more mainstream view, or simply keep their mouth shut instead of being ridiculed in public.
lucie | 2004-03-16 16:28 | Link
I guess the people of Spain want a goverment they can rely (trust) on. Not one that keeps reality away from them. A goverment that blames others instead of telling the true.
John Ø. Welle, Norway | 2004-03-16 16:31 | Link
"To many spaniards it seems like the government themselves believed it was islamic terrorism at a time they stated something else."
I would have thought it was a bit early to start the historical revisionism, but obviously not. What inside information are you privy to that suggests that the Spansih government was hiding anything from the public? What about the van with the koran tapes? The arrest of the 3 morrocans and the 2 indians? I suppose they hid it from the spaniards while leaking it to the rest of the world.
To me it seems like the spaniards used the allegations of withheld information as a convient excuse to vote with their fear. The fear that sticking your nose out against terrorism may bloody it. A rational reaction one might argue, but still a cowardly reaction.
"It sure doesn't seem that the "war on terror" has frightened the enemy to surrender so far."
Perhaps not surrender, but their economic infrastructure has been seriously damaged, many of their topleaders arrested, their main training bases dismantled and supporting regimes has been taken down.
You might of course argue, as you do, that the actions that has been required to accomplish this has created more terrorists. We should leave them alone to their own devices, and perhaps if we just ignore them hard enough they will go away.
As somebody said, one sometimes get the impression that some people think that 9/11 happened *after* the Iraq war.
The fact is that the Arab Street has since long before the Iraq war and even 9/11 been espousing anti-amarican propaganda and used anti-americanism as a way of securing their own power (Orwellian creation of an exterior enemy that one can blame for the problems of their nations.)
This negative climate haven't changed for the worse since the Iraq war. It was already bad. The difference is that now we have a chance of showing the inhabitants of this region first hand that the myths their leaders have preached down to them, is just so much bullshit. A democratic Iraq is the best way I can imagine to change the ingrained anti-americanism of the region.
i1277 | 2004-03-16 17:29 | Link
John Ø. Welle:
""To many spaniards it seems like the government themselves believed it was islamic terrorism at a time they stated something else."
I would have thought it was a bit early to start the historical revisionism, but obviously not. What inside information are you privy to that suggests that the Spansih government was hiding anything from the public?"
I suggest you read the quote again.
I was under the impression that there was a war back in 91 as well. Oh well. I know you were referring to the invasion of last year. But it's not as if that was year 0 of the US foreign operations in the Middle East. Goes to show how the who-started-what-trail is one that just goes on and on.
I don't doubt that the US were hated before last year. But it seems that hatred and fundamentalism has been growing proportionally and progressively lately. I hope you are right that this is not the case. Now it seems like a dead-end, at least if people in the trouble area feel restricted to only two options (humiliating surrender to Uncle Sam or the dangerous but "courageous" way of fundamentalists and terror organisations).
Sandy P. | 2004-03-16 18:20 | Link
From Iberian Notes:
...The direct boss of Zougam's cell is an Algerian named Said Arel, who in turn is under a Jordanian named Abou Mosad al-Fakaui. Al-Fakaui is a leader of Ansar el-Islam, the Al-Qaeda group based in Saddam's Iraq. So it is said....
Wonder if Omar's been calling anyone lately? Or who visited him?
Sandy P. | 2004-03-16 18:45 | Link
--I was under the impression that there was a war back in 91 as well. Oh well. I know you were referring to the invasion of last year. But it's not as if that was year 0 of the US foreign operations in the Middle East. Goes to show how the who-started-what-trail is one that just goes on and on. --
We should have been allowed to finish it the first time.
Anyone else noticed that Korea and Iraq are biting us in the ass because we didn't finish them the first time?
Pato, venice, ca- usa | 2004-03-16 18:56 | Link
Shame on all of you from spain who vote with ill-conceived emotion and ZERO intellectual thought.
Ali Dashti | 2004-03-16 22:22 | Link
Everybody also seems to miss the fact that Spaniards are seen as ex-muslim apostates, since they kicked out their muslim rulers during the Middle Ages. As we all know, according to sharia there is the death penalty for leaving Islam:
Gustavo Aristegui, a former Spanish Ambassador to Amman, who is an acknowledged expert on Salafism, said: “I remember speaking to the head mullah in Damascus and he said: ‘We are going to liberate your country (Spain)’.”
Señor Aristegui said that a Salafist view would justify the mass slaughter of innocents on Madrid’s commuter trains last Thursday. “They believe that Spain is an apostate nation. Islamic doctrine says that if you are accused of being an apostate, not even your accuser can pardon you. It is a believer’s obligation to kill you.”
OG Norway | 2004-03-16 22:50 | Link
Reid of America | 2004-03-16 23:52 | Link
Ali Dashti comments: “They believe that Spain is an apostate nation. Islamic doctrine says that if you are accused of being an apostate, not even your accuser can pardon you. It is a believer’s obligation to kill you.”
First the Muslims came for the the Jews (Israel) and Europe either turned it's back or joined in the hate orgy. Now they are coming for the Europeans. Hey Europe, you reap what you sow. You are now the targets. Look at what is happening in Israel. It is your future. No amount of appeasing or Israel bashing will change that. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving people.
But I have faith that Europeans will eventually realize what is happening and react with a ruthless brutality that Israel has never exhibited. You have done it many times before and you will do it again. You are sheep waiting for a strong leader. He will rise and you will follow.
Thank goodness I live in America. The land of the free and the home of the brave.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-17 02:37 | Link
Seems that document has made it's way to CNN Spain. Too little, too late.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-17 02:56 | Link
i1277 . . .
You said, "However, forcing "nonreligion" and a western way of life upon people with strong and firm traditions is not an option. Other ways of promoting modernism should be sought out. The world should strive to encourage moderate muslims and isolate the radical ones, not the other way round."
That is the ENTIRE POINT of the Iraq invasion. Surely it must be clear to a few people in Spain that the war in Iraq was (1) to respond to a potential threat from WMD--which is still out there, folks, maybe not in barrels in Iraq, but the plans for it were ready in Iraq and it is now spreading rapidly to other countries, and (2) to spread democratic institutions to Iraq so that the region can begin to climb out of its pit of death and brutality.
The point is not "to force nonreligion and a Western way of life." The point is to spread democratic institutions and a society that is ruled by law and justice.
Incidentally, for those of you who think democratic institutions can't be exported, I suggest you all take trips to Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Those countries are VERY DIFFERENT from Western Europe and the U.S. (don't be fooled by the clothing). Yet they are modern countries with modern liberties (except maybe Hong Kong these days, but that's another topic).
OG of Norway . . .
You seem kind of upset when people express their views. Are you not used to different points of view? Does everyone in your community think alike? I'm sorry if we Americans offend you, but you are surely are a fairweather friend if a few opinions about the spread of totalitarianism and what to do about it make you so unhappy. If you want to rethink your "pro-Americanism" based on the opinions on this blog, be my guest.
Maybe you should't read political blogs at all. Listen to soft music or watch MTV. Then you can feel safe in your happy womblike shell.
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2004-03-17 05:31 | Link
"It sure doesn't seem that the "war on terror" has frightened the enemy to surrender so far. And is it likely that they will? The more religious people become, the less they care about fear and common sense."
i277 is certainly behind the learning curve here, unaware of the internal changes happening in countries surrounding Iraq. But that is most likely because he gets all the news from AP, Reuters, BBC, CNN, AFP, and the like.
Now, I don't like the New York Times, - it's supports the French, after all - but sometimes we get really good, in-depth investigative reporting from some individual writers. One recent one featured in the Sunday Times Magazine section interviewed several different jihadists in Saudi Arabia who have, since the American successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, given up on jihad, and started reading western philosophers in order to understand the west better...
Americans will succeed in transforming the Arab World for the better. All the evidence points to it, though it will take time. It would take less time, however, if Europeans would not be doing their best to sabotage American efforts. But even this... will be overcome.
OG Norway | 2004-03-17 08:37 | Link
You are right Totoro from Chicago, I should not let fundamental blogs shape my wieus.
OG Norway | 2004-03-17 08:42 | Link
Markku Nordström, New York/Helsinki | 2004-03-17 14:44 | Link
Notice how a blog like Bjorn's gets dismissed in Scandinavia as being "fundamental":ist [sic], as OG just did.
Totoro, you have no idea how uniform and regimented Scandinavian academia and media is. Remember, they have no independent academia: everything is controlled by the state. And while there is private ownership of some media, most journalists have been educated in state-controlled academia, which has a profound effect in shaping - i.e. limiting - their thinking about their own states.
That's why OG needs to dismisses this blog as "fundamentalist". It is to preserve his own belief in the superior ethics and values of his own culture, as that's what's always been taught in Scandinavia.
And that's why Bjorn's blog is all the more remarkable, since he is one of the few media voices in Scandinavia - and Europe - that is truly independent.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-17 15:04 | Link
Bjorn . . .
In response to OG and Markku above, let me express my thanks to you for running this excellent blog and making your comments section so interesting and informative.
Sometimes we take blog writers like you for granted, and I know it takes a lot of hard word and commitment to keep a blog such as yours going.
I believe that you WILL have an effect against the frozen thoughts in Western Europe. It just takes time to go against the stream.
BarCodeKing, Florida, USA | 2004-03-17 17:13 | Link
It just seems weird to me to see such pacifistic views coming from Scandinavians. Didn't you people used to be Vikings once? What happened to you? Today, most of you are indistinguishable from Belgians and the like.
OG Norway | 2004-03-17 18:48 | Link
First of all:regret giving the blog a bad name(although some of the participants fall in that category). I agree with Marku on the analysis he gave on the education system in scandinavia.But i am not a processed socialist, if you think so from my previous comments. Vikings? They raped woman,killed and destroyd,do not know if we want to go back to that.
Concerned NC, US | 2004-03-17 19:15 | Link
The fallacy in your argument, Bjorn, is that the war in Iraq is a war on terror. It was only a war on Saddam Hussein. There was no WMD threat and there was no sponsorship of Al-Qaeda.
The Iraq war has been a waste of blood and treasure and opportunity sold by a pack of impeachable lies. The coalition refusal to get tough on Al-Qaeda sponsors Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the loss of focus in Afghanistan, have all allowed Al-Qaeda it to regain strength. If the coalition had been serious about rooting out Al-Qaeda after 9/11, then 3/11 wouldn't have happened.
The greatest betrayal of all is the political manipulation of a terror attack, as Bush and Blair. Rightly or wrongly, that is what the Spanish electorate thought about Aznar. Someone who you can't trust to protect you or tell you the truth cannot be your leader.
Reid of America | 2004-03-17 20:09 | Link
Concerned NC, US: "The fallacy in your argument, Bjorn, is that the war in Iraq is a war on terror. It was only a war on Saddam Hussein."
The purpose of the war in Iraq was many faceted. But the biggest factor was to firmly plant the US military in the center of the Middle East. Secondly, it was to send a message that the US is powerful and won't be trifled with by Arab rulers or diplomats at the UN. Iraq was only the first battle of a war that may take decades to win.
Iraq will be turned over to Iraqi people to politically run. But a very large US military force will be there for decades to come. The US has been in Europe for 60 years and has recently decided to have a major force reduction there. Whatever you may think of the war in Iraq, the Arab governments understand very well that Pax Americana has arrived in their region and they had best be on their best behavior if they want to survive. Qaddafi got the message loud and clear.
All this talk about how Pakistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia are a bigger problem than Iraq was misses the point. Attacking those nations first would have been a military blunder. Now that the US military is firmly entrenched in the region those nations can be dictated to and attacked if they refuse to comply. The post-modern Europeans don't think that is acceptable or meets "international law". The reality is that it doesn't really matter much what you think and that is what really upsets you. The Muslims are upset with their lost power and glory and so are the Europeans. Except for the UK, Europe is militarily weak and is acting like a weakling. Most Europeans won't admit it but it is their own weakness that is their main problem with the US.
John Øyvind Welle, Norway | 2004-03-17 20:34 | Link
Perhaps not in a direct Hunt-'Em-Down way, but in a broader sense, I'd say hell yes the war in Iraq is an important part of the war on terror.
The war on terror doesn't start or end with Iraq. It concerns the whole Greater Middle East. Getting a foothold for democracy within this region is possibly the best way to combat terrorism I can think of. One, it is a way to dispel the myths perpetuated by the corrupt regimes in this region about the US first hand. Two, a liberated and liberal Iraq has a possibility to economic and social growth that may discourage potential terrorists. Three, democracy might spread.
There are also other benefits more related to military issues. One, removing a brutal dictator by force sends an important message to corrupt leaders who might want to meddle in distributing/using WMD (Yes, even if Saddam turned out to not have any.) Witness Libya and Pakistan. Two, in a strategical sense, it gives the possibility to hard and swift military action should another large scale terrorist attack occur originating from this region. Three, the battlescene gets shifted from our turf to theirs.
Then, of course, there's all the psychological benefits...
"The greatest betrayal of all is the political manipulation of a terror attack"
Bull. *Everybody* believed that Iraq had WMD before the war. And further more, it was never the only justification if you had bothered to follow the leadup to the war closely.
When it comes to Spain, one notices there has been similar attempts to distort reality. 'Aznar blamed ETA to gain political support.' Why then, didn't they keep the van with the koran tapes secret? Why didn't they hush up the arrests of the Moroccans and the Indians? Could it be because they honestly, but mistakenly, believed it was ETA that was behind the terror attack? Remember that they had in recent times foiled two similar attempted terror attacks by ETA, and that the explosives used were the same as ETA usually operates with.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-17 21:05 | Link
A few years ago I read Churchill's multivolume history of World War II. It is laborious but fascinating to read, and it helps if you are good at skimming.
The deep impression that this work had on me is as follows: (1) It took years and years to get all the ducks in a row to fight Hitler. Meanwhile, Germany was winning. (2) Most countries that fell to Hitler didn't even fight (Norway and Czechoslovakia included). Later they had to fight, but in the early stages they didn't do what they could to stop the German occupation. (3) The U.S. and British allies fought each other ALL THE TIME. Churchill has many unpleasant things to say about the Americans. (The point being, so what else is new?) (4) It took years and years to get troops into position to actually fight the Germans. That's what the North African campaign was all about. (5) Despite the myth, the French were our enemies, not our allies. (6) A lot of successes in the war, most notably the Normandy invasion, depended on keeping major secrets. I doubt this could be done so well today.
My reason for commenting on this blog is not to promote an American's point of view--though that's what I am--but to engage in an international conversation with people who need to think about reality and how to respond to various threats.
In the 1930s, due to domestic political reasons, the U.S. was very isolationist. President Roosevelt had to do some very unconstitutional things to help Britain fight the Germans. He could have been impeached and removed from office for what he did. Luckily that didn't happen.
Too many people take their liberties for granted and think things naturally have turned out happily because they're so "nice." No, it doesn't work that way. Read Churchill for one look at how lucky we are today to have survived WWII.
By the way, OG of Norway, calling people "fundamentalists" is not an argument for anything. Neither is calling them "rightwingers." You really have no idea who you are talking to. We are anonymous in the blogosphere. Keep that in mind when you post your comments.
Tim USA | 2004-03-17 22:31 | Link
I think Bjorn was right by validating the terrorist beliefs no matter how strange you have embodened them and justified their use of terror. Therefore saying that Spain has caused more terror attacks is correct. Tell me all about voting rights and how my country is destroying the world but don't pretend that validating the psychopathic beliefs of terrorists is going to make you safer. One day you will realize that Bush was right and the only way to win is to take the fight to them. They know the battle is in Iraq thats what they are mad at. Those of you who
| 2004-03-17 22:54 | Link
Reid and John, I'll respond to some of both your posts:
"Bull. *Everybody* believed that Iraq had WMD before the war. "
"When it comes to Spain, one notices there has been similar attempts to distort reality."
"All this talk about how Pakistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia are a bigger problem than Iraq was misses the point. Attacking those nations first would have been a military blunder."
"Getting a foothold for democracy within this region is possibly the best way to combat terrorism I can think of. One, it is a way to dispel the myths perpetuated by the corrupt regimes in this region about the US first hand."
"The post-modern Europeans don't think that is acceptable or meets "international law". The reality is that it doesn't really matter much what you think and that is what really upsets you."
Yes I would like to have more say in things, but the White House won't answer my emails. I'm reduced to arguing in blogs, marching in the street, writing my congresspeople and working for regime change.
There's more to say, but I've got to get back to work. Cheers.
Leif Knutsen, New York | 2004-03-18 00:54 | Link
I have to say it's a bit surreal to hear Zapatero say that his first priority will be to combat terror *and* get the hell out of Iraq. He says he's going to step up security everywhere and go after *all* terrorist groups, including ETA. There's a little voice in my head that translates this to mean:
"We'll really make sure the border police shines their shoes"
"All terrorists except those who might get pissed off. We don't want to hurt their feelings. Oh yeah, and except those groups that murder Jews, because they're not really terrorists. They're simply really angry oppressed people with poor impulse control."
I am far from convinced that invading Iraq was the best use of scarce military resources, and I am concerned about Bush's willingness to look the other way as Pakistan exports nuclear technology, because doing so would open the hunting season on OBL in the Hindu Kush. I agree that IF Bush willfully misled Congress and the American people about the reliability of the evidence for WMD, THEN he should be impeached, convicted and removed from office. I can't imagine a higher crime and misdemenour than putting your country at war on false premises.
My best interpretation is that Bush's real reason for invading Iraq is precisely what John Øyvind Welle says: to create a sort of virtuous domino effect in the Middle East that will destabilize the totalitarian regimes there and cause a movement toward the kinds of societies that reject terrorists. And there are signs that it's working in Saudi Arabia and Iran. I could actually buy that argument, but I'm not sure most of Congress would, nor that most Americans would.
But as unhappy as I am about Bush, I am even more unhappy about the European establishment. All they've been doing is protesting and posturing and haven't come up with a single constructive alternative. What would they have done about Saddam's WMD programs? Let "inspections have their effect." Ha! Saddam only started to cooperating - and then only barely - when the US and UK were breathing down his neck with smart bombs and assassinating Ba'ath party leaders in the streets. Blix was way down on the list of credible inspectors, and Annan managed to go with him so as to not piss Saddam off too much. Meanwhile, Blix admitted that he had been fooled in the past.
I honestly think that Iraq would have to be invaded if not in April of 2003 then in January of 2004. The cynic in me believes that Bush's hurry had to do with election season, not with any clear and present danger.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-18 02:20 | Link
To various posters . . .
One reason I mentioned Churchill's History of WWII is because he spells out so clearly the importance of supply routes and manpower.
Without sounding defeatist and negative here--I want you all to THINK, really THINK about what it would mean if the U.S. decided to go after (1) Saudi Arabia and (2) Pakistan.
It's comforting to think the U.S. can do anything and the world would be perfect if only we had the right President in office, but that is utopian thinking.
Geopolitics is very complicated and fraught with unknowns, as the Spanish election just proved. Give U.S. political and military leaders some credit for trying to do the right thing with the fewest amount of casualties for everyone.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-18 02:33 | Link
For another look at geopolitical considerations, check out Hans ze Beeman's blog (cumgranosalis.blogspot.com) for thoughts on relations between China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Ze Beeman's links may or may not be correct. The point is to get people to think about the future instead of just bashing Bush, the U.S., etc.
In a century everyone reading this will be dead, but future generations should have some hope of living in a world where democracy prevails, resources are available, and human rights are respected.
Reid of America | 2004-03-18 03:21 | Link
totoro: "One reason I mentioned Churchill's History of WWII is because he spells out so clearly the importance of supply routes and manpower."
Absolutely correct! US control of oil was the single most critical factor in defeating both Germany and Japan during WW II. It amazes me how few people realize that. Everyone talks of battles not realizing that both Germany and Japan couldn't fight many battles because of the lack of fuel. Both Germany and Japan probably would have won WW II if they had abundant and reliable supplies of oil.
Military planners in the US are totally aware of the importance of abundant and reliable oil supplies. It is one of the reasons that Saudi Arabia has not been decisively confronted by the US.
totoro: "It's comforting to think the U.S. can do anything and the world would be perfect if only we had the right President in office, but that is utopian thinking."
The US has many limitations in it's military capabilities. But European politcal sensibilities or the UN security council deliberations aren't limitations as the war in Iraq has decisively demonstrated.
Many critics claim that the US has reacted too forcefully to the 9/11 terror attacks. The Muslim fundamentalists are seeking nuclear weapons. Iran's former leader Rafshanjani has said they when they obtain nuclear weapons Israel will be destroyed. If the Muslim fundamentalists are not stopped now before they attain nuclear weapons hundreds of millions of people are going to be killed in a nuclear holocaust. If Muslims attacks Israel with nuclear weapons Israel will respond with dozens of nuclear bombs. If anyone attacks the US with nuclear weapons such as in a ship in NY harbor the US will respond with dozens of nuclear weapons. THIS IS NOT A DIPLOMATIC GAME! Civilization as we know it will be damaged for generations to come. Unfortunately many people, especially in Europe, don't understand how big the stakes are in this war. Time to wake up to the world as it is and not how you wish it would be.
Karen in Tennessee USA | 2004-03-18 04:48 | Link
What a great blog! Thanks for thoughtful debate and comment. I'll be back to lurk more later.
Alasdair in Göteborg | 2004-03-18 10:01 | Link
Did you notice that the latest letter (supposedly) from Al Qaeda specifically mentioned Oslo as a possible place of attack?
The group said its cells were ready for another attack and time was running out for allies of the United States.
Erik, Sweden | 2004-03-18 10:54 | Link
Well, Hans Blix disagreed with that, if he's to be counted as an "inspector on the ground".
He stated publicly, in a seminar in the Swedish Parliament building held by the Swedish Liberal Party on April 4 2003 (fresh out of the job) that when he asked Iraq about their WMDs, why they simply just didn't give them up, they claimed they were "wepaons of self defense".
Of course, now he has a book to sell, so his views in interviews have changed a bit, but that's pretty normal for a Liberal. (Yes, Hans Blix is a member of the Swedish Liberal party, he was Foreign Minister when they held office)
So your statement is blatantly false, the inspectors believed it too, at least their leader did.
OG Norway | 2004-03-18 11:38 | Link
Also get sceptical when I sense a lot of resentment in Bjørns opening post.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-18 16:05 | Link
OG Norway . . .
You asked "Do you participants in this forum belive the tide have turned, and that armed war is the best solution to terrorism?"
The War on Terrorism must be fought on many fronts, including diplomacy, education, and the spread of democracy and human rights.
It will be LOST if people shrink from reality and rely on empty sloganeering. It will also be lost if the democracies like Norway and Spain (and France and Germany) don't stand together.
As Reid of America said above: "THIS IS NOT A DIPLOMATIC GAME! Civilization as we know it will be damaged for generations to come. Unfortunately many people, especially in Europe, don't understand how big the stakes are in this war. Time to wake up to the world as it is and not how you wish it would be."
John Øyvind Welle, Norway | 2004-03-18 16:44 | Link
"[Europeans on war] They've seen bullies get warmed up before."
Yes, and what an astonoshing success in proactive action they displayed.
John Øyvind Welle, Norway | 2004-03-18 16:55 | Link
It is an integral part of it, but not the only one. The problem with Europe, is the lacking will to recognize it as a part of the War On Terror at all. Too many on the left seem to think that "dialogue" and "understanding" are viable substitutes for armed action.
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2004-03-18 18:37 | Link
Blix flip-flops about as much as John Kerry does on major issues.
Concerned NC, US | 2004-03-18 19:08 | Link
I'm talking about UNSCOM and the IAEA. Neither of them believed it, even up to the war. Their assertion was that up to 98% was destroyed, and anything left was unusable. Saddam was always playing games with inspections, as well as the US was by putting spies in the teams. Hans Blix never stopped asking for more time to make sure.
The avalanche of transparently bad intel, lies, and propaganda started by the US and UK swept up a lot of otherwise smart people. It played out like a medieval witch trial.
Scott Ritter was right. There was nothing there.
Iraq was a move for control of oil supplies, for petrodollar insurance, for military superiority in the Middle East, for a Pax Americana. It had NOTHING to do with Al-Qaeda and was a diversion in the fight against them. Ask the grieving Spaniards if you don't believe me.
One more point. Why is it the NORWEGIANS who go back after the fact thru the website archives to find a 3-month old MISSION STATEMENT of the Madrid attack and not the US/UK in real time? Were they too distracted to do the real work of counterterrorism?
Markku Nordström, New York/Helsinki | 2004-03-18 21:50 | Link
NC: If we revisit the sequence of events leading up to the war, we'll find that the neocon's wanted to invade Iraq ever since the nineties. After 9/11 happened there was not only a greater sense of urgency, but also a realization that here was a golden opportunity to marshall American public opinion to support the war.
The big mistake happened in the summer of 2002, when Tony Blair convinced the Bush Administration that he could sell the idea to Europe, if only the US would go to the UN first, and if the US would use the WMD issue as the main reason for the war. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld were against this, while Powell supported it. The matter was resolved when Condoleezza Rice sided with Powell, and (if you haven't noticed) she is closest to the President, - perhaps the real power behind the throne.
Far from being a "poodle", it is a credit to Blair's power and influence that the US followed his advice. Unfortunately, the whole plan was a disaster. Both Rumsfeld and Cheney were right in that the US simply should have bypassed the UN and taken direct action - in other words, simply been honest about the US desire to get rid of Saddam - instead of engaging in a complex justification process that dragged all of Europe along for the ride.
It is a moot point to argue about WMD's now. It was simply an excuse for action. The main lesson to be learned, however, is that the UN should not be consulted in advance when actions like these should be taken. And Europe should not be trusted to support the US, even if the actions are justified.
John Øyvind Welle | 2004-03-18 21:50 | Link
"I'm talking about UNSCOM and the IAEA. Neither of them believed it, even up to the war. Their assertion was that up to 98% was destroyed, and anything left was unusable."
Are you pulling that percentage out of your ass? As far as I can remember, it was only Saddam that asserted the WMD were destroyed. I can't remember any UN official publically stating he believed there was any credibility to that claim. Perhaps you have a cite?
Besides, res. 1441 clearly demanded that Saddam was required to provide relevant documentation for the whereabouts/destruction of the WMD the inspectors got booted out in '98 to investigate. He showed no willingness to do so.
"Iraq was a move for control of oil supplies, for petrodollar insurance, for military superiority in the Middle East, for a Pax Americana."
Why, you've certainly seen through it all. How could I've been so blind! It's all about the oil (for baby blood TM) and world domination. It's all so obvious now. Thanks.
It might be possible that oil was a part of the equation in the war against Iraq. But not in the way you are suggesting. Before the fall of Saddam, regular oil trade with Iraq was made impossible, seeing that the revenues couldn't be entrusted with a brutal dictator likely to squander it on WMD and palaces. It certainly wouldn't have done the Iraqi people any good. Saddam also constituted a constant threat to the stability of the region, which again affected the general oil prices.
With Saddam now out of the picture, the oil revenues can be funneled back to the Iraqi people. This gives the twin benefits of cheapening the rebuilding of Iraq and make the US slightly less dependent on Saudi oil. I think everybody wins. Except the Saudi royal family perhaps, but that is only Good and Proper.
And Pax Americana? Try Pax Democracy.
Erik, Sweden | 2004-03-18 22:36 | Link
And please, Scott Ritter?
In 1998, he was a part of UNSCOM, and certainly believed Saddam had WMDs:
Shortly after that, Saddam kicked him out of Iraq, but he kept arguing for disarming Saddam, until he got arrested for a sex crime in 2001:
At that point, he hadn't been in Iraq for over 2 years, and had been claiming Saddam was a big threat up until the point of his arrest.
Or maybe he just figured he'd make more money on the anti-war circuit, preaching to the choir. After all, his book is selling, and he is invited as an "expert" all the time. That never happened when he argued Saddam should be disarmed. It's a living....
David Elson, Australia | 2004-03-18 22:36 | Link
"Too many on the left seem to think that "dialogue" and "understanding" are viable substitutes for armed action."
Was it General Patton that said "power comes from the barrel of a gun"? I think this is a maxim that the terrorists understand only too well (their sucess in ousting the Spanish government), words are an ineffective weapon to use against one who has an overriding desire to implement a world Islamic state (even at the cost of their own life, and many others), such a person, can not be negotiated or compromised with. Western nations are unfortunately constrained by the morals of their populations in a way which does not reflect the realities of war. Ie; as espoused in Carl von Clausewitz's book "On War", the party that is willing to go the furtherest will win. I do not think that Western civilisation has what it takes to oppose persistantly ruthless Islamic terror.
If you allow moral fantasies and fallacies to blunten the militaries sword, then how long will it be before one with a sword sharp and strong comes along and lops off your arm?
The Islamic facist will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, how many westerns can pledge the same in opposition to the terrorist's horrid goals?
As the terrorists have discovered how easy it is to undemocratically influence other nations, we will now see a new spate of terrorist attacks in the western world, with the inevitable failure and fall of both the coalition of the willing and western civilisation, including that "great Satan" (LoL) America.
Reid of America | 2004-03-19 00:16 | Link
Scott Ritter was given $400,000 by an associate of Saddam to make a film about Iraq. This has been widely reported and Ritter admits taking the money. The person who gave Ritter the money (I forgot his name) is implicated in bribing people who are diplomatically or media connected to support the Saddam regime. It was right after Ritter received $400,000 that he changed his opinion. Coincidence?
It was Chairman Mao, not General Patton who made the following quote "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.".
I used the term Pax Americana in an earlier comment and a few others have used the term. Pax Americana is Pax Democracy. I would add Pax Capitalism. Western Europe is a product of Pax Americana. Much of the current tension between the US and Western Europe is that the Europeans are throwing off the order and military domination of the post WW II and Cold War era that was Pax Americana. Unlike the Roman Empire or the British and French colonial empires, Pax Americana is far less intrusive in the everyday lives of those who live under it. America is a reluctant empire. Whether in Europe or the Far East or now in the Middle East, America has gotten involved because fascists or communists or Islamists could no longer be ignored. Americans aren't interested in Empire. But events beyond it's shores have left them no choice once again.
Concerned, NC US | 2004-03-19 01:26 | Link
I refer to Scott Ritter and Mohamed ElBaradei for prewar WMD estimates. No investigation turned up anything and they said so, but they were committed to keep looking. I am well aware of Ritter's hard stance in 1998 and subsequent resignation to protest Clinton Administration waffling. If someone could give a time and source of the $400K story, it might help me see Ritter in a different light.
Blix was operating under lots of pressure from Washington. Blix said on 3/36/03 that he was disappointed he didn't have enought time to finish his work.
Regardless of who said what pre-war, the Bush regime has had the run of Iraq for nearly a year, and has STILL found NO WMD. Bush's own inspectors publicly gave up. Maybe some of you who are positive Saddam had them can explain where the WMD might be. You can impugn Scott Ritter's character and motives all you want, but can anyone prove him wrong?
I will again bring my thread back to the topic. The Iraq War had nothing to do with terrorism, and fighting it was a diversion away from Al-Qaeda. They have taken advantage.
Eric in Oregon, USA | 2004-03-19 03:52 | Link
In some ways it is understandable why the Spanish people voted the way they did. Wouldn't anyone look for a way out of such a horrible situation is one could be found? In the US, we looked for a way out for years: better to lob a missle at the terrorists occassionally but try not to make them too mad.
Even the Israelis tried it. Remember the Oslo peace accords? The ones that led to a Nobel "Peace" Prize for Arafat? I wonder if he carried his "peace" prize where he came to Washington, was offerred nearly all of his stated demands, but walked away to start the next round of suicide bombings.
There are no end to terrorist demands, except the destruction of your democracy, freedom and way of life. Oh yes, also the death of your people. It is hard to accept. And there has been plenty of debate and disagreement about it in our country. But reality is a hard thing to comprehend, especially when you have lived so long in the comfort of your free and propserous society. You take it for granted. The terrorists resent it, even hate it. What the terrorists seek is not some change in your foreign policy, but the establishment of an Islamic state based on Sharia law. That is what the Palentinian movement is based on. And now it is coming to Europe. The first battle has been lost. I wonder what will happen at the next.
Clem Snide | 2004-03-19 12:23 | Link
"Too many on the left seem to think that "dialogue" and "understanding" are viable substitutes for armed action."
On the contrary, too many on the left think armed action is a substitute for dialogue and understanding, provided the victims are deliberately targetted white civilians. It's only when that armed action is turned against the terrorists themselves in retaliation for their atrocities that the calls for "dialogue" and "understanding" come.
Erik, Sweden | 2004-03-19 15:18 | Link
NC, still wrong.
Scott Ritter and Mohamed ElBaradei had no inside information about WMDs before the war. When Scott Ritter *had* inside information he believed it was there.
And since the information allready provided about Scott Ritter isn't enough for you, and you obviously do not wish to Google it to find out the truth, I'll provide it for you:
Now, your last argument is just silly. Saddam was a known and admitted supporter of terrorism, he publicly offered them money for committing terrorist acts.
There have been several Al-Qaeda people caught in Iraq allready, they even seem to go there where the coalition can easily find them.
And to claim Iraq had nothing to do with terror and Al-Qaeda in one breath, and then claim Madrid was because of Iraq in the next is just stupid. Al-Qaeda disagrees with you too, they claim to have done the Madrid-bombing, because of Iraq. So obviously they dont think that "Al-Qaeda has nothing to do with Iraq".
You really need to start google and read more independently, and not just accept what people tell you in those nicely colored pamphlettes.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-19 18:16 | Link
The GAO thinks Saddam skimmd $10 BILLION from the Oil-for-Palaces program.
He was also the largest money-launderer in the world. Is it a coincidence Arafish is having money problems?
Also, take w/a grain of salt, but from the Washington Time, there's millions of papers to go thru. And US protecting the Oil Ministry was the right thing to do.
Iraq-al Qaeda link
And the $400K for Ritter came from a guy named in the OFP fraud.
Pato | 2004-03-19 19:51 | Link
Timothy Garton-Ash, also writing in the Guardian, wonders if Madrid was Europe's 9/11.
Concerned NC, US | 2004-03-19 20:03 | Link
How can you say the head of the IAEA up to the start of the war had no inside information about WMDs in Iraq? He obviously didn't have the information the tinfoil hat coalition WANTED him to have. About WHAT secret nuclear program?
Look, Bush was going to invade Iraq no matter what. He tried to manipulate, bully, and obfuscate the UN and the inspectors to get a reason he could sell. When he couldn't get it on his timetable, he shoved the whole UN aside and went in. He discredited himself to his nation and the world by making flimsy assertions with bad evidence. Even Colin Powell had something to say about it. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,968581,00.html
Don't even try painting me with Iraqi blood. The 11 million antiwar protesters on F15 were anti-Bush, not pro-Saddam. Of course its good for the Iraqis that he's gone. By that pure motive, lets do North Korea next! Then Uzbekistan! No wait, Karimov's an ally in the "war on terror". That means its OK for to boil dissenters alive. Just like Saddam did when we were arming him with WMD! If it was such a just war, why did Bush sell it with BS and propaganda? Saddam striking the US with WMD? Please. Saddam and 911? The only rumor of a link has been long discredited.
For what its worth, I was appalled about the Bush 1 decision to abort the first Gulf War without removing Saddam. Yeah I know the UN didn't want it, but it was a golden opportunity.
The neocon paranoid fantasy that Iraq was responsible for every single act of terrorism against the US is the work of one Laurie Mylroie. Just because 7 of 10 Americans were conned into believing it doesn't make it real. Maybe you should lay off the pamphlets and do some real research. (I apologize for the cheap shot, but you started it). Here is a thorough debunking of her BS. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0312.bergen.html
The terribly bungled invasion and occupation of Iraq has created a chaotic and vengeful environment that is choice for terrorist operation. I cannot claim to say that Al-Qaeda is not now in Iraq. They see the chance for fundamentalist Muslim influence and are probably working it. In fact Ansar-al-Islam is connected to the Madrid bombings, as well as strikes against the US occupation and the Kurdish leadership. They had fled to Iran, but took advantage of the chaos to regroup in Kurdistan.
Yeah its about time Pakistan got off its ass and into Waziristan. Go Musharraf!
As for Scott Ritter, I still havent found why he changed his stripes, as it was BEFORE the $400,000 film in Iraq. Newsmax thinks he was turned by the CIA to protect Tenet's job. *dodges black helicopter*
I asserted that there was no WMD or terrorist threat from Iraq to the US before the war, and it looks like I'm still right.
Arild Berg, Norway | 2004-03-21 05:22 | Link
This whole discussion is based on some arguments NO ONE can proove. It's completly meaningless to discuss what COULD have happend if the attack in Madrid never happend. It WAS an attack, and it's impossible to tell what the result of the election would have been if this didn't happend. The result of the elction could have been the same as at became, but to discuss things like this, is like discussing "what would have happend if WW2 never happend"..
Erik, Sweden | 2004-03-21 11:15 | Link
Your Guardian source is just a lot of hyperbole and speculation. It's The Guardian, so of course they need to speculate in conspiracy theory, that's what they do, otherwise they couldn't be anti-war. I must draw your attention to the first paragraph: "...he assembled a secret team to review the information he was given before he made a crucial speech to the UN security council on February 5"
The article offers no proof that Iraq was going to be invaded no matter what. And I find it funny that you would have supported it in 1991, but refuse to support it now. Is it your opinion that Saddam became a better and more humane leader in that time?
You sound like the person walking the shore were thousands of fish has been washed asore. You ask the kids who throw one of them back why they bother with one, there are too many for them to help? The kids answers "it matters to this fish".
Please provide proof the US armed Saddam with WMDs? You know, the WMDs you then claim he didn't have???
I dont have to paint you with Iraqi blood, you do that yourself. You didn't want Saddam removed, you supported leaving him there, digging more massgraves. You could argue the case that the intelligence was wrong, but the war was the right thing to do regardless, but you choose not to. You did 13 years ago, but changed your mind when Clinton left office? You side with the French, who didn't want a war that would cost them their contracts with Saddam...
Then you lay all the blame on one Laurie Mylroie, who was actually a part of the Clinton campaign in 1992, as his advicer on foreign politics. But why not give her story too:
And then the claim Iraq has made the terrorist danger worse... You just claimed Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism, and now you claim the terrorists will start attacking because of Iraq? If Iraq and the terrorists hated eachother (as the antis claimed before the war), why would Al-Queda bother now? They just lost an enemy to them, or...?
Some other interesting links about Iraq and terrorists:
You have been given plenty of evidence about Ritter. It's obvious that he changed his opinion well after he had any insight in the matter, so any opinion he has now is not supported by any knowledge he might have. Now you claim the CIA changed his opinion to be anti-US? I just dont understand why you used him as a source before, if you think that he was ordered by the CIA to claim there was no WMDs in Iraq?
Your last line says pretty much all:
It was never stated that the US was in immediate danger, the case was made that it was wrong to wait until the threat *became* immidiate. Because if you wait until the threat is immidiate, it will be too late. Unless of course you wish to allow terrorists a "first strike" option? You know, like in Bali? Or Madrid? Or Israel? Where Saddam actually paid for suicide bombings, but yet was no supporter of terrorism?
I applaud you for actually providing sources this time. Maybe from now on you will also start reading those sources that actually do not agree with your opinions, just to challenge your beliefs now and then... You still make claims not supported in facts, that require a jump of faith be made over the gaps.
Erik, Sweden | 2004-03-21 12:05 | Link
Just found some opinions on how "wrong" and "bad" the war was.
At least the anti-war crowd has the right to screem that they are against their government. It's ironic that they dont think the Iraqi people deserve the same right, and that it was a bad thing to help them get it.
AT, Bilbao, Spain | 2004-03-22 21:38 | Link
What happened in the elections? well I think the PP reached them after being constantly harassed by left-wing media and activists trying to capitalize public dissagreement about involvement in Irak and Afganistan. The Governement did slighly try to explain why, but refused to insist because they didn´t believe people would, in the end, agree. They decided that issue would be forgotten.
In the first moments everybody thought it was ETA,
Why? there were several facts pointing up that direccion: 8 weeks before 2 ETA terrorists (please do not call them basque separatist group) were arrested by police trying to set up 2 bombs in a train to Madrid, these were also in handbags, able to explode with a telephone call.
Later more and more proof arose around Al-Quaida:
In the first moment of the day socialists follow
The PP did not say it was ETA, They said it was likely ETA, but even in first speech by Aznar condemning the terrorist act, did not atack or mention any specific terrorist organization. The problem was that althought governement was absolutely transparent with the media talking about any new finding, state-controlled media insisted in ETA being the likely perpetrator for the blasts even at the very last moments on Sunday. Somehow the governement lied and people felt deceived.
The point is that socialist party lied too because before any evidence they shouted IT´s Al-Quaida for their political convenience. Even more,
Some people afterwads all this changed vote, but only a few. Parties are voted in Spain not really because their achievements, but because they are ours, in a similar way we endorse a football team, no matter how bad or well they are playing. I´m a PP fan so I voted for them.
Why some people changed vote? well, you can hear in the illegal demonstrations why. Their slogan were some time in the "Urdaci manipulation" or "PP liar" area, and some other in the infamy area "Aznar killer, you dump this blood" or "Aznar bomber in Bagdad, your bombs fell in Madrid".
The need to respond somehow to the killings and the same reasons stated earlier attracted more people to the polls, many of them young voters, and people who ussually don´t care about public issues. In Spain when that kind of people go to vote, socialists get better results. They are more vulnerable to propaganda, and feel closer to left-side parties.
I would say also that the PSOE Spanish socialist worker party is not a true local equivalent of democrats and laborists. It looks more like the French socialist party. Its ideological place is in the middle between democrat and socialist.
Althoght it is not politically correct and many, in Spain would like to look the other way around, Morocco is not a friendly country as all mass disinformation media stated. It is a kingdom led by a king who said he descends from prophet Muhamad, he is also the religious leader.Morocco has a total identification State-Church, and even to sell Bibles is punished with long term jail sentences. When Zapatero visited Morocco, media photo session took place with a big wall map behind him. A map with the Great Morocco, Western Sahara, Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary islands belonging to Morocco. That did not happened by chance, and I would not call that country "friendly". Aznar was absolutely right when he did not allow any abuse.
The problem when it comes to terrorism, is that you can not win only with war and police methods.
| 2004-03-23 20:30 | Link
I never said *all* inspectors thought he didn't have them, but that they were not SURE that he DID. Thats why Blix was asking for time, remember?
The WMD issue is dead. They weren't there. Bush's Iraq Survey Group can't find a trace and has given up. Maybe you can find them?
More evidence the Bush administration didn't care about Al-Qaeda
I'll parse out the Mylroie stuff when I get back from holiday. You should have plenty of thinking to do.
Wendelyn, PA, USA | 2004-04-02 15:13 | Link
questions of democracy & terrorism aside, I want to extend to Spain my heartfelt sympathy for the 3/11 tragedy.
(as an American, I was deeply touched by the worldwide outpouring of sympathy & support after the events of 9/11. I've perceived next to nothing of the kind from the US for Spain, although I feel sure that there are millions of other Americans who feel shocked & deeply saddended by the bombings.)
Bilbao, Spain | 2004-04-05 15:22 | Link
First, I haven't got a good English level, but I will try to write.
To understand the elections, you must know how has been the PP and Aznar in the government. In their last four years, they've done what they want, without think in Spain: they've thought in them, not in the Spanish people, and they thought they would win this elections. A lot of people was tired of the PP, who carried we to a war against the Spanish people's wishes, made what they want because they have the most of the ¿parlamentarys? (I don't know if this is the word) and thought in them and their friends.
In Spain, a party doesn't win, the government lose. Aznar tried the Spanish people think "or PP, or Spain will be broken by the reds, separatists...". His pride, his use of the absolute majority, has made Spanish get upset.
In the PP, today is people who was minister with Franco (a Spanish dictator, from 1939 to 1977, ). This can make you understand better how can be the PP. Not all PP's people has the thought of this people, but you can find people like this, veeery conservative. When he was young, Aznar wrote a letter where he was against the Constitution of Spain.
The best sight of Spanish situation has been aported by Alrom.
john freedom | 2004-07-12 06:46 | Link
just like to say the spanish people are cowards they run like a bunch of women anytime there's a threat bunch of pussies.
Kim Sook-Im,US | 2005-01-15 11:13 | Link
Ola!Bilbao y John Freedom,
Los musulmanes todavía desean reclamar la gloria de 'al andalus'.....los niños de Allah todavía están soñando con su califato perdido. Intentarán reclamar los Balcanes, la España, la Italia meridional y sí, hasta la toda Europa si usted los permite. Su agenda secreta es: la alta fertilidad, alta inmigración,casamientos prolificos entre musulmanes y indigenas, aprovecharse del proceso democrático de los países occidentales para aumentar poder politico, insertar lentamente y seguramente principios islámicos en la judicatura existente del país-huesped.
La capitulación o el entregarse a los terroristas islámicos envía una señal de la debilidad y no apaciguirá a estes criminales viciosos. !!!La única lengua que entienden ,es la violencia y el justo castigo!!!
Princesa White Lotus
( Hi, Bilbao and John Freedom,
Their secret agenda: high immigration, high fertility rate, intermarriage with the locals,taking advantage of the democratic system to increase their power base, surreptitiously insert islamic principles into the existing judiciary of the host country..etc.
Giving in to islamist terrorists and their threats signal weakness on the ruling party. It is pointless to try and appease this vicious monsters......the only language they understand is violence and swift retribution!
Princess White Lotus
Lorenzo cuerda USA | 2005-03-05 10:47 | Link
I would like to remind the guest thinkers that, during the first 36hs. after M-11 the official statements of Aznar's government were pointing fingers directly at the northern separatists. What where their intentions??? A cover-up? disinformation? Nerves knowing...? knowing that Mr. Aznar had no bussinnes, but his bussiness, in entering Spain into a war of massive destruction and prolonged suffering towards the main population of any country.
Edgar De La Vega | 2005-06-11 02:23 | Link
As a Spaniard, I can tell you that Spain is finished as a culture and as a people given their latest, liberal tendencies of the last 25 years.
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i1277: Glede og glede, fru Blom, March 17, 2004 03:55 PM
"Gledelig seier" sier Jens Stoltenberg etter at sosialistene vant valget i Spania. Han om det. At terroristene drepte hundrevis av...
Dodgeblogium: What he said !!, March 18, 2004 02:20 PM
This is most assuredly a RTWT post, from a gentleman, Bjørn Stærk by name, who will brook no surrender. That's if you believe Aftenposten - or Dagbladet, who believes that "no outcome of M11 could have been better" than yesterday's...
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