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Subject: Spain, Europe, and Terrorism
appleciderus    3/19/2004 5:03:34 AM
Charles Krauthammer, Friday 3/19: "WASHINGTON -- When confronting an existential enemy -- an enemy that wants to terminate your very existence -- there are only two choices: appeasement or war. In the 1930s, Europe chose appeasement. Today Spain has done so again. Europe may follow. One can understand Europe's reaction in the 1930s. First, it could almost plausibly convince itself that Hitler could be accommodated. Perhaps he really was only seeking what he sometimes said he was -- the return of territory, the unification of the Germanic peoples, a place in the sun -- and not world conquest. Today there is no doubting the intentions of Arab-Islamic radicalism. It is not this grievance or that (U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia). It is not this territory or that (Palestine, Andalusia). The intention, endlessly repeated, is the establishment of a primitive, messianic caliphate -- redeeming Islam and dominating the world. They have seen the future: Taliban Afghanistan, writ large. Moreover, Europe in the 1930s had a second excuse. The devastation of the First World War, staggering and fresh in memory (France and Germany lost a third of their young men of military age), had made another such war unthinkable. This does not excuse appeasement -- it cost millions more lives in the Second World War -- but provides context, and possibly humility. One has to ask oneself: Am I sure I would not have chosen the cowardly alternative? Nonetheless, it was still the cowardly alternative. And today, Spain has chosen it -- having suffered not Europe's 20 million dead of the First World War, but 200 dead in the Madrid bombing. The Socialist Party placed the blame for the attack not on the barbarians who detonated the bombs, but on the Spanish government that stood with the United States in its war against the barbarians. The Spanish electorate then voted into office the purveyors of precisely that perverse view. Spain will now withdraw from Iraq, sever its alliance with America and, as Prime Minister-elect Zapatero has promised, ``restore magnificent relations with France and Germany.'' Nonetheless, Spain is just Spain. The really big prize is Europe. Which is why the most ominous development of the week was the post-Madrid pronouncements of Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission. ``Clearly the conflict with the terrorists is not resolved with force alone.'' Sounds reasonable until you hear Prodi's amplification of the idea just two days earlier. ``We know that international terrorism wants to spread fear,'' said Prodi. ``Fear generates not so much justice, but rather vengeance, which chooses war to answer the need of security. ... We become prisoners of terror and of terrorists.'' In other words, making war on terror is unjust, fearful, mere vengeance, and ultimately a victory for terrorism. If not war, then what? A centerpiece to Prodi's solution to terrorism: a new European constitution. I'm not making this up: ``to defeat fear we only have democracy and politics.... Today for us, politics means building Europe completely with its constitution and its institutions.... '' This is beyond appeasement. This is decadence: Terror rages and we tend our garden. Prodi is right that the war on terror is not resolved by force alone. How is it won apart from hunting down terrorists and destroying terrorist regimes? By reversing the Arab-Islamic world's tragic collapse into oppression, intolerance and destitution, in which popular grievances are cynically deflected by repressive regimes and clergy into the virulent anti-Americanism that exploded upon us on 9/11. Which means trying to give desperate and oppressed people a chance at the kind of freedom and prosperity that we helped construct post-World War II in Europe and East Asia. Where on this planet is this project most engaged? Iraq, where, day by day, the U.S.-led coalition is trying to build a new civil order characterized by pluralism, the rule of law, and constitutional restraints. Even a modicum of success in this enterprise would constitute a monumental strategic advance, a historic change in the very culture of the Middle East. Spain's response to this challenge? Abandon the effort. So when Zapatero and, more importantly, Prodi speak of nonmilitary means to ``resolve'' the ``conflict with terrorists,'' they don't mean draining the swamp by gradually building free institutions. They mean buying off the terrorists, distancing themselves from America and seeking a separate peace. Sure they will continue to track down individual al Qaeda terrorists. But that's no favor to anyone. They want to make sure there's not another Madrid, in case European appeasement is not quite thorough enough to satisfy the terrorists. But on the larger fight, the reordering of the Arab world that produced the terrorists, they choose surrender." Appleciderus - That's as good an explanation as I've seen in print.
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appleciderus    RE:Spain, Europe, and Terrorism   3/19/2004 5:55:59 AM
Paul Greenberg, March 19, Washington Times: "The headline on Page One of the New York Times the day after Spain's election summed up the bad news: "Blow to Bush: Ally rejected/voters clearly reiterate opposition to Iraq war." You could almost see terrorists around the world smiling. The story underneath concluded: "The Bush administration must now fight the perception, accurate or not, that acts of terror against America's allies can sway nations into rethinking the wisdom of standing too closely with Mr. Bush." And too close to America. The volatility of mass opinion has seldom been illustrated so quickly. One day the streets of Spain are filled with millions of angry, grief-stricken protesters chanting "cowards" and "assassins." The next, millions of voters turn out to give a dramatic victory to the Socialist Party, which has opposed Spanish support for the war in Iraq. Why the change? Speculation abounds, for election results can be just as hard to interpret as predict. One young Spanish voter quoted in the Times' story explained why he switched from the right-center Popular Party to the winning Socialists: "Maybe the Socialists will get our troops out of Iraq, and al Qaeda will forget about Spain, so we will be less frightened. A bit of us died ... ." The heart, one suspects. So long as the terrorist attacks that shocked Spain were thought the work of homegrown Basque extremists — the notorious ETA — terrorism was to be given no quarter. Spaniards understand there can be no compromise with those killers. But when the clues pointed to al Qaeda, Spain's reaction was different. It was the government, not the terrorists, that was blamed for the horror. The Mideast is so far away. Why get involved? "Our prime minister has gotten us into a terrible, completely wrong war," said one young teacher. "And because of it, I spent yesterday and today going to funerals." Whatever the reasons for the election results, the comments from Spaniards on the street will have a familiar flavor to students of European history. "How horrible, how fantastic, how incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing," said British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on the eve of the Munich conference in September of 1938. It is hard now to recapture the euphoria, the nationwide celebration, the outburst of joy that swept England when Mr. Chamberlain returned from Munich with "Peace in Our Time." There was to be no war. The crisis had been averted. Appeasement had worked. But in the midst of all the cheers, another English statesman understood all too well what had really happened: "I do not grudge our loyal, brave people ... the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth. They should know that ... we have sustained a defeat without war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road," said Winston Churchill in the House of Commons, Oct. 5, 1938. Not that Churchill was listened to, not just then. Once again he would be dismissed as a right-wing crank who saw dangers where none existed. It would take another year until it became evident just how clearly he had foreseen what was to come. The millions who turned out to vote the antiwar Socialists into power in Spain may think they, too, have avoided further sacrifice — only to invite it later. And now that the terrorists seem to have succeeded in Spain, who'll be next to falter — Italy, Poland, Britain, Australia? Whose spirit can be sapped by a few strategically placed explosives? It is not just skyscrapers or train stations that terrorists seek to destroy, but a nation's will. We tend to forget now, viewing long-ago events through the narrow prism of history as it played out, what a good man Neville Chamberlain was. He did not seek war. On the contrary, he thought he could avoid it by reaching a reasonable compromise with Herr Hitler, that much misunderstood figure. Besides, a peaceful settlement could be reached at some other country's expense. Who cared what would happen to Czechoslovakia? Mr. Chamberlain was far from alone. American isolationists, too, thought we could avoid being dragged into another faraway war. Their political descendants say much the same thing now. Who cares about the Middle East and the dangers Saddam Hussein would have posed further down the road? Today, too, we are urged to understand the terrorists and their grievances, and told we can avoid further violence by a judicious mix of compromise and understanding. We forget that terrorism is caused not by reasonable men but by terrorists. And that they thrive on appeasement"
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Elbandeedo    RE:Spain, Europe, and Terrorism - you got cut off Apple   3/19/2004 9:37:50 AM
Bud, you were going strong there - then it ends in mid sentence. please finish - this ain't "the matrix" - don't leave us hangin'! :-) E.
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appleciderus    RE:Spain, Europe, and Terrorism - you got cut off Apple   3/19/2004 7:38:09 PM
Sorry EB, pardon this fevered victim of flu, but can't seem to find on my screen where I was cut off.
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Condor Legion    RE:Spain, Europe, and Terrorism - you got cut off Apple   3/19/2004 10:11:41 PM
AC: I believe EB is talking about the end of Greenbergs column from the times. Your second post in this thread (good stuff). It appears to be a victim of the dreaded last charactor muncher. Either that, or it really is meant to leave the reader hanging, Matrix style, until next weeks installment. Or both... LOOK MA, NO HANDS!, CL.
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