March 16, 2004

march madness

Over two hundred are dead and fifteen-hundred injured in the March 11 train bombings in Madrid. Events are still unfolding as I write, but it is sounding increasing like Al Queda was probably behind the bloodshed. Now 9-11 has its cousin, 3-11.

Now that is March Madness.

The most immediate fallout is the sudden change in Spanish politics wherein the socialist party was returned to power a mere three days after the tragic bombing. Much is being written about the Spanish people’s opposition to their country’s involvement in Iraq and how this might bode ill for Shrub’s chances in the Presidential election.

Of course, I wish nothing but ill for Shrub in his bid to continue his draconian regime, but I think all of this talk is premature. In part, it is premature because we need to be still grieving along with the people of Spain and not focusing on Presidential politics and the spin cycle. Also premature because so much can and will happen between now and November.

I’m still puzzling over all the reporting that assumes the bombings tilted the outcome of the election because of the socialist party’s pledge to bring Spanish troops home from Iraq. I must have more respect for the Spanish people than the world press because I just can not bring myself to believe that they think so provincially that this single bombing changed their outlook overnight. As this typical quote illustrates, apparently there are more than a few people who are just as sick of Shrub as I:

The Popular Party's loss marks the first time a government that backed the U.S.-led Iraq war has been voted out of office. A vast majority of Spaniards opposed the war. (Associated Press)

I think that quote is more accurate than the general musings of appeasement we are seeing tossed about. The truth is that most Spaniards opposed involvement in Iraq ab initio and the bombing served as a reminder and spur to the polls. If you have not seen the voter turnout numbers from Spain, you should go dig them out-if only we could muster that kind of passion here in The Home of the Brave.

My blogging has been primarily reactionary, and this post is no different. The stimulant for this particular rant was an op-ed by David Brooks asserting that the Madrid bombings are a “watershed event” that “will constrain American policy for years to come.” He is of the opinion that the Spanish vote is some of the aforementioned appeasement toward the forces of evil.

Mr. Brooks needs to remove the GOP colored glasses: the prescription is far too weak.

Outside of the myopic reactionary American right-wing universe, I do not think many view the Madrid bombings as a watershed: the watershed event was the turning of American foreign policy upside down to prosecute a war on Saddam Hussein under false pretenses. Our foreign policy will indeed be constrained for many years to come as countries formerly favorable or indifferent to American global leadership cast a continual skeptical gaze on every extra-territorial initiative of any consequence. How an obviously intelligent man like Mr. Brooks can look at the events in Spain so narrowly boggles this would be pundit’s admittedly limited imagination.

But Brooks is entirely correct that there is serious danger if Al Queda views the election results as success. Though I am skeptical of the characterization of the Spanish election as Iraq-Madrid bombing fallout, the day-after equity market plunge was clearly related. The potential for more significant terrorist activity in the context of an global economic downturn clearly worries the money men and given that Al Queda’s goal is nothing less than destruction of the Western World, timing is probably good for stirring up yet more trouble.

For this reason, there should be unusually vigorous reaching out by the American President for some form of informal understanding with the incoming government of Spain in an effort to present a strong front in the face of the challenges ahead. Anything less is to invite continued European animosity which truly serves nothing other than the interests of the forces of destruction.

Our President can be counted on to do no such thing in an election year where is determined to polish his image as the tough as nails Terrorist Terminator. True to his fundamental lack of principal, Shrub is destined to leave “Old Europe” to its fulminations and” We the People” to our just deserts.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home