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Terrorist victory in Spanish polls

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March 15, 2004, 8:23 a.m.

The Spanish Apology

Dennis Boyles

The results of Sunday's election in Spain, in which the pro-American Popular party was voted out of office in an upset by a Socialist party profoundly at odds with American policy in Iraq and elsewhere, doesn't leave much room for interpretation. Economics wasn't the issue. Job creation and education weren't topics of widespread debate. The war in Iraq, which the conservative Aznar government strongly supported, despite the overwhelming opposition of most Spaniards, had largely evaporated as a factor in the polls before the voting. Not even the horrible terror attacks of Thursday did much to change voters' minds.

The thing that made the difference to Spanish voters was the growing apprehension that al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks. In the first few hours after the atrocity, homegrown ETA terrorists were blamed by the government for the attacks. If true, this would have strengthened the government's strong antiterrorist position. But subsequent evidence of possible al Qaeda involvement — evidence mostly unverified and still under investigation — was used by the Socialists in noisy street demonstrations supported by Spain's left-wing press as proof that al Qaeda was targeting Spain because of its support of the U.S. in Iraq and that the government had lied in claiming the ETA was the culprit, despite the fact that potential Arab involvement had been discovered by the outgoing government. BBC reports from Madrid cast the election as a referendum not just on the war, but on whether or not Spanish voters were willing to face the consequences of joining the war on terrorism.

They were not. Spanish voters went to the polls to apologize for their government's actions. There was no other issue on the ballot. The results bode ill for America's antiterrorism campaign. As the Daily Telegraph reports today, the new Spanish prime minister has signaled his desire to move away from the U.S.; withdrawing troops from the Coalition in Iraq was one of the Socialists' main campaign promises, and indeed, it was one of the first acts announced by the new government. By the time you have lunch today, reports the BBC with some satisfaction, Spanish troops will be packing their bags to go home.

But the reaction in the left-wing European press is predictable. The Guardian had already sounded the note the night before the elections in an editorial that reflected the Spanish mood accurately: "We need to take the fight against terror out of America's hands. We need to get beyond the them and us, the good guys and the bad guys, and seek a genuinely collective response. Europe should seize the moment that America failed to grasp." As Spain's left-wing El Pais celebrated the Socialists' "unprecedented" victory, in Libération, the defeat was seen as the price of Aznar's "lies" about al Qaeda culpability. Suddeutsche Zeitung told readers that Aznar was being punished for supporting America's antiterrorism policies in Iraq and elsewhere. In the Independent, Robert Fisk reminded his readers that "The West was warned." He's not referring to September 11, of course.

The ultimate wisdom of allowing al Qaeda terrorism to determine national elections is still to be seen. But as the Socialists in Spain get "beyond the them and us, the good guys and the bad guys," and attempt to find the common ground they have with whomever killed 200 innocent citizens and wounded 1,400 others, that country's apology for supporting the war on terrorism will be heard with appreciation by al Qaeda — and ETA, the IRA, Hamas, and every other terrorist organization in the world.

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MAR. 15, 2004: A WIN FOR TERROR

David Frum

Terrorism has won a mighty victory in Spain. The culprits who detonated those bombs of murder on 3/11 intended to use murder to alter the course of Spanish democracy – and they have succeeded.

In the months since the attacks on the World Trade Center, we have all heard – and ourselves often repeated – much brave talk about how terror cannot prevail, how justice must inevitably win through, etc. etc. etc.

The news from Spain suggests how very wrong those hopes were.

People are not always strong. Sometimes they indulge false hopes that by lying low, truckling, appeasing, they can avoid danger and strife. Sometimes they convince themselves that if only they give the Cyclops what he wants, they will be eaten last. And this is what seems to have happened in Spain.

Unlike the 9/11 attacks in the United States – which were intended as acts of propaganda to influence the Arab and Muslim world – the 3/11 attacks against Spain were acts of propaganda aimed at the local market. And again unlike 9/11, this time the terrorists succeeded brilliantly. They helped to defeat a government committed to joining the war against them – and helped elect a government whose leading members not so quietly dream of a separate accommodation.

From a human point of view, the carnage of 3/11 is a tragedy without purpose or meaning. But from a political point of view, 3/11 was aimed at a result – and it achieved it. The new socialist government of Spain will be a far less willing ally of the United States. Indeed, this attack against Spain may well succeed in pre-emptively knocking Spain out of the war in the way that Pearl Harbor was intended – but failed – to knock out the United States in 1941.

Lesson: terrorism can work. Prediction: therefore expect more of it. Expect more terrorism aimed at the United Kingdom, against Australia, against Poland, and – ultimately – against the United States. For the terrorists must now wonder: If murder can influence elections in Spain – why not in the United States?

In the United States, the terrorists have to make a very fine calculation: Which would hurt President Bush, their supereme enemy, more – to attack or not to attack?

Those who know American politics well would probably answer: choice number two. The more time goes by without a terrorist attack, the less President Bush benefits from his prestige as a war leader – and the more the national conversation turns to new subjects on which President Bush holds less of an advantage. On the other hand, the terrorists may be less sophisticated. They may hope to defeat their enemy George W. Bush in the same way that they defeated their enemy Jose Aznar. In which case – brace yourselves.

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al Qaeda is doing their job in pinning the world on america and making america the bad guy.

for some reason these people would rather blame america for the bombing then the goddamn people who commeted the bombings, its rediculous.

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I am troubled by this as well however the other side to that coin would be if the Spanish people allowed the hardliners in their government to use this terrorist attack as excuse to give them a blank check to "fight" and unwinable war on terrorism as we have done with our country.

That said, I really hope this doesn't encourage further attacks on Spain.

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they're all a bunch of sheep. Bombs go off and millions march AGAINST terrorism to protest the deaths... and then the next day they all vote for the party that doesn't want to be actively involved in doing anything outside of Spain's borders.

anybody ever think that the REASON for bombings would be to help sway the election? One big bang goes off, spaniards die and HEY! Guess which party just HAPPENS to be running the "we just want to be cowards and not fight anyone" line.

100:1 those bombs went off in order to take the Popular party out of office and Spain out of the fight.

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Originally posted by cintron

they're all a bunch of sheep.

anybody ever think that the REASON for bombings would be to help sway the election? One big bang goes off, spaniards die and HEY! Guess which party just HAPPENS to be running the "we just want to be cowards and not fight anyone" line.

100:1 that bomb went off by someone who wanted the Popular party out of office

You must remember that the president tried to put the blame on ETA when evidence showed otherwise. This is what caused a backlash in the vote.

The bombing should have solidified support for the hardliners thereby handing them the election. This didn't happen so it's kind of hard to call them sheep when they didn't buy the bullshit their government was selling them about ETA.

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Originally posted by jamiroguy1

I am troubled by this as well however the other side to that coin would be if the Spanish people allowed the hardliners in their government to use this terrorist attack as excuse to give them a blank check to "fight" and unwinable war on terrorism as we have done with our country.

That said, I really hope this doesn't encourage further attacks on Spain.

"....use this terrorist attack as excuse to give them a blank check to "fight" and unwinable war on terrorism as we have done with our country"...

remarkable

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Originally posted by vicman

so much for the spanish government . . . is the uk next?

I't was planned to occur a long time ago, remember the RICIN plot in the sewers of London I believe, it was thwarted a while ago....

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Democracy won

a) almost 90% of the Spanish electorate didn't want Spain involved in Iraq to begin with; and,

B) The Spanish were angry that their government immediately tred to spin the attacks as the work of the Basque Separatist Movement to try to deflect criticism, hence trying to manipulate the election, and;

c) Making them a target for Al Queda terrorism.

All things added together spelled defeat for Anzar...the terrorist didn't win, democracy won.

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exactly.

you could argue the terrorists won with 9/11

osama wanted the US out of Saudi Arabia, and what have they done, moved troops out of Saudi Arabia and into iraq.

an act which has driven a wedge between the US and a lot of the world and acted as a great recruiting tool for al quaeda.

bush is playing right into their hands you could argue.

democracy won in spain.

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Originally posted by crosspatrick

Democracy won

a) almost 90% of the Spanish electorate didn't want Spain involved in Iraq to begin with; and,

B) The Spanish were angry that their government immediately tred to spin the attacks as the work of the Basque Separatist Movement to try to deflect criticism, hence trying to manipulate the election, and;

c) Making them a target for Al Queda terrorism.

All things added together spelled defeat for Anzar...the terrorist didn't win, democracy won.

I think you are missing the point....big time.

And who exactly was trying to "manipulate" the election....your moral compass is off....

And "deflect" what criticism?...the war in Iraq???....

Let me get this straight......Al Qaeda is pissed at Spain for supporting the U.S. in Iraq, but is OK with Spain supporting the U.S. in Afghanistan, and in other areas in the war against Al Qaeda?.......only Spain's actions in Iraq have incurredd Al Qaeda's wrath?

And correct me if I am wrong, but I am almost certain that Anzar's administration was leading safely in polls up until the bombing.....

I think you need to check exactly who is doing the manipulating, and who is getting manipulated....

I mean, this is very unexpected behavior from the "sophisticated" Europeans......but expected from the American useful idiots

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Originally posted by crosspatrick

Democracy won

a) almost 90% of the Spanish electorate didn't want Spain involved in Iraq to begin with; and,

B) The Spanish were angry that their government immediately tred to spin the attacks as the work of the Basque Separatist Movement to try to deflect criticism, hence trying to manipulate the election, and;

c) Making them a target for Al Queda terrorism.

All things added together spelled defeat for Anzar...the terrorist didn't win, democracy won.

I think you are missing the point....big time.

And who exactly was trying to "manipulate" the election....your moral compass is off....

And "deflect" what criticism?...the war in Iraq???....the Iraqi war brought retribution?

Let me get this straight......Al Qaeda is pissed at Spain for supporting the U.S. in Iraq, but is OK with Spain supporting the U.S. in Afghanistan, and in other areas in the war against Al Qaeda?.......only Spain's actions in Iraq have incurred Al Qaeda's wrath?

And correct me if I am wrong, but I am almost certain that Anzar's administration was leading safely in polls up until the bombing.....

I think you need to check exactly who is doing the manipulating, and who is getting manipulated....

I mean, this is very unexpected behavior from the "sophisticated" Europeans......but expected from the American useful idiots

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it does seem that al quaeda made this attack as a direct response to spanish involvement in the war against iraq.

anzar was leading in the polls, but opinion polls are opinion polls.

people can change their mind.

the news reports I've seen don't see this as people having their minds changed by the terrorists, given lots of spanish did opose the war initialy, but that the turnout increased, thus the anti-war supporters got the vote out better.

the bombing may have influenced people to go out and vote, but did it cause them to change their minds?

we'll never be able to know for sure, but, well, it's an election, free and fair, and we should respect the result.

the public are fickle. right after the second world war the british public dumped on the great war leader churchil and voted his party out of office...

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Was the bombing of the Moorish synagogue in Moracco last year the punishment for their neutrality?

Was the bombing of the Turkish synagogue in Istanbul punishment for their govt for NOT letting the U.S stage operations for a northern attack on Iraq?

See how silly this appeasment argument is? For any country to think they can just sit on the sidelines and watch and feel they are immune to terrorism, the 2 examples given above should clear that up....and hopefully a rude awakening isn't needed...

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Originally posted by mr mahs

Was the bombing of the Moorish synagogue in Moracco last year the punishment for their neutrality?

Was the bombing of the Turkish synagogue in Istanbul punishment for their govt for NOT letting the U.S stage operations for a northern attack on Iraq?

See how silly this appeasment argument is? For any country to think they can just sit on the sidelines and watch and feel they are immune to terrorism, the 2 examples given above should clear that up....and hopefully a rude awakening isn't needed...

Excellent point...

Like I said, it is sad that Al Qaeda has so many useful idiots as their disposal

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erm.....the incumbent party had a similar platform to the socialists.

In November, Mr. Zapatero called for the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq after the death of seven Spanish secret service agents in an ambush. More recently, he softened his position, saying that if he won the election, he would withdraw the troops at the end of June unless a United Nations-led force took charge.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/15/international/europe/15SPAI.html

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I don't understand why you refuse to see what happened on sunday... terrorism won.

90% of the people didn't want the war in iraq

the popular party which was previously opposed was supported by a majority of the people after war

bombing

the popular party loses

just goes to show you refuse simple logic just to make your selves feel good

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Wait.......I though Al Qaeda only attacks targets and countries that suport the US War in Iraq?Turkish official: More suicide bombings averted

Investigation into attack on Masonic lodge yields 18 arrestsThe Associated Press

Updated: 10:35 a.m. ET March 16, 2004ISTANBUL, Turkey - Police investigating the suicide bombing of a Masonic lodge last week have arrested 18 suspected Islamic militants, including three who were planning new suicide bombings, Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said Tuesday.

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The 18 were arrested over the past week in raids of Istanbul homes, he said.

“We have foiled new suicide attacks,†Guler told a news conference at which he displayed a vest with homemade pipe bombs attached, along with other explosives.

Guler did not say what targets the militants were planning to strike, but private NTV television said the militants were planning an attack on a leading media company. It did not elaborate.

Guler said all those arrested were involved in building bombs and planning the March 9 attack on the Masonic lodge, in which one bystander and one attacker died. Five people and another attacker were seriously hurt.

Eight of those arrested were still being interrogated, while 10 others were to be formally charged later Tuesday, Guler said.

“We know they received political and military training in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan,†he said. “We don’t know if they are al-Qaida camps, but the influence of al-Qaida in those camps is obvious.â€

Turkish authorities are still investigating whether al-Qaida was involved in the attack.

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi said last week that it had received a statement from an al-Qaida-linked group, Jund al-Quds, or Soldiers of Jerusalem, claiming responsibility for the bombing.

Guler also said that one of the militants arrested had confessed to the 2003 killing of a Jewish dentist in Istanbul.

Authorities have said the March 9 attack bore little resemblance to the four carefully planned suicide truck bombings in Istanbul last November that killed 62 people. Authorities blamed those attacks on al-Qaida.

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mr mahs did make a good point with this:

"Was the bombing of the Moorish synagogue in Moracco last year the punishment for their neutrality?

"Was the bombing of the Turkish synagogue in Istanbul punishment for their govt for NOT letting the U.S stage operations for a northern attack on Iraq?"

I can't remember the details of those two incidents but I'll make my point.

the notion that al quada is this uber organised global terrorist outfit where everyone is marching from the same songbook is slightly wrong.

i remember seeing the bali bomber say he wished he had done things differently, not that he regreted it, but if he did it again he would go after more legitimate, i.e. military targets.

individual al quaeda cells (due to the nature of a cell based terrorist organisation) will probably not know the tactics and plans that other parts of al queda are using.

also, the notion that every bombing claimed to be al quaeda, is al quaeda is possibly a bit of a falacy. I'm pretty sure that for a government to label it's own internal terroism 'al quaeda' has some major pay offs when it comes to US funding.

conversely.

I could say.

wait, I thought this war was about terrorism? what did the invasion of iraq have to do with preventing terrorism? given the lack of links between saddam and al queada and the lack of WMDs and erm, the fact that the invasion seems to have inspired lots more terrorists....

cuts both ways guys...

?We know they received political and military training in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan,? he said. ?We don?t know if they are al-Qaida camps, but the influence of al-Qaida in those camps is obvious.?

hmm, yeah, a good point, they may use al quaida tactics, does that make them al quaida?

I dunno. but there are so many unanswered questions at the moment...

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