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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by wordmunger, Mar 11, 2004.
Here's the NY times story
And the Yahoo link.
First of all, condolences to all the victims and victims' families in Spain after this terrible attrocity.
It seems like the Spanish are split between whether or not it was ETA (basque separatists ) and naturally people are calling for Al Quaeda involvement.
Bush's response ("A Viscious act of Terrorism") is I guess a kind of constructive comment.
other than just feeling shocked and sad I kind liek to know WHat does everyone think.
They have my sympathies. I know it's not quite on a scale with our 9/11, but it's a senseless mass murder nonetheless. Despicable.
ETA was my first thought. maybe i'm wrong, but i thought al qaeda had bigger fish to fry than spain.
doesn't ETA usually claim responsibility for their attacks? anyone know? and i thought they were polite and usually phoned in a warning beforehand. maybe it wasn't ETA...
Looking more and more likely that this was indeed Al Qaida. Similar explosives & detonator to Bali (and unlike any used by ETA), no warning (unlike ETA) and a mass civilian target (again very much like AQ and unlike ETA).
This incident gives Spain justification to invade Saudi Arabia unilaterally.
Who, ultimately, is held responsible will be a big deal for Spain.
The Spanish government has cracked down on ETA -- and if it turns out to be ETA, there is sure to be more support for the government.
On the other hand, if it is Al-Qaeda, then there could be trouble. There is very little support for the war in Iraq, and the Spanish government's alignment with the U.S. If it appears that the government position has led to reprisals inside Spain, there will probably be resentment towards the government.
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Last point: shouldn't this refocus everyone's efforts on Al-Qaeda? This misadventure in iraq only takes away troops, energy, money and focus on the real problem: Al-Qaeda.
Former Senator Harkin was on TV the other day and had some very good points. He basically said that there should be no war on "terrorism" (terrorism is a weapon) -- but instead a war on Al-Qaeda. He equates our current policy to WW II. It would be as if we declared war on Japanese planes, not the Japanese government, after Pearl Harbor.
In other words, we haven't put all our resources against Al-Qaeda -- instead, we have invaded Iraq, enacted the Patriot Act, created a concentration camp in Cuba, worked to examine the shoes of old ladies at airports, etc. We know who the enemy is, why are we going after everybody else instead?
Joe McCarthy did the same thing. In the 50's, we agreed that Communism was the problem, but McCarthy instead focused on internal enemies, phantom traitors, etc. He used external threats to threaten internal opponents. Isn't that what the Bush administration is doing?
Ruling Party Loses Election
With about 60% of the vote counted, it appears that the ruling Conservative party in Spain, the PP, will lose its majority. The Socialists have won the most seats and will now try to form a government. (The Socialists were in power immediately after the return to democracy in Spain until eight years ago when the conservatives took over.)
The Spanish Ambassador was on Fox TV and was asked "is this a victory for Al Qaeda?" Now, remember, he is a member of the conservatives. But he looked at the Fox host straight in the eye and said "no, this was a result of the war in Iraq". He went on to say that 80% of the electorate were against Spanish support for the Bush administration's war in Iraq, and this is what swayed the election. In other words, while very much in favor of the war on Al Qaeda, the Spanish population was punishing the government for their support of the Iraq war, and the way this has brought Al Qaeda attacks to Spain. The leader of the Socialists has promised to withdraw their forces from Iraq. (Spain only has 1300 troops in Iraq -- the same as Poland.)
While both CNN and Fox are on the air interviewing members of the losing party (who are obviously bitter about their defeat) the fact of the matter is that the electorate does not like being lied to. They didn't like that the government immediately blamed ETA, when it could have been Al Qaeda; they didn't like that they sent troops to Iraq to save Europe from Saddam's nuclear weapons, when he didn't have any.
The question is will the British and American electorate react the same way? I doubt it, but I'm glad to see that at least in Spain, the truth matters.
so, assuming AQ was behind the attacks, their terrorism actually achieved its political goal -- weakening coalition activity in iraq.
i wonder if their next planned act in the US is calculated to reduce support for bush in the election.
It is hard to tell from over this side of the Atlantic, but I would not interpret this as the Spanish people giving in to al Qaeda. I think numediaman is right, this looks more to be anger at both the decision to support the war in Iraq and the attempt to blame the bombing on ETA. The latter looked to much like a cover up to protect the ruling party in the elections. I'm glad to see Aznar go.
It's payback time for those who intentionally chose to confuse the issue of terrorism with an invasion of Iraq. The Spanish voters have seen through this nonsense.
Aznar spent his energy, money and manpower invading & occupying Iraq when he should have been focusing on Al Qaida and protecting his people from terrorism. His attempts to blame ETA were shameless and he has rightly paid the price.
(CBS/AP) Voters ousted Spain's ruling party in elections Sunday, with many saying they were shaken by bombings in Madrid and furious with the government for backing the Iraq war and making their country a target for al Qaeda . . .
. . . Spains Socialist Party declared victory with 79 percent of the votes counted, as results showed it winning 164 seats in the 350-member parliament and the ruling Popular Party taking 147. The latter had 183 seats in the outgoing legislature.
According to the available data, the Socialist Party has won the general election. It is a clear victory, said Jose Blanco, the party's campaign manager.
Turnout was high at 76 percent. Many voters said Thursday's bombings, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500, was a decisive factor, along with the government's much-criticized handling of the initial investigation.
I think Al Qaeda will, indeed, try and attack before the election. I think this would probably help Bush because the American people tend to turn very conservative when attacked. Look at wordmunger on the other thread -- he's willing to throw out the Geneva Conventions in an effort to possibly nab an enemy combatant.
On the other hand, maybe the American people are coming around to the big lie. Just as in Spain, many here are finally seeing that the war in Iraq was a ruse -- that it had no relationship to the war on terror. I think this is why Bush wants to turn over the keys to the Iraqis by July 1. Just as in Vietnam, its "peace with honor" -- when he really means, let's get the hell out as fast as we can because we don't know how we win this thing.
i didn't word it well; that's not what i meant to imply.
it's quite likely the result would have been the same w/o the attacks, but i think the magnitude of the victory for the socialists was helped by people being angry and realizing their safety was not adequately protected -- and _that_ was underscored by the bombings.
I think you are right about the socialists being helped by anger at the government's inability to protect them. It is interesting that the new government is pledged to both put the struggle against terrorism as its top priority and is planning to withdrawal its troops from Iraq. I'm sure Bush and friends are going crazy right about now.
On a side note I'm hopeful this might mean a move is possible for an agreement on a new EU constitution. Poland and Spain stopped it last time and Poland is now giving signals that it is willing to compromise. The Aznar government was the main roadblock.
I am not sure the Socialists would have won without the attack -- polls put the race very close, with the conservatives slightly ahead.
The attack certainly increased turnout and reinforced people's position against the war in Iraq.
What bothers me is the reaction from the US press -- should I say typical response. Cnn, Fox and most others (except NPR) have been spreading the lie that this was a vote for Al Qaeda.
The leader of the Socialists, in his victory speech, said that the number one priority is fighting terrorism. He wants bring back the troops from Iraq by the end of June and to better relations with Spain's traditional European allies. These seem like very reasonable positions to me. Rather than make enemies, he wants Spain to improve its international relations. Instead of backing an illegal war in Iraq, he want to concentrate on the war on Al Qaeda.
An aside: The right wing in this country seem to want to declare war on everybody. Charles Krauthammer wrote another anti-French column this weekend. Well, if Krauthammer doesn't like the conservative government of France, how will he like a socialist government? My guess is that the European socialists must think George Bush is their best friend.
As irksome as this line is, it is to be expected. It is in essence what the Bush campaign is warning about a Kerry victory. Anything other than following their disastrous policies is a "surrender to terrorism." If a real lesson is to be learned from the bombing and its effect on the election, it would seem to me to be - don't hide the truth for political gain. The Aznar government's handling of the bombing and refusal to be straight with the people of Spain about who likely carried out these attacks is what spurred the turnout and doomed the ruling party's chances.