Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Spain's response to terror

terror > analysis > hasty
I was already questioning the wisdom of the "official war-party interpretation" of the Spanish election results a couple of days ago in another forum. The evidence from the real election results suggests that there was little transfer of votes from the PP to the PSOE and that the socialists' gains were a result of new voters, the diversion of votes from the left to the Socialists, and larger turnout due to the return of (rightly) disaffected leftist voters - a return which DW was predicting a day before the elections:

The consequence of confirmed al Qaeda involvement could be that Spain's young left-wingers, who so vocally opposed the war in Iraq, drop their current policy of abstention in votes due to lack of belief in the left parties and register protest votes against the PP, tilting the balance of power.

Thus the "victory" for terrorists that well- and ill-meaning commentators have been talking about is not real.

The UPI article I posted above expands on this:

"Predictions are being made that having learned that they can so easily influence international politics through murderous bombing campaigns, Islamist terrorist will most likely try a repeat performance of the Madrid massacres in Rome, London and even Washington, D.C., at a time when mass casualties could influence voters in those cities in a similar manner.
In fact, Islamist fundamentalists may well think they have won, and that Thursday's slaughter moved the Spanish electorate to vote the way they intended them to. However, believing that would be wrong.
Independent polls carried out on Wednesday, the day before the bombings, showed the Socialists ahead with a slight majority."

[See also what Nick at FoE says]

The Article also raises the issue of Aznar's mishandling of the situation and the PP's attempted use of the massacre to gain electoral advantage:

By voting Aznar and his Popular Party out of office and opting for the Spanish Socialist Labor Party -- or SPOE -- to lead them through these tumultuous times, Spaniards did not capitulate to terrorism -- domestic or international -- as many pundits have professed. Instead, Spaniards have chosen to send a clear message to their elected leaders. The message is: "Stop lying to us."

As workers continue to untangle the twisted remains of Madrid's ill-fated trains, another story is also starting to rapidly unfold -- one of how Aznar tried to manipulate Thursday's unfortunate events to his electoral advantage.

While all signs pointed to Islamist terrorists, Aznar incessantly tried to railroad public opinion into supporting the Basque thread.

... Following Aznar's defeat in the polls by the Socialist Labor Party, many Spanish journalists are now infuriated, accusing the prime minister of trying to "censure and manipulate" them.

Let me also remind people that this is the same government that so elegantly handled the "Prestige" disaster: in other words they were repeat offenders in attempted media manipulation - this time over the corpses of 200 victims of terrorism. Would you, gentle reader, actually vote for these people?

But nevertheless, let's expound on the "allowing terrorists to influence elections" argument: Had the attack been from ETA, the net effect would probably have been to bring the PP to a landslide victory, as ETA feverently wishes. This would have clearly been "terrorist electoral influence", yet I doubt anyone would decry it as somehow "caving in to terror". Interestingly, had this scenario occured, it is probable that the Spanish public would vote for the party most likely to deal with ETA by force - it would immerse itself deeper in this war on terror (whether rightly or wrongly is another issue), thus making the assertion of "cowardice" lame. But Basque separatism (terrorist or not) is indeed Spain's issue. The invasion of Iraq isn't. People marching in Barcelona yesterday yelled, "their war, our dead" - "their" and "our" in a class as well as a national sense. This is a clash of fundamentalisms with which the Spaniards rightly want nothing to do with. The perpetrators should be caught and brought to justice. Islamist terror cells in Spain should be crushed. But Spanish troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, unless the UN mandates differently, because that is what the vast majority of Spaniards wanted even before the attacks took place, and still wants,(90% of Spaniards were, a year ago, against Spain's participation in the US's Iraqi neo-colonial adventure - which BTW, had no connection to Islamist fundamentalists whatsoever). So why would Spain risk involvement in the neo-con project? Why should it be targetted by lunatic fascists for things its people didn't want to do in the first place. Boredomjockey's comment on a related metafilter thread provides a colourful metaphor for the situation...

Oh and this war? it takes two to sustain it... and let's not recall the other side's tallies of terror...

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