:: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 ::
The outcome of the recent Spanish elections is somewhat of a disapointment to me. Many of my spanish friends disagree, but only time will tell if they have made a wise decision. I side with many, including the editors of the Wall Street Journal, who believe that Al Qaeda and other groups with similar aims and tactics will interpret the results as a victory of sorts. This is likely to enbolden them; make recruiting easier, and bring sorrow and death to many more innocents. I pray that I am wrong.
So, in their wisdom, Spanish voters ousted the ruling Popular Party on Sunday and elected the Socialists. Only three days after 10 bombs killed 200 in Madrid, this exercise in free choice shows the difference between terror and democracy.
But there's also no denying that the world's terrorists will take away a different, and more dangerous, lesson from the Spanish vote: That by murdering innocents they were able to topple one of the pillars of the Western anti-terror alliance. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's Popular Party, which brought prosperity in eight years of rule and forged a strong bond with the U.S., had seemed headed for victory before Thursday's attacks.
We aren't among those who think the Spanish have repudiated everything Mr. Aznar stood for. A switch of only a few percentage points determined the outcome, and in the wake of Thursday's violence a public outpouring in favor of saying "enough!" is perhaps understandable. A similar wave of fear swept the U.S. after September 11--until it could be tempered by leadership and shaped into a new national resolve.
The Socialists were thus able to exploit the bombings by arguing that somehow they were caused by Mr. Aznar's alliance with America. "Thank You Aznar for al Qaeda Terror," read a banner at a rally in Barcelona. The Socialists were helped by the tactical mistake of the Aznar government in insisting that the bombers had been from the Basque ETA, even as evidence built that Islamists linked to al Qaeda may have been responsible. The Socialists cynically cried "coverup" without any evidence, but the charge played amid Spanish grief.
:: Mark 10:11 AM [+] ::