THE SPANISH PRISONERS FREED
Better a people that turns on government in troubled times than a people that turns to government in such times. So it was heartening to observe how the Spanish, in the elections that followed the savage Islamist attack on four commuter trains in
Perhaps Sept. 11 is responsible for the love-it-or-leave-it attachment Americans have to their government. But, cajoled by their minders in the media, Americans have refused even to hold this government accountable for the still-concealed scandal surrounding the 9-11 attacks or the lies that constituted the casus belli for the war on Iraq. Instead of demanding obedience from their officials, Americans demand from them "leadership" – a euphemism, if ever there was one, for bigger, more "energetic" government.
We in the
To make matters worse, following the
Nevertheless, the Spanish people correctly suspected that al-Qaida affiliates were behind the coordinated attacks. Overcome by sorrow and later incensed by anger, 11 million of them streamed into the streets to give vent to their sadness and rage. They then promptly replaced the incumbents.
There can be little doubt that the Spanish people intend to deal swiftly and severely with the cruel and craven murderers who slaughtered 201 people and wounded 1,500 more. Contrary to the chattering classes, by ousting the Popular Party in favor of the Socialists, Spaniards did not "cave in" to terrorism. This would be the case only if one were to conflate the fight against terrorism with the war in
Despite the condescension with which the American media monolith treats them, the Spanish electorate was not timid – it was bold. It had the gall to say no to tyranny – government tyranny. "Prosecute the war on terror on our terms or else you are fired" was the message.
The Spanish object to the war in
The American punditocracy is crediting the Spanish voter's "cowardice" with giving al-Qaida a significant geopolitical triumph. This affront aside, the claim is a crude simplification at best. Its premise is that the Spanish backed down. In reality, they've merely parted strategic company with the
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister elect, it would seem, can chew gum and walk at the same time. He has already declared that his "most immediate priority will be to fight terrorism." And protecting
It was not al-Qaida but the Spanish voter that unseated the Popular Party.
Finally, right-wingers should understand that the election of a socialist government is only distressing if one pretends there is a meaningful difference between modern-day conservative and socialist governments. George Bush's dedication to big "beneficent" government makes him every bit the socialist John Kerry is. Most Western democracies are fittingly termed
The Democrats and the Republicans don't disagree significantly on foreign policy. Both are equally keen on empire building in the guise of nation building. The only difference is that the former are multilateralists and the latter unilateralists. They are both socialists in sheep's clothing.
The fortunate Spanish voters had an alternative. And they seized the day.
©By ILANA MERCER
March 19, 2004