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Reflections on the Madrid Bombs
Was José Maria Aznar wrong in supporting George W Bush in the Iraqi war? A number of outlets in the mainstream press declared that the March 14, 2004, election outcome was a sign that “Spain” had voted against terror, against the war in Iraq, against state lies, against Aznar, and therefore, in one notorious statement, “against the neocon policy of the United States”.
That’s a quite a statement to make when, until the March 11 bombings, public opinion and all the polls held that Bush’s ally would win the election — meaning that until then, the “againsts” were not strong enough (to say the least) for the population to vote against Prime Minister Aznar’s Partido Popular and his decision to back Dubya — while the only question left open to debate was by how many points the party opposed to the Iraq war would lose. While it may not be much of an overstatement to talk of a “socialist landslide” or a "spectacular upset", it is certainly exaggerated to talk of the “collapse of the Popular Party” when the former polled just 5% more than the PP did (42.5% to 37.5%). Nothing to dismiss out of hand, of course, but hardly warranting the claim that “Spain handed Aznar a devastating defeat” nor the Plantu drawing of cheering Spaniards dancing in the streets as Aznar looks on, befuddled (while a miniature Islamic terrorist swings on a ballot box from his Pinocchio nose). In fact, it is slightly heart-warming, to say the least, to realize that while a plurality of Spaniards decided for appeasement and isolation, only 5% less did not.
I have written before that to a large part of the European population, it hardly matters who you are, or what you’ve done, as long as you recognize that the number 1 enemy in this world is America and its capitalistic society. Since it seems that they (or their leaders) are racist hypocrites, arrogant war-mongerers, simplistic morons, greedy capitalists, and/or… treacherous liars, it must stand to reason to those who are allied with them are the lackeys of the racist hypocrites, arrogant war-mongerers, simplistic morons, greedy capitalists, and/or… the treacherous liars. When bad things happen to America, the reason given is that somehow or other, they deserved it. And so it must be with her allies.
And so, in turn, the opening question in this article's title is slightly misleading. Because for this segment of the population, anybody who supports the United States, even only part of the time, is always wrong, is always a poodle, and is always deserving of a woeful fate. (Strange that nobody in France ever seems to complain of Zapatero being France's poodle, I wrote on ¡No Pasarán!; Douglas picked me up on this, saying that henceforth, he would refer to Zap as el caniche de Chiraque.)
In that respect (that of that segment of the population), alliances with (or at least sympathy with) anybody opposed to America, its allies, and what it represents — everything from leftist thugs, common murderers, and even Columbian narco-terrorists — is necessary. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that even Al-Qaeda can be counted on to provoke a degree of sympathy (if only of the indirect type), since it finally brought “reason” to the Spanish people, proving to them who was the true culprit in the Iraq war, who the “liar” was, and whom they should really vote for. (As it happens, a CNN news report quotes a document that the victory of the anti-Bush party was exactly what Al-Qaeda was seeking.)
So by saying “they deserved it”, Europeans are not referring to the fate of the 200 dead and 1,500 wounded in Madrid, of course (as Al Qaeda operatives are), but they are certainly thinking of Aznar and his Spanish allies. In this case, it is hard not to arrive at the logical conclusion that somehow, as Europeans are wont to think in their usual humanistic way, the Madrid bombings produced something good (!). The destruction of the World Trade Center was to show Americans how hypocritical, greedy, treacherous, etc, etc, etc they really are, while the bombing of the Madrid trains was to show Spaniards that the only “reasonable” thing to do was to withdraw support from those horrible people in the White House.
So it stands to reason that the only logical conclusion to this point of view is that if murderous bombings are what is needed to isolate the monstrous America superpower (and/or build Europe), then perhaps that is what should be allowed to happen. If Britain, Italy, Poland, and Europe's Eastern nations weren't "polite" enough to "keep quiet", maybe it would be better for all if they should be the next targets. (Although this point of view shouldn't be advertised too loudly.) And if 200 victims don't do the trick, maybe there should be 2,000. And if that isn't enough, 20,000 may turn the electoral tide. Of course, the wise, generous, humanistic, solidaires anti-Americans will deny this vehemently, and that in good faith, but again, if their reaction to Sunday's election is taken to its logical conclusion, then that is what they are implying, knowingly or not. And when a French radio commentator calls the elections a "bénédiction" for France and European unity, then you can hardly deny this outright. (Incidentally, these are the same justice-loving people who called, perhaps not totally without reason, America's 2000 election a sham — but when a truly shamful election benefits — or seems to benefit — their own camp, suddenly the venemous words are found to be wanting.)
If it is true that the change of régime in Spain is a "benediction" — an event that would not have occurred had bombs not torn apart three Madrid trains at rush hour three days earlier — then you cannot escape the simple fact that it can only hold true that the deaths of nearly 200 innocent Spaniards was a "benediction" as well. (Or, if you prefer, a blessing in disguise.) That is the conclusion that you cannot escape. And as it happens, France's newspaper of reference tried not to sound too gleeful when it noted that "in a sense, Donald Rumsfeld's 'new Europe' breathed its last in the Arocha station on March 11", while one VIP could not help bragging that "the line of the French government, that of truth and legitimacy on the international scene, finds itself reinforced." (They are exactly the type of Europeans who say that America deserved 9-11 or whom Alain Hertoghe in his book on the French press reports as squealing in delight — not quite unlike José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero himself — every time their preconceptions and their Schadenfreude were validated during the Iraq war, that is, ever time Allied reversals were reported and every time American GIs were known to be killed in ambushes.)
The radio announcer who spoke the words of benediction as well as the generous, humanistic, and solidaires beings who think thoughts of that type are the kind of European that Spain's next prime minister feels closer to, while their governments are the ones with which the afrancesado wants to "reestablish magnificent relations". Muchas gracias, Bambi: words cannot express the extent to which I admire you and your principled stands against Bush and Blair as well as your ability to choose your amigos. Maybe you should just remove your 1,300 troops out now, straight away, so we don't have to hear you moralizing about who it is who needs to engage in auto-criticism and about how tolerant, understanding, and open to dialogue you are.
Is it possible to imagine that some members of the "Peace Camp" provided help to the bombers… or maybe that would be overstating it — maybe those countries' authorities only looked the other way or may have suppressed some of the knowledge they had (deliberate omission doesn't amount to lying, after all, in these Europeans' train of thought, especially when it applies to themselves). Some people will howl when they read this. Actually, I don't believe it myself, and what is important here is that you do not find tons of conspiracy theories floating around to that effect.
My point is this: what I do know is that those who spit that such suggestions are infamous like nothing better than to snicker that the CIA orchestrated 9-11 or to sneer that Bush and Blair knowingly lied when they decided to attack Iraq or to circulate inane conspiracy theories concerning Uncle Sam. In fact, how much do you want to bet that that's exactly the type of rumor that would be circulating if the opposite scenario had happened: an anti-Bush party was on the verge of winning an election, and a deadly terrorist attack within days thereof turned the situation on its head and sent a pro-Washington party to power; how much do you want to bet that people who are always wondering who the crime would profit would be pointing fingers at the White House and Langley as the true culprits? No: for the humanistic European, conspiracies are good for the other side, but never to be entertained for oneself.
What all this boils down to is that we’re back to the good ol’ anti-American definition of democracy. When a country, a party, or a people (or a majority segment thereof) is for Uncle Sam, they are showing themselves to be myopic traitors and greedy simpletons in a "false" democracy. When they disavow the United States, or an American ally, they are being reasonable and forward-looking and showing the true democratic spirit.
Simple opinions? No: Self-serving self-satisfaction. As always.
As for me, when I see what those wise, generous, democratic, humanistic, solidaires, and, last but not least, gloating anti-Americans are offering the 21st century Neville Chamberlain, I feel comfortable in knowing that I'll choose the side of the monstrous American superpower. Anytime.