Jewish World Review March 17, 2004 / 24 Adar, 5764
Debra J. Saunders
Spanish voters say: Viva violence!
ON FRIDAY, terrorist bombs planted in Madrid trains
killed 200 innocent people and wounded 1,500
others. On Saturday, Spaniards filled the streets to
demonstrate their outrage over the carnage. Then on
Sunday, Spanish voters rewarded the mass murders
by electing Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
prime minister even though, before the slaughter,
the Popular Party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar
(who had handpicked a successor) held a handy
"It's become a cliche," said Cliff May of the anti-terror
think tank, the Defense of Democracies, "but in this
case, the terrorists have won."
No lie. It would be one thing if the Socialists were
leading in the polls before the attacks, and then won
the election. But that's not what happened. The
Socialists had been generating little more than apathy
and no-shows at the polls. They were gearing up for
defeat early last week despite the fact that some 90
percent of Spaniards opposed Aznar's support for the
U.S.-led war on terrorism in Iraq.
Many Spaniards apparently switched their votes from
the Popular Party, which garnered some 38 percent of
the vote, to give the terrorists what they wanted. They
were joined by citizens who weren't going to vote, but
decided to go to the polls, oddly, to further the
Observers say Aznar erred in cynically scapegoating the Basque extremist group ETA for the bombings, while suppressing evidence that al Qaeda-linked extremists plotted the attacks.
But Aznar had his reasons to suspect ETA. For one
thing, the group once tried to kill him. ETA killed 21
people in a supermarket in 1987. Two weeks ago,
Spanish authorities found a large amount of
explosives belonging to ETA and destined for Madrid,
and Spanish police interrupted a plot to explode a
train in a Madrid station in December, the Economist
"To be honest, I think most Spaniards, when we first
heard about what happened (at the Atocha train
station), all thought about ETA," the Spanish Consul
General Camilo Barcia in San Francisco noted.
Barcia still is not certain which group (or groups) is
behind the attacks.
More to the point, if the government wanted to mislead
voters into blaming Basques in order to help the
Popular Party win, why did authorities arrest three
Moroccans and two ethnic Indians the day before the
Zapatero has announced that his "most immediate
priority is to beat all forms of terrorism."
I guess he means he'll beat all forms of terrorism
after he achieves his first most immediate priority
withdrawing Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq in June.
You could respect Zapatero for sticking to his beliefs,
if they didn't include appeasement. In November, he
called for the withdrawal of Spanish troops after
seven Spanish secret service agents died in an
ambush in Iraq. The Madrid killings haven't prompted
the new presidente to worry lest he reward thuggery.
When Spaniards thought ETA set the bombs, they
were mad at ETA. When they thought Muslim
extremists set the bombs, they blamed Aznar and
President Bush not the terrorists.
Spain's loco left blames everyone except the real
killers. This weekend protesters shouted at the
outgoing prime minister, "Aznar, killer" and, "You
fascists are the terrorists."
Oddly, both Bush and Barcia tried to paint the Spanish
electorate's huge turnout as a victory for democracy.
But the real victor in this story is terrorism. Ten bombs
sealed an election.
Basque separatist leaders now must be looking at how al Qaeda achieved victory through violence and be wondering if they should be more ruthless, too.
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