Crafty Spaniards

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New at Reason: So the lily-livered, pigeon-breasted, knock-knee'd, shifty-eyed, weak-spined Spanish have finally shown their yellow colors, and who can be surprised? Ever since 1898, when we swept out the dusty ruins of their empire, haven't they always cowered before the priest and king and bureaucrat, while we walked upright through the valley of the shadow of death? Tapas-eating surrender monkeys! Or not. Julian Sanchez demystifies the vote heard round the clash of civilzations.

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  1. I’m sure Al Qaida will understand the subtleties of the situation perfectly and will refrain from any more election eve terrorism since it’s clear that their bombing didn’t knock over a hated enemy government.

    Can you pass some of whatever you guys are smoking?

  2. Matthew,
    Do you then suggest we forget about voting and simply poll al-Queda sypathizers and simply do the opposite, no matter what our feelings of the candidate is. If OBL has a tape saying that GWB is the preferred candidate because he opposes the abomination of homosexuality, we should all vote for Nader or Kerry?

    Look, if they changed their vote to appease the terrorists, it’s bad. If they changed their votes because they felt that previous, legitimate grievances that were highlighted by the government’s response to the attacks, then the voters were justified.

    If there was another attack, God forbid, in the US in October and W said that civil liberties are too much of a liability and jailed all Arab-Americans “just to be safe.” If he lost at the polls after that, does al-Queda win for getting rid of Bush? Or did Bush lose it for stepping over the civil liberties line that he’s been attacked on since Sept. 11?

  3. So the debate seems to have gone like this:

    1) Angry conservatives said that Spain capitulated, and voted out the PP to placate the terrorists.

    2) A more nuanced analysis of the Spaniards comes out: Spaniards concluded (however rightly or wrongly) that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from fighting Al Qaeda. They voted for a gov’t that will (supposedly) devote resources to fighting Al Qaeda rather than Iraq. This was not placation, it was prioritization.

    3) Conservatives say “OK, maybe the Spaniards weren’t craven cowards after all. But it doesn’t matter, because their votes will be interpreted by the terrorists as a victory.”

    My take: If the Spaniards were really cowards who capitulate to terrorists, the Basques would have their own independent country already. Instead, the Spaniards probably decided that the war on Iraq was a distraction from the fight against Al Qaeda. They may be right or wrong in their assessment, but even if that assessment is wrong it still isn’t cowardly.

  4. Mo,

    Thanks to the nefarious (pardon me, NEFARIOUS) LeCarre-esque intelligence you attribute to terrorists, not a single one of your questions could be answered. Why? Because, by your speculative standards, you could be a terrorist here to sow discontent on the extremely important H&R boards that dramatically influence debate around the world! Or you could be an unremarkable person who loves circular logic although it is of no consequence to a terrorist, a Spaniard, or anyone in Washington, D.C.

  5. Andrew,
    My point was basically if the governemnt reacts the “wrong way” (which is defined by the people) in the wake of an attack and the people make them pay. The terrorists did not change their mind, the ruling party did. There’s no point in voting for who you think the terrorists don’t want because you don’t know who that is, you should vote for who you think will do the best job.

  6. I can only think that Spain had a tenuous political situation (as has been born out over the past few years) that was pushed over the edge by the bombing. It wasn’t cowardice and the appeasement has yet to be seen, but an assault on a nation that results in more voter turnout is a lesson to be learned. And feared.

  7. Sanchez sez:

    “The election has brought to power a candidate who now says that “beating terror” will be his top priority?hardly a clear victory for Al Qaeda, except for those unable to distinguish between the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq.”

    Yeah, or maybe also those who pay enough attention to world affairs to have noticed what else Zap says:

    Others may urge Spain to keep its 1,300 peacekeeping troops in Iraq, but “fighting terrorism with bombs … with Tomahawk missiles, isn’t the way to defeat terrorism,” he said. “Terrorism is confronted by the state of law … that’s what I think Europe and the international community have to debate.”

    This is Julian’s hard-on-terror new PM of Spain.

  8. I never realized Sanchez was a French surname.

  9. A more nuanced analysis of the Spaniards comes out: Spaniards concluded (however rightly or wrongly) that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from fighting Al Qaeda.

    … and as evidence for this theory, we offer the fact that Julian Sanchez and thoreau both believe it to be true. 🙂

    The available evidence suggests that the Spanish believe that providing assistance to the United States has made them less safe than they were before, so they’re withdrawing the assistance. They may be right, or they may be wrong, but spinning it as a desire on their part to “fight al Qaeda, not Iraq” is nonsensical. Paricularly since, as even Howard Dean admits, even if al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq before, they’re there now.

  10. minor typo, 8th paragraph, change thought to though

  11. as even Howard Dean admits, even if al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq before, they’re there now.

    “Even” Howard Dean? Everyone “admits” this. It’s not disputed.

    But they’re not there because it’s their base of operations. They’re there because that’s where the troops are.

  12. Re: Mr. Sanchez’ article.

    How droll! Let me get comfortable while you explain Spain to me. But first, let us confirm that the election could never (nunca!) be a reaffirmation of anything Bush (ack! the very name – ashes in my mouth!) has said re: dealing with terrorists.

    Query: What is Sen. Zapateros definition of “terrorism”? would it include state sanctioned warfare to kill those who kill its civilians (i.e. 9/11?)?

  13. Re: Mr. Sanchez’ article.

    How droll! Let me get comfortable while you explain Spain to me. But first, let us confirm that the election could never (nunca!) be a reaffirmation of anything Bush (ack! the very name – ashes in my mouth!) has said re: dealing with terrorists.

    Query: What is Sen. Zapateros definition of “terrorism”? would it include state sanctioned warfare to kill those who kill its civilians (i.e. 9/11?)?

  14. Mo,

    Thanks for clarifying. The closing clause of your last post is what I recite to myself every time I vote Libertarian. :-/

  15. Andrew,

    I suppose in your world there is no difference between initiation of force and self-defense.

    In my world there is a big difference between the folks who accidentally shoot a child in a crossfire, and the folks to try to infiltrate a school so they can blow a girls brains out and make her parents suffer.

    If you don’t see the difference, I pity you but I won’t waste my breath on you and your moral depravity. I don’t care to “understand” why the Klan member hates and kills, nor why the Hamas leadership does the same. For such as act out their beliefs in violence against the innocent, there is only the prison cell or the grave, civilization has no alternative place, and this is truly a war between civilization and fascist depravity.

  16. Yes, but why are you so determined to fight it with bad intelligence?

  17. You fuckers better listen to Xray. If we don’t get honest we are doomed.

  18. First, Matthew, I’m not sure I understand the nature of your post. Are you responding to specific comments I made? You lost me (or perhaps were speaking to someone else named Andrew), but that’s no reason I can’t talk back.

    I suppose in your world there is no difference between initiation of force and self-defense.

    My world, your world, it’s all the same. Don’t project. There is a difference between initiation of force and self defense.

    In my world there is a big difference between the folks who accidentally shoot a child in a crossfire, and the folks to try to infiltrate a school so they can blow a girls brains out and make her parents suffer.

    What does this mean? Who are “the folks” of which you speak? Who is the girl, who are the parents? To which non-metaphorical entities do your metaphors attach?

    …this is truly a war between civilization and fascist depravity.

    I’d contribute to your campaign, but your use of “civilization” as the antipode to “fascist depravity” betrays your reliance on insupportable memes. At least you didn’t use the word “evil.”

    I’d love to tie your comments back to Spain’s election, but, um, I wouldn’t know where to start.

  19. Matthew:

    “In my world there is a big difference between the folks who accidentally shoot a child in a crossfire, and the folks to try to infiltrate a school so they can blow a girls brains out and make her parents suffer.”

    How about if a child (along with thousand others) are killed by an A-bomb being dropped on their city? would that qualify as self-defense?

  20. Ah…and here I thought I was going crazy when my ex-neighbor, a Spanish import of the female variety, wouldn’t stop bitching about the US…and all I wanted to do was set her house on fire.

    Go figure.

  21. “So when Zapatero rejects “all forms of terrorism”, he is speaking to pacifists and those who believe that “war is terror”.

    On the tacitus blog (the link that lonewhacko posted) posters have more than sufficiently discredited this silly analysis.

    Mr Sanchez’s caveat was right on: there are obviously plenty of people “…unable to distinguish between the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq.”

  22. Here’s difference betwixt Hiroshima/Hanoi/Israel and Spain/WTC: All the former, even Israel’s acts, are not a surprise in the regional context. They’re militarily wise uses of large regular forces. The latter deliver violent death to people who didn’t know they were such prime targets.

    I recognize there are many many nuances, and that it all comes to where one draws the line between terrorism and war. My point is that on some continuum, there is a great space between Dresden and Madrid.

    For me, Sanchez has given some Spanish context, albeit removed, to a discussion that usually devolves into a “U.S. as the center of every debate” rabble.

    If we have patience and risk tolerance, it will be revealed whether the new Spanish policing model reduces terrorism better than the US invasion model. Probably, each has some value, and the world will get smarter about applying them.

    ===
    Since OBL/Qaeda seem so good at applying unconventional force, maybe we could hire them, or at least add their tactics to the Pentagon toolkit?

  23. Les,

    He also pointed out their hypocrisy for having caused almost as many deaths as Pol Pot in their carpet bombing of Cambodia, and for supporting the Khmer Rouge against the Vietnamese invasion that deposed them.

    But we all know Chomsky’s real fault is being one of the J.E.W.S. (oops, I mean treasonous, left-wing, rootless cosmopolitan intellectuals–can’t have any antisemitism here).

  24. Matthew Cromer,

    “Yes intentions make a difference to me and, I suspect, the vast majority of civilized human beings. My response to accidental death is far different than, say, a death caused by a serial killer. I’m not terribly interested in justifying why the response is different — this seems almost axiomatic to me.”

    Well, to be blunt, that wasn’t the neccessary construction of your original argument; indeed, it was so amorphous in construction that you left us guessing. As to the issue of intent, well, accidental death can be as depraved as that committed by the aforementioned serial killer.

    “Jean, what does Wounded Knee have to do with this conversation? Am I supposed to defend what the white man did to some of my ancestors 100+ years ago?”

    You were the one digging up “historical evils,” and I wanted a response from on two particular “historical evils.” It has nothing to do with blaming the “white man” – well, no more than the Nazi holocaust does at least. Anyway, you opened yourself up to the query by your original statement; I can see that I’ve got my answer though.

    “In both cases the Europeans owe an awesome debt to America for saving their skins from two expansionist evil empires — but the gratitude is sadly missing.”

    We did as much saving our own skins as America ever did. And you don’t want gratitude; you want fawning sycophants.

    “At least Bush is apologizing for these past alliances and setting a new course for foreign relations that recognizes liberty over ‘stability’ as the foundation of American security in the new world.”

    When did he “apologize?” In fact, Bush did not apologize; he did say that the West had for too long supported despotic regimes in a particular region in an effort to maintain stability. Of course these were his words; his deeds were quite altogether different – now he’s cutting a deal with the Libyans, who remain despotic, but despots with WMD. If that isn’t a deal to foster “stability” over liberty, I don’t know what is.

    “It beats the cynical realpolitik of the Paris-Berlin crowd who are perfectly willing to cut deals with the most loathsome human vermin imaginable as long as they are being paid off (I suppose the blood washes off those euros easily for them).”

    I hate to break it to you, but the Bush administration is as devoted cynical realpolitik as any other government is – just witness your governments willingness to bend over backwards to deal with, aid, etc., these central asian thugocracies so they can maintain their military bases there.

  25. Kevin Carson,

    Well, not only was the indiscriminate bombing of Cambodia a war crime (indeed, at least soem American bomber crews balked at carrying out the missions they were ordered to do because it was so morally unsettling), it also undermined the despotic and corrupt regime that America was trying to support – that of Lon Nol. It was morally reprehensible in other words, and it was also underming the very policy it was meant to bolster.

  26. Matthew, I’d be happy to oblige. Hopefully, by the end of this post, I can tie it all to the semantic and political problems that occur when we toss about terrorism like the word candy (which means a lot of things to a lot of people). Unfortunately, since I don’t know what you mean by “the modern era,” I can’t be sure you won’t disqualify a number of my remarks.

    Israel is a terrorist state because it regularly sanctions the destruction of residences and the assassinations of political opponents. If these, alone, aren’t attempts to evoke terror in the adversary, then we have no common framework for continued debate.

    Israel manages to sophisticate the idea of terrorism by destroying agricultural property, confiscating property, blocking roads, and imposing curfews, not always in territories it has occupied since 1967. These are considered collective punishments against groups of individuals who are not the direct objects of Israel’s ire. Sort of like bombing victims.

    What’s rather interesting about Israel’s form of terrorism is that it has all the power and the Palestinians have none. Terrorists don’t always have to be the fringe, the oppressed, the minority.

    Unfortunately, my references to U.S. terrorism are rooted in the not-modern era to which you confined me.

    Semantics. Jean Bart and others haggled over the separatist vs. terrorist vs. activist, etc. label in a recent thread. The net result, as I gleaned it, was that any act meant to despoil the morale, usually through fatal tactics, of any nation or established group constitutes terrorism.

    Don’t pay too much attention to what the pot calls the kettle, eh, Matthew?

  27. Kevin Carson,

    It go along well with Nixon’s “mad man” theory of international relations; where he was the mad, unpredictable actor.

  28. Andrew,

    I would agree that the firebombings of Dresden, Tokyo, and the Nuclear Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are most assuredly terrorism and not justifyable (even if understandable).

    Destroying the residences of the families of mass murderers (who are, after all, being paid huge sums of money by state supporters of terror) is a tactic, certainly disagreeable, perhaps immoral, but it is not the deliberate maiming and murder of individuals. Israel is at war with an implacable foe aimed at the obliteration of the country and all within it, who wish to “push them into the sea”.

    Roadblocks, curfews, etc. are perfectly understandable and indeed essential to reduce the number of Israelis killed in this war.

    As for “assassinations of political opponents”, again Israel is at war with Hamas, Al Aqsa and indeed the PLO leadership and foot soldiers (much of which is indistinguishable from Al Aqsa anyway). They are all legitimate targets because they have conducted war against Israel. That includes the head of the rotting fish the Nobel Laureate himself.

    It’s most unfortunate that Arafat and the PLO chose to reject the huge concessions offered by Israel during the final push for the Oslo deal and began again their sick and twisted attacks designed to murder Israelis by the score in their coffee shops and buses. The worst hurt have undoubtedly been the average palestinian man, woman, and child.

  29. Matthew and Andrew, your posts are both insightful. I would just add that since it’s demonstrable that the U.S. government funded terrorism (in Central America and the Middle East) less than twenty years ago and that we’d been continually funding terrorists (all over the globe) for at least thirty years prior to that, along with the fact that the U.S. government won’t even admit this inarguable and heinous fact, it should be expected that many people around the world (who are more aware of U.S. history than the average U.S. citizen) might be wary and skeptical of our (relatively recent) devotion to anti-terrorism. This, in no way, justifies any other type or form of terrorism, but I think it’s a fundamental problem with our international credibility.

  30. Jean Bart: I’ve been meaning to thank your ancestors for bankrolling our revolution. Let’s call it even for our help in pushing the Nazis out of France. Now that we’re equal, let’s all stop fluffing our national feathers. It is sensible to seek agreements and alliance, but such is not required. Different places have different interests. If we ever achieve unity of perspective, we’re probably missing something.

    Militarily, not morally, there are advantages to having an unpredictable nutcase in charge. Sometimes. Hitler was not a good one, but Patton did quite well. I might even make some bizarre extension that unpredictable leadership is a form of unconventional warfare (terrorism?). The enemy people and forces suffer more stress and lost resources trying to guess what Premier Goofjuice or President Lunatic might do next.

  31. Mark Fox,

    Alright.

  32. Andrew, one more point.

    I do believe in evil, apparently you do not based on your facile comment earlier that I missed at first reading.

    When I look at Atocha train yard, I see first-hand the results of evil. When I remember watching the planes fly into those twin symbols of Ameria, I see first-hand the results of evil.” When I look at the concentration camp pictures, I see it yet again.

    So yes, I use the sh

  33. If David Palmer is not re-elected, the terrorists have won!

  34. Matthew,

    I use the “sh,” too. How do you think I get my groove on?

    thoreau,

    If 24 is not renewed, then quality-loving Americans have won!

  35. Is it really necessary for Sanchez to always write like a punk bitch? Yes, the bellyaching was overdone, and the Spaniards no doubt appreciated it as much we respect their adolescent whining about Bush–but for once could you manage to write about the salient facts *without* indulging your petty urge for score-settling? Thank you & good night

  36. In my world there is a big difference between the folks who accidentally shoot a child in a crossfire, and the folks to try to infiltrate a school so they can blow a girls brains out and make her parents suffer.

    I’m sure the parents of the child who was accidentally shot would be touched by your compassion. In their world, their child is still dead.

    Remember “Centipede,” the classic ’80s video game? You had to shoot through a bunch of mushrooms to kill the centipede at the other end of the screen. Mushrooms. Children. What’s the difference, right? We can’t let any obstacles stand in between us and the terrorists at the other end of the screen.

    And, of course, there’s no reason we should try and understand why the parents of that dead child might be sympathetic toward the terrorists who promise to seek revenge on the people who treat children like obstacles in a video game, mushrooms to be mowed down in pursuit of their own goals.

    When you believe the end justifies the means, there’s no difference between you and the people who fly planes into buildings.

  37. If 24 is not renewed, then quality-loving Americans have won!

    Ouch! I will grant that it isn’t as good as it used to be. But let’s face it, Palmer is more trustworthy than Bush or Kerry.

  38. Matthew,

    “In my world there is a big difference between the folks who accidentally shoot a child in a crossfire, and the folks to try to infiltrate a school so they can blow a girls brains out and make her parents suffer.”

    And what difference is that? Manslaughter or negligent homicide vs. a capital murder charge? The girl is still dead; indeed, from a non-consequentialist standpoint (the position of Immanuel Kant), there is no difference. Either the act was immoral or it was not, in other words. Indeed, even from the utilitarian standpoint that you appear to profer I can think of instances where the former would be far more culpable than the latter instance; especially when the shooting was done in a recklass and depraved manner.

    “When I look at Atocha train yard, I see first-hand the results of evil. When I remember watching the planes fly into those twin symbols of Ameria [sic], I see first-hand the results of evil. When I look at the concentration camp pictures, I see it yet again.”

    When you think of say, hmm, American slavery, do you think of evil? Or say, hmm, the massacre at Wounded Knee? I suspect that you find things to be evil that others do not, and that despite your attempt to paint an absolutist picture, that these disagreements are honest and valid in nature.

  39. But they’re not there because it’s their base of operations. They’re there because that’s where the troops are.

    … which explains why they’re almost exclusively targetting civilians? Care to fill in a few of the details in your “theory”?

  40. Speaking for myself, I feel bad about my first reaction to events. Zapatero was placed in office by the voters, and does not appear to have demogogued the issue any more than his opponents.

    He reasonably could have claimed a mandate to withdraw even more quickly, but apparently intends to stay till June– and perhaps longer.
    Even Aznar’s successor might have pulled Spanish troops out after the transfer of power (Australia left as soon as hostilities were declared over). His actions so far appear fairly moderate, and may be intended not to embolden AQ. I’m not sure it matters anyway. The significance of even an apparent “victory” is probably only marginal for Qaida.

  41. I’m with you Jean (for a change).

    France was set to make $100 billion over a period of seven or eight years on the Oil for Palaces scheme and here the US of A – that Friend of France – goes and blows the whole deal.

    I can understand why the French are real politic mad.

    I mean what is the death of 1,000 Iraqis a month at the hands of Saddam compared to French comfort?

    Viva la France.

  42. Not that the French are callous or anything. Why just last summer they offed 10,000 to 15,000 of their own people. Well they were old and soon to die any way.

    But I can see how you might be sympathetic to Saddam’s plight. I mean it is not as if any of the 10,000 or so were important people (obviously).

  43. thoreau,

    You misunderstand the Spanish.

    Capitulate to the Basques – never. Well Zapata wants to but well any way whats the problem?

    Capitulate to Al Queda – where do I sign.

    Evidently Zapata wants to capitulate to any one who will offer him violence.

    Them Spanish. So nuanced in their choice of nuanced leaders. Course what choice did they have? Aznar just wanted to fight. Zapata just wants to surrender.

    So surrender it is then.

    Well Munich bought a year or so of peace. The Spanish should be so lucky.

  44. Julian misses two central points.

    1. All that matters is how the terrorists PERCEIVE this turn of events, not what actually happened or did not happen.

    2. Zapatero’s victory is NOT the problem, its what he has been saying SINCE then. He won’t be PM for another 5 weeks, so he should have just kept his mouth shut.

  45. M. Simon,

    *yawn*

    BTW, his name is Zapatero; Zapata was a Mexican revolutionary.

  46. Some comments on this thread have touched on a larger issue that I have seen bob up in threads before– that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES does a libertarian ehic permit an actor to harm the innocent (carry out reprisals, take hostages, or threaten to do so) in order to protect You and Your Own.

    I take this to be a sort of extreme moral position, akin to principled pacifism– a position that some, but not many, would take upon reflection. And I don’t believe that it is necessarily THE libertarian position…but merely one version.

    On an island, or some other uncivilised place, if I believed that I could control the behavior of parties that threatened my family, by threatening to retaliate against THEIR families I probably would. Somewhat the same logic applies in “making an example” of someone chosen at random, or destroying non-belligerant allies of an enemy.

    SOME set of circumstances would justify behavior like that, for most people…which is why people have always acted this way.

  47. Well written Julian,

    I have lived in Spain for the last 10 yrs and think your analysis of the Madrid terrorist bombing and general election results is right on.

  48. There is apparently an assumption that the Madrid bombings were calculated to affect the election three days hence.

    I don’t think so. The tape of the group clearly referred to the date of the bombing as being a year and a half after WTC (911 – 311 – no leap year in Arabic, I guess) and there were no signs of increased “chatter” before the act.

    Besides, it would be impossible to predict which way the voters would react to the bombing. If the government hadn’t manipulated and bungled the media noise about the ETA connection the public could easily have used their outrage to re-elect it.

    Not to say they don’t appreciate the election outcome but I think that’s just gravy on the oiginal intent of just punishing Spain for being the US’s shill.

  49. Various comments:

    1) Yes intentions make a difference to me and, I suspect, the vast majority of civilized human beings. My response to accidental death is far different than, say, a death caused by a serial killer. I’m not terribly interested in justifying why the response is different — this seems almost axiomatic to me.

    Jean, what does Wounded Knee have to do with this conversation? Am I supposed to defend what the white man did to some of my ancestors 100+ years ago?

    As for people who state that the end does not justify the means, I agree with you.

    As far as supporting governments and insurgents that violated human rights, yes during WWIII (also known as the cold war) the US government did support some lesser evil characters in the interest of defeating the greater evil (Soviet domination), just as during WWII the US government supported Stalin in resisting the evils of expansionist Nazism. In both cases the Europeans owe an awesome debt to America for saving their skins from two expansionist evil empires — but the gratitude is sadly missing. At least Bush is apologizing for these past alliances and setting a new course for foreign relations that recognizes liberty over “stability” as the foundation of American security in the new world. It beats the cynical realpolitik of the Paris-Berlin crowd who are perfectly willing to cut deals with the most loathsome human vermin imaginable as long as they are being paid off (I suppose the blood washes off those euros easily for them).

  50. Tapas eating surrender monkeys.

  51. Ahh, I see, it’s about the [stage whisper] J.E.W.S. again, eh Andrew? Er, I mean the Israelis. Wouldn’t want anybody calling us anti-semitic now, would we?

    The point is, it doesn’t matter what P.M. “I’m pulling for John Kerry” Zapatero makes of the “nuances”. What matters is that Al Qaida takes the bombing & election as a huge victory and something to help invogorate a new terror campaign. It also taught Al Qaida how easy it is to strip off support from the U.S. in its anti Islamofascist campaign – turns out, the West actually is decadent and weak, and if you hit it hard, it crumples.

  52. On an island, or some other uncivilised place, if I believed that I could control the behavior of parties that threatened my family, by threatening to retaliate against THEIR families I probably would.

    Damned glad you’re not in control of any island nations, let alone any REAL countries. Thanks for making the case for tribal barbarism. Thug.

  53. Let us hope the Spanish have not been cowed. Al Qaeda would like to think so, and hold them up as an example: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=574&ncid=721&e=4&u=/nm/20040317/wl_nm/security_spain_truce_dc

    Oh, and they want Bush to win. Looks like we can expect an attack in September.

  54. Suddenly Stephen Fetchet is so very, very concerned about what the terrorists think of us. Been reading your Chomsky, have you?

    Screw em, let’s live our lives, kick their asses, and let them think whatever the hell their psychotic ideology leads them to think.

  55. Andrew Lynch,

    It is more like making the case for terrorism itself.

  56. What a bunch of blatant hypocracy.

    “The only thing that matters is what the terrorists perceive. No matter how wrong it is.”

    Of course. Nothing else should matter. Government accountability? The 100 or so other issues a nation might face besides international terrorism? Plain old fashion vox populi?

    Screw it. All that matters is the message you are sending to terrorists by attempting any democratic change. How gushingly convenient for the Bush administration to squat and squeeze that little nugget into the memeosphere.

  57. The Spanish people voted, that’s called democracy.
    The Spanish people disagree with the US administration, that’s called freedom of speech.
    I find it incredible that so many Americans are unable to accept a different point of view, and rather than arguing about it rationally resort to insults and name-calling. Where is this ideological leadership you keep harping on about?

    Yes, terrorists may perceive the vote as victory, but you can’t cancel elections or force people to vote for the incumbent party instead. That way lies totalitarianism. The Spanish have voted, live with it.

  58. Andrew,

    Thankyou for another fine example of argument from tradition; keep the logical fallacies coming. In other words, the pedigree of an activity is hardly an argument for its continuation.

  59. Andrew Lynch

    The unstated (but I should think obvious to the all but deliberately obtuse) proviso of my observation was the absence of other and better remedies to the threat.

    In fact I would not trust the welfare of myself, or anyone I cared about to any “leaders” who did not ultimately place that obligation ahead of qualms about the welfare of others. In the face of an existential threat, a culture has to do what it can to abate or remove that threat.

    Throughout the Cold War the position of all Western nations was to deter a Soviet assault by threatening a massive retaliation that would have fallen disproportionately on the innocent, by an enormous ratio. It is hypocritical to pretend that this wasn’t so, or that it wasn’t the correct decision.

    If India had not been able to come to some kind of understanding about Islamist irredentism they would have to destroy Pakistan at some point…and the same is true concerning the West and terror. If we cannot reform the societies that breed the terrorist, or contain terrorism better than we have recently, only the ugliest alternatives remain. That may as well be stated now, to avert tragedy, rather than drift into it through a fog of vapid rhetoric.

  60. Y’know, something I’ve long said is that among the obvious reasons terrorism is so fugged-up is the problem that pursuing a policy that coincides with what the terrorists want can have the effect of looking like capitulation, regardless of whether it was really motivated by such sentiment. Since 9/11, I have made the point that I think the U.S. should stop supplying military aid to Israel on principle, but I had qualms over doing it now because of the appearance of capitulation that would give. I agree wholeheartedly with Julian’s analysis that calling the Spanish vote an act of capitulation is a gross oversimplification of what actually happened. But like others here, I do worry about the message it sends, regardless of the intention.

  61. Yeah, Chomsky inspired me to say that. He also inspired me to whitewash the genocide committed by Pol Pot, and to support the Serb mass murderer Milosevic against the U..S. led intervention to stop the slaughter of the Kosovars. What’s that? Oh, you’re a cafeteria Chomskyite and you don’t endorse his other pro-genocide positions, just the one sanctioning genocide of the Kurds and Shiites, and mass attacks on the West?

    Chomsky may be right occasionally, but then, a broken clock is right for at least a microsecond, once or twice daily.

    I personally don’t give a shit about Chomsky – his argument is not that we should think about what the terrorist think. If you believe that it is, you either haven’t read Chomsky, or you are two dumb to understand his deliberately arcane writing. Chomsky’s argument, in fact, is that we should do what the terrorists tell us to do. Big difference.

    My critique is not Chomsky-ian. As any orthodox military philosopher, from Sun Tzu or Musashi, to Clausewitz, to Liddel Hart or even Gen. Giap, the moral of the enemy, and the morale of the allies, is critical in determining the outcome of the conflict. Sun TZu talks about Chinese armies scaring their enemies by lighting fires, lots of them, to convince the enemies that the army was much bigger than it actually was. Liddel Hart talks about the advantages of momentum, and Clausewitz talks about the moral basis, or morale of the troops, as a force multiplier. Giap, who led the North Vietnamese to victory, has placed much of the credit for his victory at the feet of the West’s radicals, who helped Giap break down the will of the U.S. to continue fighting.

    So no, it’s not that apologist for tyrants Chomsky who drives me to say that the morale effect of Zapatero’s win, and his subsequent ranting about Bush, will have an effect in the war on terror.

    It’s also worth noting, that had we followed the “law and order” approach to terrorism advocated by Zapatero in his speech today, we’d still be sending FBI agents to knock on bin Laden’s door in Afghanistan, asking him to appear in court for trial.

  62. The Chomsky reference was smart ass, just pointing out the hypocricy of the hawks who criticize others for basing their decisions on what terrorists think.

    A far better metaphor is the “Not One Step Back,” “No Shortening of the Lines” orders given to the German armies at Alemein and Stalingrad.

  63. Stephen Fetcher,

    Then how about Julian’s point that by emphasizing the possibility of appeasement in the Spanish vote (despite evidence to the contrary), pundits are actually helping to bring about the perception that they fear?

    I’ve wondered if Al-Qaeda’s thinking is effected by what’s written in the US, but your example from Viet Nam has made me reconsider!

  64. Stephen,

    I don’t agree with Chomsky too often, but he never whitewashed the Pol Pot genocide. He merely pointed out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government and media for focusing on that genocide while the U.S. government was ASSISTING genocide in East Timor.

    Matthew,

    You said:

    “As far as supporting governments and insurgents that violated human rights, yes during WWIII (also known as the cold war) the US government did support some lesser evil characters in the interest of defeating the greater evil (Soviet domination), just as during WWII the US government supported Stalin in resisting the evils of expansionist Nazism. In both cases the Europeans owe an awesome debt to America for saving their skins from two expansionist evil empires — but the gratitude is sadly missing.”

    Comparing our Cold War assistance to our assistance to Stalin simply doesn’t work. We never helped Stalin kill his own people or provided him training in how to suppress dissidents. But after WW2 we regularly supplied brutal dictatorships with weapons and training while they were killing large segments of their civilian populations. You can call this “a lesser evil” but I don’t think you would if one of your family members had been tortured, raped, and/or murdered. The ONLY sense in which the governments of Guatemala or Indonesia (etc., etc., etc…) were “lesser evils” was in their size and ability to spread terror throughout their populace. Unfortunately, some people think America was too stupid and inept to have won the Cold War without giving bullets to mass-murderers while they lined up women and children and blew their brains out.

    “At least Bush is apologizing for these past alliances and setting a new course for foreign relations that recognizes liberty over “stability” as the foundation of American security in the new world.”

    You mean like Saudi Arabia, which had more to do with 9/11 than Iraq did? Many of the people in the present administration are the very same cold warriors who believed that America was too stupid and inept to have won the Cold War without actively and aggressively supporting miniature Stalins. They are as interested in liberty as I am in my next-door-neighbor’s used toilet paper. For these people, U.S. interests (to them: strategic/political advantage), take precedence over even the most basic concepts of human decency.

    “It beats the cynical realpolitik of the Paris-Berlin crowd who are perfectly willing to cut deals with the most loathsome human vermin imaginable as long as they are being paid off (I suppose the blood washes off those euros easily for them).”

    I hope you don’t think that the U.S. government or some large U.S. corporations are above this. You don’t strike me as that naive.

  65. Matthew @ 12:18am
    “You will not see me defend Truman’s decision to use the A-bomb, or other terror bombing in WWII. And as much as people defend the terror bombings of WWII, we have not repeated them since.”

    So, you consider the dropping the A-bomb as a terror bombing and hence you believe the US did commit terrorist acts. Did anyone ever was brought to justice for those ‘terrorist’ acts? If not, is there a statue of limitation on terrorism?

    Also, the US government hinted many times that it might resort to using nukes, so do you believe that the US government is not ruling out using terror as a tactic?

    “I do find the deliberate targetting of civilians indefensible”

    Good. So now what does it mean to ‘target’ civilians. If you are certain that dropping a bomb or firing a missile will result in civilans deaths (along with other intended deaths). Do you consider that targetting civilians, or is that considered an acceptable act?

    If your answer is the first, then do you condemn Israelies firing missiles into ‘terrorists’ homes where most certainly they will kill members of their families (including children).

    If the answer is the second, then, why wouldn’t you consider bombing an Israeli bus if there was a soldier in it (and a score of innocent civilians) acceptable?

  66. Anon,

    You will not see me defend Truman’s decision to use the A-bomb, or other terror bombing in WWII. And as much as people defend the terror bombings of WWII, we have not repeated them since. I do find the deliberate targetting of civilians indefensible, even though those tactics were used against the Allies first.

  67. Andrew, you wrote:

    “Good. Oh, and a broad discussion about what constitutes terrorism is well-deserved. Primarily with regards to Israel, secondarily to the United States.”

    You brought up the point, I’d love to see you explain how Israel and the US are (in the modern era) terrorists.

  68. Matthew, you can’t endorse supporting “lesser evils” AND slam the French and Germans for their “realpolitik” in the same post.

    Well, you can, but nobody’s going to take you seriously.

  69. Andrew: The appearance of strength may be a sufficient deterrent. That’s part of why bouncers are usually such big, beefy dudes. They need not threaten anyone to keep the peace because they could so evidently kick your ass. (It works until you’re drunk and forget that they’re not actually libertarian pacifists)

    Although unprovoked force violates the libertarian catechism, I can study force and advise the vengeful on efficient retribution so we can get back to peaceful pursuits more quickly, with less aggregate death and ideally zero personal harm. It is realpolitik, I suppose, moving toward libertopia.

    Since I’m still an emotion-driven human, I might get mad enough one day to forget my pacifist principles. My rifle is clean, just in case we can’t work it out the nice way.

  70. Andrew,

    “The unstated (but I should think obvious to the all but deliberately obtuse) proviso of my observation was the absence of other and better remedies to the threat.”

    Its always fun to watch you backpeddle. “But, but, but I didn’t really mean what I wrote…”

    “Throughout the Cold War the position of all Western nations was to deter a Soviet assault by threatening a massive retaliation that would have fallen disproportionately on the innocent, by an enormous ratio. It is hypocritical to pretend that this wasn’t so, or that it wasn’t the correct decision.”

    Actually, that was one of a constellation of policies; indeed, it went hand in hand with measures to lessen this threat. So you are baldly misrepresenting the historical record. Furthermore, there is a marked difference between warfare such as what might have occurred in a nuclear exchange and what you propose – an actual war where civilian casualties are at least partly incidental to the actions in that war versus simply killing civilians to intimidate your enemy. The latter violates the law of war going back to at least Hugo Grotius’ work on the subject of what is and is not lawful war.

    “If India had not been able to come to some kind of understanding about Islamist irredentism they would have to destroy Pakistan at some point…”

    Of course destroying themselves in the process; there is a reason, after all, why Pakistan is a nuclear armed power – to stop Indian aggression (and if you think the latter does not exist then you are blind to the historical record as well as the current nature of India’s actions). Which of course points out a glaring problem with your pro-terrorism theory; its amenable to anyone who wishes to use it.

    “…and the same is true concerning the West and terror. If we cannot reform the societies that breed the terrorist, or contain terrorism better than we have recently, only the ugliest alternatives remain.”

    Leave it up to Andrew to advocate such things as genocide. I knew there was a reason why my Jewish wife thinks that you are scum. BTW, this is a false dichotomy; another logical fallacy on your part.

    “That may as well be stated now, to avert tragedy, rather than drift into it through a fog of vapid rhetoric.”

    You mean the fog that you drift through daily?

  71. Mark

    I am not contending that ANY set of circumstances where a threat exists would justify harming parties you assume to be innocent morally– but I do contend that SOME circumstances that could justify it not only can be imagined, but in fact are fairly easy for most people to imagine.

    If a man at some distance was threatening you (or others you cared about) with a rifle, and you could stay his hand by holding a knife to his child’s throat you might.

    I can’t be sure what you would do. But you would have to concede that the example is NOT trivial.

    The example could, I suppose, be described as “terrorism”. The difference (if there is one) turns on “who started it” and/or who is most likely to revert to humane and civilised conduct.

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