Three Cheers for Appeasement!

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The American Prospect's Matthew Yglesias cites our own Julian Sanchez, among others, in a perceptive piece on Spain and its Socialist government. A little more than two years ago, terrorists killed 201 Spanish commuters in a train bombing. Within a week, Spanish voters ousted a pro-war conservative government and installed the Socialists, who had pledged to remove the country's troops from Iraq.

If anything, Yglesias downplays the hysteria this caused in the Homeland. It wasn't just a few pro-war columnists who accused Spain of "appeasing" al-Qaeda. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said the Spanish had chosen "to change their government and to, in a sense, appease terrorists." Gen. Richard Myers, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, grumbled about how "weakness is provocative." Two years later the Spanish government is happily thwarting terrorists, and Reason's original take (see Doug Bandow, too) is looking like the right one.

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  1. I think the point is that this would encourage more attacks, not that the new government was more or less capable.

    Do I recall correctly the continued placement of bombs on rail lines?

  2. The orginal government was voted out in large part because they lied about the bombs. They said it was the ETA terrorists, Castillans, not Al Queda.
    They got punished for it.

  3. The problem with letting our enemies dictate our politics – the course of action advocated by war supporters who urged Spaniards to change their vote because of the attacks – is that it leaves us wide open to “Don’t throw me in the briar patch” tactics.

  4. ‘thwarting terrorists’? Is that what you call arresting 19 suspects and freeing 11 of them, if the ‘promise’ to behave?

    Yeah, ‘thwarting’, that’s what it’s called.

    But then since when have the Spanish had any stomach for fighting?

    Outside of burning a few thousand religious minorities at the behest of a pope or two, and slaughtering primitive natives in the Americas that were 5 centuries behind in technology, the only time I can recall them fighting for anything was in the 1930’s when they were killing each other over whether they would subject themselves to communist tyranny or fascist tyranny. They chose fascist tyranny.

    They couldn’t even hold on to colonies with decimated populations that were handed to them by the pope, losing them all to rebellion, France and the U.S. within a few generations

    So trading in self respect for appeasment of murderers semms like a continuation of the past. Yawn.

  5. Aznar was toast after the attack because of his own shenanigans. When I was in Spain, about 90 percent of those polled wanted an immediate pullout of Iraq. Zapatero ran on that promise and then kept it–an interesting concept. Democracy sure is a bitch. Add to that the fact that relative to the U.S. government, the Spanish government has been wildly successful at breaking up Al Qaeda cells in its midst. You know, Where it matters! Those who howled appeasement from the rafters seem like complete morons.

    But hey, who’s going to challenge them on that now. We’re too busy not appeasing people.

  6. Interesting that, while terror attacks in Spain are down after they withdrew from the fight, terror attacks in the US are also down after we continue the fight.

    While I doubt the absence of attacks in the US can be attributed to the Spanish withdrawal, I suspect the absence of attacks in Spain is partially the result of the US fighting a hot war against terror in it heartland.

  7. “They couldn’t even hold on to colonies with decimated populations that were handed to them by the pope, losing them all to rebellion.”

    I know dude…and France, Holland, Portuguese, England, Japan et al did such a good job of performing that noble task.

    Spaniards…buncha no-colony-holding maricones!

    I hope the 4th grade is this much fun!

  8. Interesting that, while terror attacks in Spain are down after they withdrew from the fight, terror attacks in the US are also down after we continue the fight.

    Wow. Down from 1 per year to zero. That’s damn impressive. Or maybe it’s just a misrepresentation of statistics. I can never keep that straight.

  9. I didn’t say anything about others being better.

    But at least France, Holland and England tried to move towards freedom, with pretty good success. Portugal I am unfamiliar with. Japan never left the imperial model until forced to by utter defeat, and has not done a bad job since then, compared to most, if not all, of Asia.

    I stand by what I said. Spain has a history of embracing tyranny and running from a fair fight. This is no different.

  10. the only time I can recall them fighting for anything was in the 1930’s when they were killing each other over whether they would subject themselves to communist tyranny or fascist tyranny. They chose fascist tyranny.

    Yeah, but according to many Hit and Run posters that’s much, much, much better than choosing communist tyranny! Go Spain!

    If Aznar lies about a tragedy, and is also unpopular for going against 90% of his electorate on a major issue, is it really such a shock that the electorate might boot him out? I mean, agree or disagree with their choice, but it’s hardly a sign of decadence.

  11. “I stand by what I said.”

    Please don’t. It would be wise not to.

    France’s record is dreadful…at least the British and Spanish built a few roads and such.

    Read about what happened in Angola and East Timor when the Salazar dictatorship fell for the Portuguese story.

    As for the Japanese story, despite being brutal overlords, they did all of the Asian tigers two enormous favors: they dismantled the propertied elite by liquidating nearly all of them and left behind efficient and competent civil servants.

    Really, blanket statements about Spanish colonial history are more likely to weaken your case. If anything, memories of Spain’s bloody history might be the thing that makes the Spanish think twice about occupying countries that didn’t do shit to them. If you are looking for more blood and John-Wayne-style swaggering, well, Spain surpassed its quota a while back.

  12. I dunno. If I had to choose between one or the other, I do not know which I would choose. But then alternative histories are always speculative, and not very entertaining to me.

    You cannot blame them for throwing Aznar out, but you can blame them for choosing appeasment. Friedman has a point.

    While some of the liberalizations being brought in seem good to me, are they being purchased at too high a cost?

  13. “Interesting that, while terror attacks in Spain are down after they withdrew from the fight, terror attacks in the US are also down after we continue the fight.”

    It’s funny- every time I hear somebody talk about all the terror attacks SECRETLY thwarted by Homeland Security, the little voice in my head whispers: “Why do elephants paint their toenails red?”

  14. Budgie, if that is your real name, there is a difference between aggressivly subjugating other people, and standing up and defending yourself.

    Spain entered Iraq as part of the NATO defense pact. You can argue that Iraq is not a legimate place for the US and NATO to be, and I won’t argue against you.

    But to run away after someone attacks you, and give in to demands of appeasement is a mistake.

    If the withdrawal had occurred without that terrorist attack, I would have more sympathy for the view that Spain just does not want to be part of the Iraq occupation anymore. But after the attack, it just shows cowardice.

    If I do something, and am working on figuring out if it was right or wrong, someone attacking me still needs to be defended against.

  15. “I suspect the absence of attacks in Spain is partially the result of the US fighting a hot war against terror in it heartland.”

    ‘Ow do you explain me bus blowin’ up, then?

  16. Al Qaeda terror attacks on the Spanish homeland before Spain sent troops to the heart of Arabia: 0.

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on the Spanish homeland while Spain had troops in the heart of Arabia: 1.

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on the Spanish homeland since Spain withdrew troops from the heart of Arabia: 0.

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on the British homeland before Britain sent troops to the heart of Arabia: 0.

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on Great Britain while Britain had troops in the heart of Arabia: 1.

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on Great Britain since Britain withdrew troops from the heart of Arabia: Incomplete.

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on the American homeland before the US sent troops to the heart of Arabia: 0.

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on the American homeland while the US had troops in the heart of Arabia: 2. (Three if you count the foiled Millenium Bomb attack; otherwise WTC 1993 and 9/11.)

    Al Qaeda terror attacks on the American homeland since the US withdrew troops from the heart of Arabia: Are you kidding? We’re the original guests who can’t take a hint!

    The above would be very suggestive if it weren’t for the fact that, as Shem points out, the numbers are small to begin with.

  17. Remember that the supposed danger of appeasement is not just that it invites further attacks but that it encourages your adversary to make further demands. So, anyone have a report of Islamonazicismists or the even more dreaded Emm Ess Emm (TM 2004 Justin Slotman) rushing to demand new concessions from the pusillanimous Zapatero regime? Like, “Restore Andalusia to the Caliphate Tuesday or we’ll whup your ass again” talk?

  18. Jim H

    So far a making more demands, give it time. If the islamic population of spain grows to the proportions it has in places like france and the netherlands, expect to see similar demands for sharia like enclaves.

    Since many in islam are still angry, after a thousand years, over europe actually fighting back, with the crusades against invasion and enslavement, I think we can not expect islam to work within western digital-speed timeframes. The demands will come, I suspect. But at the time they want.

  19. Yglesis as usual forgets logic and clear thought. First, what exactly is his point? Does he really believe that if the US pulled out of Iraq, that Al Quada would stop targeting it? If that is the case, what is his evidence beyond the fact that a small European country hasn’t had its citizens murdered in the last three years? Second, where has Al Quada ever said that it was going to stop targeting Spain and does Yglesis really believe that if Al Quada had the ability and opportunity to pull off another major bombing in Spain, they wouldn’t do it out of respect for Spain’s pulling out of Iraq? I don’t see any evidence of that and it seems like a pretty rediculous assumption to make.

    Ultimately, Al Quada is going to hit anywhere and everywhere they can. The fact that they got kicked out of Afghanistan and have had to engage thousands of otherwise useful rank and file jhiadists fighting the U.S. military in Iraq, probably has something to do with the few numbers of attacks anywhere. They still managed to hit, London, and Amman since Madrid. Further, the lack of attacks in Spain is more due to luck and good work by the various intelligence agencies than anything else. In the end, Spain is in just as much or little danger of a terrorist attack whether or not it is in Iraq.

    The question I have for Yglasis is what if the rest of the world followed his advice and Austrailia had pulled out of Iraq after Bali and the UK had done the same after London and Jordan stopped cooperating with the U.S. in stopping terrorism after Aman? Wouldn’t Al Quada look like the winning team at that point? Certainly, wouldn’t that make bombing and killing civilians a pretty profitable political enterprise?

  20. One other thing. You could have written this very same article a few months after Muinich. Had London decended into facist rule after making peace with Hitler? Were Jews being rounded up and sent to death camps in Paris and Warsaw in the summer of 1939? Of course not. I guess the fundemental fallicy of the article is that it assumes that if the worst case scenerio does not arise from each act of appeasement, that there are no consequences to appeasement, as if acts of appeasement do not build upon one another to produce a horrible result in the long term if not the short term.

  21. “But to run away after someone attacks you, and give in to demands of appeasement is a mistake.”

    This would make total sense if it bore any resemblance to reality.

    Here goes…the promise to pull all Spanish troops out of Iraq immediately was one of the basic pillars of the PSOE party of Zapatero. That’s right, they actually promised to do this all along, months before the attacks m’kay?

    So what we have here, as I said the first time, is a squeaky clean election in which a candidate was elected based on a promise to withdraw all troops. Said candidate then immediately acted on said promise. It passes the smell test. It sure doesn’t smell like freedom fries or white phosphate.

    The real turning point came when a bumbling sitting president, Aznar, made the fatal mistake of blaming another group for the March 11 attack. Sound familiar? Claro?

    Fancy that…a sitting president gets turned out of office for lying about who is to blame for an attack. The Spanish voters actually punishes this guy! Que Chereve! I’d take that chain of events over the one that gave us Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo (there’s your Spanish colonial connection! Aren’t you proud!), wiretaps, torture memos, and the, Civil War that dare not speak its name.

    If it gives you a chubbo to chant appeasement until you are red in the face, go right ahead. Just don;t alet anyone else see you while you do it…it’s embarrassing.

  22. “So far a making more demands, give it time. If the islamic population of spain grows to the proportions it has in places like france and the netherlands, expect to see similar demands for sharia like enclaves.”

    Once again Tom, don’t let reality intrude upon your little John Wayne movie.

    For your information, the muslim population in Spain is already huge. In fact, it’s impossible to count because muslims spent some 500+ years sewing their collective seed in Spain.

    There are cells all over Spain. Both before and after the March 11 attack, the Spanish did a commendable job of breaking up these cells. Did one slip through the cracks? Damn straight. Will another slip through the cracks and blow up some more shit? It seems pretty likely. All the more reason to deploy one’s security forces where they’ll do the most good.

    But no, no one will ever attack the U.S. again ’cause we removed a secular leader from power in a neutralized middle-eastern country and paved the way for Sharia law there. No, no more attacks ’cause, well, you know how scared of death Jihadists are.

  23. tomWright,

    Had the people who attacked Spain been the same as those the Spaniards are fighting in Iraq, you’re argument would have merit. But Spain was not attacked by Iraqi insurgents. It was attacked by an Al Qaeda cell.

    Pulling Spanish troops from Iraq and increasing antiterror activities, as Spain did in the aftermath of the attack, is not running away from the people who attacked them. It is running towards the people who attacked them.

  24. iraq = war on terror is a common misdirection we’re seeing here.

    sans evidence.

    maybe ‘cept for the bible thumping chimp-in-chief’s say so…

  25. Budgie:

    “Here goes…the promise to pull all Spanish troops out of Iraq immediately was one of the basic pillars of the PSOE party of Zapatero. That’s right, they actually promised to do this all along, months before the attacks m’kay?”

    But the vote DO IT occurred after the bombing. That makes it LOOK like the vote was t appease the bombers.

    “So what we have here, as I said the first time, is a squeaky clean election in which a candidate was elected based on a promise to withdraw all troops. Said candidate then immediately acted on said promise. It passes the smell test. It sure doesn’t smell like freedom fries or white phosphate.”

    No such thing as a squeky clean election anywhere, but beside that, as above, the VOTE occured after the bomb. That makes the vote look like a cave-in.

    “The real turning point came when a bumbling sitting president, Aznar, made the fatal mistake of blaming another group for the March 11 attack. Sound familiar? Claro?”

    Did I NOT say above that Aznar lied?

    “If it gives you a chubbo to chant appeasement until you are red in the face, go right ahead. Just don;t alet anyone else see you while you do it…it’s embarrassing. ”

    Embarrassing for YOU maybe,,,oh, wait, NOW we know why you call your self ‘budgie’. How cute.

    /I love the smell of ad-hominims in the morning. It smells like, uh, something….

  26. joe,
    “Had the people who attacked Spain been the same as those the Spaniards are fighting in Iraq, you’re argument would have merit. But Spain was not attacked by Iraqi insurgents. It was attacked by an Al Qaeda cell.”

    But one of the reasons al Q is attacking is because of non-muslim troops in muslim countires, which includes the Iraq situation.

    “Pulling Spanish troops from Iraq and increasing antiterror activities, as Spain did in the aftermath of the attack, is not running away from the people who attacked them. It is running towards the people who attacked them.”

    OK, I’ll give you the second part of that. But the pulling of troops out in response to the bombing still looks like appeasement, and is, IMO.

  27. Let’s ask ETA if the Spanish government is soft on terror.

  28. I’d laugh if there was a terrorist attack in Spain tomorrow, or the next day. Well, maybe not laugh, but it would be kinda funny.

    budgle makes some good points, but what about this? The U.S. was hit by a terrorist attack before it was in Iraq. Where was the so-called provocation? Yes, bin Laden was upset that American troops were stationed in Saudia Arabia to keep a close eye on Saddam next door. Flying planes into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagaon and the Capital Building is a slight overreaction, no? Imagine that Congress had been wiped out … no doubt we would have bombed and invaded our Muslim allies too, just to cover all the bases.

    After 9-11, Bush did appease bin Laden and removed the troops from Saudia Arabia … he just moved them next door to Iraq and to Afghanistan.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite recent Onion healines: “Bush Announces Iraq Exit Strategy, ‘We’ll Go Through Iran'”.

  29. ToMwRiGht,

    YOU’rE rIGHT! EveN thE ELECTIOn ItselF waS ParT OF AN APpEASement SCHEMe!! IT Had’NT BeEn PLaNnEd OR ANYTHinG! They carried out the election just to demonstrate to the world that they are appeasers. Sorry, I made the mistake of describing the events as they actually happened. Somehow, intuitively, you seem to know the craven soul of the Spaniard better than I. I know when I have been defeated. Good day.

  30. “I’d laugh if there was a terrorist attack in Spain tomorrow, or the next day. Well, maybe not laugh, but it would be kinda funny.”

    I can’t hardly keep still from the laughter right now just typing this. Oh it’s too much! Blood and charred flesh on the Spanish streets! The blood of key allies in the war on terror no less! Oh man…this is hilarious!
    What a laugh riot you are Peter K.

  31. tomWright,

    Even you admit, in you’re 3:37 post, that Spain did not “pull the troops out in response to the bombing.” You wrote, “But the vote DO IT occurred after the bombing. That makes it LOOK like the vote was t appease the bombers.”

    But then you back to claiming that it WAS in response to the bombing. That’s either sloppy or dishonest.

    Please, save the degree of respect I have for your honesty, and restate your respectable argument that you accept that Spain did not change its policy in response to the attacks, and that you are making a point about appearances.

  32. ah, the bravery of the anonymous.

    budgie, you are a troll and a coward.

    ’nuff said.

  33. Islamonazicismists

    Please don’t use this term, even with tongue in cheek. It’ll only encourage more and worse terms. Kinda like how we now have to deal with Chimpy al-Bushitlerburton, even though no opponent of the President has ever used the term seriously.

  34. Don’t take it so hard Tom. I just had to get back to work. You seem to be floundering now, what with the CAPITAL letters and all. Wipe the drool from your keyboard and go find a binkie. I’m out.

  35. Wheeee! A link! Thanks, Jim!

  36. Yes, the Spaniards stunk at running colonies. They failed abismally at exterminating the natives, shutting the survivor into zoos.

    You can see how much they failed, when you compare the numbers of people of native descent in South America and the ones in North America

  37. “Other American allies, most notably John Howard in Australia, Tony Blair in Great Britain, and Junichiro Koizumi in Japan, might eventually meet the same end.”

    Reason claims this as a good prediction?

  38. Joe, in that post I was reposnding to troll.

    But to be clear, and in one place, here is what I think, until I see something to change my mind anyway. If I did not have it all down here, this is a comments section, not a main article:

    The pre-election party in power was pro-troops-in-iraq.
    The opposition party was anti-troops-in-iraq

    it was a close election.

    If the pro party had won, troops would have stayed, bomb or no.

    If the anti party had won, the troops would have been out, bomb or no.

    The bomb started to swing the election towards the anti party, the lies of Aznar did them in. Though I question whether it started as lies or was prejudicial and wishful thinking that got out of hand.

    This makes it look like appeasment, since the bomb was the impetus for the swing in the electorate.

    It is my opinion that the anti party’s position was not just posturing for the election, but was due to actual fear of a terror attack, and was a move for appeasment to head off an attack.

    So the electorate voted not just in anger over aznar, but directly to appease the terrorists and say “don’t hurt us anymore”. To do this they voted for a party whose position was appeasement.

    Anyone from spain or that was in spain following the election can offer evidence to the contrary, but that is how I read it.

  39. “What a laugh riot you are Peter K.”

    Remember, if we can’t laugh, that means the terrorists have won!

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