Mixed Reaciton to Socialist Victory in Spain
I have a mixed reaction to the Socialist victory in Spain, which is widely viewed (and accurately so) as a response to the terrible train bombing at Madrid. I applaud the new leader's resolve to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by the end of June unless the United Nations assumes control of military operations there. In this, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is not only expressing the wishes of the vast majority of Spaniards, he is also removing Spain from al-Qaida's target list. This has implications for other nations -- such as Italy, Britain and Australia -- where leaders have committed troops to Iraq despite public opinion, a move that is likely to backlash against them in upcoming elections. Interestingly, commentators almost unanimously predicted that a 9/11-style terrorist attack on European soil would cause a surge of conservativism, as it did in the States. That is, they expected Europeans to call for blood and rise up in support of the War on Terrorism, including the occupation of Iraq. The opposite happened. I think commentators underestimated (and still do underestimate) the depth of international resentment at the arrogant and unilateral manner in which the United States is redefining the world. Given that Spain has only 1,300 troops in Iraq, the withdrawal makes little difference in the strength of operations but it is a tremendous symbolic and diplomatic slap in the face for the Bush Administration. I note that there is a glut of silence from that direction on the Spanish"upset."
That's the source of my positive response. The negative one? Spain is another indication that Europe is shifting toward a pro-socialist, anti-US consensus. Even though I am anti-Bush, I am not anti-American and I cannot applaud the polarization that is occurring between the US and the rest of the world. The US has self-created a new Cold War of us-against-everyone, and the attitude is spilling over from the war to the economy. For example, the hue and cry against outsourcing jobs. If the world responds in kind, then we are headed toward borders that are fortresses and barriers to both freedom and prosperity. My main hope for this not happening resides with individuals acting privately...for example, with the Internet, which respects no boundary. Thank God for technology and the power it gives to the individual.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
Max Schwing - 3/18/2004
First of all, I think it is not a left-shift inside of Europe, since Germany will soon fall to the hands of the right-winged christian Democrats, whoes current Chancelor-candidate, Mrs. Angela Merkel, is viewed as the next Thatcher.
Since I live in Germany and thereby are directly affected by this change, I hope this prophecy will come true.
Also, my condolences to you in Spain.
I don't believe that an attack on German soil would provoke a turn to the SPD (socialist party of Germany), but rather agitate the results towards the CDU. In fact, I believe that it would support the opposion in almost any country, rather than the socialists.
Also, I don't applaud on the removing of Spanish Troops, since this shows the short-sightedness of Europe policy. Once a country went into a war, it has the responsibility to live and deal with the consquences. I fear that Spain had just violated this rule. On the other hand, this move was the will of the people who demonstrated against a war that wasn't their war.
Again, the Spanish government did what El-Kaida wanted them to do. So, is this good or not?
Now, a comment to the comment by Venlet:
You are looking through the glasses of the United States of America. We in Europe believe the United Nations to be a place to discuss ideas before acting. It is, from our perspective of war-filled history, the only way to perserve freedom and peace. Since the United States of America have never been attacked on their own continent before the 9/11 events, it cannot fully understand our stand there. The United Nations might be anit-US-consensus but not pro-socialist.
If it had been that way, it would never have granted or sanctioned the attack on Afghanistan.
John E Venlet - 3/16/2004
Wendy, I can appreciate the first part of this portion from your post,
"I applaud the new leader's resolve to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by the end of June..."
but I have a difficult time understanding how you applaud with the following as the caveat to Zapatero's resolve,
"...unless the United Nations assumes control of military operations there."
The UN is nothing more than a ...pro-socialist, anti-US consensus..." machine.