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.