Sunday, March 14, 2004

Greatest Triumph of Osama Bin Laden?

As I wrote in previous post, under normal circumstances I would have been delighted with the idea of Aznar's government paying for its arrogance and for embroiling the nation into war against the wishes of the people.

Based on all normal political criteria, there is nothing wrong with PP losing elections. Even with Spanish economy and living standard being better than eight years ago, citizens have right to bring new governments. Especially if that government spectacularly failed in what is always supposed to be the primary task of any government – providing security for its citizens.

Under all criteria, the choice of Spanish people is legitimate and it must be respected.

All that doesn't mean this choice is wise. Under these particular circumstances, it represents exactly the worst thing that could have happened not only for Spain, but for Europe and the rest of civilised, democratic world.

It clearly shows that some liberal democracies in today's world lie on much weaker foundations that most people would like to believe.

Nobody in their right mind could deny that the election results weren't affected by Thursday's bombing. Few would argue against that atrocity having important if not decisive effect on the composition of future Spanish parliament. Certain events after the bombing show that the bombing itself, no matter who had carried out, was just part of the plan with the ultimate aim of affecting elections.

It is near certain that, if that aim existed, it is achieved.

It is clear that relatively small groups of dangerous fanatics is able to bring down governments of modern, prosperous and stable liberal democracies. If PSOE, Spanish ruling party-elect, applies policies promised of their election platforms, Spanish troops are going to be pulled out of Iraq and possibly even from Afghanistan, with added pressure for other European governments (including German and Croatian) to do the same.

This also shows that citizens of Europe, when faced with dilemma, would always prefer easy way. In Spanish that less unpleasant alternative was redirecting outrage and anger towards easily punishable government rather than towards dangerous but elusive group of murderous fanatics. The rationale for voting PSOE among Spaniards was idea that Spain has to distance itself from policies of George W. Bush and that this U-turn would somehow bring less risk for Spaniards' security and living standards.

Fact that multitude of usually apathetic young voters came to polls in record numbers indicates that this was the case. Those young people grew up in one of the most prosperous periods of Spanish history and enjoyed good, carefree life undreamed even by their fathers. They aren't going to risk all that by supporting the abstract war they don't understand nor support. Standing up to terrorism is hard way, succumbing to their demands is easy way.

Popularity of "easy way", the same "easy way" that once led to things like Munich Treaty of horrors in my part of the world, show that Osama Bin Laden, if he is directly or indirectly responsible for Madrid, scored a great victory, even greater than 9-11.

In 2001 he showed that USA was vulnerable notion made of mortal men who can bleed like anyone else. In 2004 he showed that once powerful nations can be bent to terrorists' will.


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