Point/Counterpoint

War Liberal: The Consequences of this past week in Spain

Alex, of course, is free to write whatever he wants. (Well, almost anything — nothing that’s going to get me sued or shut down by the DHS.) But I strongly disagree with his take (also the popular rightist take, in the blogosphere and without) on the Spanish election. Perhaps this is the result that al-Qaeda desired. However, it would not have happened except for the Aznar government’s inept handling of the post 3-11 situation.

Why did the Socialists win? I don’t think it was because of the Iraq war, or because of the Madrid bombing itself. The vote went the way it did, from everything I can tell, because Aznar tried to spin the bombing as coming from ETA, and lost the remaining trust of the electorate when further details surfaced. If he’d handled things better, he probably could have survived the vote.

Moreover, I reject the proposal that Western democratic elections should be held hostage to appearances and that we have to elect the most right-wing reactionaries we can find or the terrorists win. Citizens in a democracy have the right to vote for whomever they want; if they want Socialists, fine. The Socialists are a mainstream party in Spain, as they are throughout Western Europe. Germany is Socialist, and Tony Blair’s Labour Party theoretically is as well though he governs as a Clinton-style centrist. This isn’t like electing Dennis Kucinich; it’s like electing a mainstream Democrat (though the Democrats are further to the right on most matters than even British Labour — or for that matter the French Gaullists.)

Finally, Alex makes the same mistake many others have made in claiming that this is a rebuke to the prosecution of the War on Terror. It is not. If it’s a rebuke to any war — and I disagree, as stated above — it’s a rebuke to the singular Iraqi war, which had only the most tangential links to terrorism. I say this as a (reluctant) supporter of the Iraq War — though one who never imagined Bush would screw up the politics of it like he has. The Socialists have already said that they won’t withdraw from Afghanistan, which is in keeping with the broad support for taking down al-Qaeda.

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3 responses to “Point/Counterpoint

  1. Agreed, Mac, I posted on my own blog about this too.

    What’s up with this “oh no, now the terrorists will try to affect other elections” line of argument? Right-wing hawk types are constantly reminding everyone–and they’re absolutely correct on this–that we’re dealing with monstrous terrorists who can, and want to, strike at us anywhere, anytime, anyplace. So what “encouragement” are they going to take from this election? “Wow, all those bombs we set off were effective, let’s try it again somewhere else!” Uh, guys, they’re already trying to kill us, as you yourselves keep saying (again, correctly).

  2. Mac,

    I’m glad to see some sensible response to the Spanish election. Many blogs I read of people who I normally think of as fairly reasonable people were full of cries of anguish. Now, maybe al Qaeda was hoping to change the election, but I agree that most likely the ruling party would have survived if they didn’t immediately try to blame ETA when there was no evidence of it. But if I were a Spanish citizen I would be offended by the idea that I must vote into office the more conservative party because otherwise is giving in to al Qaeda. Also, I have no problem with Spain withdrawing from Iraq. While I don’t agree with Kucinich that we should “immediately” withdraw our troops, I agree that as soon as we can do so without leaving chaos behind, we should. Finally, as long as Spain is with us still in Afghanistan, then they are with us on the war against al Qaeda.

  3. Agree from Spain, I did not change my vote after 11-M.

    As you well point out, the reason for the result of the election, was the handling of post 11-M. They were blaming ETA, while evidences that Al Qaeda was responsible where surfacing from Spanish and international press. Everybody felt our government was lying and using the 200 death, for his own purpose…

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