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  • Spain should reconsider Iraq support

    Axis of Appeasement
    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Published: March 18, 2004

    The new Spanish government's decision to respond to the attack by Al Qaeda by going ahead with plans to pull its troops from Iraq constitutes the most dangerous moment we've faced since 9/11. It's what happens when the Axis of Evil intersects with the Axis of Appeasement and the Axis of Incompetence.

    Let's start with the Axis of Evil. We are up against a terrible nihilistic enemy. Think about what the Islamist terrorists are doing: they are trying to kill as many people in Iraq and elsewhere as possible so the U.S. fails in Iraq, so Iraq collapses into civil war, so even a glimmer of democracy never takes root in the Arab world and so America is weakened.

    But if they are so bad, why aren't we doing better? It has to do with the pigheadedness of the Bush team and the softheadedness of many allies. Regarding the Bush team, let me say yet again: We do not have enough troops in Iraq, and we never did. From the outset, the Bush Pentagon has treated Iraq as a lab test to prove that it can win a war with a small, mobile high-tech Army. Well, maybe you can defeat Saddam that way, but you can't build a new Iraq — and control its borders to prevent foreign terrorists from coming in — with so few troops, especially when you disband the Iraqi Army on top of it.

    Don't tell me we have enough troops in Iraq when our soldiers are getting picked off daily by roadside bombs, when our aid workers are getting murdered and when Iraqis are getting massacred by suicide missions. Don't tell me we are not fighting this war on the cheap when our diplomats in Baghdad don't have enough armored cars, cellphones, bulletproof vests or escort troops to protect them as they try to travel around the country. We are now paying for the contradiction between Mr. Bush's two great projects: his war on taxes and his war on terrorism.

    Yes, we can still win this, but right now, despite Paul Bremer's heroic success in helping Iraqis forge a progressive interim constitution, we can still lose it. If we do, it will be largely due to the Pentagon's inability to secure Iraq, which has encouraged Iraqis to turn to sectarian militias for security, undermining nation-building and planting the seeds of civil war. Second, it will be because we have so few real allies. As Spain proves, we had a few friendly governments, but most people in Europe and Asia have never been with the Bush team — especially when it continues to insist that we are going to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the war. It's time for the Bush team to admit it was wrong about this and move on.

    Unless President Bush dispenses with his discredited argument for the war — W.M.D. — no one will hear or listen to what I believe was always the only right argument for the war and is now the only rationale left: to depose the genocidal Saddam regime in order to partner with the Iraqi people to build a decent government in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world — because it is the pathologies and humiliations produced by Arab misgovernance that are the root causes of terrorism and Muslim extremism.

    Spain is planning to do something crazy: to try to appease radical evil by pulling Spain's troops out of Iraq — even though those troops are now supporting the first democracy-building project ever in the Arab world.

    I understand that many Spanish voters felt lied to by their rightist government over who was responsible for the Madrid bombings, and therefore voted it out of office. But they should now follow that up by vowing to keep their troops in Iraq — to make clear that in cleaning up their own democracy, they do not want to subvert the Iraqis' attempt to build one of their own. Otherwise, the Spanish vote will not be remembered as an act of cleansing, but of appeasement.

    My dream is that the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Spain announce tomorrow that in response to the Madrid bombing, they are sending a new joint force of 5,000 troops to Iraq for the sole purpose of protecting the U.N.'s return to Baghdad to oversee Iraq's first democratic election.

    The notion that Spain can separate itself from Al Qaeda's onslaught on Western civilization by pulling its troops from Iraq is a fantasy. Bin Laden has said that Spain was once Muslim and he wants it restored that way. As a friend in Cairo e-mailed me, a Spanish pullout from Iraq would only bring to mind Churchill's remark after Chamberlain returned from signing the Munich pact with Hitler: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war."
    Norman Chad, syndicated columnist: “Sports radio, reflecting our sinking culture, spends entire days advising managers and coaches, berating managers and coaches, firing managers and coaches and searching the countryside for better middle relievers. If they just redirected their energy toward, say, crosswalk-signal maintenance, America would be 2 percent more livable.”

    "The best argument against democracy," someone (Churchill?) said, "is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

  • #2
    Amazing. Governments plunge their nations into costly, unnecessary wars, find themselves stuck in bloody occupations, lie their asses off about terrorist attacks, and are surprised when they proceed to lose elections. And when the new government moves to end its country's bloody, unnecessary, utterly pointless involvement in Iraq, they're labeled as appeasers.

    I can't believe stuff like that actually makes it into print.

    Comment


    • #3
      Lost in the attacks on Spain and its appeasement and "sending the wrong message to terrorists" is that the Spanish people exercised their DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO CHANGE GOVERNMENTS -- and for participating in their democracy, they are lambasted.

      If being enmeshed in a war means a populace can't hold its government accountable, then there is no choice, no freedom, and there is no democracy -- traits I thought Americans admired.
      His mind is not for rent, to any god or government.
      Pointless debate is what we do here -- lvr

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by moedrabowsky@Mar 18 2004, 08:51 AM
        Lost in the attacks on Spain and its appeasement and "sending the wrong message to terrorists" is that the Spanish people exercised their DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO CHANGE GOVERNMENTS -- and for participating in their democracy, they are lambasted.

        If being enmeshed in a war means a populace can't hold its government accountable, then there is no choice, no freedom, and there is no democracy -- traits I thought Americans admired.
        I know. I love this "voting for the opposition is letting the terrorists win" bullshit. What arrogance. What utter contempt for democracy.

        Hell, we wouldn't want to let the terrorists win, would we? So let's just cancel the 2004 election and call Bush President-for-Life. Or perhaps King.

        Then again, Al Qaeda did endorse him.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by moedrabowsky@Mar 18 2004, 08:51 AM
          Lost in the attacks on Spain and its appeasement and "sending the wrong message to terrorists" is that the Spanish people exercised their DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO CHANGE GOVERNMENTS -- and for participating in their democracy, they are lambasted.

          If being enmeshed in a war means a populace can't hold its government accountable, then there is no choice, no freedom, and there is no democracy -- traits I thought Americans admired.
          Nobody has criticized the Spanish people for exercising their domacratic rights. You guys seem to want to believe that though.

          The problem is they changed their minds after the terrorist attacks. And while they may have been holding their government responsible, it looks like appeasement and is thus a victory for the terrorists -- which is bad. It encourages more attacks elsewhere.

          I would have had NO problem with the way the vote went if either:

          1) the polls showed the socialist party leading before the attack

          -or-

          2) the attack didn't happen and the vote went the way it did

          They may have the right to change their minds. And maybe the government should have been held accountable. But it IS victory for the terrorists. And I cannot believe you can't understand why that part of it bothers people.
          "Need some wood?" -- George W. Bush, October 8, 2004

          "Historians will judge if this war is just, not your punk ass." -- Dave Glover, December 8, 2004

          Comment


          • #6
            In the long run, it may have been better to defy the terrorists -- even if it meant voting in the incumbent party.

            It sucks, but they could vote out the incumbent party next time -- and show it in the polls in advance.
            "Need some wood?" -- George W. Bush, October 8, 2004

            "Historians will judge if this war is just, not your punk ass." -- Dave Glover, December 8, 2004

            Comment


            • #7
              What utter contempt for democracy.
              Deep down, that's the defining trait of the neocons.

              The problem is they changed their minds after the terrorist attacks.
              Not true. 90% of the Spanish population opposed the war. Democracies tend to favor the incumbent, unless that incumbent's policies have a direct, negative result

              But it IS victory for the terrorists. And I cannot believe you can't understand why that part bothers people.
              Actually, it IS a victory for democracy -- the Spanish people elected a government that will abide its wishes, rather than arrogantly "lead" people where they don't want to go. And I cannot believe you can't understand why that part bothers people.
              His mind is not for rent, to any god or government.
              Pointless debate is what we do here -- lvr

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by phantom@Mar 18 2004, 09:00 AM
                The problem is they changed their minds after the terrorist attacks.
                Hm. I wasn't aware that there was a catch to democracy stating that you're required to vote what the polls show one week before the election. Harry Truman is going to be very unhappy about this.

                Not to mention, as Moe rightfully points out, that the Spanish people didn't change their mind, but have been united in opposition to their government's participation in Bush's war from the start. The terrorist attacks 1) reminded the voters of what they hated most about their government, 2) demonstrated, as the blood flowed in the streets, that the Spanish gov't had failed totally to protect their citizens, and the war had done nothing at all to make Spaniards safer, and 3) provided the Spanish government an opportunity to LIE and attribute the bombings to ETA.

                That, I think, is more than sufficient grounds to lose an election.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You guys are hardly worth talking to sometimes. Are you trying to NOT understand?

                  What utter contempt for democracy.
                  Deep down, that's the defining trait of the neocons.
                  That's assinine. You lose credibility with crap like that.

                  [/QUOTE]
                  The problem is they changed their minds after the terrorist attacks.
                  Not true. 90% of the Spanish population opposed the war. Democracies tend to favor the incumbent, unless that incumbent's policies have a direct, negative result

                  They changed their minds about who they were voting for! -- not about their opposition to the war. Read my comments more carefully. I love how you guys just ignore what people are really saying.
                  But it IS victory for the terrorists. And I cannot believe you can't understand why that part bothers people.
                  Actually, it IS a victory for democracy -- the Spanish people elected a government that will abide its wishes, rather than arrogantly "lead" people where they don't want to go. And I cannot believe you can't understand why that part bothers people.[QUOTE]

                  You continue to miss my point. The point is that the bad probably outweighs the good.
                  "Need some wood?" -- George W. Bush, October 8, 2004

                  "Historians will judge if this war is just, not your punk ass." -- Dave Glover, December 8, 2004

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by phantom@Mar 18 2004, 09:14 AM
                    They changed their minds about who they were voting for!
                    How dare they!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kah2523+Mar 18 2004, 09:14 AM-->
                      QUOTE (kah2523 @ Mar 18 2004, 09:14 AM)

                    • #12
                      Originally posted by kah2523+Mar 18 2004, 09:16 AM-->
                      QUOTE (kah2523 @ Mar 18 2004, 09:16 AM)

                    • #13
                      Here's what I said in another thread about how Kerry should respond when asked about Spain withdrawing:

                      ***
                      What Kerry should say is that while he understands that some Spaniards might not think the war in Iraq was the right thing to do, we must all stand together, see this thing through, and work together on a different approach next time we are confronted with a toothless dictator and that the sooner we get Iraq stabilized, the sooner we can all devote full resources to attack the terrorists where they are hiding. Which wasn't Iraq.
                      **
                      Dude. Can. Fly.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        You continue to miss my point. The point is that the bad probably outweighs the good.
                        With all due respect, that's your opinion, and you have demonstrated nothing that would lead me to change mine.

                        They changed their minds about who they were voting for! -- not about their opposition to the war. Read my comments more carefully. I love how you guys just ignore what people are really saying.
                        To reiterate what kah wrote, I didn't know they were required to vote the way the polls were trending a week before the election.

                        Right now, America should be rallying around Spain and the rest of Europe the same way the world did for us on Sept. 11.

                        But that's not in this administration's DNA -- You're either with Bush, or your with the terrorists.

                        Fuck that.

                        You guys are hardly worth talking to sometimes. Are you trying to NOT understand?
                        Megadittoes.
                        His mind is not for rent, to any god or government.
                        Pointless debate is what we do here -- lvr

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          With all due respect, that's your opinion, and you have demonstrated nothing that would lead me to change mine.
                          It's fine if you don't change your mind, but you continue to say things that indicate you're missing my point.

                          To reiterate what kah wrote, I didn't know they were required to vote the way the polls were trending a week before the election.
                          I never said that, and you know it.

                          Right now, America should be rallying around Spain and the rest of Europe the same way the world did for us on Sept. 11.
                          What would "rallying around" mean in this case?

                          After 9/11, the world became very aware of the serious threat out there. THREE THOUSAND people died. A war in Afganistan ensued. In this case, everyone is already aware, and we are already fighting terror. I'm sure we've offered help to Spain. What exactly do you want the Administration to do?

                          Megadittoes.
                          You'd love to think that I'm a close minded neo-con. You don't know me at all.
                          "Need some wood?" -- George W. Bush, October 8, 2004

                          "Historians will judge if this war is just, not your punk ass." -- Dave Glover, December 8, 2004

                          Comment

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