Once again proof has been offered that the world is in trying times, last weeks horrific attacks in Spain have rocked the globe. Exactly 911 days after September 11th Islamic terrorists attacked an ally of America and its War on Terror. Two hundred people died when extremists bombed several trains in the hopes of striking fear into the hearts of the Spanish people for siding with America. What is truly scary is that it worked.
Despite widespread opposition among the Spanish people the outgoing conservative President of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, sent over a thousand Spanish troops to Iraq to assist the United States in its occupation of the newly liberated nation. He was a strong supporter of the anti-terror policies of the Bush administration. Unfortunately Aznar paid for his assistance with the blood of the Spanish people when alleged Al-Queda terrorists attacked last week, just in time for the national elections.
Now if you are Al-Queda and you cannot intimidate the will of the United States of America, no matter how hard you try, what do you do? Since the Iraq War began America has suddenly found itself isolated by the international community, attacked at the United Nations, and snubbed by most of her European Allies. Diplomatically America is on shaky grounds with many of her oldest allies. Al-Queda must know that if it cannot attack America directly, or scare her off, then the next best thing is to further cut off the lone superpower from the rest of the world. Spain, perhaps America's shakiest allies as the current US foreign policy has been rejected by the Spanish population, became an easy target. By planting bombs in time for the up coming national election Al-Queda managed to derail the center-right party that supported America.
To put it frankly the people of Spain played right into Al-Queda's hands. After being attacked by terrorists rather then striking back at the forces of evil (And I use the term evil because there is no other way to describe people willing to plant bombs on vehicles of mass transportation) they caved in. The Spanish have elected a socialist to replace their outgoing conservative president. In turn he has pledged to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq and renounced Spain's support of the Iraq war. When you think about it, this must be exactly what Al-Queda wanted to happen. They have turned an American ally against America and they have struck a powerful blow to the Bush Administration. What is sad is that the Spanish people fell for the rouse.
The actions of the Spanish government will not bring peace. Perhaps Spain will be untouched by the forces of terrorism for some time following this. We can only hope Spain will be spared any more terrorist attacks as devastating as the one suffered on March 11, 2004. What will happen is more of the same in Europe. Expect to see terrorist strikes in England, Poland, the Netherlands and Denmark, especially when election time comes around. Even America may face its first round of terrorist strikes this fall, just before the Presidential Election of 2004. Appeasing terrorists has never worked, it only encourages them, and Spain has effectively encouraged them by showing Al-Queda that a carefully planned attack before an election can scare off an entire country.
America, and President Bush, must change its foreign policy to face this new sort of attack. But not in the way that the French and now Spanish think we should. Rather than hand Iraq over to the UN and pull out, America must now strengthen her ties with her allies. It needs to be known that appeasing a terrorist is not an acceptable course of action for any nation. Only by fighting fire with fire can we hope to stop these attacks. President Bush must convince the world that no matter what the short term cost, the war on terrorism is the war we need to fight, just as sixty years ago it was the second world war that needed to be fought. This is the good fight if there ever was one.
The world will now see what would have happened if America had responded to September 11th by withdrawing soldiers from Saudi Arabia and renouncing its allied status with Israel. March 11th will be the first in a wave of attacks that will rock Europe in the coming months. It might not be Spain next time, and it probably won't be Germany or France, but countries friendly to the United States will suffer casualties in the coming days. The only thing the free people of Europe can do is stand strong in the face of terror and fight back. Hopefully the March 11th attacks will only serve as a warning not to appease terrorists and never to back down in the face of terrorism.