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March 18, 2004 by AK

This time (again), the terrorists were outsiders

There has been no shortage of invective against the Spaniards who supposedly ‘cowered to terrorism’. Well, it looks like the terrible blasts in Madrid did somehow influence the following election, which is certainly deplorable. But — since there are two big issues involved, I–q and t—-m, let’s start by separating the flies from the meat: Iraq’s Iraq, and terrorism’s terrorism. I won’t go so far as to say the twain have never met, or never shall meet, but so far the world has not seen convincing proof of Iraq being a sponsor of terrorism. The alleged link, therefore, remains tenuous. One might suspect that terrorists have found it easier to recruit fresh bomb flesh after the Iraq war started, but it’s a side effect. The invasion did achieve one good thing, Saddam’s removal, but those (predictable) side effects seem to be getting out of hand.

Most Spaniards have opposed the deployment of their troops in Iraq from the start. No wonder this was a factor in the March 14 election. This part of the story is clear and has nothing to do with terrorism. Then there were Aznar’s calls to newspapers: don’t say it wasn’t ETA. Quite a familiar situation, I must say, but not one a politically mature nation would tolerate. Socialists did well in opinion polls before the explosions, but they were popular with the kind of crowd that’s too undisciplined to be counted on — the young, first of all. Awakened by the bombs, even they hurried to the polling stations.

The war on terrorism… Spain has been fighting a war against ETA for thirty years, so it’s no stranger to the war on the big T. It probably knows better how to fight it that its overseas critics. It wasn’t an abstract entity that planted the 3/11 bombs; it was humans, most likely of a common religious and ethnic background. For all I know, they were not native Iberians. Why not take a better look at those who are coming into the country or staying illegally? The immediate answer to exogeneously generated terrorism is simple — if politically incorrect: control immigration! We’ll see if Spain can manage that.


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