Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Madrid bombings « Previous | |Next »
March 20, 2004

Steve Bell

The Spanish people have just elected a left-of-centre party to power. The Spanish elections were a victory for Spanish democracy not a “resounding victory” for al-Qaida.

It was not an act of surrender, dishonour and shame as the war party maintains. A large majority of the Spanish people (around 90%) had always opposed the conservative Anzar Government's participation in the war in Iraq. The election was a triumph of democracy, a revulsion against the political manipulation of terror by the Anzar government.

The Spanish people have every right to bring their troops home from Iraq. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the new Socialist prime minister, said they saw this to be a war that was based on deception and lies.

Will the fallout from this democratic decision result in a more independent, collective European position in opposition to a hegemonic US?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:39 PM | | Comments (10)


Gary, Spanish voters are, indeed, entitled to elect a government that will bring that nation's troops home from Iraq. Democracy is not a guarantee against the adoption of stupid, shortsighted decisions.

But, if Zapatero, or those who voted for him, think that such a policy will confer upon Spain any long-term immunity to Islamist violence, then they are woefully delusional.

Moreover, his accusation that Bush and Blair lied is invidious, incendiary and just plain wrong. I guess ol' Zapa didn't hear about the Hutton Inquiry that exculpated Blair while inculpating the Beeb.

As much as it sticks in your craw, Gary, the fact of the matter is that we are engaged in a conflict of civilizations. Or, more specifically, we are engaged in a conflict over Muslim civilization, and we all have a vested interest in ensuring that the waxing tide of Islamic radicalism is beaten back in favour of those beleagured voices of Arab moderation that have yet to gain any real traction in the Middle East.

Back to the Spaniards, two Churchillian quotations come to mind.

1) "An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile in the hope of being eaten last."

I know that Gary tends to poo poo the employment of the term "appeasement" in any contemporary context. But it seems to me that this is precisely what Zapatero is attempting to accomplish with his ill-advised Euro-leftie anti-Americanism.

The war in Iraq was not "based on deception and lies," it was predicated on a valid perception of the long-term threat posed by Ba'athist Iraq, as well as by innacurate intelligence assessments in re Saddam's WMD capabilities. But, while it is convenient for the Left to hold governments and intell agencies to task for their innacuracies, no one on the Left is saying mea culpa over their own hyperbole. Don't you remember those grossly inflated prognostications of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian dead and millions of refugees?

Moreover, even Lefty cult hero Andrew Wilkie believed that Saddam had WMD stocks ready to go. Wilkie's predictions that Saddam would use them to kill untold thousands formed a major pillar of his opposition to the war. So when are you going to take Wilkie to task for his inaccuracies, Gary?

The second Churhillism that is perfectly apposite to Zapatero's ignominious volte face also comes from the Munich era:

2) "We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame. My feeling is that we shall choose shame and then have war thrown in a little later on even more adverse terms than at present."

I will conclude with a quotation from another of my intellectual heroes:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself"

-John Stuart Mill

Maybe the Spanish people do not accept the neocon line that "we are engaged in a war of civilizations".

Well, Gary, obviously not. One wonders how many Islamic terrorist outrages it will take until they, and you, begin to accept reality, unpalatable though it may be.

Turkey didn't allow US troops to use its territory in the war against Iraq. Yet, Turkish neutrality failed to purchase any meaningful immunity from the Islamists. While their targets were the Jews (two synagogues) and the Brit consulate, the majority of casualties came from the ranks of innocent Turkish passersby.

And, the same held true of Tunisia, where an car bomb attack against a historic synagogue (the Jews again) killed a couple score innocents.

Are you really naive enough to believe that Germany is not on the Al Qaeda target list because Schroeder opposed the war?

Maybe the Spanish people distinquish between the war on Iraq and the war on terrorism.
For them it is not one and the same.

'As much as it sticks in your craw, Gary, the fact of the matter is that we are engaged in a conflict of civilizations'

Another borderline racist, a sort of Claytons racist if you like. One civilisation good; the other one bad. Either/or, with us or agin us. Stupid, narrow binary thinking.

If you're so proud of your opinions, why don't you tell us who you are?

'Moreover, his accusation that Bush and Blair lied is invidious, incendiary and just plain wrong. I guess ol' Zapa didn't hear about the Hutton Inquiry that exculpated Blair while inculpating the Beeb'

Are you on Howard's staff or something? You have an extraordinary tin ear for truths not officially approved.

'I know that Gary tends to poo poo the employment of the term "appeasement" in any contemporary context.'

I don't and have used it several times in the last few days to describe people who have never seen a Bush admin lie they didn't swallow whole. Today's real appeasers are the lowly footsoldiers like you, who wouldn't dream of bringing their laser-like powers of analysis to bear on anything Bush (and his satraps the world over) say or do.

Moreover, his accusation that Bush and Blair lied is invidious, incendiary and just plain wrong. I guess ol' Zapa didn't hear about the Hutton Inquiry that exculpated Blair while inculpating the Beeb.

This is one of the more facile comments I have read today. So now, we are supposed to believe that the Hutton Inquiry is to be the final arbiter on whether or not the truth was told about WMD by the Coalition. Strange when it was not even remotely asked to consider such a question.

As for the clash of civilisations furphy - we have most of the world against a few terrorists, altho admittedly they may be growing in number by the day due to COW actions and misdirected campaigns.

To represent a civilisation by the actions of a tiny minority of terrorists is a sign of a mind only too willing to believe that a clash is inevitable. This type of thinking is the very thinking that must be combatted if we are ever to ameliorate the situation.

Open Letter to al-Qaeda from America

Dear Enemy:

We saw what you did in Madrid. That was very uncool. So we can deduce that not only do you hate us, you hate anyone who associates with us or befriends us.

So, a bunch of rail commuters are shredded to pieces and have their guts ripped out by your bombs, and now we are supposed to do what? What is the aim of your terrorism? Do you wish to talk to us about Israel or do you want our infidel influence out of the countries you represent? Or do you simply want us to all die and go to hell?

I am going to assume that you want to talk and make things right. I am going to assume that you want peace in Palestine and the freedom to govern your countries by Islamic rule without our meddling. I don’t really think you like to see compound fractures, open wounds and screaming children missing limbs. I think you want us to hear what you’re saying.

I have some advice for you, guys: You need to stop killing us if you expect us to listen to you. It’s not what you’re saying; it’s how you’re saying it.

When we see flames and charred remains and hear the cries of widows and orphans on our TVs, we get really mad, just like you do when you see the same among your people. We want revenge. We will hunt you down, our President said. He wants you to “bring it on.” That’s the way we are. We were all raised on cowboy and space warrior movies where good always triumphed over evil. Or we were raised on the Bible that says the same. And of course, we think we are the good guys because we don’t do the things you do when it comes to fighting. We try to avoid killing your women and children when we go to war. We try to hit strategic targets like ministries of information or weapons facilities. We take great pains to play fair. What sort of outrage would it provoke if we deliberately went after a commuter train in Baghdad?

You guys have some serious balls. We, unlike you, are not willing to just kill ourselves in pursuit of what we can’t convince you of. You, on the other hand, will kill everyone to prove your point.

We can’t hear you above the wail of the mourning. This strategy of yours is not working.

I think you need to take a page from some of our screenplays and comic books. The good villains, the ones we love to hate, are the ones who do diabolical things without injuring anyone. They make the masses of Gotham City gasp in collective horror when they do things that insult them. They kidnap great treasures of art or they deface national monuments until their ransom demands are met. The good villains publicly humiliate national leaders or city mayors and make them do funny things that injure only their pride.

How cool would it be if you guys just went up to Mount Rushmore late one night and chiseled off Abe Lincoln’s beard? Would that not be the ultimate insult to a cherished leader who had a strong religious bent? The shaving of the beard! Imagine the shame, the humiliation and the resultant talk about it! What glorious chaos you will have caused!

Here’s a good one. You know how we are all obsessed with the size and firmness of our manhood, right? (Surely you’ve been getting those emails too and have seen the commercials boasting that you can maintain 12-hour wood.) So how about if late one night you guys paint the Washington Monument to look just like a penis, exposing it for the Egyptian phallic symbol it really is? Wouldn’t that be an attention–getter? I suppose if you REALLY wanted to make us gasp, you could make it uncircumcised.

How will you get past the Capitol Police? Simple. You knock them out with some harmless gas that leaves only a headache upon awakening, just like in the comic books.

You could take all the credit you want and people would be dying to hear what you have to say. You’d be sought after by political pundits and columnists and late-night talk shows. You’d be like celebrities. You’d be the villains we love to hate and can’t wait to see what they do next. Your views would have a forum and perhaps your demands might be heard.

How about this one? What if…what if you took over a TV station and started broadcasting your views and demands, just like we take out your broadcast outlets when we want to “soften” your populations? Of course you will have to get past employees and people who already operate these stations. How about, if just like on TV and in the movies, you simply tie them up and leave them in a room while you give your speeches. Then you escape in a helicopter, your day’s work done, and live to yell at us another day. You didn’t kill anyone, you didn’t die and you got another headline.

You call yourselves holy warriors. We aren’t buying that crap. Our holiness doesn’t involve the sorts of things that yours does. We aren’t required to martyr ourselves in pursuit of God’s approval or a better place in heaven. In fact, when people like you come after us, we are all the more convinced that you are playing for the wrong team. Why do you think our President calls you and your supporters the “Axis of Evil?” Is that not straight from a comic book?

So help us to understand you a little better and help us to see what the hell it is you want from us. Be more like our comic book villains and the guys we love to hate. Bits of flesh and puddles of blood on a bus or a train or in a crowded restaurant are not the things we need to motivate us to capitulate to anything you might be suggesting.

We know you to be very intelligent, resourceful, patient and cunning people. So are our favorite villains. The Joker plans for weeks and months before he pulls a public stunt that humiliates the Mayor and Batman. Lex Luther never goes away. He’s always there at Superman’s side, gumming up the gears and making demands. He lives another day. He didn’t waste a bunch of women and children. Can you imagine what Superman would do to him if he did? He would wipe the streets with his bloody carcass and the citizens would cheer.

Hate breeds hate, guys. You smack us and we’re going to smack you harder.

You’re dealing with America. Think of what works here. Humor. Entertainment. We have an entire sub-pop-culture being built on humiliation. “American Idol,” “Survivor,” “Fear Factor,” “The Apprentice.” We like to see people with egg on their faces. Humiliation breeds publicity in this country. You start pulling off some big stunts like the shaved Abe Lincoln gag or the Washington Monument on Viagra trick and we just might like to hear what else you’re talking about. A state for Palestine? Hey, that might be doable, guys. Fighter jets off of Saudi soil? Let’s talk. Let’s negotiate. What do we get in return? Do you promise to return the monument to its original condition and will you agree to repair Abe’s beard?

It’s not what you’re saying, dear enemy. It’s how you’re saying it. You need a new plan.

In the meantime, as long as we see bloody streets and wrecked planes and trains, we’re going to respond the only way we know how; like men of honor and knights of the sky. Like cowboys and space warriors.

It's nonsense to suggest people who are opposed to the vile rubbish from the Hilalis and his comical ali Keysar Trad, the Mahatirs and Bashirs are somehow racist. These people are Egyptian, Malaysian and Indonesian. These people are fundamentally religist and opposition to their bile is simply on that basis.

Wbb says we shouldn't talk about a clash of civilisations because of a nutty few. The problem with that, is that there are an awful lot of cheer squads about that give these nutters increasing legitimacy. Of course there are a lot of Muslim people opposed to their views, but there are a growing number that aren't. We all know what the nutters want and what they're trying to do, but Dave is right that we switch off and harden our views as the body count grows. What's the palatable alternative?

Personally, I am beginning to believe the clash of civilisations is now inevitable. I can't see loopy(cf moderate) Islam changing without it. It's weird to think we're living in a repeat of the 1930s, but the Yassin killing and Arab vitriolic response, on top of Madrid, etc, are leading me to the conclusion the die is cast. Be clear, Sharia Islam and modernity cannot coexist in an internet world anymore than Nazism could coexist peacefully with democracy. It took 6yrs and half the world to defeat Nazism and it may take that effort to expunge Islamofascism(and I'm afraid this may have to include all Islamic practice) I take some small comfort from the fact that presumably the Germans will be on our side this time, thanks to the foresight of a Mr Marshall. Will the Hindus and Bhuddists be on our side? Who knows, but I'm sure they won't be actively supporting Islam.

The Hindus? You do know about the BJP don't you? Which Buddhists? Are the SLORC included?

Someone forgot to tell the Roma that Nazism was defeated. Those funny walls they've built in Eastern Europe must be for a reality TV show.