Spanish Withdrawal

In a previous post I suggested that the Madrid bombing and Socialist victory in the immediately following election was a victory for Al Qaeda because it allows them to plausibly claim to have enough power to change the outcome of Western elections. (Notice how the ‘plausibly claim’ lets us avoid getting into the hair-splitting and possibly impossible task of proving or disproving that claim). At the time Zapatero announced that he would order the withdrawal of Spanish troops in June unless a UN force took over.

I suggested that given that stance, Al-Qaeda was able to claim that it strongly (and from their point of view, positively) changed a Western country's foreign policy. At the time many readers suggested that this wouldn't be appeasement if Spain took strong steps elsewhere.

Which brings us to the present . Zapatero is now withdrawing the 1,400 troops immediately. He is no longer willing to wait for the UN. I suspect he isn't willing to wait, because the US is dealing with the UN and he needs to get the troops out before there is any chance of a UN resolution which might have fulfilled his stated position of leaving the troops in under UN auspices. His willingness to continue the war against even Al-Qaeda seems suspect despite his willingness to double the number of troops in Afghanistan. This is because it sounds impressive until you realize that Spain has 125 troops in Afghanistan now. Doubling to 250 is pathetic. That certainly doesn't signal to Al Qaeda that Spain is still serious about the war on terrorism. In fact it seems to do quite the opposite. And I note--again--that Afghanistan is supposedly the case where all of Europe agrees that the battle ought to be joined.

I also note that Bin Laden or whoever is impersonating his voice has offered the nations of Europe a truce if they withdraw from the Middle East. The window of opportunity for the truce was put at three months.

So, in short, the Spanish actions are much more plausibly appeasement than they were even when the Socialist Party originally made announcements when they won. Al Qaeda has more evidence for those in the Middle East who might be on the fence that the West has a glass jaw--just kill a bunch of civilians and the Muslim victory is at hand.

Posted by Sebastian Holsclaw at April 29, 2004 2:59 AM