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Blow to Bush: An Ally in Spain Is Rejected by Antiwar Voters
NY Times ^ | 3/15/04 | David Sanger

Posted on 03/15/2004 8:22:36 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

The ouster of the center-right party in Spain, only days after a terrorist bombing that may be linked to Al Qaeda, is the first electoral rebuke of one of President Bush's most steadfast allies in the Iraq war.

When France and Germany balked at supporting the war on Iraq, the Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar, stood publicly by Mr. Bush at a summit meeting in the Azores a year ago this week, and just days before the war began. Now voters have elected the opposition Socialists, although the center right was leading in the polls until the terrorist attack.

The Bush administration must now fight the perception, accurate or not, that acts of terror against America's allies can sway nations into rethinking the wisdom of standing too closely with Mr. Bush.

Time after time, President Bush has responded to critics who say he has alienated America's closest allies by pointing to Mr. Aznar as a courageous example of a leader who ignored poll numbers — upward of 90 percent of Spaniards opposed the war — and who acted in Spain's best interests.

Only last week several senior members of the administration said they fully expected that his conservatives would emerge victorious. In fact, months ago a senior adviser to Mr. Bush predicted that should a terrorist attack occur in Europe, it would probably drive the Europeans closer to the United States and its approach to the campaign against terror, not away from it.

So on Sunday evening administration officials scrambled to hide their disappointment. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, leaving for India, declined to respond publicly to the Socialists' victory, and the White House drafted a positive-sounding statement saying President Bush looked forward to working with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Socialist leader who will now become prime minister.

But it was lost on no one in Mr. Bush's inner circle that Mr. Zapatero rode to victory by denouncing Mr. Bush's approach to the world, and that he pledged to bring home Spain's 1,300 troops in Iraq in July. "We don't know how big a factor the Madrid bombing was in the outcome," one senior American official said. "We don't know that what happened in Spain marks a broader trend. But I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said this is the kind of outcome we might have wished for."

Administration officials said this weekend that they were offering Spain all the help they could to determine who was behind the bombings, and whether Al Qaeda's claim of responsibility was credible. But now, Mr. Bush faces the task of persuading a new Spanish leadership — the same politicians who argued that Mr. Aznar was far too close to Mr. Bush and his policy of pre-emption — that the only way to confront terrorism is to strike back.

Senior American diplomats were quick to note that even the Socialists had pledged to take part in peacekeeping in Iraq if the United Nations passed a resolution embracing the Iraqi transitional government, which is scheduled to take over from the Coalition Provisional Authority on June 30. Such a resolution seems highly likely.

In any case, Spain's contribution in Iraq is symbolic, less than 1 percent of the forces on the ground.

Before the election results were in, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," "I believe that the Spanish people understand that they've had strong and good leadership in President José María Aznar and his government, that fighting terrorism cannot allow one to be intimidated." She was referring to the prime minister.

A few moments later, after saying it was unclear whether the Spanish attacks were carried out by the domestic terror group ETA, by Al Qaeda, or by some combination, she said: "They will not win, and we will not falter. The idea that somehow someone stirring up a beehive of terrorists, creating terrorists where they all were not, simply ignores the history that goes back into the early '80s where a progression of terrorist incidents, terrorist activities, have gotten stronger."

It is too early to assess the full impact of the bombings on politics in Spain or the rest of Europe. At home, Mr. Bush's associates, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, are already using the Madrid bombings to reinforce their case that the world remains a very dangerous place, and that it would be enormously risky to depart from Mr. Bush's strategy.

On Sunday, Mr. Cheney cited the railway bombings in Madrid to attack the strategy of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

"Senator Kerry has said that we should treat attacks on our nation primarily as matters of law enforcement and intelligence," Mr. Cheney told an audience in Florence, Ky. "He's embraced the strategy of the 1990's, which holds that when we are attacked, we ought to round up those directly responsible, put them on trial, and then call it a day."

But such a strategy, he said, is insufficient because "it leaves the network behind the attacks virtually untouched." He concluded by noting that the attack in Spain "is a reminder that there are evil people in the world, capable of any atrocity, and determined to take innocent life."

Mr. Kerry is arguing that the administration is wildly oversimplifying his position, and he, too, would take the war to the terrorists. But he argues that he would do it in a way that preserves alliances and avoids the kind of reaction that Spanish voters expressed Sunday. "We can only fight terror with the help of our allies," he said in a recent interview and that means devising a strategy that keeps not only leaders like Mr. Aznar on Washington's side, but their constituencies as well.



TOPICS: Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alliances; antiwar; elections; spain

1 posted on 03/15/2004 8:22:38 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
The sad fact is that the Spainish people decided that fighting terror made them a target of terror. Maybe it did.

We are a target of terror and must fight.

When a people decides that accomodating terror is better than fighting it, then the terrorists win.
2 posted on 03/15/2004 8:25:18 AM PST by Pylot
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
We had allies in the 'unilateral' War against Iraq?
3 posted on 03/15/2004 8:25:46 AM PST by Mr.Atos (Vote right. What's left is wrong!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

4 posted on 03/15/2004 8:26:59 AM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
This must be an example of Kerry's ~nuanced~ prattle versus

President Bush's decisive action.

It's all ~nuance~ vs. decisive.

I prefer decisive. I have had enough nuance.

(Oh, btw, since only intelligentsia is supposed to be ~nuanced~ and understand the complexities of ~nuanced~ thought, I'll let them know my IQ is 190, but then again, I'm not one of the ~nuanced~ intelligentisa so that doesn't count.)
5 posted on 03/15/2004 8:27:11 AM PST by OpusatFR (Liberals lie because the truth would kill them all off.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
The news covers this stuff like it's a sporting event. This is not a blow to Bush because in reality it ain't about Bush. This a blow to any freedom loving people everywhere.
6 posted on 03/15/2004 8:31:06 AM PST by gov_bean_ counter
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To: OpusatFR
I'll let them know my IQ is 190

190/5 = 38

You can sign up for at least 5 accounts at Democratic Underground - unless they've tightened the minimum to 60+.

Then you'd only be able to get 3 accounts. ;-)

7 posted on 03/15/2004 8:33:26 AM PST by an amused spectator (Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to be lied to by Democrats)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Unfortunately, this is probably "gut-check" time for the "Free World". In our lifetime, we've seen the "Better Red than Dead" types and all other manner of appeasers. It's amazing how short memories are.

It is time for President Bush to take back the Bully Pulpit and start laying out the stark choices this country (and this world) needs to start making.
8 posted on 03/15/2004 8:34:29 AM PST by ReleaseTheHounds
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To: dead
ROTFLOL!

Surrender... or we'll send more suicide terror monkeys!
9 posted on 03/15/2004 8:35:26 AM PST by Mr.Atos (Vote right. What's left is wrong!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
"We can only fight terror with the help of our allies," he said in a recent interview and that means devising a strategy that keeps not only leaders like Mr. Aznar on Washington's side, but their constituencies as well."

OK, "Senator" Kerry, how, exactly, would you do this? Instead of blathering on incessantly about how you would approach things differently than the administration, lay it out for us, show us the way. Otherwise, shut your big, flapping, ignorant mouth, you phony, lying SOB.

10 posted on 03/15/2004 8:37:37 AM PST by astounded
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To: gov_bean_ counter
This a blow to any freedom loving people everywhere.

Well said. The lack of perspective by the press and the Spanish people is stunning.

The headlines should read "Spain surrenders to terrorists, Al Qaeda installs new government."

11 posted on 03/15/2004 8:37:45 AM PST by Senator_Blutarski (No good deed goes unpunished.)
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To: an amused spectator
ROTFL!

But, then again, I don't have a personality disorder so they would probably ban me anyway...
12 posted on 03/15/2004 8:39:06 AM PST by OpusatFR (Liberals lie because the truth would kill them all off.)
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To: All
In the end, even THE ny times will know that Presidents Bush and Aznar were right. I hope it is not too late.

Maybe THE new york times should write an article on how the vote impacts the U.S. and the world, rather than just writing about the political side.
13 posted on 03/15/2004 8:42:46 AM PST by Loyal Buckeye ((Kerry is a flake))
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Rush Limbaugh predicted on his show just last week that we'd see a level of appeasement towards the terrorists coming from both Spain and the libs in this country following last weeks bombing. He's got a big "I-told-you-so-" coming up in mere minutes.
14 posted on 03/15/2004 8:55:20 AM PST by Prolifeconservative (If there is another terrorist attack, the womb is a very unsafe place to hide.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
The Times is ignoring the underlying questions:Will Spain's rejection of an active WOT encourage them to try it here?
15 posted on 03/15/2004 8:57:51 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
It worked, why not?

Another important question is this: Considering the level of vitriol spewing from the World Leftist; considering what they have gained from terrorism in Spain; considering the frightening level of assistance American Leftists have already been lending to our enemies (Walker, Lindauer, the Portland Seven); and considering that some Americans have already taken it upon themselves to act on behalf of our enemies (Lindauer, John Allen Muhammad, Lee Boyd Malvo, Sgt. Hasan Akbar); might one further consider the possibility that Al Quaida has found an active domestic ally in their war against Western Civilization, willing to plan, initiated, and affect destruction here in our midst to further their own parallel agenda?

I again suggest, that the enemy is not at the gate, but through it.

16 posted on 03/15/2004 9:12:02 AM PST by Mr.Atos (Vote right. What's left is wrong!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I hope Spanish women like wearing burkas. The reconquest of Spain for Islam has begun!
17 posted on 03/15/2004 9:32:49 AM PST by TexasRepublic (Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Al Qaeda cares about Iraq? I thought there was no connection between the two? < /sarcasm >
18 posted on 03/15/2004 9:36:51 AM PST by PogySailor
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To: Mr.Atos
I pray that those people are just nuts and do not comprise the majority of the left.
19 posted on 03/15/2004 9:39:15 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: Pylot
I keep thinking about the movie "High Noon" with Gary Cooper. The townsfolks was too coward to support the sheriff and in the end he kills the bad guy and throws the badge down in disgust.

If the outlaws had started to kill the townsfolk until they fired the sheriff then they would of won like in Spain.
20 posted on 03/15/2004 9:41:32 AM PST by Swiss
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
This is no loss. Who wants cowards as allies? Spain loves bull fights, tap dancers and subsidies.


21 posted on 03/15/2004 9:49:27 AM PST by hgro
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To: Blood of Tyrants
Perhaps! But, they do not just call us Nazi's...they believe that American Conservatives are as evil as Nazi's. The line between irrational rhetoric and irrational action has become fine indeed, and the Left has diplomats that are more than willing to capitalize on hate... Mr. Kerry, Mr. Dean, Mr. Gore!

The Left shares motivations with AQ, and find themselves in the odd position to benefit from American suffering at the hands of it enemies. Note also that the Dow is down another 105 points as I write. The motivation exists. I pray that the Left has not thoroughly abandoned objective values to the point that action can be justified by relative return.... "their ends justify any means." But, I have yet to see anything to suggest that my fears are misplaced.

22 posted on 03/15/2004 10:27:11 AM PST by Mr.Atos (Vote right. What's left is wrong!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Since I haven't seen anybody else ask, I will: any chance the Spanish Socialists were involved with whoever did the bombing? (Or should I put my tin-foil hat back on real tight??)
23 posted on 03/15/2004 10:32:06 AM PST by White Eagle
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To: White Eagle
That question was put forward the very day the attack happened.
24 posted on 03/15/2004 10:36:10 AM PST by Prolifeconservative (If there is another terrorist attack, the womb is a very unsafe place to hide.)
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To: White Eagle
Or should I put my tin-foil hat back on real tight?

Exactly my concern as well. The scenario that you present is certainly possible, as it parallels my own thinking. But, at what point do we begin to assemble our own tin-foil chewing moonbat fringe brigade. For now, it suffices to say, as I did in post#22 that the Left is benefitting from Al Quaida's actions, while the Right benefits from AQ's expedient demise and the cessation of mass murder. One motivation requires more innocent death and suffering. The other ultimately requires peace.

Which one is moral?

25 posted on 03/15/2004 11:01:10 AM PST by Mr.Atos (Vote right. What's left is wrong!)
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