Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

For U.S. Hawks, Madrid 2004 = Munich 1938
Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC. | March 18, 2004 | Jim Lobe

Posted on 03/18/2004 8:31:30 AM PST by philosofy123

For neo-conservative and other right-wing US hawks, Madrid has suddenly become Munich in 1938 and Spain's Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

In an extraordinarily unanimous campaign, newspaper columnists and television commentators are flooding the media with cries of "appeasement," the dreaded epithet with which Chamberlain was permanently tagged after his meeting in Munich with Adolf Hitler, which permitted the Nazis to slice off a major chunk of Czechoslovakia.

In the hawks' view, the electoral defeat of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's People's Party in the wake of last Thursday's bombings, followed by Zapatero's pledge to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by Jul. 1, marks a collapse of will by a key US ally in President George W. Bush's "war on terrorism" that will only encourage Islamist extremists.

"Neville Chamberlain, en Español" was the title of the featured column by Ramon Perez-Maura of Madrid's ABC newspaper on the neo-conservative editorial page of Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, while the New York Times' David Brooks asked in his biweekly column Tuesday, "What is the Spanish word for appeasement?"

Tony Blankley, editorial page editor for The Washington Times, was quick to put a name to what he called Zapatero's "policy of appeasement" – "The Spanish Disease" – while the increasingly neo-conservative editorial writers at the Washington Post worried that the Socialist leader's "rash" response to the bombings will mark the beginning of a domino effect throughout Europe.

"The danger is that Europe's reaction to a war that has now reached its soil," the Post said, "will be retreat and appeasement rather than strengthened resolve," a point echoed by Edward Luttwak, a longtime fixture of the national-security commentariat who wrote in the New York Times, "the Zapateros of Europe ... seem bent on validating the crudest caricatures of 'old European' cowardly decadence."

The image was starkly drawn as well by Robert Kagan, the neo-conservative who coined the phrase "Americans are from Mars, and Europeans are from Venus."

Warning that the bombings and the election results in Spain "have brought the United States and Europe to the edge of the abyss," the cofounder of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), whose alumni include the most powerful hawks in the Bush administration, poured scorn on European Commission President Romano Prodi's comment after the attacks that, "It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists."

"Are Europeans prepared to grant all of al-Qaeda's conditions in exchange for a promise of security?" asked Kagan. "Thoughts of Munich and 1938 come to mind."

While some of these commentators conceded that Aznar might himself bear some responsibility for the sudden turn of events – notably by trying to blame the Basque group ETA even while evidence that the perpetrators were radical Islamists was becoming overwhelming – the basic thrust of all their comments was that, by supporting Zapatero, the Spanish electorate had lost its will to confront the larger terrorist threat, just as Chamberlain had done in handing over the Sudetenland.

This interpretation of the Spanish electorate's choice and of Zapatero himself obviously ignored a number of factors, among them the fact that the Socialist leader said explicitly from the moment of his victory that he was committed to the fight against terrorism.

"My most immediate priority is to fight all forms of terrorism," he said. "And my first initiative, tomorrow, will be to seek a union of political forces to join us together in fighting it."

That right-wing commentators here generally ignored that vow, or refused to take it seriously, helps illustrate their view – which they have been hawking since Sept. 11 with great success among the US public – that Iraq is part of the larger war on terrorism, as opposed to there being two different conflicts.

In the hawks' view, opting out of one war means opting out of both – a notion that accords very well with their "you're either with us or you're against us" political philosophy.

But the Spanish electorate, like much of the rest of the world, clearly did not see it that way. "In this country, Iraq and terrorism are indelibly linked in the public mind," according to Charles Kupchan, a foreign-policy specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations. "In Europe, they are almost indelibly separated."

"Indeed, there's a general sense in Europe that the war in Iraq has certainly not advanced the struggle against terror and probably degraded it," he added, noting Tuesday's release by the Pew Global Attitudes Project of surveys in eight European and Arab countries that showed strong majorities who concur in that assessment.

Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan, asserted that, by mixing Iraq with al-Qaeda, the neo-conservatives – in particular – had made a strategic error in the war against terrorism, which was now coming home to roost.

"Aznar, in supporting Bush on the war against Iraq, was not standing up to al-Qaeda," Cole wrote, noting that the former prime minister's decision to deploy troops and spend financial and intelligence resources in Iraq meant those same assets could not be used against al-Qaeda, even when it was clear from last May's attack on a Spanish cultural center in Casablanca that Islamist terrorists had Spain in their sights.

"How much did Spain spend to go after the culprits in Casablanca?" asked Cole? "How much did Bush dedicate to that effort? How much did they instead invest in military efforts in Iraq?"

In that respect, Zapatero's pledge to refocus the war against al-Qaeda can hardly be called a "victory for (Osama) bin Laden," according to Cole.

But aside from this rather fundamental disagreement over whether Iraq is or is not part of the war against terrorism, the eagerness with which the hawks have taken to comparing the Spanish electorate's verdict to the 1938 Munich agreement also betrays a basic distrust of democracy, about which the neo-cons have long been ambivalent.

In their view, it was liberal democracies that appeased Hitler in the 1930s and so paved the way to World War II and the Nazi Holocaust. Indeed, the perception that "liberals" failed to fight for their principles in the 1960s is what first alienated neo-conservatives from the Democratic Party.

The neo-cons' perception that Spaniards voted for the Socialists out of fear of al-Qaeda's wrath confirms to them that democracy, particularly of the European variety, is weak.

"Now all European politicians will know that if they side with America on controversial security threats, and terrorists strike their nation, they might be blamed by their own voters," wrote Brooks, who argued that US voters would, in a comparable situation, rally around their president.

"Does anyone doubt that Americans and Europeans have different moral and political cultures?" he added.

But this contention ignores the growing weight of political opinion that the main reason for the last-minute swing to the Socialists was public outrage with the Aznar government's attempts to withhold and manipulate what it knew about the perpetrators for its own political advantage, as well as citizens' opposition to the Iraq war.

Such attitudes were reported by journalists' following the election in Madrid.

"In interviews," the New York Times reported, "they said they (voted for the Socialists) not so much out of fear of terror as out of anger against a government they saw as increasingly authoritarian, arrogant and stubborn."

That lesson might cut a little too close to the bone for the hawks, who led the drive to war in Iraq.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 11march; 1938; appeasement; chamberlain; election; jimlobe; lobe; munich; pnac; spain

1 posted on 03/18/2004 8:31:30 AM PST by philosofy123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
This isn't for hawks only. Those that forget history are doomed to repeat it!
2 posted on 03/18/2004 8:34:25 AM PST by conservativecorner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
The neo-cons' perception that Spaniards voted for the Socialists out of fear of al-Qaeda's wrath confirms to them that democracy, particularly of the European variety, is weak.

It's not democracy that is weak, it's Europeans who are weak.

3 posted on 03/18/2004 8:35:24 AM PST by vbmoneyspender
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
I've been waiting for the terrorism rationalizers to get started. Here we go again...and again...and again... ah history, who needs it. We live it again...and again...and again...
4 posted on 03/18/2004 8:37:29 AM PST by rhombus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
The hawks are saying it! It can't be true!

In one very important respect, perception is reality. Does al-Qaeda view the election results as a victory? I know the answer. But the author of this piece doesn't like the question.

Yeah, the socialist promised to be tough on terrorism. Has anyone asked him what else he will actually do?

5 posted on 03/18/2004 8:40:54 AM PST by blanknoone (Jean al-Querry for President! (of al-Andalus))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
the increasingly neo-conservative editorial writers at the Washington Post

I never noticed that editorial writers at the Post were "increasingly neo-conservative." AM I missing something?

6 posted on 03/18/2004 8:42:01 AM PST by jwalburg (Terrorists need more than counseling)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
Well, it looks like the Left has solidified its official spin on the Spanish elections. Humiliated by the way they came into power in Spain, they have settled on simply denying the obvious. We've been hearing this for the last few days, but they seem to have hit their stride now. I think we can expect to see a lot more of this "Only right-wingers think Spain caved to terrorists" stuff.

I wonder if they can pull it off?

7 posted on 03/18/2004 8:45:21 AM PST by Starve The Beast (I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
Do not underestimate the Jewish question in Spain.

Any attack against an Arab state and leadership that has been a Nemesis to Israel will not be looked upon favorably (in Spain or most of Europe for that matter).

Remember in the Euro minds the existence of Israel is the root cause of Arab violence. The Arabs are Europe's last chance to indirectly effect the illegitimate state of Israel's deserved destruction.

8 posted on 03/18/2004 8:45:34 AM PST by zarf (..where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia work base that has an attachment?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
"In this country, Iraq and terrorism are indelibly linked in the public mind," according to Charles Kupchan, a foreign-policy specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations. "In Europe, they are almost indelibly separated."

You would think that the bombings would have clarified that point. Surely Al Qaida thinks Iraq and terrorism are linked. Why are the Spanish so slow to connect the dots that the terrorists have already connected with explosives?

9 posted on 03/18/2004 8:45:34 AM PST by jwalburg (Terrorists need more than counseling)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
Well, we'll see how the Socialists fight soon enough, won't we.
10 posted on 03/18/2004 8:45:47 AM PST by claudiustg (Go Sharon! Go Bush!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rhombus
Not only has the elite (leftists-UN-world-media) been rationalizing terrorism for 25 years, they have been encouraging it.

AQ and other Islamic cults do the EU/UN bidding, by attacking American power thru non-state means.

And believe me, Europe enjoys every time we get hit.

Iraq is all about the defeat of American power, and the eventual defeat of Israel.

Osama is just a tool for them to do it.

11 posted on 03/18/2004 8:47:00 AM PST by roses of sharon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: vbmoneyspender
True
I am an European myself and I can confirm that most people here are yellow
There are still some that have the will to fight but they are a minority (larger than the medias would tell you however )
12 posted on 03/18/2004 8:55:53 AM PST by 1903A3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: 1903A3
I don't include Britain or its people in that because they are Brits and not Europeans. And I don't include the leaders of the Eastern European countries because they still have one eye on Russia and one eye on the Islamists. However, with regard to the citizenry of the Eastern European countries I cannot say. The rest of Europe though is a lost cause.
13 posted on 03/18/2004 9:04:20 AM PST by vbmoneyspender
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: vbmoneyspender
Terrorism is an ideology. It can be more successfully fought with counter ideology, or even silencing the sources of such ideology. The ideology sources are 1) the mosques, 2) the Moslem media. The US has done nothing to silence or even reduce the visceral hate from the Islamic fanatic countries, namely, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

As we are too busy wasting our time and money on that hell hole called Iraq, we are neglecting the main source of terrorism, and even worst, we are inviting more hate forum to unite against us. "Moderate" Arab states are on the side line laughing as we are suffering casualties. These governments could have been our arms and eyes in reducing the hate rhetoric coming from their mosques.

It is not too foolish to stop, and reassess the policy, and even reverse the policy if it is not as good as it was initially though to be. For example, we are still in Kosovo, supporting the Moslems. Are we ever going to reverse this stupidity? Another example, we are still bitching about Russia’s strong hand in combating the “Chechen rebel”! Chechen rebels my foot – they are Moslem terrorists. We just caught a bunch of them in Iraq! They are fanatic Islamists. Do you suppose if we talk sympathetically about the Chechens, and the KLA, we are going to get sympathy back from Russia?

The whole world needs to unite to combat Islamic terrorism. The newly elected Prime Minister of Spain SPECIFICALLY SAID that he is “strongly in support of the war against the Moslem terrorists”; but that does not mean much to you? He must waste his country money and time on a bunch of barbarians in Iraq. Sunnis hate Shiites, and both hate Kurdish, and the three groups hate the Christians and Jews. That mess was under control by a SECULAR DICTATOR, now we are going to leave it in an AYOTALLAH DICTATOR instead. Reevaluate the policy!

14 posted on 03/18/2004 9:08:25 AM PST by philosofy123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
I would rather Live with the Hawks the Die with the doves.
15 posted on 03/18/2004 9:09:33 AM PST by FeliciaCat (Life is to short for ugly shoes.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: zarf
Do you suppose that is why Europe is constantly attempting to forge peace bretween the two sides?
16 posted on 03/18/2004 9:11:38 AM PST by philosofy123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Starve The Beast
For the Spanish people to blame the government for not being able to pinpoint, and name, the terrorist group, or groups, responsible in the first few hours afterward is at the least irresponsible, if not downright stupid! I live in Oklahoma and I remember how long it took us to sort out the responsible parties (there is still contention!). Its incomprehensible that responsible citizens would base an entire election on that issue alone!
17 posted on 03/18/2004 9:22:06 AM PST by singfreedom ("Victory at all costs,...for without victory there is no survival. -Churchill)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
Like Oslo? What was the result of Israeli compromise?

The Euros know exactly where this is all heading.

18 posted on 03/18/2004 9:23:43 AM PST by zarf (..where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia work base that has an attachment?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
"But this contention ignores the growing weight of political opinion that the main reason for the last-minute swing to the Socialists was public outrage with the Aznar government's attempts to withhold and manipulate what it knew about the perpetrators for its own political advantage, as well as citizens' opposition to the Iraq war"

I've heard this theory, but there was way too little time between the bombing and the election for this too be true. Even now, the investigation is only just started, and will be ongoing for some time.

The connection between the Aznar support of the Iraq invasion and the bombing is a much easier connection to make, considering the timing.

Some middle voters simply bought into the Socialist party's blame of the bombing on Spain's policy of military engagement of the terrorists, as opposed to France's desire to make it a legal enforcement matter.

As for Iraq not being involved in the war on transnational terrorism, the Demorats and their foreign allies can keep trying to make that claim, but it don't fly with the facts.
19 posted on 03/18/2004 9:32:26 AM PST by TheDon (John Kerry, self proclaimed war criminal, Democratic Presidential nominee)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
Do you see anything in the actions of extremist that would make you think they will deal with any non-Muslim in an honorable, honest way? I haven't. A young Muslim friend tells me that Westerners have no comprehension of what these people are truly like. If you are an "Infidel" they feel free to lie to you, steal from you, kill you. You are a nonbeliever, therefore, unworthy of any consideration. These are the people with which we are to "forge this peace"?

I think fighting them, unfortunately, is our only option. I do, however, agree that we should pressure the Saudi, etc. to gag their extreme, hate-spewing Mullahs, and those who are contributing financially. As long as Palestinians are photographing infants in battle dress and with AK-47's, I don't have much hope for peaceful resolution.
20 posted on 03/18/2004 9:56:14 AM PST by singfreedom ("Victory at all costs,...for without victory there is no survival. -Churchill)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: singfreedom
I agree with you 100%. The Moslem fanatics (about 90% of all Moslems) are not going to be happy until they converted all of the West, and the World to their barbaric religion. The only difference between my take on things and yours is after we took on the Taliban, we should have gone straight to Iran. Iran and Saudi Arabia are using their government vast resources to support, provide ideological sympathy, and finance the terrorists - covertly and openly. We have left these two evil states untouched. As a matter of fact they are still messing with us by sending jihadists to blow up whatever we build in Iraq. The non-fanatical Iraqi government could have been left for a while we dealt with the real fanatical Islamist governments in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

21 posted on 03/18/2004 12:00:32 PM PST by philosofy123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: zarf
The only reason the Clinton/Barak peace arrangement did not work was Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Two client states who thought that they have a lot of weight on the White House. They advised ARA-FAT face not take the deal. Now these idiots would love for Bush to even spit on them!
22 posted on 03/18/2004 12:09:44 PM PST by philosofy123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: FeliciaCat
I would rather gamble with the last dollar in your account, and sacrifice your last child. That is called arm chair hawks.
23 posted on 03/18/2004 12:12:38 PM PST by philosofy123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: philosofy123
So your point is?
24 posted on 03/19/2004 6:29:05 AM PST by FeliciaCat (Life is to short for ugly shoes.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson