...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
      ( 12:20 PM )
The (Spanish) Domino Effect

Now that Spain is the new punching bag for rightist pundits and Bush apologists, can we go back to eating "french" fries again?

The current mantra echoed by those same pundits and apologists that the "terrorists won" in Spain on Sunday sounds as empty as it truly is. The "logic" that because Spain voted out the government that (against its citizens' wishes) joined Bush's war in Iraq and then lied to its people when they were attacked on their own soil, that means that Al Qaeda has "won" is lost on me. As I see it, Spain and most all other countries of the world gladly and willingly joined the US in the fight against terrorism after 9/11. It was the invasion of Iraq that they didn't necessarily want to go along with. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and it wasn't until after we occupied it that it became a player in the war on terror in terms of danger to our people and our allies.

Spain isn't the first country in the last couple of years to have an election determined because of opposition to Bush's policies. The German election in 2002 was won by the party that opposed Bush, the South Korean election last year was won by the candidate that spoke out against Bush policies on the Korean peninsula. Spain is just the latest country to follow that trend. And it's not a comforting trend.

Bush's "coalition of the willing" is no such thing. The countries that joined in the Iraq invasion and occupation were either coerced or bribed. But now with the people of Spain speaking out in reaction to the fact that their country's resources were used not to combat fundamentalist islamist terrorism, but to occupy a country that the Bush administration had a vendetta against, and as a result, they fell victim to the worst bombing attack in western europe in the last many years - other countries and observers are taking notice. The US is no longer the power it was - Bush's strategy has not only weakened our diplomatic ties with allies, but it has weakened our position as a power to be reckoned with. We no longer carry the mantle of leadership for the world. And even smaller countries can see that now.

"This is a consequence of what we knew a year ago
-- that Bush tried to force governments to choose
between their own voters and the White House," said
Tom Andrews, a former Democratic congressman from
Maine, now national director of Win Without War, a
grassroots anti-Iraq war group.

"The White House tried to sweeten the pot for those
countries that joined the coalition but this was never a
coalition of the willing, as Bush claimed. It was a coalition
of the coerced and the purchased -- and now those
leaders have to face their own voters," he said.

And so the dominoes begin to fall. Honduras has announced it will withdraw its troops, and Nicaragua won't send any back. Only El Salvador is left in the Spanish-led combined brigade in Iraq.

"Why did the train bombings have the effect that they did?
Because 90 percent of the Spanish people did not want this
war in the first place and were unwilling to pay any price for
what they saw as a mistaken policy," said University of
Chicago political scientist Robert Pape.

"What does this mean for the rest of our allies? The Italians?
The British? They, and some of us as well, may well conclude
that the war against Iraq has made us more vulnerable and
not less," he said.

The consequences that are occuring now are not because of an election held 3 days ago in Spain. These consequences are a result of a year of lying by Bush to us and to the world, followed by a year of continued erosion of security on all fronts for all countries, especially those involved in Bush's War. The invasion of Iraq, and indeed, the capture of Saddam Hussein, have not only NOT made us safer, but have made us and our allies (what there are left of them) extremely UNsafe. Not because Iraq is part of the war on terror, but because we allowed it to take precedence and now it is being used by the very people we claimed we were fighting in the first place as a foothold against us.

Whatever happens is not because of Spanish voters or their so-called "appeasement," as the Hannity crowd would like to claim. Nope, whatever happens is because Bush and his cronies lied, cheated and killed for no reason other than their own insidious greed for power. They are reaping what they've sown. Unfortunately, we and the citizens of the world will probably pay a heavier price than Bush ever will have to for what he has done.

UPDATE: Juan Cole says it better.

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