Thursday, March 18, 2004

Perceptions of the Spanish Election

Across the internet, there have been various interpretations of the results of the Spanish election. In recent posts on this issue, I pointed out that it's not entirely obvious that the Spanish voted simply out of fear of terrorism. There was a perception that Aznar did not handle the post-attack information well. And I imagine that many of the people who voted against the Popular Party did not see themselves as voting to appease terrorism. Still, it is also true that, despite Iraq, the Popular Party would have won the election if the bombings had not taken place. It's impossible to deny, in one way or another, that the bombings did affect the outcome of the election.

And that's the bigger problem. There is the fact of Islamic terrorism and its perceptions. In the eyes of the terrorists, and not just in the eyes of those who supported the military overthrow of Saddam, the Spanish vote will be seen as a confirmation that, in Europe at least, terrorism does work, it gets results. Regardless of how the Spanish may see this vote, and regardless of those who laud it as a victory for the people's democracy, the terrorists will have a completely different view. And this in turn points to a singular fact about Europeans: they have become so unable to understand the threat or the use of violence, whether on the part of terrorists or in a theatre of war, that they see only their own perceptions. Europeans are zombies on the international scene, believing that all we need to do is talk, to dialogue and to understand the terrorists' grievances. And while they're doing this, the terrorists will be blowing them to dust. Good luck Europe, you're gonna need it.

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