Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Thursday, March 18, 2004
 
Suggestions that the recent elections in Spain are a victory for "appeasement" insult both the character and the intelligence of the Spanish voters.

Quite apart from the moral implications of trying to buy radical Islamists off, there is no evidence that any way exists to do so. One of the striking points of the war with al Qaeda is that it appears to be absolute. Al Qaeda has never proposed peace terms. It has made only one major demand, the removal of American forces from Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration is in the process of complying with this demand, although none of those who denounce Zapatero for appeasement seem troubled by this. And it probably isn't why Bush has now been endorsed bu the al Qaeda faction that, perhaps falsely, claims responsibility for the Madrid atrocities.

Spain is particularly likely to remain a target for al Qaeda, since much of the nation was once Arab and it is is clear that the most extreme Muslims still regard it as occupied territory. It may well be significant that most of the current suspects are from Morocco - many of those who were driven from Spain after the fall of Granada settled in Morocco, where their descendants strill live. Even if Spain - or the US - were to declare Islam the state religion, abolish its legal structure in favor of sharia, and ban women from appearing in public unveiled, it might not be enough to satisfy al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia does all of these and more, and that doesn't prevent it from being a target.

There have been past terror attacks timed to coincide with national elections, possibly including the USS Cole attack of October, 2000. But there's no real evidence that any of these, including the Madrid attack, was specifically intended to affect the elections. Certainly it's doubtful that the goal was to remove hardline governments; Ariel Sharon was voted in partially as a reaction to some of the first major suicide bombings in Israel while Barak was in office. (Those bombings were organized by Palestinian factions, not al Qaeda.)



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