A new threat faces the global community

By on March 25, 2004

The War on Terrorism presents this world with a challenge perhaps not seen since the days of Adolph Hitler. Al Qaeda, through their radical Islamic fundamentalism, wants to exterminate every person who does not comply with their demands. Leaving aside a discussion of their wishes, the issue then becomes – how do we deal with this threat?

As with Hitler, the choices come down to appeasement and war. Immediately after 9/11, this nation’s wake-up call, President Bush adopted a strategy of all-out war on terrorism and its causes and supporters.

Since it’s generally accepted that the tough, imposing lifestyle of people under fundamentalist Islamic rule is what breeds terrorism in the first place, Bush sought to undo this breeding ground in the Middle East. He began by expelling the Taliban from Afghanistan, rounding up some key al Qaeda members, and then turned his attention to Iraq.

This is where a lot of people get confused. Whenever someone suggests that Iraq is related to the War on Terror, liberals scream, “Wait! Iraq didn’t even attack us on 9/11. How then can they be part of the War on Terror?” In reality, the debate over the purported direct link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda was overblown and, at times, foolish.

The real issue is what we are trying to accomplish in Iraq. Yes, we first wanted to oust a homicidal dictator who blatantly flaunted the demands of the UN and America for 12 years. Now, the challenge is much tougher. By working with the Iraqis, we must establish some form of democracy in Iraq to serve as a model both to Iraqi citizens and the rest of the Arab world.

However, this result is not acceptable to Islamic fundamentalists bent on the rule of Islamic law throughout the Middle East, and, ultimately, the world. Groups like al Qaeda who oppose democracy have a vested interest in Iraq failing and devolving into civil war or the like. In this way, it is clear that whether or not Iraq was part of the War on Terror prior to our invasion, it most certainly is now.

So, as al Qaeda watched Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and other key leaders join the American cause there, they decided to take action at an important time.

On March 11, several bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain. Two hundred people and counting were killed and about 1,500 more wounded in the blasts, which eerily took place exactly 911 days after September 11, 2001. They also took place three days before Spain’s national elections for a new prime minister, which is no coincidence.

Like 9/11 to America, this tragedy should have served as a wake-up call to Spain and all of Europe. It proved that the terrorists can and will strike them, too, and it was a test of their resolve in the War on Terror. Sadly, Spain failed the test in a major way.

On March 14, rather than electing Aznar’s chosen successor, Spanish voters chose Socialist candidate Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has pledged to remove Spain’s forces from Iraq by June 30. That is exactly what al Qaeda wanted, and it’s exactly why they timed the bombings to occur just three days prior to such an important election. Spain’s decision, though made in shock, amounts to appeasing terrorist demands, rather than fighting them.

Some have derided criticisms such as this as attacks on Spain’s democratic process, which is hogwash. Of course, Spain has the right to elect whomever they please as their prime minister. They have simply chosen a man who will not fight back against terrorists like al Qaeda.

Zapatero intends to break off relations with America and “restore magnificent relations with France and Germany” (how nice!). Perhaps that’s because their demonstrated method of fighting terrorism is compatible with Zapatero’s – withdraw from the fight. On the opposite side is America, which has chosen war over appeasement.

There is no doubt that al Qaeda just picked up a significant victory in Spain. Since Zapatero’s opponent had been easily leading in polls prior to the attack, al Qaeda proved that they could directly affect the outcome of a national election through mass slaughter of innocent lives. That alone is a dangerous precedent to set.

But the larger issue is the extent to which this boondoggle will affect the fight in Iraq and elsewhere. Clearly, the fight among free nations will go on, but with at least one less member. Though Spain will certainly do what they can to prevent a replay of this bombing, they have chosen to surrender in the larger struggle currently fronted in Iraq. History proves that appeasement is the wrong choice.


About A. J. Atchue