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March 16, 2004
A Tale of Two Editorials

This morning, I read two editorials, one from the local Star-Tribune and the other from the Washington Post, the former demonstrating the Left's lack of coherence, logic, and vision on the war on terror, and the latter which gets it right.

The Strib manages to encapsulate the effort on the Left that I predicted last night -- to use the Madrid bombing as an excuse to retreat from the war and to blame the Bush administration for the bombing by insinuation:

But the Spanish -- along with most other peoples of the world -- never did believe that invading Iraq was a necessary or constructive action. Only 1 in 10 supported their government's decision to join with the United States and Britain in carrying out the invasion. Al-Qaida or someone operating in its name has now driven a large wedge into that seam of dissension. Full of rage, bitterness and grief following the train bombings, Spanish voters unceremoniously drove the ruling Popular Party from power. They blame the bombings on the party's decision to support the invasion of Iraq. ... The invasion of Iraq was an invasion of choice dressed up in the rhetoric of imperative; a year later, there have been no WMD discoveries, nor has evidence surfaced of ties between Iraq and Al-Qaida. What the Iraq war did do was divide the antiterror coalition.

The idea that Spanish opposition to the war in Iraq is what derailed the conservatives is a lie. Days before the bombing, polling showed that the Socialists were heading for a big defeat and the only story was how PM Aznar's handpicked successor would perform after Aznar's retirement. While the Iraq phase of the war was as unpopular as the editorial states -- a rare accurate moment for the Strib -- it had no affect on the election. Iraq had no affect on the election. What decided the election was the bombing. The Spanish got hit, and they folded.

As far as the "proof" of Iraqi ties to terrorism goes, the Strib manages to ignore the terrorist training camps, the Hussein payments to suicide bombers in the West Bank, providing sanctuary to Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas, whose death made headlines this week. The Strib also ignores the massive intelligence revealed in the Feith memo last year by the Weekly Standard, a significant portion of which has been substantiated by captured IIS documentation, as well as Saddam's defiance of arms sanctions. It's typical Strib fare; they select that which supports their editorial stance and pretends the rest doesn't exist.

Besides, if al-Qaeda had no interest in Saddam's Iraq, why would al-Qaeda care if we invaded? Doesn't their intent on punishing Spain specifically for their participation in that phase of the war (and what else has Spain done?) demonstrate some level of involvement with the deposed Iraqi's apparatus?

The Washington Post, whose editorial board usually can be counted on to use logic instead of a hysterical, shrieking party line, doesn't disappoint in today's lead editorial:

Before the bombing, the Popular Party was favored to win comfortably; after the devastating attack, and an al Qaeda statement saying its intent was to punish Spain for its role in Iraq, the election was swept by the opposition -- and its leader immediately pledged to withdraw Spanish troops and cool relations with Washington. The rash response by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spain's prime minister-elect, will probably convince the extremists that their attempt to sway Spanish policy with mass murder succeeded brilliantly. ...

But the reaction of Spain, and Europe, to this massive and shocking attack on its soil is crucial -- as is its response to the continuing challenge in Iraq. The two are inextricably linked: Whatever the prewar situation, al Qaeda's tactics now have made explicit the connection between the continuing fight in Iraq and the overall war on terrorism [emph. mine -- Ed]. Mr. Zapatero said his first priority would be to fight terrorism. Yet rather than declare that the terrorists would not achieve their stated aim in slaughtering 200 Spanish civilians, he reiterated his intention to pull out from Iraq in less equivocal terms than before the election.

The Post goes on to warn that a round of surrenders on the part of Europe may wind up guaranteeing that whoever gets elected in November will have no choice but to pursue a truly unilateral fight on terrorism, whether that is Bush or Kerry. Europe, who demonstrated that they had learned nothing from the League of Nations debacle by their unwillingness to act after 12 years of Iraqi instransigence, are now demonstrating that they learned nothing from their capitulations to Hitler in the 1930s.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 16, 2004 5:48 AM

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