When Love Changes Over Night

Source: New York Times, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40D17FB3D540C708EDDAA0894DC404482

Gulf News, http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/print2.asp?ArticleID=115136 and

What: Spanish troop movements

When: March 23, 2004

Where: Spain, Iraq, and Afghanistan

Who: Spanish governments, Western countries

Why: In March 11, 2004, four bombs devastated Spain. As a result, Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s proposal, from the socialist party, to take the Spanish troops from Iraq gained even more support from the Spanish population. Consequence: in the national elections, which occurred only 3 days after the attacks, José María Azanar’s party lost the elections to Zapatero.

The main point in Zapatero’s election campaign was his idea that if by June 30, 2004 the U.N does not take more control over in Iraq, he would take the 1,300 Spanish troops stationed there. Spanish people highly favored this proposal. According to The New York Times, this idea is being highly criticized by the coalition, and especially by Aznar who said “I think sending a message that you can beat terrorism with concessions is wrong”. I agree with him. I believe that if Spain withdraws its troops form Iraq, then the terrorists would have achieved exactly what they want, and the message that they will received is that attacking innocent people by means of terrorists attacks is a successful way to reach ones goals. If they come to believe this, it is possible that terrorists’ attacks will never end… (Will they anyhow? There’s always something new to attack for). Also, if Spain effectively abandons the coalition, then this represents a great “blow to the notion of a unified west (that supposedly fight for the same ideals), and a great boost for those German and French politicians who have long dreamed of creating a Europe that is not partner of the U.S. but a political and economic rival” (Could a unified Europe against the U.S. be really in our near future? I don’t think so, at least not any time soon. Yet, one must remember that Spain participated only peripherally from WWI and WWII. They like being isolated and minding their own business, and now, especially young Spaniards, feel as though their government has taken them too close to the US and too involved in world affairs…).

In an attempt to stop the harsh criticism that Zapatero is receiving for his idea of leaving Iraq, he has announced that he plans on “increasing Spain’s 125-strong contingent in Afghanistan”. This announcement did not come as a surprise to the Western countries. A high-ranking Spanish party official said, under the condition of anonymity, that the new prime minister wants show that his country is committed with fighting terrorism, and wants to specially signal the US that Spain remains a loyal ally. Close to 90% of the Spanish population opposed Iraq’s invasion (due to its lack of international legitimacy, lack of UN support), yet Aznar decided to intervene anyhow, ignoring the will of its people. On the contrary, the UN supports the forces in Afghanistan and they operate under the command of the NATO. So, it becomes obvious that, in order for Zapatero to gain the definite support of its people, and to show the US that he is still interested in doing “business” with the US, the best way out is taking its forces from Iraq (if the UN doesn’t get more involved), and sending new forces to Afghanistan.

My belief that Zapatero’s decision of leaving Iraq is counterproductive gained more strength when I read two additional articles this week. The first article that I read was from CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/24/france.railbomb/index.html), which reported that a bomb had been found on a rail line in northeastern France only 13 days after the Madrid explosions. This article proved to me that (even though it is not certain that Al-Qaeda members set up this bomb, it is still terrorism to do such a thing) terrorism will not stop any time soon, but moreover, that terrorists (and I am not only referring to Al-Qaeda, but to all terrorist groups around the world fighting for their own reasons) realized that bombings, attacks, and killing innocent people actually works to achieve their goals.

The other article that I read, I found it in The Middle East Times (http://metimes.com/2K4/issue2004-13/methaus.htm), and it was Uri Avnery’s column. In his article, Avnery made, in my