Spain's blow to al Qaeda

By Geraldine Sealey
Published March 16, 2004 5:22PM (EST)

Juan Cole has an insightful posting today on his blog Informed Consent about the "specious argument" being instigated by Rupert Murdoch publications the world over that the Spanish elections were a victory for al Qaeda. Not so, Cole says.

"After nearly four years of White House rhetoric stolen from old Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns, the determination in [incoming Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's anti-Iraq war] speech to pursue anti-terrorism with an eye to establishing social peace and creating the conditions of human development hits me as a gale of fresh air. So this is what al-Qaeda was going for with the train bombs? To create a "grand alliance" of democracies against it? Zapatero's speech is a victory for Bin Laden?"

"No, it is a defeat only for the Bush administration and the Neoconservative philosophy of Perpetual War. They hold that the US, the UK and Turkey are the only permanent allies and shifting coalitions "of the willing" are put together for particular wars, depending on who can be cajoled, bribed or bamboozled into joining up. This system of US-led shifting coalitions removes all restraint on US militarism. If you have permanent allies, like Germany and France, you might have to pay attention to them. If all you have is a shifting coalition, you can do what you please when you please. Multilateralists are like a set of married couples who are old friends; the Neocons' unilateral superpower is like Hugh Hefner, surrounded by a constantly changing bevy of hand-picked 'girlfriends.'"

"Unfortunately for this adolescent power fantasy, the real world does not reward naked power and action solely in self-interest. NATO and the United Nations have hung the US out to dry in Iraq, ensuring that its troops take the brunt of the ongoing insurgency. The Turks decided early on that they wanted nothing to do with this dangerous adventure in a place that they saw as a hotbed of religious and ethnic radicalism barely contained by the ramshackle Baath structures of repression. So that 'permanent' ally turned out to be no such thing."

"With the secession of Spain from the 'coalition of the willing,' the rug has been pulled out from under the Bush doctrine of preemption, the Bush commitment to US military action without a proper UNSC resolution, and the Bush conviction that you can fool all the people all the time. Since Bush administration militarism and desire to go about overthrowing most of the governments in the Middle East actually was highly destabilizing and created enormous numbers of potential recruits for al-Qaeda, the Spanish actions are a great victory for the counter-insurgency struggle against al-Qaeda."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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