Readers weigh in on the use of the "A-word" and neocon frothing over the Spanish election.

By Salon Staff
Published March 20, 2004 9:38PM (EST)

[Read "The A-word" by James Pinkerton.]

Appeasement? Surrendering to terrorists? With due respect, the gentlemen mentioned in your article should take lessons in history. Spain has been suffering terrorism for more than three decades now, and it has never surrendered to it. I wish the same could be said of the U.S. (remember Lebanon '83?)

If you want Spanish troops to stay in Iraq, here's how: Make an illegal war a legal peacekeeping mission and hand over control to the U.N. Spanish troops will then stay in Iraq, just like they are staying in Afghanistan -- where the real terrorism is.

-- Antonio Padilla

On the issue of Spanish "appeasement," I'm reminded of when the Shah of Iran was in the United States for medical treatment. The Iranians were howling for his extradition, and the matter was fast becoming a hot potato. So the U.S. attempted to pass him off to the Mexicans. "Here -- YOU take him!"

Understandably, the Mexicans were not keen to have a Mideast crisis dumped in their laps, and said so. This provoked the immediate ire of the Americans toward their "fair weather friends" south of the border.

In similar fashion, the wise Spanish people essentially requested that America manage its war without their further acquiescence in the matter.

Ironically, Spain's electoral results represent an end to appeasement -- the appeasement of an out-of-control Texas religious zealot.

-- Richard Harth

Great article but, as always, you seem to assume someone besides liberals will read it.

As flawed as Bush's Iraq war was and as bad as the planning for its aftermath has been, the people of the U. S. won't hear anything but what Bush wants them to hear.

In addition, I doubt the Bush administration is above overthrowing the new Spanish government in secret, any more than they were above illegally redistricting Texas or recalling Gray Davis.

-- Fran Spragens

Actually, polling in Spain before the election showed the race in a statistical dead heat -- 42 percent to 38 percent -- meaning the election of Zapatero was well with realm of possibility well before the attacks. Zapatero promised long ago to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. One would never know this if it was left to the talking heads on the tube.

It is the ideologues on the right that want to exaggerate the effects of the bombing and polarize the debate by slandering anyone who disagree with them.

Once again the major news outlets have let themselves become a conduit for false information by allowing the neocon attack machine to flood the airwaves.

-- Stephen Bottomly

[Read conservatives' reactions to Spain's post-3/11 upheaval in this week's edition of "Right Hook," by Mark Follman.]

Let's try to make some sense out of the Spanish election for outraged conservatives, who insist it was a victory for al-Qaida, that the Spaniards betrayed the West, and so on. They see any explanation defending the Spanish as intellectual rationalizing, and proof that the liberals who don't share their world view are weak, indecisive and can't be trusted to wage the war on terror.

Well, how's this for conservative: The guys in charge dropped the ball. The Popular Party failed to protect the people. Didn't accountability used to be a cherished conservative mantra?

I couldn't figure out what bothered me so much about the right's response to the Spanish election until now -- it's the implication that inept right-wing nuts should govern until they've rid the world of Islamic terrorism. Or, in other words, in perpetuity.

-- Gabriel Turzo

What I find baffling is that this "victory" for al-Qaida is entirely a construction of the right-wing. Spain's new government plans to pull out of Iraq; it was part of their platform long before the bombing. The war in Iraq and terrorism are connected only in George Bush's fantasy world.

In particular, staying in Iraq does not hurt al-Qaida. Given that no WMDs have been found there, given that no connection whatsoever between Hussein's government and al-Qaida has been found, it defies logic to claim that toppling Hussein harmed them. In fact, for the terrorists, it is a win-win war. As long as we are there, it's great recruiting propaganda for them (this would be equally true if we invaded any other Islamic country, no matter if it had ties to al-Qaida or not). When we leave, they can claim a victory (and handily, our right-wing is busily declaring this for them -- good going, guys). What's not to like, if you are al-Qaida? Even after we leave, if the new Iraqi government is insufficiently hostile to us, the terrorists can claim that they're a puppet state and attack them.

Spain's decision to change governments can be seen as an entirely rational response to a greater need to fight terrorism -- would you rather have your troops tied down not fighting terror, but providing raw material for terrorist recruiting propaganda? Or would you rather have them actually doing something useful?

We, unfortunately, are stuck with the obligation of putting Iraq back together again, because we blew it apart. The majority of Spaniards exercised their option (that I wish I also had) of turning their back on a useless war that they wanted no part of from the very beginning. As to "but Saddam Hussein was an evil man, and it's better that he's gone" -- true, but how evil, and at what cost? For $200 billion and 500 American lives, what other good things could we have done? Was this really the best use of our time and money?

-- David Chase

My local paper, which I have renamed the Bush Morning Cheerleader, has a columnist already saying he will no longer drink Spanish wine. Here we go again. Look for a new round of silliness, as we are subjected to freedom olives, freedom omelets, and freedom fly.

-- Joy Williams

Amazing how so many on the right, including Bush, presume to know that the terrorists wanted to throw the Spanish election to the Socialists. Haven't they learned that al-Qaida's agenda is death and chaos, not electoral victory?

The timing of an attack near an election is meant to increase anxiety (which it did), not to achieve a specific outcome (which no one correctly predicted, by the way). The Bushies are once again exploiting terror tragedy for their own gain. It's sickening.

-- Jeff Fortner

Salon Staff

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