Monday, March 15, 2004

Robert Lane Greene makes the interesting argument that Spain's Socialist party, when it takes power, should not withdraw troops from Iraq because Al Qaeda would perceive this as capitulating to terror and would therefore try to influence other elections with terrorist attacks. I heartily agree that Spain should not withdraw from Iraq; the Iraqis need all the help they can get right now. However, I find Greene's rationale for steadfastness very unsatisfying. How Al Qaeda or anybody else perceives Spanish policy on Iraq is a secondary. (If they didn't perceive us to be infidels, then they might not attack us at all, right?) What is primary is whether Spanish Iraqi policy is actually a good policy, as in good for Iraq, good for Spain, good for the West, and bad for Islamism. A Spanish withdrawal from Iraq wouldn't be bad because it would appear to capitulate to mass murder. It would be bad because it would capitulate to mass murder.

While I'm on the subject, I hope the Socialist's victory in Spain is because of something like dissatisfaction with the government early dogmatic insistence that ETA was responsible for the bombing. To think that the Spanish voters actually soured on the incumbent party because they thought involvement in Iraq had made them a terrorist target is quite disturbing. When attacked, the proper response is not, "this is not our fight," but, "this is now our fight." Of course, the idea that any part of the West is not in this fight should have been put to rest long ago.

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