Fear claims victory in Spain

What does yesterday’s election loss of Spain’s conservative Popular party portend for the war on terror? While evidence is pointing more toward al-Qaida, one can be certain that whoever perpetrated the attacks wanted to instill fear in the Spanish electorate as they went to the polling booth. Some may have been emboldened to keep Prime Minister Aznar and his party so that they may continue their forward anti-terror policies. However a majority chose to usher in the socialists despite them being philosophically poorly positioned to convincingly fight terror. The terrorists who struck in Spain, most likely al-Qaida or their Islamist ilk, through the heinous killing of innocent non-combatants sought a political change through fear and intimidation. A day after the elections in Spain, they appear to have achieved their goal. The resolute Anzar is leaving and the softer socialists are entering. The test now remains to see whether the new Spanish government will respond with the sheepish appeasement policy that the terrorists expected and which France, Germany and other European nations enacted while America and Britain led the forward response against Islamist terror. The attacks in Baghdad, Istanbul, and now Madrid are proof that America and its supporters in the war on terror have the terrorists in their crosshairs while they run for their lives in attempting to fracture the coalition and stimulate appeasement. Any other interpretation ignores the writing on the wall. The sad paradox is that terrorists will exploit our democratic processes to stimulate the change that suits their survival, banking upon the electorate’s fear translating into short-sighted appeasement at the election booth. Spain is living proof. We can only hope that the American electorate readying for November comes away today learning from Madrid with an emboldened resolve and not with a fearful tilt toward appeasement. While terror instills fear in the community it targets, it conversely clarifies the correctness of the war on terror. Senator Kerry should finally wake up his campaign with respect to his discussion on the war on terror and make it clear to the terrorists that his resolve in the war from Iraq to America will not waiver from that of President Bush. Anything short of that should give us concern. That which makes a clear divide between a softer Kerry administration of 2005 and a more resolute second-term Bush administration that promises to finish the war against al-Qaida, may in fact pose a palpable security risk for the American citizenry into the fall of 2004. The terrorists rather need to get the clear message that the American population will not waiver in the war on terror regardless of who wins in November. This column originally appeared at the Arizona Republic online at this link.

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