March 15, 2004


Mark Steyn in today’s Australian:

"The bombs dropped on Baghdad exploded in Madrid!" declared one "peace" protester in Spain. Or as Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty put it, somewhat less vividly: "If this turns out to be Islamic extremists . . . it is more likely to be linked to the position that Spain and other allies took on issues such as Iraq."

By "other allies", he means you – yes, you, reading this on the bus to work in Australia. You may not have supported the war, or ever voted for John Howard, but you're now a target. In other words, this is "blowback". This is what you get when you side with the swaggering Texas gunslinger and his neocon Zionist sidekicks.

Steyn has three responses to Keelty, and a conclusion you may find yourself shouting at the next appeasement rabbit to cross your path. Meanwhile, the Dutch are wishing and hoping that their low profile will grant them safety:

In the wake of the devastating bomb attacks in Madrid on Thursday, a Dutch terrorist expert has played down fears that the Netherlands could also be targeted.

Edwin Bakker, of the Clingendael Institute, told newspaper De Volkskrant that the Netherlands was relatively low down on the list of countries that faced the "wrath of Islam".

"Spain's support for the US is far more overt. Spain was prominent in the build up to the war in Iraq, while the Netherlands was not," Bakker said.

Bakker can step as lightly as he wants in those felt-soled peace clogs of his. Islamist killers would be as happy to blast him to death as they would anyone not screaming their support for extreme Muslim lunacy. Incidentally, this week marks the first anniversary of the beginning of the war to remove Saddam Hussein; anticipate many “shock and awe”-related headlines.

It’s also Fabio’s birthday.

(By the way, go here for updates and comments on Spain’s election.)

Posted by Tim Blair at March 15, 2004 03:04 AM

Dear European leftist appeasement-pushers: I hope the operation to have your balls removed didn't leave you in too much pain. Judging from the perpetually sour expressions on your faces, my hope is in vain.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 15, 2004 at 03:52 AM

Happy Birthday, Fabio! Happy Birthday, Liberated Iraq!

And remember: While there were Dutch willing to hide Anne Frank, there were also Dutch more than happy to turn her in.

Posted by: JDB at March 15, 2004 at 03:59 AM

Andrea beat me to it. I was going to write something witty referring to "balls", but Andrea's post would suffice.

Posted by: Aggie at March 15, 2004 at 03:59 AM

Steyn writes:

So the choice for pluralist democracies is simple: You can join Bush in taking the war to the terrorists, to their redoubts and sponsoring regimes ... Or you can stick your head in the sand and paint a burqa on your butt. But they'll blow it up anyway.

Steyn is wrong... there is a better option:

We could all just curl up and die ... that would save the poor terrorist all the effort.

.... and make all the 'liberals' happy too.

Posted by: Crazy at March 15, 2004 at 04:19 AM

Heh, guys! Don't shoot the messenger!

Mark Steyn makes little sense having a go at, of all people, Mick Keelty for pointing out the bleeding obvious. That member countries of the Coalition of the willing ARE more likely to be the victims of muslim extremist terrorist attacks. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to work that out.

For political reasons members of Coalition countries fighting against terror may want to play down the risk, but that's not the commissioner's job. His job is to objectively weigh the risks. Pretending that there is no risk is not going to make it go away. Equating the police commisioner's remarks with those of a peace protester is just crazy talk.

Are we more at risk for being in the Coaliton? Too right and bloody proud of it. Is a soldier in battle more at risk than a civilian back home watching him on TV? Of course! but who is it that's making the stand against the enemies of freedom, the couch potato or the digger on the front line?

Posted by: The Gnu Hunter at March 15, 2004 at 06:49 AM

"neocon Zionist sidekicks" - WTF? Are you sure this Mark Steyn character isn't taking the piss?

Posted by: hast at March 15, 2004 at 07:36 AM

Uh -- yes, hast, we are sure he's "taking the piss." In other words, he was being sarcastic.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 15, 2004 at 07:44 AM

Mr. T. G. Hunter:

As a public servant and therefore being more in the limelight than your average schmoe, Mick Keelty's "stating the obvious" is misplaced, because it will be seized upon by the Appeasement Rabbit crowd as confirmation of that crowd's hysterical doomsday ravings, and as criticism of the Australian administration's current policy.

As such, that is a messenger in need of some shooting. At least a light flesh wound, perhaps...

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at March 15, 2004 at 07:47 AM

I think we should all take a quick break from our daily travails to congratulate Al Qaeda on its election victory in Spain. Way to go, Osama! Way to go, Spain!

Posted by: S.A. Smith at March 15, 2004 at 08:01 AM

Carl in N.H.

Couldn't agree more that the Left will seize on it. For social and political reasons the risk is being downplayed but for a journalist like Steyn or for us to pretend that there's no risk associated with being in the Coalition of the Willing is just sophistry.

Steyn could rightly have criticised the commissioner (as you correctly have done) for speaking at all but he can't reasonably fault the logic in what the policeman said.

Steyn also implied Islamist extremists were irrational in their choice of target. The victory of the Socialists in the Spanish elections indicates they are not. Their world view of religion and politics is irrational but their choice of targets is not. The Spanish public's opposition to participating in the war was about 90% I think. With hindsight, could Spain perhaps have been the prime target in the Coalition of the Willing?

I think the Left will also seize on the bombings and the immediate Socialist victory in Spain. They'll say, "See we were right."

The result of the Spanish election and the perception that terror played a direct part in choosing the winner is a blow to freedom .

Underestimate our enemy and we will lose.

Posted by: The Gnu Hunter at March 15, 2004 at 08:19 AM

I reckon Gnu Hunter got it exactly right.
What a disaster--maybe Spain will go on record as the first Western democracy to fall.

Posted by: Keith at March 15, 2004 at 08:52 AM

I have little doubt that extremists are targeting and going to be targeting countries which supported the war on the secular dictator (if that makes sense). I'm pretty sure the Netherlands, France, Germany will probably escape unharmed when the war on terror is over.

But the way I see it, you don't appease your enemy like the US did to the Soviets until Reagan came along. There will be innocent casualties of terror in allied nations, but that's no excuse to not fight this menace. 9/11 proved that they will attack unprovoked. Logic dictates that their next attack on America will be some kind of dirty bomb.

Posted by: anon at March 15, 2004 at 09:08 AM

The saddest upshot is that a socialist regime in Spain will make it so much easier for the next terrorist attack. And there will be one. Remember, it was only a few weeks ago that a committed anti-terrorist government foiled a bomb attack by Basque terrorists. Reckon they won't try again, now that it will be that much easier?

Posted by: slatts at March 15, 2004 at 09:12 AM

I take some flak for my comment to this miserable result:

"The Spanish have been living next door to the French for way too long."

Maybe not entirely fair, but I stand by it until the new government proves me wrong, which would both delight and surprise me.

True, the first election victory for al-Qaeda ever. Maybe it amuses them.

Posted by: Jan Haugland at March 15, 2004 at 09:24 AM

the only things that are obvious about the spanish events are are that in western europe:
1. the terrorists succeeded, especially with their timing.
2. and they successfully used part of our popularion (the political left) to do it.

Posted by: Joe at March 15, 2004 at 09:55 AM

the only things that are obvious about the spanish events are are that in western europe:
1. the terrorists succeeded, especially with their timing.
2. and they successfully used part of our popularion (the political left) to do it.

Posted by: Joe at March 15, 2004 at 09:55 AM

Wonder where we'd be now?

The Guardian 1940: "There can be no doubt
that the recent blitz on London is a result
of Churchill declaring war on Germany without
examining the underlying root causes".

Probably surrendering to Nazis instead of
medieval maniacs.

Posted by: fred at March 15, 2004 at 10:03 AM

3 Days - Spain surrendered faster than France.

Posted by: perfectsense at March 15, 2004 at 10:34 AM

Gnu's right, and nor should Keelty tailor his remarks to suit a bunch of lefties.

Clearly, it is now effectively a 'world' war, and everyone fighting back against terror - as everyone, without a moment's heistation, should - can expect a fight - pre-emptive, unexpected, horrendous.

The 'three wise monkeys' left is slowly painting itself into a sticky corner, petulantly denying the scale of the threat, and simplistically postulating that the war should not take place in or be waged on 'neutral' territories.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 15, 2004 at 10:34 AM

I sure hope this doesn't bite them in the ass. I've never been to Spain but my father was able to fulfil his long-cherished dream of going to the place before he died (he went in 1984 and died in 1997). He especially enjoyed Barcelona, but Toledo (home of the oft-flogged Tolerant Medieval Jewish/Muslim/Christian community back in the days of the Abbasids) was also a special favorite. He brought me back the most souvernirs from Spain, such as a travelling chess set, which I still have, and a gold-and-black pill case (representative of some sort of local art) which I no longer have due to a bastard who stole my purse in Miami.

Anyway, I'd like to go there someday, so I hope this does not come back to bite them in the ass.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 15, 2004 at 10:39 AM

The pathetic thing here is that countries like France, Germany, Russia and now likely Spain are giving in to what essentially is 3000 cavemen. It's ridiculous that these countries are giving credence to these batshit motherfuckers.

Posted by: anon at March 15, 2004 at 10:55 AM

This is the terrorist’s first big success in recent times. 9/11 was disastrous for them because it resulted in the annihilation of a good part of organization and a loss of their base of operation, Iraq has shown them to be almost powerless against the U.S even when in a situation that suits them best.
But now (if the election result truly is a reaction to the attacks) we see them exerting influence over a democratic nation. This combined with sustained diverting of blame away from them by many on the left is going to be a massive boost and encouragement to them. This could be bad, really bad.

Posted by: Michael 2 at March 15, 2004 at 11:04 AM

Michael 2,
9/11 was most certainly not disastrous for them. They had a massive publicity coup - it put them on the map as a serious player in world affairs, as important and relevant as the leading nation states. They predicted and prepared for the backlash, which failed to take them off the map. The Coalition's difficulties in Iraq are demonstrating that the West cannot stop them (from being active terrorists).

Spain should be showing us that their actions are a carefully considered strategy of targeted hit and run actions - a successful terrorist campaign.

Intellectually, ethically and morally they are indeed "batshit motherfuckers", but that shouldn't prevent us from seeing them as being intelligent and clever, and of possessing a long-term but adaptable plan. Despite appearances, they aren't losing in this conflict, and they are fully capable of winning.

Posted by: PJF at March 15, 2004 at 11:50 AM

9/11 was their finest moment when it occurred, but the were subsequently sufferred a defeat when Bush and the allied nations struck at Al-Qaeda's heart.

Fucking help us if Latham each find themselves as leaders.

Posted by: anon at March 15, 2004 at 11:59 AM

9/11 was their finest moment when it occurred, but the were subsequently sufferred a defeat when Bush and the allied nations struck at Al-Qaeda's heart.

Fucking help us if Latham and Kerry each find themselves as leaders.

Posted by: anon at March 15, 2004 at 12:00 PM

Thanks for the response, Gnu Hunter, agreed about underestimating our enemy.

Not to hijack this thread, but what are the odds of a Kerry victory ?

At this point, it is looking at least even, which is making me nervous.

I used to think it was even worse for Bush since I had automatically lumped all the Nader voters in with the Gore voters for this next round (New Hampshire was a state that Bush won in 2000 because of the Nader effect) but I recently heard a discussion about Florida 2000 on NPR where the claim was made that exit polls in Florida revealed a 50-50 split among the Nader voters, regarding who they would hypothetically have voted for if not for Nader.

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at March 15, 2004 at 12:55 PM

It is simplistic to nominate the election of left-wing governments as al-Quaeda victories.

The leader who fought hardest for regime change in Iraq as a way of rooting out terrorism - and who has been most eloquent of all the CotW leaders on the whole issue - is Britain's nominally left-wing Tony Blair.

al-Quaeda wants to do far more than merely topple governments in democratic nations.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 15, 2004 at 01:02 PM

A sorta-but not really totally related question. Can anyone tell me what the polls were saying before the blast?

As in, was Aznar expected to win or lose? I mean, its one thing to have a strong lead in the polls but blow it all by election day, quite another to be already lagging and then have this happen.


Posted by: Quentin George at March 15, 2004 at 01:08 PM

I think I read Anzar's party lead by 4%.

Posted by: aaron at March 15, 2004 at 01:12 PM

Aaron, was it really that close?

I had read articles that Spain was the unsung success story of Western Europe with a humming economy, low(er) unemployment, much investment, a trimmed bureacracy etc. Essentially, the opposite of France and Germany.

The polls showed that most folks opposed the war in Iraq but that all other things being equal, the PP was a shoo-in.

I think this attack was a tipping point and one that all democracies should rue. Big win for terror today.

Posted by: JDB at March 15, 2004 at 01:25 PM

It was, I've heard speculation that their finance markets should take 20% dip because of the election results and expected effect on business.

Posted by: aaron at March 15, 2004 at 01:53 PM

I'm not sure about the number, when I said "It was," I was refering to Spain being a shining example.

I think it's important to note that we might lose Spanish support in Iraq, but they will probably attack al Quaeda more directly.

Posted by: aaron at March 15, 2004 at 01:57 PM

Andrea - Spain is lovely. My husband and I went there for our honeymoon a few years back; beat England and France into a cocked hat. We spent most of our in Andalusia, and loved every second of it.

That being said, I know absolutely nothing about the Typical Spanish Mindset, but considering the shortage of time between the attacks and the elections, I can see a lot of the swing-voter types getting fired up, saying "If Aznar hadn't gotten us into this, we wouldn't have been attacked" which is technically true (though they don't remember the real end of the sentence, which is "wouldn't have been attacked NOW, but some other time.") I spent a good bit of time in Russia, and when things like this happened (apartment building exploded, etc) for a few days your focus would become very, very narrow, as in: To hell with greater ideals or long-range goals or the motivations of either side, I do not deserve to be blown up and die in horrible agony. Though come to think of it, I'm still not sure why so much of the blame seems to be bypassing Al-Qaeda and landing directly on the politicians who oppose it most strongly...okay, maybe I don't understand where they're coming from. Suffice to say that the immediate aftermath of a bombing a few blocks away from you tends to be massive confusion and willingness to strike out at the nearest available target.

Posted by: Sonetka at March 15, 2004 at 02:23 PM

"They had a massive publicity coup - it put them on the map as a serious player in world affairs"

If that was one of there goals, then why have they never taken responsibility for 9/11?

"They predicted and prepared for the backlash,"

That’s seems to be a very specific piece of knowledge PJF? But if its just speculation, what do you base it on?
Why would they take an action if they knew would result in the fall of the Taliban and cost them their base of operations? why would they willingly bring the focus of every intelligence agency onto themselves? Why would they deliberately lose virtually all their major financial support networks?

Why would they willingly do all this when all they had to do was wait another 10 to 15 years (or less) to amass the sort of technology and power that would have easily enabled them to destroy lives in the hundreds of millions instead of just in the thousands thereby being able to truly hold the planet to ransom?

O.K I admit to not being a terrorism expert so your view may well be right but to my mind 9/11 was one of history's most spectacular miscalculations the world has ever seen - a kind of tactical premature ejaculation that has left Al-Qaeda a shadow of its former potential, take note - I'm not saying powerless, clearly they are still very, very dangerous and I think we are all in for some immensely painful years ahead, and as a result of the encouragement they will probably gain from any capitulation on Spain’s part, Australia may well be next in line for that pain.
I just think that would have been incalculably worse if they hadn't made the mistake of playing their hand to soon.

Posted by: Michael 2 at March 15, 2004 at 04:27 PM

"targeting countries which supported the war on the secular dictator (if that makes sense). I'm pretty sure the Netherlands, France, Germany will probably escape unharmed when the war on terror is over."

Um, the Netherlands is part of the coalition. There are Dutch soldiers in Iraq as we speak.

Posted by: vaara at March 15, 2004 at 06:28 PM

If that was one of there goals, then why have they never taken responsibility for 9/11?

Well, excepting that videotaped admission from OBL.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at March 16, 2004 at 12:06 AM

The fight against terrorism coming from Muslim lands will only be won by what you might call Muslim moderates, like myself, who see on both sides a lot of people going down to the same level. We can and do change the extremist's attitudes - before they become dangerous - and prevent others listening to them, despite the ethnic cleansing, the demonisation, the wilfull ignorance and the murder rained down on our co-religionists in various parts of the world, to the apparent glee of the likes of some of those who post onto this site. We counter their "teachings" - despite their claims of what that makes us. We stifle their recruitment. We get threatened by them when we prevent them from brainwashing our youth. Unpaid and unthanked. When people have reached that stage (and there are more than a few things going on that can drive people to such extremes), they are not going to listen to you, and your violence only convinces them they are right. They are wrong and no-one is going to listen to arrogant lying opportunist bullies like Bush and co who are no better than they are telling them so. If you want to encourage us to put a stop to these people, that would be a wise choice. If you want to categorise us as being the same as them and use that as an excuse for further nonsense - we will continue campaigning agaist them despite this. Your help and support would have been useful - least of all for your own sakes. We do it all the time - even thought many so-called journalists dont care to investigate or report it - it would suit such "journalists" if we didnt exist. They want things simple easy and xenophobic. These bacteria kill our people as well. Not that that would appear to be important to some of you. We loathe them - and if you lump us all together and heroically bomb us from 30000 feet we'll loathe you as well. But we will not go down to the same level as the mass mudererers of any persuasion.

Posted by: Alistair Hale at March 16, 2004 at 07:24 AM

Well Alistair, the last bunch of people we Americans bombed from 30,000 feet was the Serbs to prevent them from doing to the Kosovar Muslims what they had done to the Bosnian Muslims, until we moved in and stopped that. I could go on to list many examples of the US rescuing Muslims from disasters and standing between Muslims and danger, but I doubt you would appreciate it.

Massacres? Over most of the world it is Muslims massacering others, Christians, Jews, Hindus, animists, you name 'em and Muslims are shooting, hacking, or bombing them to death. There is also the slaving going on in Africa. Charming, I'm sure.

Now a lot of us have been saying that these are just the militant Islamists doing that sort of thing, and that moderate Muslims don't support them but oppose them. We've said that even as it has been difficult to find such moderate Muslims. We've been saying it for a long time, but it gets harder all the time, as the contagion of militant Islamism spreads ever wider and the violence increases.

Lying arrogant opportunist bullies like Bush and co.? Oh dear, Alistair, you are misinformed. Dubya and we neo-cons who support his policies are the best friends Muslims have, far better than cynical and corrupt French pols or Muslim politicians who announce that Muslims must learn engineering so they can kill the Jews better. There may be 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, but there are five billion others. Most of them are more technologically, militarily, and politically developed than Muslims are. The jihadis are pissing them off at a steady rate. As they proceed they might end up pissing off everybody else at once. Only the US is likely to react to this terrorism by liberating 40 million people from tyrannies, as we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of those countries, like China or Russia, may just conclude "The problem is Muslims. No Muslims, no problem." Bush is desperately working to suppress this stupid, evil sect of Satan worshippers masquerading under the flag of Islam known as Militant Islamists before that happens. I tell you Alistair, we are your greatest friends, and you have even more stake in Bush's strategy of putting down the jihadis, liberating Muslims from tyrants, and establishing consensual governments than we do, and that is saying a lot.

Posted by: Michael Lonie at March 16, 2004 at 04:01 PM

Er, Keelty is federal police commissioner - tim blair is an ideologue. Why on earth do you people think your lies are sustainable?

Posted by: Tim Blair at March 17, 2004 at 03:30 PM

You guys have some nasty names for people wth morals and ethics

Posted by: appeasementrabbit at March 17, 2004 at 03:32 PM

The majority of the people was against the war (90%) before the madrid bombings, so pull out the troops from Iraq is just what the people wants.

I do not think that the negative to give or expose our lives for the oil companies is because we're cowards, it's because we're not stupids.

If Aznar, Bush and other politics want iraqi oil and new world order under their domain, they can go to war themselves.

Posted by: pere (Barcelona) at March 17, 2004 at 10:55 PM