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March 15, 2004

A victory

Mark Kleiman, who really is about as fair and balanced a commentator as you will find in blogoland, makes a few points in his post about the Spanish elections. The first,

Both sides in the U.S. will probably find that this stengthens their already-held views. The hawks will think that they were right to give up on "old Europe," and the doves will reflect that the unpopularity of cowboy foreign policy isn't just among the elite, but extends to the voters in some of the countries most friendly to us.

seems undeniably true. One example is his trackback page. His post seems about equally linked by both sides of the debate.

Another point,

Spain has troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Socialists had already threatened to pull out of Iraq unless the UN takes over after the June 30 handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis. If they also pull out of Afghanistan, one would have to say that the vote represented a big win for the bad guys, and a big defeat for U.S. diplomacy.

seems arguable. There is no question that the attacks themselves represent a tactical victory for al-Qaeda (all of these discussions really require an assumption that al-Qaeda was responsible).

My understanding (an understanding probably equal to that of the average interested observer) of al-Qaeda’s long term strategic goals suggests that a new government in Spain that is intent on reevaluating its commitments in Iraq does not necessarily represent a victory. Unless I have missed something, the fact of this new government does not threaten the House of Saud, nor does it preview a larger Western disengagement from terrorism. If it represents a defeat for U.S. diplomacy, as practiced now by this administration, might it not also plausibly be argued that in the long run it could help focus on the tasks directly related to fighting terrorism. If that were the case, it would be a hollow victory indeed.

Posted by dog1 on March 15, 2004 at 12:17 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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