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Spanish bombing politicizing backfires on Partido Popolare

salimma (115327) writes | more than 10 years ago

The Media 9

Socialists took over the Lower House in Sunday's parliamentary election in Spain, after two terms in office for the People's Party, which was previously expected to win the election.

Socialists took over the Lower House in Sunday's parliamentary election in Spain, after two terms in office for the People's Party, which was previously expected to win the election.

The PP was criticized by Basques for politicizing the bombing, for instance by immediately blaming the ETA even when evidence to the contrary mounting up, until the announcement that Moroccan terror suspects have been arrested in connection with the terrorist act. The PP-organized marches employed banners promoting the constitution, instead of democracy, which was perceived to be an attack on moderate Basques promoting peaceful means of achieving constitutional changes.

It should also be noted that the outgoing PP government sent troops to Iraq from the beginning, despite over 90% of the population being opposed to the invasion; Turkey, in a similar position, refused to allow US ground troops to invade from its territories. This might just be a delayed backlash; the socialists certainly ran on an anti-war platform, promising to pull out troops by June.

Regardless of whether war in Iraq is justified (I believe an invasion is justified, lying to get one is not, on the other hand), this election provides an inspiration to democratically-minded people everywhere: politicians, lie and ignore public opinion at your own perils.

If only I could be this optimistic about the upcoming Indonesian legislative elections...

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9 comments

Spanish public opinion (0)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 10 years ago | (#8567066)

It should also be noted that the outgoing PP government sent troops to Iraq from the beginning, despite over 90% of the population being opposed to the invasion; Turkey, in a similar position, refused to allow US ground troops to invade from its territories. This might just be a delayed backlash;

Unlikely: right up until the week before the voting - when opinion polls are banned by Spanish law - they showed a substantial lead in the PP's favor. Attributing a swing of 18% in the space of a week to events of over a year ago rather than the major terrorist attack during that week seems implausible. Since the new PM has already pledged to rush to withdraw troops from the coalition, it seems Al Queda got precisely what they wanted: their own "regime change", and beginning to undermine that coalition.

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8567782)

The events are connected, the Spanish support for the invasion apparently serving as al-Qaeda's casus belli in this case.

Still, it was PP's election to lose; being so intent on blaming the ETA and Basque nationalists in general probably played a greater role in their loss than the initial bombing itself.

Note that Spain is not alone in appearing to acquiesce to al Qaeda; US troops were recently pulled out of Saudi Arabia as well, one of the terrorist group's aims. And in any case, Spain might not pull out of Iraq should a transition plan gain UN backing. Which is likely considering the US wants out before its own presidential/congressional elections....

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 10 years ago | (#8568612)

Note that Spain is not alone in appearing to acquiesce to al Qaeda; US troops were recently pulled out of Saudi Arabia as well, one of the terrorist group's aims.

Techically, yes Al Queda wanted the US (and UK and French) troops out of Saudi; they didn't want them leaving because their mission was over, though!

And in any case, Spain might not pull out of Iraq should a transition plan gain UN backing. Which is likely considering the US wants out before its own presidential/congressional elections....

Unlikely. The UN turned tail and ran after failing to secure its own building, let alone anywhere else - and control is due to be handing directly over to the Iraqi people in a few months. Why delay that and give the UN an opportunity to mess things up, just to pander to the new Spanish PM? (Spain's contribution is pretty small - 16 times larger than France's contribution in Afghanistan, but still just a token presence.)

I'm sad that the Spanish people chose to give in to the terrorists' demands rather than stand up to them, but the only real damage to other countries is that Al Queda will probably feel more confident about trying similar manipulation there...

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8607378)

Why delay that and give the UN an opportunity to mess things up, just to pander to the new Spanish PM?

No delay would be involved; the Spanish deadline was June 30th, the handover date set as a deadline by the White House.

And this is not just pandering to the Spanish PM. More troops are needed to secure Iraq, even now; even more so after US troops are reduced in number - tying down one-third your active force permanently in one country is unsustainable.

I should think a lot of Spaniards would feel rather insulted to be thought to be giving in to the terrorists' demands. Aznar did himself in by trying to cover up who did the bombing, when he could have attempted to rally the people behind the government.

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 10 years ago | (#8608443)

No delay would be involved; the Spanish deadline was June 30th, the handover date set as a deadline by the White House.

The White House plan is to hand over power directly to the Iraqis. The Spanish wish appeared to be for that handover to be to the UN instead.

And this is not just pandering to the Spanish PM. More troops are needed to secure Iraq, even now; even more so after US troops are reduced in number - tying down one-third your active force permanently in one country is unsustainable.

The Spanish contribution represents about 1% of the total coalition force. If the US needed or wanted more troops, why are they reducing the total non-Iraqi forces instead? Meanwhile, for every one Spanish soldier in Iraq, there are more than one hundred new Iraqi soldiers/policemen, shouldering more of the security workload each month. The Spanish contribution was never much more than symbolic support, and certainly isn't worth compromising the entire plan for!

I should think a lot of Spaniards would feel rather insulted to be thought to be giving in to the terrorists' demands. Aznar did himself in by trying to cover up who did the bombing, when he could have attempted to rally the people behind the government.

From what I've seen so far, that's exactly what a lot of Spaniards feel; a large number cast "protest votes", and regretted it almost immediately. Yes, Aznar mis-handled it - but bear in mind there was, at the time, evidence pointing to ETA: the composition of the bombs, for example, and indeed their design. Considering Al Queda said, both before and after the event, that removing the PP from power was their aim all along, the Spanish would be right to feel they've just done exactly what Al Queda wanted.

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624719)

If the US needed or wanted more troops, why are they reducing the total non-Iraqi forces instead?

Because they still insist that more troops are not needed? There have been arguments on whether this is true or not; ret. gen. Shinseki AFAIR stated quite openly that an occupational force numbering in the hundreds of thousands would be needed to pacify Iraq.

If there are no troops left to send, and your allies are not likely to supply them in anywhere near the required number, one might as well pretend that the troops are *not* needed.

A UN role in overseeing a future election in Iraq is needed, like it or not. The Guardian Council needed guidance to even agree on their interim constitution!

And if the world were to believe that Al Qaeda was disproportionately responsible for swinging the Spanish election, imagine what copycat groups would start attempting from now on..

Scary.

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 10 years ago | (#8629595)

Because they still insist that more troops are not needed? There have been arguments on whether this is true or not; ret. gen. Shinseki AFAIR stated quite openly that an occupational force numbering in the hundreds of thousands would be needed to pacify Iraq.

Such as the two or three hundred thousand currently present, and rising? Already the bulk of the ground work is done by Iraqi troops, with less work for the coalition troops every month - hence the falling death toll, and hence the reduction in force levels. You're correct that Shinseki speculated on the number of troops required - but that speculation was over a year ago, and clearly not based on any knowledge of the current situation. So far, the Pentagon's figure - as used for the actual deployment - has proven perfectly adequate.

If there are no troops left to send, and your allies are not likely to supply them in anywhere near the required number, one might as well pretend that the troops are *not* needed.

"No troops left to send"? Where did the remaining 1.3m troops disappear to? The US is reducing its deployment - and, IMHO, rightly so. If anything, the problem is that right now, there are too many US troops in Iraq, making them a tempting target for groups like Al Queda, as well as a recruiting aid for Iraqi would-be terrorists, using the fear the US won't leave as a rallying cry. Both of those issues disappear once the security lies in Iraqi hands, as is the current plan - and neither would be helped by increased the deployment.

A UN role in overseeing a future election in Iraq is needed, like it or not.

The same UN which turned tail and fled after failing to secure their own building? The same UN which doesn't have any troops to offer in the first place, even if France permitted it to try to help? Frankly, getting the UN - a body which has no real democratic element of any kind, and attaches no apparent value to democracy - to oversee an election seems akin to employing a vegetarian meat taster...

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8631961)

hence the falling death toll

Death toll for Americans, or for Iraqis? Those bombing attacks against Kurds and Shi'ites look rather nasty. Not to mention the death tolls.. and the fact that they seem clearly designed to foment discord between the various factions. But no matter, as long as the troops could go home..
"No troops left to send"? Where did the remaining 1.3m troops disappear to?

Well, the army only had half a million people to play with, I believe. Already, troops participating in the invasion last year are being prepped to be sent back later this year.
The same UN which turned tail and fled after failing to secure their own building? The same UN which doesn't have any troops to offer in the first place, even if France permitted it to try to help?

How could they have troops, when major powers have been resisting the creation of a standing army for decades?

Re:Spanish public opinion (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 10 years ago | (#8632797)

Death toll for Americans, or for Iraqis? Those bombing attacks against Kurds and Shi'ites look rather nasty. Not to mention the death tolls.. and the fact that they seem clearly designed to foment discord between the various factions. But no matter, as long as the troops could go home..

The troops are being replaced, not removed, and yes the death toll for Iraqis is down dramatically too - by a factor of six from pre-war levels. The security situation isn't ideal, but it is certainly is improving - and so far, the attacks intended to create tension between Iraqis have had the opposite effect, of uniting them against a common enemy of terrorism.

Well, the army only had half a million people to play with, I believe. Already, troops participating in the invasion last year are being prepped to be sent back later this year.

That's still less than a quarter, and you're missing the Marines who were also used, as well as the national guard troops, including our own Red Warrior, whose WA unit arrived in Kuwait a few days ago. There are plenty more troops available if needed - but they aren't needed, so they don't get sent.

How could they have troops, when major powers have been resisting the creation of a standing army for decades?

The question is, what (if anything) do they have to offer, to offset the considerable additional costs of delaying the handover? Their track record is appalling, and the only personnel they can offer would be an ad-hoc coalition of those willing to help - i.e. the status quo.

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