The defeat suffered by Spain’s Conservative Party at the hands of the Socialist Party in the March 14 2004 elections, just a few days after the devastating bombings in Madrid, led some newspaper accounts to attribute the election outcome to al-Qaeda, and some neoliberal pundits to worry that Spain’s threatened withdrawal of its 1300 troops from Iraq might be viewed as a “victory” by terrorists around the world.
For example, the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman wrote that such a withdrawal would encourage al-Qaeda to use similar tactics to influence other elections, much as – according to him – Palestinian militants have tried to influence Israel’s elections. In Friedman’s words, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to the war on terrorism what the Spanish Civil War was to World War II” – a testing ground for new tactics.
As discussed below, however, if leading gringo pundits -- especially those like Friedman who have supported the Iraq War since Day One -- really expect to be taken seriously by audiences outside the US, they will need to be a bit more careful with such historical analogies, especially those that involve a country like Spain that has suffered far more at the hands of terrorism and fascism than the US has.
They should also pay closer attention to the role that the Iraq War supporters’ own serial distortions have played in giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Finally, as we'll argue, they should also consider the possibility that some of the most dangerous forms of "appeasement" in the world today may be taking shape, not in Madrid (or Paris...), but in Washington D.C. and Tel Aviv.