Spanish PM-elect Zapatero: has his appeasement failed already?
It looks as if Islamic radicals most likely did indeed plant the bomb discovered on a rail line in Spain yesterday. From AP:
Interior Minister Angel Acebes confirmed today that the bomb found at a high-speed rail line a day earlier was made of the same type of explosives used in the Madrid terror bombings.
“The explosives are the same as those used on March 11, but at this moment the investigation is continuing … to try to determine who is behind it,” Acebes told reporters in Madrid.
Train service was restored today after being interrupted a day earlier by the discovery of a 12-kilogram bomb hidden in a bag, the state rail company said.
Investigators have said the March 11 bombings were carried out with Spanish dynamite, Goma 2 Eco. The attack killed 191 people and injured 1,800.
And from The Telegraph: “Terrorists can’t be bought off – as Spain discovers.”
It is worth taking a moment to consider what might have happened but for the attentiveness of Spain’s Civil Guards, who yesterday removed a bomb from an AVE train between Madrid and Seville. Today’s newspapers might have been filled with the story of a new carnage, photographs of more weeping relatives, renewed commitments by politicians that such things must never happen again.
Only, of course, they do happen again. In any society, there will be people who turn to violence. Sometimes, their violence is purely criminal, sometimes it presumes to a political motive. But we delude ourselves if we think that we can eliminate it entirely. Terrorists, like the poor, always we have with us.
This is a grim conclusion to reach and, not surprisingly, people are periodically tempted to think that they can somehow remove the threat. Spain collectively made such a decision 72 hours after the Madrid bombs, when it voted, in effect, to pull out of the coalition in Iraq.
It would not be entirely fair to say that Spain voted for appeasement – many Spaniards wanted a change anyway, others were angry at what they thought was a government cover-up – but at least some had made the calculation that, by turfing out Jose Maria Aznar’s Atlanticist regime, they would make themselves less of a target.
Such an attitude, as has been widely observed inside and outside Spain, is morally wrong. Equally, though, it is intellectually wrong. If Spaniards believed that voting for the Euro-fanatic Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero would persuade the bombers to stand down, they know better today. This is an old truth, but it seems to have to be learnt anew by each generation.
As Kipling put it nearly a hundred years ago:
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane
The assertion that there must be a long-term solution to terrorist violence sounds plausible, but turns out to be specious. As long as people are capable of wickedness, some will always see aggression as a way of winning what argument cannot. If governments respond by seeking to address their grievances, their violence becomes rational.
But governments do not need to respond this way. The Italians did not seek to negotiate with the Red Brigades, nor the Germans with the Baader-Meinhof gang. Indeed, to their credit, the Spanish had traditionally insisted on finding a security rather than a political solution to Eta violence. Though it pains us to say so, the election of March 14 is as much an encouragement to Eta as to al-Qa’eda: they have seen, as have republican and loyalist paramilitaries in this country, that terrorism sometimes works.
Better by far to have replied, with Kipling: “We never pay anyone Dane-geld, no matter how trifling the cost; for the end of that game is oppression and shame, and the nation that plays it is lost!”