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Defining Moments in the War on Terror
by Michael Nevin, Jr.
23 March 2004

Spain should heed Sir Winston Churchill’s warning from years past, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”


March 11th marked a tragic day for Spain when more than 200 of its citizens were brutally killed and 1,800 injured on commuter trains in Madrid.  March 14th marked a defeat for the “coalition of the willing” when the Socialists declared victory in the Spanish elections.  Spanish voters, still reeling from the bomb blast, ousted the ruling party, whom they blamed for making them a target by backing the Iraq war.  Spanish Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero quickly capitulated and promised to bring home Spain’s troops based in Iraq.  He called the situation in Iraq a “fiasco.”  Apparently, Zapatero would rather reach out to terrorists and keep the Bush administration at a distance. 

Why is 1492 an important year to remember in terms of the current struggle in the war on terror?  In 1492, Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in Andalusia, Spain, fell to Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella during the Spanish Reconquista, thus ending the Moorish rule.  Ironically, it was also the year that Ferdinand and Isabella funded Columbus’ auspicious journey to the New World.  Now Fast forward to “Operation Death Trains,” carried out in Madrid on March 11th.  Muslim terrorists with ties to al Qaeda claimed responsibility.  A letter published in a London-based Arabic newspaper explained the possible motive:  “The Death Brigades penetrated into the European Crusader heartland, and struck a painful blow at one of the foundations of the Crusader coalition.  This is part of a settling of old accounts with Crusader Spain, the ally of the U.S., in its war against Islam.”  Spain might find it easy to blame George W. Bush for her current troubles but Ferdinand and Isabella have a high level of culpability as well.  Maybe Prime Minister-elect Zapatero should consider offering Granada to al Qaeda in a show of good faith and reparations for a 512-year-old debt.

Videotape was uncovered in a trash bin near a mosque in Madrid following the bombing.  The terrorist on the videotape explicitly explains, “You love life and we love death.”  Unfortunately, terror has proven that it can work in places like Spain when a government decides to cut and run after a brutal attack.  The proper response would have been for Spain to not only stay the course in Iraq but also double its troop deployment.  When terror smells victory as it did in Spain, we are all more susceptible.  And innocent civilians somewhere will pay the heavy price for those myopic political decisions.  Spain should heed Sir Winston Churchill’s warning from years past, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

The situation in Spain might confuse many leftists around the world because none of the alleged conspirators of the Madrid bombing are Iraqi.  The Moroccans and Indians arrested have ties to al Qaeda.  Why would al Qaeda have any interest in Iraq?  We’ve been told by leftists around the globe that the Iraq war has nothing to do with the war on terror.  On the contrary, it has absolutely everything to do with it. 

The intellectual dishonesty of the opponents of the American-led coalition in Iraq continues despite the obvious nexus between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.  A top secret U.S. government memorandum, dated October 27, 2003, was obtained by The Weekly Standard and it put to rest any argument about the connection.  The memo laid out exhaustive Iraq-al Qaeda contacts between 1990 and March of 2003.  Case in point:  According to The Weekly Standard, “Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the Iraqi facilitator…whisked not one but two September 11 hijackers—Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi—through the passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] on January 5, 2000.  Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11 plot.”  There is little doubt that Saddam Hussein was the Svengali of the Middle East. The unscrupulous people suspected of profiting from the infamous and now defunct United Nations Oil-for-Food Program didn’t have a problem dealing with the devil.  These legislators, political activists, and journalists in some 46 countries might be able to help shed light on Saddam’s charm.  

Success in Iraq would equal success in the war on terror.  Al Qaeda understands that a fledgling democracy in Iraq is their worst nightmare, and they’ll do anything to prevent it.  However, many Europeans and some Americans still don’t get it, and they underestimate the capabilities and intentions of those who will bring us harm.   European Commission President Romano Prodi quixotically argues, “It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists.”  Most appeasers would agree with presidential candidate John Kerry, who suggested that the fight against terror should be “primarily an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement operation.”  This approach is an exercise in futility and a proven failure.  A war requires a full-fledged military response if you’re going to be serious about national security and rooting out terrorism. 

The fact remains that radical Muslim terrorists have been at war with the West for many years but only recently has the “coalition of the willing” begun to fight back.  This is an enemy who laughs at the fools extending olive branches.  Appeasement is tantamount to government-assisted suicide. They hit soft targets, including children, to weaken our resolve.  Defining the war on terror requires understanding the premise that this implacable foe doesn’t hate us for what we do -- they hate us for who we are.

Michael Nevin is a California law enforcement officer.

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