Aviva Espa

By Yousef Munayyer

This past week I saw a picture that invoked much thought in me. The picture was of a young, teary-eyed lady carrying a sign above her head. On this sign was a black and white photo of Great Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair, and U.S. President George W. Bush with his hand around former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain.

The caption above the photo was written in Spanish. In English it would translate to, “This Photo Cost Us 200 Lives.”

The train bombing that happened in Madrid on March 11 came only a few days before the election and surely had an effect on its outcome. However, it is not right to think that these bombings were the sole reason for the outcome of the election. Also, the outcome of the election is not a bad thing.

The people in Spain voted into power a left-leaning Socialist party that had been against the war on Iraq from the beginning. Aznar had come to power on a platform of coming down hard on terror, domestic terror that is. When the bombing in Madrid first happened, initial reports by the government indicated that it was a domestic terror group even though they had no evidence. This willingness to lie to their people further allied the then Spanish government with Bush and Co.

The ETA, a resistance group that uses terrorist tactics from the Basque-speaking areas of Spain, would be Aznar’s main enemy in this fight against domestic terror. He had done a pretty good job. However, he led his country in the wrong direction, sending soldiers and support into Iraq. The majority of Spain’s people did not want this. We have to remember that the people of Spain have seen terror, they have been affected by it, and they see it as their enemy. The election results after the bombings suggest that they are going to fight terror in a different way, maybe even a way that works.

Casablanca, Bali, Istanbul, Riyad, Madrid, these are all major cities around the world where Al- Qaeda has stuck and struck hard. How can we claim we are winning the war on terror? Do we think that just because we are rounding up some members of Al- Qaeda that terror will no longer be used in the world?

We have to understand that terror is unlike any enemy we have ever faced. And since it is not a conventional enemy we cannot fight it with conventional means. We need to understand that terror is an enemy that grows every time we attack it. Every time we kill a terror leader, two are created. Every time we launch an unfounded war against a Muslim country, the “madrasas” and Mosques of the most radical preachers fill up. Our actions against the Middle East have been the ammo used against us in the preaching of terror leaders. Every time we do something like this we create more and more young terror recruits.

Just two days ago, Israel launched an air attack against a car that killed Hamas’ founder. The killing of the very old, paraplegic religious leader will cause a very violent backlash. Can anyone explain how this action serves Israel’s interest? This is beyond illogical – it’s self-destructive.

After Sept. 11, Osama Bin Laden said the United States would retaliate by attacking an oil-rich Arab country. Do we really enjoy making this guy look like a fortuneteller? The war on Iraq has been the most counterproductive effort in the “War on Terror.”

No weapons, no link to terror. No wonder the Spanish, like so many other countries never wanted in. Sure, now all the leaders will tell you they fell victim to faulty intelligence. The Intelligence officials say that they provided good intelligence but the leaders manipulated it. Someone is lying.

Today, Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism coordinator who left in 2003, will testify before a federal panel and tell them that Bush and Co. are doing a terrible job. With our attention in Iraq the worst proliferation in the world was going on, coming out of Pakistan. What has been done to secure our ports from bombs that could come in through freight? After Madrid, many have been asking what has been done to protect our trains.

All this time in Iraq and Al-Qaeda has been on the loose. Even when we run them down, there will be others. We need to realize that terrorism is a direct creation of our foreign policy. Spain did, but like the sign said, it cost them 200 lives. I hope we figure this out before it costs us any more.

We cannot fall for this nonsense about Europe not being able to handle the heat. They chose to fight the war on terror a different way, one that may just work. Spain made that decision by casting ballots. They removed a government that acted against their will. That’s not appeasement, that’s democracy. The question is: can we handle that?

Yousef Munayyer is a Collegian columnist.