Thursday, March 18, 2004

Quote roundup

"But let us allow, for the moment, that the mass outcry against American hegemony is the voice of the true, the eternal and the compassionate left. Allowing that, we can put the best possible construction on its pervasiveness. Not just the majority of the intellectuals, academics and schoolteachers, but most of the face-workers in the media, share the view that international terrorism is to be explained by the vices of the liberal democracies. Or, at any rate, they shared it until a few days ago. It will be interesting, in the shattering light of an explosive event, to see if that easy view continues now to be quite so widespread, and how much room is made for the more awkward view that the true instigation for terrorism might not be the vices of the liberal democracies, but their virtues."

[Clive James, after the Bali bombing, hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for digging it up again at this timely juncture.]

And this, from a "Washington Post" article on Europe's reaction to the Madrid bombings:

"Only a dreamer would believe that Germany will not be attacked," say the editors of Bild, Germany's best-selling tabloid. "Islamic terrorists are waging a war against the West, not just against individual countries."

Sociologist Emilio Lamo de Espinosa says Europeans have been dreaming. Writing in Le Monde (in French), Lamo says Europeans have thought they would be spared because they haven't supported the Bush administration's policies.

"When the Americans declared war on terrorism, many of us thought they exaggerated. Many thought terrorism was not likely to occur on our premises, [inhabited by] peaceful and civilized Europeans who speak no evil of anybody, who dialogue, who are the first [to] send assistance and offer cooperation. We are pacifists, they are warmongers. ... Don't we defend the Palestinians? Are we not pro-Arab and anti-Israeli?"

"Can we dialogue with those who desire only our death and nothing but our death?" Lamo asks. "Dialogue about what? The manner in which we will be assassinated?"

Well, Zapatero probably would try that. From today's "Guardian":

"I will listen to Mr Bush, but my position is very clear and very firm," he said. "The occupation is a fiasco. Combating terrorism with bombs -- with Tomahawk missiles, isn't the way to defeat terrorism. Terrorism is fought by the state of law. That's what I think Europe and the international community have to debate."

Sigh. Now this level-headed bit from "The Economist":

Some critics of the war in Iraq say that there is no such danger. There was no genuine link between toppling Saddam and fighting al-Qaeda, so to punish governments for what opponents claim was an illegal invasion is a quite separate matter. Mr Zapatero even appears to think that pulling troops out of Iraq will make things better, on the view that the occupation is itself the cause of terrorism. Yet that policy is irresponsible, because it increases the risk of civil war in Iraq. Even those who opposed the war should now want to help make Iraq secure enough for Iraqis themselves to take back their sovereignty. If other new governments copy Mr Zapatero and prove their anti-war point by withdrawing from Iraq, they will make everyone less safe as a result. And it is a delusion to claim, as Mr Zapatero does, that all would be well if the UN were to take over from the Americans. Few Iraqis think so. It is as well to recall the Dutch UN peacekeepers who looked on helplessly during the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995.

And finally, Clifford D. May, in a guest
column at

Keep in mind that bin Laden claimed two primary reasons for attacking Americans on September 11, 2001: (1) American, infidel forces were stationed on holy Saudi soil, and (2) the US had imposed painful sanctions on Iraqis. Today, our forces have left Saudi Arabia and sanctions have been lifted – indeed, were in not for the terrorists, Iraqis would be well on their way to unprecedented prosperity.

The truth is al Qaeda seeks more than it demands. It is intent on nothing less than the West's defeat and destruction. Are there really people in the West – even Europeans –willing to negotiate that?