Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Blame Whom?

by Victor Davis Hanson

Private Papers

Let me get this straight. Two-and-a-half years after September 11, on a similar eleventh day of the month, 911 days following 9-11, and on the eve of Spanish elections, Al Qaeda or its epigones blows up 200 and wounds 1,400 Spaniards. This horrific attack follows chaotic months when Turks were similarly butchered (who opposed the Iraq War), Saudis were targeted (who opposed the Iraqi war), Moroccans were blown apart (who opposed the Iraqi war) and French periodically threatened (who opposed the Iraqi War).

And the response?  If we were looking for Churchill to step from the rubble, we got instead Daladier. The Spanish electorate immediately and overwhelmingly connected the horror with its present conservative government’s support for Operation Iraqi Freedom.  If the United States went to Afghanistan in 26 days following the murder of 3,000 of its citizens to hunt down their killers and remove the fascists who sponsored them, Spaniards took to the streets with Paz placards and about 48 hours later voted in record numbers to appease the terrorists.

By a wide margin the citizenry elected a Socialist cabinet that had previously promised to distance itself from the United States and its Iraqi operations. The terrorists, although they had childishly cited Spanish culpability from the Crusades to the Reconquista, vowed to keep striking until the Spanish people did in fact what they just did. Indeed the appeasement almost anticipated the formal terrorist communiqué itself, in what must have made even the ghost of Neville Chamberlain rise up from his grave. Since most interviewed on the street expressed greater anger with the United States than they did with Islamic terrorists, let us hope that their pique extends to asking American air and naval forces to leave their shores as well—but then so far that has not been one of the mass murderers’ demands.

At about the same time, the Greek government, after receiving various terrorist threats and finding a bomb at a Citibank office, assured potential Olympic visitors that NATO will, after all, participate in ensuring its security. This is Orwellian. Both the government and the citizenry since September 11 have displayed nothing but opposition to American and NATO efforts in Afghanistan (no need to mention Iraq), and expressed real venom toward the United States itself—part of the ongoing fallout for its NATO-led operations against fellow Orthodox Slobodan Milosevic and his reign of terror in Bosnia and Serbia.

What do these two diverse developments have in common? Inasmuch as the Spanish, like the Greeks, do not want any visible relationship with the Americans lest it bring them to the attention of terrorists, and inasmuch as neither country seems to wish the Americans off their shores or to leave an American-led NATO alliance in their hours of crises, we can only conclude that Americans are good for only one thing: providing unquestioned military support and assistance to those who otherwise wish nothing to do with them.

These are serious developments. Apart from the shameful spectacle of appeasement, our allies are not really allies and are sealing the fate of NATO, an organization that has almost no public support here at home, and stations plentiful troops largely where there is no danger and no need of their use, while deploying few if any where they could make a real difference in facing danger.

I can sympathize with the administration diplomats when they insist that we are not alone in Iraq. But they are only right to a degree. We, with the exceptions of some English-speaking allies and eastern Europeans, are in fact absolutely alone in our larger struggle for Western civilization and have been all along well before Iraq, which was merely the latest excuse for ongoing European appeasement. The Spanish will never go after the killers of their own citizens, much less the countries who provided them support and succor, just as the Western Europeans did nothing to stop Mr. Milosevic, just as they sent a token force to Afghanistan, and hardly any to Iraq, and just as the Greeks will do nothing if their Olympics are destroyed by waves of Islamic terrorists.

We should not like all this, but we also should not deny that it is so.

 ©2004 Victor Davis Hanson

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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