A trio of question prompt themselves here: 1) Will such appeasement work its magical promise and buy Spain freedom from future Islamist-fascist terrorism? 2) More generally, what are the historical and theoretical conditions that might justify appeasement, and 3) do those conditions apply to Al-Qaeda fanatics and other militant Islamist radicals?
Part 1: WILL APPEASEMENT WORK ITS PROMISE FOR THE SPANISH OR OTHERS?
Start With An Astute Journalist's Views
Mark Steyn, a Canadian journalist living in New Hampshire --- a libertarian, who spent years in the EU, then found Canada was beginning to look like it after almost 4 decades of uninterrupted Liberal Party rule dominated by French-Canadian Prime Ministers (Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien, the latter just retired) --- is one of the most trenchant, knowledgeable observers of the international scene, whose writings are all the more impressive and readable because of an uncommonly lively style . . . complete with some humorous jibes.
He publishes in several US, Australian, Canadian, and British newspapers and weeklies. In an Australian newspaper, he deals with the Madrid massacre-bombings and the predicable left-wing cant in the EU --- a sign, regrettably, of lost moral-fiber, few of EU left-wing politicians, intellectuals, and media types willing to fight for their ideals and instead seeing themselves victims of a bullying and arrogant USA -- that if Aznar hadn't backed Bush and Blair over Iraq, Spain would have been spared the attack. As Steyn notes, it's nonsense. Not only has bin Laden or whoever still commands Al-Qaeda never set out a concrete list of demands, let alone negotiable ones, he adds (with a couple of buggy examples tossed in) that the appeasing countries in the war against Saddamite Iraq last year haven't in any case been spared terrorist attacks. In particular,
- Turkey stayed out of the war on terrorism, yet it suffered two bombings recently by Al-Qaeda or other Islamist fanatics.
- France, which stayed out of the war --- the lead critic of it --- was recently singled out by bin Laden (or whoever mouths his alleged tapes) as a target for its new ban on headscarves and other religious symbols. The French have also been grappling the last two months with terrorist threats, explicitly made, plus planted bombs, on their railway system. And since the French have 300 special forces working with American, British, and Australian forces chasing bin Laden or his associates around the Afghan-Pakistani border, the Al Qaeda heads aren't likely to think French opposition to the war on Saddamite Iraq should buy them shelter from Islamo-fascist terrorism.
- Morocco didn't support the war, but it was attacked earlier by Islamist fanatics; as of course was Saudi Arabia twice this last year. Morocco's ruling king, note, has a close tie to Spain's pro-democratic king.
- Steyn's own country, whose government didn't back the war last year --- Canada --- was also singled out as a potential target.
- Muslim Indonesia (200 million) was targeted in late 2002 by fanatical home-grown Islamists, who bombed Bali, killing 200 Australian and other vacationers there.
- Democratic India has suffered several terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim fanatics, including a large-scale shooting of Indian parliamentarians. India's government, like Indonesia's, was not part of the Coalition of the Willing.
- More generally, most of the EU countries have been confronted with home-grown terrorism and assassination attempts for years now that have nothing to do with Islamist terrorism: in Corsica, in Spain, in Northern Ireland (where the terrorism is winding down, the terrorists essentially defeated), and back in the 1970s and 1980s in Germany and Italy. In the mid-1990s, several murderous attacks by Algerian terrorists rattled the French for years. Two years ago, an Italian law professor was assassinated for working on a new labor law --- political correctness in murderous activity. About the same time, the most prominent politician was killed in Holland (Pim Fortuyn). More recently still, several attempts at assassinating the most prominent heads of the EU took place.
And Spain Itself: Will Appeasing Terrorism Work There?
Not likely. Steyn goes on to note that one of the lengthy self-pitying Islamist grievances against the West --- crackling with a sense of paranoid-splattered victimization, and spelled out by bin Laden or his sound-alike recently --- was that the Spanish Catholics had driven out the Arabs over 500 years ago. As a British journalist just noted here:
A group close to bin Laden's al-Qa'eda network, the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, sent a message to a London-based Arabic newspaper explaining the reasons for attacking Spain. "This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader and America's ally in its war against Islam," the statement said.
Part 2: CAN ISLAMIST TERRORIST PARANOID GRIEVANCES AND RANCOR EVER BE APPEASED EFFECTIVELY?
Not likely, just the opposite. Cosmic conspiratorial grievances of the Islamist sort --- full of a hate-charged form of self-pitying victimization, whether in the social movements that flourish in the Arab world or in terrorist offshoots --- are motivated by a raging fury for revenge against fantasized enemies. It takes a head-in-the-sands attitude to believe that appeasement will work in dealing with them. It won't. All the troubles of the Arab countries, just to stay with them --- state despotism and failure, rife corruption and nepotism, economic and technological backwardness among demographic explosions, high unemployment, huge gaps between the rich and poor, and the worst illiteracy in the world --- are blamed on diabolical foreign-devils: in particular, globalizing forces incarnated in world Jewry, Israel, the US, and the West, plus Hindu India.
Note something quickly: since most Muslims, not just Islamist extremists, have been taught to regard Islam as a divine providence, God's gift to the members of the faith, large numbers of them in the Arab world and elsewhere are themselves vulnerable tto crackpot conspiratorial theories, however extravagantly fantastic, as a way of explaining their steady and almost uninterrupted decline in power, wealth, and prestige for hundreds of years now. In the Arab world, it's worse. With the highest levels of illiteracy around the globe --- and state-controlled media used by the dictators for their own demagogic self-serving purposes --- conspiratorial paranoia, as several recent buggy articles have tried to show, is widespread and continuing to make headway. Sixty per cent of Arabs surveyed by the Gallup Poll months after 9/11's massacres even denied Muslims had been involved. For an updated view, see the third of a three-part buggy series on conspiratorial racism and paranoia afoot in way too many parts of Islam, especially in the 21 Arab dictatorships.
Whatever West European electorates may do in the future --- and national politicians catering to their decisions for dealing with terrorism --- almost all the EU member-countries will continue to face repeated terrorist attacks in the future, whether home-grown or from Islamist fanatics. Slow economic growth or outright stagnation, plus constant pressures to cut back on welfare services and social spending, will likely continue to polarize European domestic politics, in the process adding to social conflicts and outright strife and leading almost inevitably to new violence and terrorism.. That is the history of most of Europe for two centuries now. The interlude between the late 1940s and the late 1990s --- a cold war era when West Europe was protected by US military power, in NATO and elsewhere, and its economies grew steadily amid a stabilizing welfare-state and stable democratic development everywhere --- now looks exactly like that: something of a pleasant but unusual period in European life.
Add in surging violent crime all over the EU --- much worse on an average than in the US, whose population in UN surveys of crime-victims shows the most confidence in the police and going out into public spaces --- has recently coincided and been causally connected with surging Islamic immigrant communities, increasingly alienated and swept up in fundamentalist tendencies. Remember, bin Laden or his mouthpiece have already singled out appeasing France and its government and people for future terrorism because they dared pass a law banning headscarves in their school system.
Will appeasing Germany be spared? Not likely, says a British specialist on terrorism this last weekend, after the Madrid bombings:
He said Germans should not feel exempt from terrorism because their government opposed the war in Iraq; the Germans do station troops in Afghanistan, for instance. "If Al Qaeda had the opportunity to blow up a train in Berlin," he asked, "why would they hesitate
Part 3: WHEN WILL APPEASEMENT WORK AS A DIPLOMATIC TACTIC?
Appeasers, of course, always hope that they can find ways to fend off security threats with concessions and showing that they're full of understanding when it comes to the hostile adversary's grievances and the logic behind its awesome threats.