Appeasement and Purveyors of Violence

by ALAN MAASS

"We are all Spaniards Now," the right-wing New York Sun newspaper solemnly declared after the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed more than 200 people. Then people in Spain voted out a right-wing government that supported the U.S. war on Iraq. And suddenly, no insult was too vile to heap on the "Spaniards We No Longer All Are."

The corporate media fumed all last week about the election in Spain that defeated the right-wing Popular Party (PP) of former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and voted in the Socialist Party, led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, which had promised to withdraw Spanish troops from the U.S.-run occupation of Iraq. In the New York Times, chief hack Thomas Friedman denounced "the Axis of Appeasement" in Europe.

The supposedly liberal Washington Post ranted in an editorial that Spanish voters had sent "a message" that will "convince the extremists that their attempt to sway Spanish policy with mass murder succeeded brilliantly." So according to the Washington Post, anyone who voted against Spain’s equivalent of the Republican Party was voting for terrorism and mass murder.

The Bush White House must be pleased. This is exactly the message it is trying to get across for the 2004 election–and has been ever since the attacks of September 11. In reality, the Spanish election saw a surge in turnout among people who wanted to oppose war and violence.

Aznar’s PP government cynically exploited the horror of March 11 by blaming the Basque separatist group ETA, suppressing growing evidence that al-Qaeda was responsible in the hopes of riding the tragedy to an election victory. When the truth emerged only the night before the election, the issue of the invasion of Iraq–and Aznar’s arrogance in committing Spain to a war that was opposed by 90 percent of the population–returned to center stage.

Those who voted against the PP aren’t cowards or fools. They saw through their government’s manipulation of the March 11 bombings and took a stand against the war makers who have made the world a more dangerous place.

When Aznar signed up for the U.S. government’s war on Iraq, he set the stage for a response that was as inevitable as the growing–and increasingly deadly–resistance to occupation inside Iraq. But who paid the price in Madrid?

Not anyone remotely responsible for the Spanish government’s alliance with Washington, but overwhelmingly immigrant workers and students. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Spain’s antiwar movement was the largest in Europe. So the odds are good that among the victims of March 11 are many people who marched against war.

And while the PP government may have been defeated at the polls in the aftermath of the Madrid train bombings, March 11 will be used in Spain and across Europe as justification for a clampdown on civil liberties and an escalated racist assault on immigrants, especially Muslims.

In the U.S., September 11 served as the all-purpose excuse for everything from unleashing U.S. military power abroad to tearing up constitutional rights to furthering assaults on workers’ living standards. If the September 11 hijackings were meant to weaken U.S. imperialism, they accomplished the exact opposite–by giving the U.S. government its best justification in decades for inflicting its own brand of terror.

The cheerleaders for Washington’s "war on terrorism" are quick to denounce the violence of the terrorists behind the Madrid train bombings. But what they never discuss is the incomparably greater terror that the U.S. government inflicts around the world.

Estimates of the Iraqis killed so far in the U.S. war and occupation run as high as 50,000–many times more than were killed by al-Qaeda’s attacks. More than 1 million Iraqis dead from the combined slaughter of the first Gulf War in 1991 and the savage United Nations (UN) economic sanctions that followed.

With the U.S. occupiers calling the shots, Iraqis today have no more say in how their country is governed than they did under Saddam Hussein. So is it any wonder that Iraqis fight back against U.S. imperialism–and choose targets designed to weaken the hold of the occupation?

Anyone opposed to the U.S. occupation of Iraq must defend the right of Iraqis to resist their occupiers by any means. The violence of those oppressed by imperialism pales in comparison to the crimes committed by the world’s most powerful governments–above all, the U.S. government.

As Martin Luther King said in 1967 in opposing the Vietnam War, "I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today–my own government."

In Spain, masses of people lived up to King’s principle by voting out the real purveyors of violence at the head of the Spanish government. In the U.S., we can take a stand against violence and war by challenging the policies of the U.S. government–both its Republican and Democratic wings–and the rulers of Corporate America that it serves.

ALAN MAASS is the editor of the Socialist Worker. He can be reached at: maass@socialistworker.org

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal