It is no wonder that the Europeans wonder about the “leadership” in America, from the provincial, uneducated president, GW Bush, now to the leader of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert of rural Illinois. Unfortunately, Hastert doesn’t know as much as some of his fellow farmers from mid-Illinois. He showed this yesterday, when he said, that Spain was “showing cowardice in the face of terrorism” by voting Aznar out of office and that Zapatero was running away from a battle against terrorism by criticizing the American occupation of Iraq (Zapatero has called the American occupation of Iraq, “a fiasco.”)
Unfortunately, Mr. Hastert has made the same wrong assumption that Bush has made, neither of them differentiates between a war against terrorists, and this foolish invasion and occupation of Iraq (which had nothing to do with terrorism, and nothing to do with 9/11 no matter how many lies Bush, Blair and Powell put out into the world). Furthermore, Mr. Hastert has shown the same arrogance that many in the administration have shown toward other nations in the past when they disagreed with American policy in Iraq, that these administrations were cowardly, not interested in fighting terrorism and that the people were wrong to vote the way they did. It’s amazing to us that American “leaders” know what is best for other countries–in this case, Spain. Remember, they also knew what was best for Chile when they overthrew Allende, Bishop in Grenada, attempts at present to overthrow Chavez with American funds and training, and the decades of activities against Castro and Qaddafi. There is no end to the chutzpah of American politicians; unless you agree with this administration, there must be something wrong with you and your “democracy.”
It is time for the American public to put better people into office than such men as Hastert, Cheney and Bush. Their ignorance is scandalous– at a time when the world is getting smaller, their world view is smaller and so unsophisticated as to make America both feared and a laughing stock to most scholars, politicians and thinkers in the world. Bush, Cheney and their followers showed their ignorance of Islam and Iraq before they went into Iraq. Now they are letting American troops and those nations foolish enough to follow Bush pay the price of this paid-for alliance; this is true if this bombing sequence in Madrid should be proven to be a Muslim group that is either technically or spiritually connected to Al Qa-eda (there are probably many groups that have never been connected in actuality with Al Qaeda, but take Bin Laden and his group as their spiritual stimulus and model but who operate authonomously).
Rational people will understand why the Spanish people are afraid of terroristic attacks from North Africa; after all, Spain is but a stone’s throw across the water from Morocco and Algeria, both of which have had bouts of terrorism in their lands. Add to this that many North Africans live in Spain, and that Spain has a large and growing Muslim population (not only from immigration, but also from Mariscos who have reverted to Islam–their original religion that had to be abandoned for centuries under Catholic rule–and others who are converting in large numbers to Islam.)
Hastert, Bush, Cheney and others are thousands of miles away from the major Muslim nations of the world, so it is easy for them to condemn the Spanish and other Europeans for their fears at this time; if they lived in a Spanish or European geographical location, they would not speak so rashly or churlishly or critically of the vote in Spain and the alarm in Europe. But, of course, they had hoped that Aznar would win and that this would have shown the Spanish people had changed their minds of being against the Iraq war to being in favor of it. But no such thing came to pass.
Furthermore, as Mr. Reyes and I have found with the emails coming to us since our article appeared in CounterPunch, many Spanish and Europeans have agreed with us about the fact that Aznar had a very small (1 to 3% ) lead; but as everyone knows about national polls, most of have error possibility of from 4 to 5%; thus, Aznar might not even have had an actual lead, but only a theoretical one before his loss. Many of these emails were critical of U.S. media and U.S. perceptions of Spain, U.S. criticism of the vote and were upset that the U.S. felt it had a right to criticize Zapatero for doing what was best for Spain by planning to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq unless the UN is in charge.
It is time for American leaders to understand others in the world. This does not mean America will be weaker for this, instead, it means that it is stronger for being able to empathize into the shoes of others. Certainly Hastert, Cheney and Bush’s attacks on Spain do not show understanding, wisdom or diplomacy–just as their previous attacks on France and England showed the same lack of these qualities and caused more problems than good. It is time for American leaders to either grow up when dealing not only with Spain and Europe, but also with educated, wise, cunning and intelligent leaders like Sistani, the leaders in China and in Asia. If America doesn’t, then it shall be the nation on the outside looking in as the world grows, comes together in unified ways and leaves America isolated intellectually, politically, economically and militarily.