One's appeasement

Tony Auth cartoon

Is another's democracy

Spaniards voted out the government of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, and they are now being villified by some as appeasers to terrorists.

Cartoonist Tony Auth, whose work I normally admire, portrayed Spain as a feckless matador waving a white cape hoping for the "desired effect." Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House (R-IL), berated Spain saying that "they chose to change their government and to, in a sense, appease terrorists."

Respected NY Times columnist Tom Friedman accused Spain of "planning to do something crazy: to try to appease radical evil by pulling Spain's troops out of Iraq."

dog in submissive postureIn his remarks observing the start of the Iraq War, President Bush said, "There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for all nations." He didn't use "the A word" explicitly, but I'm sure we're expected to connect the dots.

The Bushies, with their "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" mindset, have encouraged a curious notion of democracy. Democracy is great — as long as the vote comes out our way!

When the Iraqiis wanted an election instead of the convoluted and complicated caucus process proposed by the US, we took the attitude that voting is a good thing, but just not yet because they might vote the "wrong" way. When the Spaniards exercises their right to change the government, they find themselves branded appeasers.

Carlson cartoonNo, the Spaniards — 90% of whom had been against the Iraq war — were still likely, according to polls, to vote in favor of Aznar and his Popular Party. The Spaniards were not cowed by the terrorist attack; they took to the street in the hundreds of thousands to show their determination. No, what shifted the balance appears to be Aznar's clumsy attempt to blame the attack on ETA, the Basque separatist group, despite ample indications to the contrary. The vote was a rebuke to a government for misleading the people.

One can only hope that the Bushies took note.

War rationale. In his remarks on the first anniversary of the Iraq war, Bush tried to justify the war à la Martha Stewart — it was a "good thing."

Bush standing in front of coalition flagsThere have been disagreements in this matter, among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression, and instability in the Middle East. It's a good thing that the demands of the United Nations were enforced, not ignored with impunity. It is a good thing that years of illicit weapons development by the dictator have come to the end. It is a good thing that the Iraqi people are now receiving aid, instead of suffering under sanctions. And it is a good thing that the men and women across the Middle East, looking to Iraq, are getting a glimpse of what life in a free country can be like.

Now isn't that special!

Meanwhile, the Republican attack machine continues to excoriate anyone who disagrees with Bush as an appeaser. "Too many Democrats seem to prefer to ignore the war on terror or choose to see it as 'far less of a military operation and far more of a . . . law enforcement operation,'" said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. "Should the United States appease international terrorists and pretend they are a law-enforcement problem, or fight them as the military threat they are?"

Today "appeasers." Will they be "traitors" tomorrow? It would definitely be in our national interest if everyone would just cool the rhetoric a bit, but we know that won't happen because it's in noone's political interest.