Madrid attacks show terrorism's complexity

Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2004

The terrorist bombings in Madrid ... are another indication of how murky and complex the web of terror has become all over the world. ...

It is also a sign that, contrary to President Bush's insistence, Iraq is not necessarily the front line on the war on terrorism. ...

The terror in Iraq is aimed at coalition soldiers, primarily American troops, and Iraqis involved with them with the intent of disrupting the democratization of Iraq. The terror in other places is aimed indiscriminately at civilian populations with the intent of disrupting international political stability.

Fighting terrorists requires a combination of police work and military action. ... Relying too much on one or the other is likely to nurture the spread of terrorism.

Whether it is al Qaida or domestic dissidents or both in league, the Western powers ought to disperse their terrorist fighting tactics rather than have them concentrated militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.

March 13

In Sunday's parliamentary elections Spain's citizens ousted the right-of-center government, widely seen as punishment for backing the United States in Iraq. Now, the incoming Socialist prime minister says he will remove Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq unless the United Nations assumes control there.

... But whether Spanish troops leave Iraq or not, the war on terror continues. ... The European Union says it will strengthen coordination of anti-terrorist measures.

But will U.S.-European cooperation also intensify? Huge majorities across Europe strongly oppose the U.S. role in Iraq.

... Many Europeans see the terrorist threat as greatest in countries most closely linked to U.S. policy, and the terrorists' strategy is to use terror to drive a wedge between America and its allies. To some extent it seems to have worked in Spain.

... All leaders in Europe, America and elsewhere understand the need to combat terrorism unrelentingly. But Europe and America have differing views of how best to do that.

Much blame for trans-Atlantic tensions can fairly be directed at the Bush administration for its detour in Iraq. Even so, bitterness over Iraq must not be allowed to undermine the common front against terrorism. ...

... No matter how hard the West tries to understand and accommodate the Islamic world, the terrorists will not relent. And Sunday's vote in Spain served the terrorist cause, even though that surely was not what Spanish voters had in mind.

The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee

March 17

First and foremost, the Spanish elections were an exemplary civic retort to the terrorist threat. Spaniards turned out massively at the polls and in so doing, showed not only that they are willing to demonstrate in the streets in repudiation of terrorism but to use the instruments of democracy to make their will manifest. ... The voters decided to hand victory to the Socialist party candidate, Jose Luis Zapatero. The outcome underlined voter intent to punish the official Popular Party candidate for presumed government manipulation of information about the origins of the attack ahead of the elections. ... The outcome of the Spanish election is sure to have repercussions on other political stages. ... Zapatero has already promised a frontal assault on terrorism but also said he will withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

Clarin, Buenos Aires, Argentina

March 16

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