March 15, 2004 | Broadcast
So in our “Tough Call” today, does support for President Bush in Iraq lose the election for Spain’s ruling party and what is the message to terrorists in America’s close European allies.
Joining us is Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. From London, Ana Romero, London correspondent for El Mundo, a Spanish newspaper.
And I’m going to start with you, Ana.
Tell me if an election was a referendum on the Spanish economy or on terrorism.
ANA ROMERO, CORRESPONDENT, EL MUNDO: Well, definitely, this election was decided on terrorism. The economy, as you know, is very good. Mr. Aznar has down a very good job in economics. But, unfortunately, what happened on Thursday has been the turn for the outcome of yesterday’s election.
SCHAFFLER: Cliff, your perspective on what’s going on here and if Spain is, perhaps, a sign of more to come. What message did the terrorists get across from those bombings and then the election?
CLIFF MAY, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Well, I think the terrorist got across the message that we expect certain behavior from you and we’re going to get it one way or another. And my fear is that the upset election will send a message back to the terrorists, not of defiance, not of determination to defeat these awful murders but, OK, we will behave as you want us to do.
And, believe me, when terrorism succeeds, what happens is you get more terrorism. It’s a law of political life, as well as economic life. What you reward, you get more of. And so I think it’s rather disturbing what’s happened now.
SCHAFFLER: Cliff, has the world as we know it changed a little bit then, based on those elections?
MAY: Well, perhaps so. Certainly we do have reason to doubt that Spain is going to be part, as you say, the coalition of the willing. We’ve seen appeasement in Europe before when faced with terrible villains and terrible enemies and I think it’s a mistake to go down that road. But I fear that that road is what the Spanish are tending to go down right now. I hope they will see this more clearly in a while. I can understand the trauma of what happened on 3-11.
But what we need to do, democratic societies, is to ban together to fight these people, not to try to appease these terrorists. Not to try to say, don’t hit us, we’ll do what you want, hit somebody out in some other capitol. Not Madrid, do it in New York. We don’t want to fight you. I think that’s a terrible, terrible message to be sending.
SCHAFFLER: Ana, beyond the incident of terrorism last week, we know that about 90 percent of the Spanish population did not support Spain’s decision to support the U.S. in the war on Iraq. So was some of this already brewing even before with the election, some of that discontent?
ROMERO: Absolutely. I mean the feeling was there since last year. What happened is the terrible attacks on Thursday sort of reopened a wound that was already there. 90 percent of the population did not want to go to Iraq and Mr. Aznar did not even consult parliament. He didn’t put the question in parliament to get a vote. He just did it without consulting people.
So throughout the year the feeling had been there. Now if the attacks hadn’t taken place on Thursday, maybe people who were going to vote yesterday would have thought he did a good job in the economy, that’s what I’m going to be voting today. But after 200 assassination, the majority of the Spanish people (INAUDIBLE) wanted to castigate him and tell him that he had to go because of joining the Americans and the British in Iraq.
SCHAFFLER: Cliff, back to you. As far as what the U.S. should do, if anything, in response to what we’re watching happen in Spain. Should the U.S. be on its guard about potential problems in the future now?
MAY: Well, we have to continue to do what we’ve been doing. We have to continue to fight the war against the terrorists who are in many countries around the world. There are thousands of them trained. The British are still taking the Churchillian attitude that they’re going to stand with us and fight against this. So are the Poles. So are the Italians. I hope the Spanish will come around and want to fight with us. I’m obviously dubious now but I’m not sure what’s going to happen.
I think it’s important to continue to make the case to the world, to the people of Spain, not the least, 300,000 people have been taken from graves in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. We know about the torture chambers. We know about the rape rooms. We know about the perversion and corruption of the UN oil for food program, at least a little bit now. Surely we know the world’s a better place because Saddam Hussein is no longer terrorizing the region and no longer has the capability or the potential to get the capabilities to do the kind of harm he wants.
And it’s important to understand that terrorists will not stop now. This is not all their demands. Osama bin Laden said initially all he wanted was the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia. Well, we happen to be out of Saudi Arabia. They will always want more. Not least from Spain, which, after all, was once part of an Islamic califate (ph) and which Osama bin Laden and others have said, we’ll be back under radical Islamic rule again at some point. We have to just fight hard or it’s going to get much, much worse.
SCHAFFLER: Ana, how worried and concerned are the Spanish people now?
ROMERO: They are shocked. They’ve been shocked since Thursday. And yesterday’s results have not made things much better because even people who voted for the socialist party are wondering today, did we do the right thing? I mean how right is it to vote with their heart and not with their head. Even people who have voted for Rodriguez Zapatero are wondering if this is going to take us into the right direction.
But I have to say that the majority of the observers agree that Rodriguez Zapatero is going to be a calm leader. And although he has already announced that Spain will be bringing the troops back home, a lot of observers think that he will definitely consult with the coalition and that he will not make decisions without thinking about them profoundly.
SCHAFFLER: Ana Romero, Cliff May, we’ve got to end this discussion there. Thanks for joining me. Appreciate it very much.
MAY: Thank you, Rhonda.
SCHAFFLER: That wraps it up for MARKET CALL today. Thanks for watching. You have a great day.