16 March 2004

---A Prelude To A New World?

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a socialist leader, is now Spain's Prime Minister after beating José María Aznar. Spaniard voters have elected the opposition Socialists, although the center right was leading in the polls until the terrorist attack.

Zapatero joined the Socialist Party (PSOE) as a teenager in 1979, rose through the ranks fast, and became Spain's youngest MP in 1986. I see in him a charismatic and radical leader fed up with the old order. As proof, he has just expressed intention to withdraw the 1,300 Spanish troops from Iraq.

"The war has been a disaster, the occupation continues to be a disaster. It has only caused violence," Mr. Zapatero said. "Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush must do some reflection and self-criticism. You can't bomb a people, you can't organize a war with lies," he told Spain's Cadena SER radio station.

At a summit meeting in the Azores a year ago this week, and just days before the US-led Iraq war began, former Spanish PM Aznar stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Dubya Bush ans supported him all the way just like our very own GMA. Aznar was a strong US backer in the Iraq war, despite overwhelming worldwide public opposition to the invasion.

Until Thursday's Madrid bombing.

That turned the tide. While the center right led in polls and surveys prior to the bombing, the election results speak of a clear change of mind. Spaniards do not want to get killed getting involved in a war that does not primarily concern them. They were terrorized and they have yielded.

Dubya Bush had always been proud of his old ally, Jose Aznar, hailing him often in the midst of critics as a courageous example of a leader who ignored poll numbers — almost 90% of Spaniards opposed the war — and who acted in Spain's best interests. Some analysts said this is an alarming first case of Islamist militants influencing, by violence, the outcome of a major Western election. Zapatero himself called his triumph a first consequence of the growing unpopularity of a pro-Iraq war stance with Spaniards.

On Sunday evening, US officials scrambled to hide their disappointment. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, now in India, declined to initially respond publicly to the Socialists' victory. Later on he was quoted as saying that, "Terrorism has to be defeated, and I don't think the Spanish people are any more inclined to give any encouragement to terrorists, or to give terrorists the slightest impression that they are not going to be engaged fully by the Spanish government, no matter who is Prime Minister or what party has formed the leading coalition."

I have several other scenarios and what-ifs which might complicate the war on terrorism: Bush losing to Kerry. Our own GMA losing to FPJ. What will happen next? Will Tony Blair fight the war alone?

Osama Bin Laden must be smiling. His work is producing his desired results.

0 reactions: