Sunday, March 21, 2004
A classic statement of appeasement appeared the day after the Madrid massacre in the Guardian. It's worth revisiting because its moral vacuity and strategic stupidity sum up much that is wrong with the current defeatism sweeping Europe. Here's a sentence from the leader still ringing in my ears: "Are those who perpetrated the commuter train bombings to be hunted down and smoked out of their lairs, and if they were, are we confident that we would prevent the next attack, and the one after that?" Notice the sneering contempt with which the editorial writers at the Guardian refer to George Bush's attempt to hunt down and destroy the terrorists and their allies who have declared war on the West. But notice too the implication: that the perpetrators of these atrocities somehow should *not* be "hunted down and smoked out of their lairs." Notice the implication that any attempt to defeat terrorism merely fosters more terrorism and so ... So what exactly? What is the Guardian's solution to the thousands murdered in New York and hundreds murdered in Bali and Madrid? What is their solution exactly to the terrifying possibility that such terrorists might also be able to amplify their mass murder by deploying new technologies of destruction that would make 9/11 seem like a side-show? Here's their solution:
"The victims of the commuter train bombings in Madrid and the Spaniards who came out of the streets last night surely deserve more than party political responses. Europe too needs to mould a different response to its September 11. Spain has a history which places it at the crossroads of the European and Arab worlds. It understands both traditions. It is a country where once Jew, Muslim and Christian lived together. An international conference, to bridge the divide between Muslim and Christian communities, should be one first step. But there are many others. We need to take the fight against terror out of America's hands. We need to get beyond the them and us, the good guys and the bad guys, and seek a genuinely collective response. Europe should seize the moment that America failed to grasp."
The stunning aspect of this boilerplate is how utterly empty it is. The only constructive suggestion the Guardian proffers is an "international conference." No this is not, apparently, self-parody. While hundreds lie dead, while limbs and severed heads lie scattered across railway tracks, the most important thing is to stick on your lapel name-labels, hurry down to the nearest hotel lobby and have a seminar. In sophisticated Europe, according to the Guardian, there are no bad guys, even those who deliberately murdered almost 200 innocents and threaten to murder countless more. Ask yourself: if the Guardian cannot call these people "bad guys," then who qualifies? And if the leaders of democratic societies who fight back cannot qualify in this context as "good guys," then who qualifies? What we have here is complete moral nihilism in the face of unspeakable violence.
If you are troubled by Spain or enraged at the appeasement of terrorists, read the whole thing to change your mind or reinforce what you already know.