James Lileks has yet another excellent piece on the aftermath of the tragedy in Madrid. He notes:
It makes me admire the Spanish more than ever, I’ll tell you that: after 9/11 the media – the American overclass – was all about pain and sympathy and vigils and candles; vengeance and retribution were not invited. Stand up and strike back was not a theme of those awful hours after 9/11. Partly because we didn’t know who to hit. Partly because we realized eventually that we would be striking back, hard, soon. The national character best expressed itself by a brief period of introspective mourning, not brutish demands to level half the planet. Bush did not call for massive demonstrations to approve his desire to defeat terrorism. In American terms, that would have been unseemly. Grief first. Then war.
Spain doesn’t have the luxury of 200 years of Constitutional rule. Young adults sitting around the dinner table look at parents who grew up under Franco; they might value freedom more than we do. We cannot possibly imagine losing it. They have heard stories of how quickly it can be lost.
Yet Aznar’s tone was the right one – we will not bow to terrorism, no matter if it was the ETA or al-Qaeda responsible for the cowardly attack on innocent Spanish civilians. "…For the defeat of terrorism" is exactly the right thing to want to demonstrate for. As Aznar said:
That’s why I tell all Spaniards that we shouldn’t aspire to anything else less than the complete defeat of terrorism, its complete and total defeat, its unconditional surrender. There’s neither possible nor desirable negotiation with these murderers that so many times have sown death throughout Spain. Let nobody be fooled: only with resolve we’ll stop the attacks, a resolve that has to be present both in the antiterrorist fight and the opposition to the final objectives these terrorist want to achieve.
Spain has always been a staunch ally of the United States. President Aznar stood with us in Afghanistan and Iraq. He helped organize the Madrid donor conference. Spanish troops have lost their lives in Iraq defending the freedom of the Iraqi people. They have stood with us, and we will stand with them in ensuring that the war on terror is won.