Sunday, November 18, 2007

More KA comment on the Madrid bombing verdicts at the Telos blog

The commentary I have posted over at the Telos blog on the Madrid verdicts is more extensive, more speculative, and less constrained that what I say in the Weekly Standard. Check it out, here, and be sure to check out Telos. A bit:

As it happened, the Anderson family was residing in Spain at the time of the March 11, 2004, attack—I was, ironically enough, on sabbatical studying European legal responses to terrorism. In Spain, the reaction was, on the one hand, one of stoicism ("we won't let this change our way of life"), but on the other hand, an eagerness to find a compliance behavior that would appease the terrorists ("of course, our way of life consists of appeasing bad guys, so please tell us what to do").

Perhaps it was different in Barcelona, but to be perfectly blunt, in Madrid and Sevilla, the two cities I was in at the time of the attack, the anger was directed almost entirely at Bush and the United States, and by extension then-Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar for his support of Bush in Iraq—and very little that I could detect against the terrorists, Al Qaeda, or the Moroccan group that launched it. When, two weeks later, after Aznar had fallen and the new PM had moved to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq, new wires for a new bomb were found strung across the high-speed Madrid-Sevilla rail line, the anguish was palpable. One columnist for the left wing paper El Pais came straight out and said, we did everything the terrorists wanted, why did they want to bomb us again? She could simply not come up with an answer.

Well, the appetite grows with the eating, and perhaps one might consider that jihad is about more than merely tactical matters such as presidential elections and who is in or out of Iraq among Western Europeans. I was once a religious missionary, and I have some idea of religious fervor, even of a peaceful kind—of what it is like to hold even a mildly eschatological worldview—and to do so within a segregated male society that holds itself apart from the rest of the world.

This is not a wicked thing, as such, of course, but it is easily disoriented and disorienting. Couple that to an eschatology of jihad—pronounced by CAIR and Islamic apologists at every turn to have been theologically tamed into mere metaphor, a spiritual journey and not a physical war, and someday, someday that might be true, but it is far from true now—that is violent and looks to the very long term for its payoff, and you have something that is simply not comprehensible on the worldview, the eschatology, if you will, of prosperous, aging, but childless and child-like Western Europeans. It is particularly hard for the Spanish to understand that Islamism covets Spain; the land of Al-Andaluz genuinely has become special in the minds of Islamists.