Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Spain-- my reaction to the reaction

I haven’t written on Spain because… well… what the hell do I know about Spain? But having surveyed the media coverage, I can at least do some meta-opining on the story about the story.

And, because I think this is where most of the people in this country get their news, I wanted to focus on TV coverage, which has been its usually ridiculous self. Two examples of the “liberal media bias”:

-- The Daily Show unironically (but humorously) called the ouster of the Popular party a victory for Al Qaeda, and then added that the Socialists weren’t democratic… I suppose because it’s still the Cold War. Or something.

-- Anyway, flipping channels to MSNBC, we have Robert Kagan, listed simply as a “terrorism expert”, claiming that this vote showed that Europe had clearly decided (or was deciding) that the best way to fight terrorism was not to engage in it. All of this simply because the Socialist party are no friends to Bush and are against the Iraq war and occupation. For those of you who don’t know Robert Kagan, he is the cofounder of the Project for the New American Century along with such other neoconmen as William Kristol. His career in public service was spent working only under Republicans, and he has been one of the most outspoken and unrepentant advocates of the war in Iraq. Dressing up a right-wing theorist as a non-partisan “terrorism expert” is slopy journalism at best and willfull deception at worst.

I don’t pretend for one second to know what was going on in Spain psychologically over the past seventy-two hours, and anyone who does has a bridge to sell you. I will say that very little mention has been made in the TV news that some of this could possibly be a reaction against the Spanish government diverting anti-terror resources to the Iraq war and then immediately blaming the attacks on the Basque nationalists. To find that crackpot idea, you have to go to the blogosphere.

And, to continue flying in the face of the TV consensus, the new Spanish government is already proving that you can be against the Iraq war and serious about fighting Al Qaeda. They’re already convening a meeting of European governments so that information on terrorists can be better shared between states. In the meantime, they’re issuing an ultimatum to President Bush: cede authority to the UN or Spanish troops are going home. Both of these actions are concrete steps to help fight global terrorism, something which the war in Iraq is clearly a distraction from.

So we have two trends to watch out for-- voters waking up on the other side of the Atlantic and realizing that the Iraq canard has made them less safe, and the TV news media in America continuing to unquestioningly portray the Iraq adventure as part of the larger War on Terrror, a heroic mission that has made us safer and brought Democracy to Babylon. What I worry about is how much more the latter trend will be the important one come November.

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