A nation of Neville Chamberlains

A nation of Neville Chamberlains

: David Brooks tiptoes up to the line — “I am trying not to think harshly of the Spanish” — but then he speaks the harsh truth about the Spanish election:

What is the Spanish word for appeasement

There are millions of Americans, in and out of government, who believe the swing Spanish voters are shamefully trying to seek a separate peace in the war on terror.

I’m resisting that conclusion, because I don’t know what mix of issues swung the Spanish election during those final days. But I do know that reversing course in the wake of a terrorist attack is inexcusable. I don’t care what the policy is. You do not give terrorists the chance to think that their methods work. You do not give them the chance to celebrate victories. When you do that, you make the world a more dangerous place, for others and probably for yourself.

We can be pretty sure now that this will not be the last of the election-eve massacres. Al Qaeda will regard Spain as a splendid triumph. After all, how often have murderers altered a democratic election? And having done it once, why stop now? Why should they not now massacre Italians, Poles, Americans and Brits?

Al Qaeda has now induced one nation to abandon the Iraqi people.

Well said. This echoes what I said in response to Steven Johnson, below.

Every citizen of every civilized country in the world has an obligation to every other citizen to fight united against terrorists.

Brooks goes onto affirm that the same thing would not happen in an election here:

Does anyone doubt that Americans and Europeans have different moral and political cultures? Yesterday the chief of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, told Italy’s La Stampa, “It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists.” Does he really think capitulation or negotiation works better? Can you imagine John Kerry or George Bush saying that?

Nor is America itself without blame. Where was our State Department? Why hasn’t Colin Powell spent the past few years crisscrossing Europe so that voters there would at least know the arguments for the liberation of Iraq, would at least have some accurate picture of Americans, rather than the crude cowboy stereotype propagated by the European media? Why does the Bush administration make it so hard for its friends? Why is it so unable to reach out?

This is a watershed event. It will change how Al Qaeda thinks about the world. It will change how Europeans see the world. It will constrain American policy for years to come.

And like it or not, al Qaeda has crowned us the leaders of the civilized world.

: Or look at it another way: We’re headed into an era of worldwide isolationism.