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John Simkin

Madrid Bombing

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Mostly I am horrified that globally the "rule of law" means nothing anymore largely because the most powerful countries on earth abdicated their responsibilities and decided that "might is right".

I'm not so sure we've ever left Bismarckian 'realpolitik' behind. European powers, Japan, and the US have dominated world economics and politics for well over a century.

If one could partially attribute appeasement to Hitler to redressing the injustices of Versailles, staying out of the Spanish Civil War is difficult to justify on moral grounds. The Cold War, along with the numerous 'hot wars' that were a part of it, has been seen by some historians as a power struggle between two economic (not political) powers. The one with the more powerful economy won.

Today, the struggle for economic power in the world includes players that are not a part of the 'club'. They (OPEC, India, Brazil, China) have enough economic and numerical clout to be heard, and they want a piece of the pie. An attitude of, 'We the few have, you the many don't; let's take a long time to talk, not fight, about how you can have some without our giving up much (any)', doesn't go over very well in less developed countries.

The UN has the potential to be a powerful tool in avoiding war, but only if it is not grossly manipulated or conveniently ignored by the powerful few to their advantage.

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I'm not so sure we've ever left Bismarckian 'realpolitik' behind. European powers, Japan, and the US have dominated world economics and politics for well over a century.

This is of course perfectly true but Kerry's nomination has revived memories of Vietnam. Nobody believes the Americans are invincible any more....except possbly President Bush and his immediate entourage.

The colonial military adventure in Iraq reminds me of how John Steinbeck described the German occupation of France - "the flies have occupied the fly paper". The Americans are bogged down in Iraq. They can neither stay (and watch the body bags come home) nor withdraw (and demonstrate that they are not supermen). Kerry's ambiguity is an expression of this quandry.

They will only accept a puppet government which will "invite them to stay" so that they can use the Iraqi police as a human shield for the American soldiers. Their problem. The people of Spain do not have to share their problem. Nor do the people of the UK. There are also plenty of Americans who protested from the start that this war for oil was "not in our name".

Derek McMillan

socialist

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I'm not so sure we've ever left Bismarckian 'realpolitik' behind.  European powers, Japan, and the US have dominated world economics and politics for well over a century.

I was under the probably naive assumption that part of the motivation behind western "power" was a belief in plurality, democracy and freedom :P .

If I am wrong then does it matter a jot which competing economic elite I support so long as I am on the winning side??

If there is no "international law" then we are truely in a uniquely dangerous situation that can only end extremely badly.

The powerful have more responsibilities than they are currently willing to acknowledge. Ignoring the values which ought to underpin their actions and systems is a self defeating decision.

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I live in the hope that the EU will become a little more united and a deal less "mid Atlantic" in its approach to these issues.

I do agree with Andy.

In France, Michel Barnier, former european commissioneer for regional policy (2nd budget of the EU) has been named yesterday Foreign office minister. It seems to be a sign for more europe and why not the participation in a multinational force under a UN mandate.

The main problem is that, at the same time, some eastern and central european countries entered NATO...

Let's hope for the future as you said.

Jean Philippe

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I'm not so sure we've ever left Bismarckian 'realpolitik' behind.  European powers, Japan, and the US have dominated world economics and politics for well over a century.

I was under the probably naive assumption that part of the motivation behind western "power" was a belief in plurality, democracy and freedom :P .

If I am wrong then does it matter a jot which competing economic elite I support so long as I am on the winning side??

If there is no "international law" then we are truely in a uniquely dangerous situation that can only end extremely badly.

The powerful have more responsibilities than they are currently willing to acknowledge. Ignoring the values which ought to underpin their actions and systems is a self defeating decision.

As to whether it matters or not, it depends on one's ethics.

Albeit "plurality, democracy and freedom" rank high on my personal list of priorities so do charity and fairness.

For me, multilateral organizations such as the UN are absolutely necessary for the term 'international law' to have any true overriding meaning. But I think it is necessary for the Christian West to seek out consensus with the other cultures of the world before trying to impose a western Ethics agenda on the rest.

As to the obligations of the powerful, I think the above should be a part of them. Is this naivete on my part? Maybe so, but if humankind is to avoid periodic, catastrophic upheavals, I think it is absolutely necessary.

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For me, multilateral organizations such as the UN are absolutely necessary for the term 'international law' to have any true overriding meaning. But I think it is necessary for the Christian West to seek out consensus with the other cultures of the world before trying to impose a western Ethics agenda on the rest.

As to the obligations of the powerful, I think the above should be a part of them.  Is this naivete on my part?  Maybe so, but if humankind is to avoid periodic, catastrophic upheavals, I think it is absolutely necessary.

I couldn't agree more. I do however believe that Europe has an obligation to develop a consistent, friendly yet critical relationship with the USA if these desirable outcomes are to be achieved. This is why I am so appalled by the British Prime Minister's continued indulgence of Bush's worst foreign policy excesses.

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I don't think I could quote the pertinent remarks of all of the people who have contributed over the past month to this particular topic, and to what I write below, so I won't try.

Given the events of the last week in both Iraq and Spain, two things have become clear. First, the international force in Iraq hasn't been able to address the problems of the people. Any good will gotten from removing Hussein has been squandered. Americans and anyone associated with them are hated. Spanish soldiers in Iraq don't like the Americans either!! (The Spanish press portrays US soldiers as trigger-happy Rambos.) Furthermore, an Iraqi cleric said the struggle was to kill jews and christians.

Second, a video made by the terrorists who blew themselves up when surrounded by the police in Spain portrays the attacks as part of a larger anti-christian struggle, one that streches back centuries. References were made directly to the sufferings of muslims under the Reconquest and Inquisition. It also refers to innocent muslims, and that their lives are just as valuable as christian ones, being killed today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is obvious that Bush, and those who were crazy enough to go along with him, are going to pay dearly. I suspect there will be attacks in Poland, Japan (!)... It remains to be seen if non-participating countries will also be targeted (France, Germany). I think it ia also safe to say that some of it is rhetoric aimed at gaining more popular support since some attacks have been aimed at muslim countries.

I see it as a major revolt of the less developed world. The developed world and its allies need to pay attention and help create a more equitable and sustainable world economic system both in individual countries as well as between them. If not, what we have seen may be but the opening shots of something far greater and far graver than anything humankind has seen to date.

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As a result of the threat of terrorism people in Britain have begun to debate the merits of multi-culturalism. For many years this has been a taboo subject. This is especially true of the left who often describe people who raise this issue as racists. This has stifled debate and has kept people left of centre quiet on the issue. However, I think it is time liberals and socialists began to think deeply about this topic.

In a largely ignored speech, Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, proclaimed that “multi-culturalism” has had its day. For those outside of the UK, Phillips is a black man with a long history of left-wing activism. Phillips has questioned the “unthinking platitudes about the richness of all diversity in a multicultural society, as if any difference was a self-evident asset.” Phillips has argued that it is the philosophy of multiculturalism that has allowed “alien communities to stay in their silos”.

One of the main reasons this has happened is the willingness of the state to pay for the provision of Muslim schools. How can dividing children along faith lines help to bring people of different faiths together? Why is it that people on the left have rightly criticised the role the state plays in promoting religion (including the funding of church schools) yet are willing accept the right of Muslims to demand government funds to set-up their own schools?

A recent poll showed that 13% of British Muslims said they wanted to see further terrorists attacks on America. They probably approved the bombings in Madrid. They probably would not mind terrorist attacks in Britain as long as they took place outside the area they were living in. These people are obviously anti-American? But are they also Islamo-fascists? Those on the left should not be afraid to describe them as reactionary zealots simply because they are non-white.

Trevor Phillips is concerned about what long-term impact this cultural isolationism will have on racial minorities in the UK. He is especially worried what will happen to race-relations when the UK experiences the expected Muslim fundamentalist terrorist attack.

What has happened in Spain since the Madrid bombing? What impact has it had on race-relations? Has it caused a debate on multiculturalism. Is this being discussed in other European countries?

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Spanish soldiers in Iraq don't like the Americans either!! (The Spanish press portrays US soldiers as trigger-happy Rambos.)

I don't agree with this opinion. A lot of Spaniards and a big deal of Spanish newspapers are on the American side in the Irak mess. The point is how quickly America is losing support abroad, even among its closest allies, because of the unilateral and adventurous Mr. Bush's foreign policy. You can have a glance at this yesterday's article on the New York Times A Spanish Lesson URL=http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/10/opinion/10KRIS.html?th]http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/10/opinion/10KRIS.html?th[/url]

But are they also Islamo-fascists? Those on the left should not be afraid to describe them as reactionary zealots simply because they are non-white.

The greatest challenge that the left has to face up in this early 21st century is getting rid of Cold War-Third World mentality. It has nothing to do with stopping the fight against inequality, but it has to do with ceasing of repeating and repeating the same old mantras.

Sayyid Qutb, a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who stayed in the USA a couple of years and who is accepted as one of the first and most important theorists of Islamic fundamentalism, claimed that the Muslims had to opt between jahiliyya (ignorance), a state of affairs he categorised as the domination of man over man and submission to the law of Allah in its entirety.

Osama bin Laden issuied in 1998 a “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders”, stating that “to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is the individual duty of every Muslim who is able, until the Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] and the Haram mosque [in Mecca] are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam...” I am afraid that they include Spain, that is to say Al-Andalus, in the Lands of Islam. Why not the France to the south of Poitiers, where Muslim troops where stopped by the Franks?

Why a part of the European left don't understand what Islamic fundamentalists are meaning?

Mikel Azurmendi, a Basque Spanish chased by ETA by his liberal and antifascist opinions, presided over a Spanish government commission set up after some serious racist incidents in El Ejido (Southern Spain)... His conclussions were similar to Trevor Phillips' Please, stop talking about multiculturalism when it means accepting the Muslim clerics propagate in the mosques their bigotry and intolerance!

Edited by Juan Carlos

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Admittedly, I based my assertion about Spanish soldiers and rambo Americans on one article in "El País", a high-circulation Spanish newspaper. It was, however, written by a journalist who was alongside the soldiers at the Spanish base in Faluya at the begining of the recent events there.

I still believe there is a place for multiculturalism, but not one that is wide open, just as I do not believe in wide-open politics. People should have the right to say what they want as long as they do not foment violence towards or censorship of others. Clerics of all beliefs then may push their own agenda as long as it does not expound violence or the censorship of others. If not, we are leading ourselves down a very dangerous path. One that leads to the few deciding for the many, and the few imposing there will (eventually by force) on all.

I furthermore do not think government should be in the business of supporting, partially or wholly, denominational schools. This also leads to the above. Government should stay as much out of religion as possible. Government's job in this respect is to keep religion, just as any other social group, from infringing upon the rights of all.

Will this type of attitude open up western society to attacks. From without, perhaps. But if we do not remain open to myriad opinions from an array of cultures, the attacks will surely come from within. And we will be very bad off then, indeed.

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Please allow me to correct a mistake. The Spanish base I mentioned is located in Nayaf, not in Faluyah.

I've read the NYT article, and it only reinforces my opinion. The author of the article, along with most other journalists I have read, says 90% of Spaniards oppose the war. I have not read of or seen on TV reports of Spanish popular support for US policy or US troops in Iraq. I'm sure there are Op/Ed pieces in "ABC" or "Las Provincias" (bastions of the conservative press) in support of a continued Spanish military presence in Iraq, but these reflect certain segments of Spanish society, some with vested interests, and not popular opinion.

I don't doubt for a second that muslim fanatics would be happy to reconquer Spain (along with the rest of Europe and most if not all of the world). Nor do I doubt that many Muslims living in Europe are glad to see 11S & 11Ms and would like to see more.

How did "we", the West, get ourselves into this? We did it by treating the rest of the world as second-class citizens, which is how many of these immigrants continue to feel in their host countries. And a "love it or leave it" attitude towards them won't make matters any better. Either the West gets off its high horse or it will continue to have disgruntled neighbors.

This is not an apology for terrorism from the less developed world. It is another way of pointing out that a unilateral, mono-cultural policy like Bush's leads to failure in the long run. (Some of the most important causes of WWI were that the Kaiser felt his army to be invincible, and that there were numerous ethnic groups seeking independence living within the borders of European empires.) This can be applied to domestic politics as well. If justice is not even-handed, then justice is not served.

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