Today’s announcement by the Spanish prime minister elect that he is going to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq is not quite the good news it seems to be.
Firstly, a qualification attached to the announcement has gone largely unremarked upon. Zapatero actually said he would consider withdrawing the troops after June 30 if the situation in Iraq had not changed, meaning that he is leaving a open a means of backtracking if realpolitik decides he wants to keep the soldiers there.
Next — and putting myself in uncomfortable company — look at this from Al-Qaeda’s point of view (assuming it was them that planted the Spanish bombs, which hasn’t been proved yet).
With one audacious and horrible act they have changed a Western government and extracted an apparent resolution to remove part of the occupying force in Iraq. They will now be pumped and looking for the next target. A sufficiently violent act could send home the Polish or Japanese or Bulgarian contingents. This means more death. Peaceniks cannot be against death when inflicted by the US and UK and indifferent to it when inflicted by others. Sending home the Spanish contingent may encourage more extravagant acts of violence such as the string of bombings that started in Bali and includes the recent Spanish bombs.
Al-Qaeda will look at Japan whose government is a keen supporter of the Bush lunacy but whose population, like Spain’s, is instinctively against the war and occupation.
An attack on the mainland of Japan is unlikely. There is no Islamic community to blend in with. Foreigners stand out a mile. Unlike Europe, there is no politicised body to act as support for an attack here. Al Q may choose to attack Japanese people abroad or go for an airliner in another country where the security isn’t so tight.
Britain is an obvious target. The deployment on London’s tube trains of undercover marshals will do little to prevent determined attackers, and let’s face it, the tube is a disaster waiting to happen with or without bombs.
Moreover, Britain has a large number of radicalised youngsters ready to throw away their lives, as recent suicide bombings by British citizens in Iraq and Palestine demonstrate.
Zapatero is in a very shitty position: maintain an unjust occupation and risk further attacks or pull out and guarantee attacks on other countries.
And we are in a shitty position whichever way Zapatero swings: we are all targets, as the Spain and Bali bombs illustrate.
Of course, the invasion of Iraq should never have happened, and let’s be clear, it went ahead for the most craven reasons and our leaders should be in the dock in the Hague alongside Milosevic. They should remove their troops because that is the right thing to do, not because they were bombed out by a rival gang of psychotics — that way lies yet more violence.