It's not a quagmire just because things aren't going perfectly
Posted by aogSunday, 14 March 2004 at 21:18 TrackBack Ping URL

With regard to the terror attack in Spain and the election, Lee Harris writes

If this is the case, then the Spanish election Sunday will carry a significance that will transcend the borders of Spain, and which could make it one of the most decisive elections in the short history of modern democracy. For if the Spanish people vote against Aznar’s party, then it will appear to the terrorists that they have succeeded in manipulating the domestic policy of an independent nation through an act of catastrophic terror. They will have succeeded in making a nation change its mind about who is to lead them — and that would be a setback from which our world might never recover.

Yet another writer having an apococlasm1. “Never recover”? Of course, technically one never recovers from binge drinking episode (because you can never make up lost time), but in real life one can get over it. Is this kind of thing really different from the global warming hype you see floating around?

Yes, the terrorists will be encouraged by this. But there are two factors which make it far from being something from which civilization will “never recover”:

  • In my view the terrorists are already operating at maximum capacity. I doubt that any more people will die because of this. It will simply change the locations and timing. For this to lead to more deaths requires that the terrorists have some reserve that they haven’t used or haven’t yet committed.
  • The only “never recover” scenario is if we lose. If we win, if the terrorists and their supporting nations / cultures are broken, then this event will fade in to history. If we lose, then this may end up being considered the beginning of the end. But I don’t consider defeat very likely,hardly likely enough to justify the definitive tone used here.

I don’t want to make light of the attack, or claim it’s irrelevant. The attack and the following electoral defeat may even be disastrous (although I doubt even that), but it’s hardly the end. It’s a very definite setback, but such is war.

In some ways this reminds of me of the quagmire talk when the drive on Baghdad bogged down. An avenging army, smoothing grinding its way to victory is the stuff of fiction, not real life. Things will bog down, reverses will occur. Victory isn’t being perfect, it’s carrying on in the face of difficulties.

P.S. The incoming socialist prime minister has already stated that

My immediate priority will be to combat all kinds of terrorism. The terrorists must know that they will confront all of us together. We will win.

Probably just rhetoric, but if not then it will be a very bad sign for Caliphascists, when even changing the government doesn’t change things with regard to their goals. It might even be a blow from which they’ll never recover.

1 That internal joy one gets from writing apocolyptic statements.