Withdrawal of troops improves hopes of democracy

April 26, 2004, midnight | 20 years ago

Spain's move sets standard for democratic action

The newly elected Spanish government removal of Spanish troops from Iraq is an act of democracy that followed through on campaign promises. The move will protect the lives of Spanish citizens while improving and changing the country's policy on the conflict.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of the socialist party was elected as Spain's prime minister on April 17, shortly following the devastating terrorist train bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid on March 11. The Spanish people were angered by former Prime Minister Jose Maria Anzar's attempts to blame the attack on Basque separatist groups instead of investigating the possibility of al Qaeda involvement in the violence.

The people of Spain had been deceived and misled by Anzar following the March 11 attack, which, in part, led to the socialist victory in the election. Meanwhile, Zapatero called for a tough stance on terrorism but also pledged to remove the 1,300 Spanish troops from Iraq. Zapatero has been a true sign of democracy in action as the government has responded to the will and demands of the people while living up to its promises. The new prime minister is fulfilling his proposed agenda and following public opinion, which is opposed to the occupation of Iraq.

Islamic terrorists linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network carried out the bombing in Madrid. The March 11 attack was, in part, retaliation for Spanish involvement in Iraq. Spanish involvement in the war in Iraq angered some Islamic militants, so withdrawing from Iraq is in the interest of Spain's national security. Leaving Spanish troops in the Iraqi quagmire could incite more attacks on Spain.

The situation in Iraq continues to worsen as violence erupts around the country and plans to restore Iraqi sovereignty show little promise. Zapatero and his administration were willing to remain in the turbulent conflict if the U.N. was to take control of the country, which the Spanish government saw would not occur. Spain continues to support diplomatic and political efforts to restore peace and order in Iraq, which may prove more useful than continued, bloody fighting.

The U.S. acted unilaterally to enter Iraq, going without U.N. or large international support. Yet, the U.S. continues to dominate the rebuilding process, giving almost all of the rebuilding contracts to American-based companies. Until the U.S. is able to drop personal interests in Iraq, the military efforts of Spain and other countries is futile.

Increased military presence in Iraq will fuel violence and will not help restore order. Spain has acted democratically to withdraw from a conflict that so far has done little for democracy. Spain can assist the U.N. in restoring sovereignty to Iraq without using troops to assists in the failing American occupation.

Spain's withdrawal is in the best interest of national security, the will of the Spanish people and international democracy.

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