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May 13, 2004


Shall we wait and see what they do before... a-hem... mind-reading? You may be right, but you don't know for sure.

What James said. You're far too ready to assume that a policy which differs from the US must necessarily be a retreat*: you should watch out for that inclination.

*It would make just as much sense to say that the US has already retreated from the war on terrorism - by invading Iraq.

Worth noting - one of the reasons the Spanish pulled out of Iraq so quickly was because the US demanded that they get Sadr "dead or alive." They disagreed with the policy, and didn't want to take the fall.

I gave more than wiggle room, I thought the decision fully justifiable (PSE central promise from before Madrid, 80-90% in favour).

Juan Cole had a post that only increased that justification; apparently the Spanish found the American Way of fighting the war inacceptable, (as do British officers and diplomats, though Blair is fully commited to Bush) giving them reason to leave even earlier the coalition of the (not so) willing.

Afghanistan is entirely different im my eyes. I believe Spain commited herself through art. 5 of the Atlantic Alliance to assist the US against aggression from the Taliban Emirate (Although, I'm not so sure of that, and also that the US declined the offer of assitance per that article; if someone knows details I'd be grateful!).
Not increasing the Afghan contingent would not be a formal breach of alliance, though very disapointing given the paltry numbers (and Afghanistan could really have some use of even a few more soldiers), but a withdrawal would, and then I'd said Spain is a disloyal appeaser.

However, as noted by commentators above, this sounds much more like diplomatic noise-making by Spain to pressure Washington to change its policies on 'GWOT' (abolishing it would be even better, but I'm a lowly blogger, not a Nato country).

So, quoting Gen. Oliver Smith, USMC, the Spanish can say "We're not retreating, Hell! We're just attacking in a different direction!" on the diplomatic front.

I agree that this comment is troubling. Heck, I wish he'd just recommitted the same number of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan -- that would have been a great, and helpful, gesture. I wish a lot of things, though, like we'd get back the $700 million that Bush looted from -- among other agencies trying to help out Afghanistan -- my office, so your tone is probably more than a little too heavy-handed at this stage.

" You're far too ready to assume that a policy which differs from the US must necessarily be a retreat*: you should watch out for that inclination."

No. Backing down from a suggestion that they could increase the number of Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan from a pathetic 120 to a paltry 240 after withdrawing almost 2,000 from Iraq is a retreat. That isn't just an assumption. It looked a lot like a retreat when they were suggesting the increase to 240 in Afghanistan. It is confirmed as a retreat when they start hinting that they aren't even able to do that.

I understand their policy differences in Iraq. I believe them to be deeply wrong and the way Zapatero announced them gave Al Qaeda a huge propaganda victory, but I said in my previous posts that they could dampen the effect of that by committing to other major areas of the War on Terror. The doubling of troops in Afghanistan was supposed to be such a move, though it was purely symbolic since the numbers were already so low. The fact that they already feel the need to distance themselves from even the symbolic gesture is frankly a retreat.

[Spain] are retreating from the War on Terror.

They're letting Vizcaya secede?

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