in WorldAffairs

Crimes of the Elected , Sins of the Electorate

It is impossible not to feel revulsion at the bombing of the rush hour trains in Madrid. Ten simultaneous explosions ripped through trains and stations killing hundreds of people, injuring thousands and plunging a nation into stunned mourning. The legacy that this leaves the families of the dead and injured is deplorable and wrong.

It seems to me rather academic all the furor about which terrorist group is involved. Of course a criminal investigation is required to capture the perpetrators and bring them to justice. But how relevant is it that we know ETA did it or indeed one of Al Qaida’s affiliations?

Spain has enemies, as indeed the US , the UK and other countries which have a legacy of perpetrating injustices against others. ETA sprang up as a result of the persecution and occupation of the Basque people by General Franco. The inability of the Spanish to oppose Franco and his occupation, either by lack of motivation or a failure of sympathy for the Basque suffering essentially condemned the Spanish to guilt by association. Despite deals made to give the Basque region more autonomy than anywhere else in Spain, ETA still insisted on full independence (which is what they had before Franco occupied – seems a reasonable request).

When Tony Blair says that ‘terrorism is the greatest threat to democracy…’ , he may just be saying the required soundbyte because the democracy he espouses is that of exploitation, caballing and a mutation of capitalism into a political ideology with some socialist make up. If terrorism is indeed such a clear and present danger to democracy, then the causes of terrorism – that which fuels the fundamentalist mindsets that perpetrate terrorism must be a greater threat than the acts of the terrorists themselves. It would also follow that those who exercebate such situations that feed terrorism are themselves implicated in it.

When the US and its and their coalition partners hold an entire nation hostage within its own borders under the guise of liberation ; bomb a sovereign country back into the middle ages; impose deplorable sanctions on medicines and food against hundreds of thousands of innocents ; covertly work to destabilise socially responsible democratic governments to install pliant elitist regimes that do the master’s bidding; when ‘peace plans’ and ‘roadmaps’ are drawn up to perpetuate the injustices of occupation and its attendant social genocide. When all these are done with such far reaching effects, the fires that heat the fundamentalist fury are stoked immeasurably.

By signing up to the Iraq coalition, Spain’s outgoing administration turned deaf to the overwhelming opposition to the war in Iraq by the Spanish people. Millions of people demonstrated across Spain in opposition to the war and their country’s governmental support for it. As they did in the UK and many other European countries. But with the mandate handed to the elected by the electorate, the Spanish government of Mr Aznar took his country to war. Perhaps the potential of getting in good with the only superpower, the new empire; was too much to pass up. Perhaps the lure of the spoils of Iraq – with reputedly more oil than Saudi Arabia was just too enticing.

This attack in Spain marks a continuation of the insecurity in the world – an insecurity that is made worse by imperial ambitions of the US and its junior partner in reshaping the world. All these countries (of the coalition) are by and large democratic (with the exception of some unnamed Arab countries), yet they all committed their people to war by the mandate of their electorate. A mandate that now exposes all to such vengeful attacks as seen in Madrid. If nothing else, this new turn of events may actually be good for democracy. It may almost instantly wipe out the apathy that so much money (advertising!) has failed to do. Maybe voters will sit bolt up and recognise the responsibility they have to holding their elected governments to account. Not accountability at the ballot box, but every day – questioning and demanding transparency, an end to this horse trading that is international diplomacy and statesmanship and for which the pain and suffering of the poor and vulnerable are too often sacrificed for the gains of the elite.

Whatever the reason why the Spanish actually joined the coalition, the crimes of the elected are now the sins of the electorate, and for those who feel vengeance is theirs it would appear judgment day just passed.

What do you think?