Spain pulled out of Iraq and terrorists attacked stopped. The typical anglo saxon commentator explanation to this policy decision is to say that Spaniards made terrorism pay off. That we did not have the “cojones” to stay in Iraq, that we quit. I have a different view. We pulled out of Iraq (and not of Afghanistan and peacekeeping in Lebanon) because being in Iraq was wrong in the first place. Recognizing that we made a mistake, even of tragic proportion, was the right thing to do. Having our young continue to die in Iraq and suffer the consequences of Islamic terrorism in our capital was simply unacceptable. Pulling out of Iraq made us less likely to be victims of Islamic terrorism. The UK opted to stay in Iraq and terrorism goes on and on in that country as witnessed in the Glasgow attack today. Now what analysts who say terrorists are barbaric people with no logic forget is that Spain´s army is still present in many Arab/Muslim countries like Lebanon and we are still not being attacked. This means that even the terrorists, as crazy as they seem, have their “logic”. Even they see that invading Afghanistan, when it was ruled by Al Qaeda and the Taliban who were bragging about the dead of 9/11 was “reasonable”. But what the US, UK, Spain and others did by invading Iraq was illogical not only to most voters in the Western world who were not deceived by the WMD arguments, but also to the citizens in the mostly oppressed Muslim world. Terrorists have their opinions and they express them to the media and on the Internet. When I read what they say, they condemn the Iraqi occupation much more than the occupation of Afghanistan or the peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon where Spain still is. While Spain recently lost 6 soldiers to terrorism (or warfare) in South Lebanon I think it´s unlikely that we would be attacked in Madrid for sending peacekeeping troops to Lebanon as we were in March 11th 2004 when 200 people died and over 1000 were injured over the Iraqi invasion. These in Spain attacks require the collaboration of enraged Muslim immigrants in Spain and peace keeping missions don´t seem to elicit the necessary rage to get it. Terrorists see in the invasion of Iraq, in the air bombardments of Fallujah a reason to act in the tortures of Guantanamo, a reason to act. As much as I dislike terrorists and their methods (my foundation co hosted the largest conference on terrorism ever organized) there is a “logic” to their madness. USA and UK keep saying that Iraq will fall into chaos if they pull out. But there is tremendous chaos in Iraq now and thanks to Abu Gharb, air bombardments, mass killings, Al Qaeda is having incredible success recruiting a new generation of terrorists. We made it easy for them. I am not saying that terrorism will stop if we leave Iraq. But I think that it will be less likely to happen. Terrorism is like any type of crime. There always be crime but where there´s economic inequality and lack of opportunity there will be more crime. We in the West did not start terrorism. We did not ask for 9/11. But what we did in the last 6 years clearly made matters worse. We must stop and regain the moral high ground. We cannot continue squandering billions, thousands of human lives on both sides and instead we should keep our scarce resources to fight the new wave of much more dangerous terrorism that is coming; the terrorism that will have the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam did not have. What USA has accomplish creating the category, War on Terror, is to fight an invisible enemy. Saddam could have been coerced into becoming another Qaddafi. But terrorists are much worse enemies simply because we don´t know who they are. Indeed if we want to be successful fighting terrorists nowadays it may be paradoxically better that they gain power so we can then overthrow them that we continue to fight them in the underground. Instead what we are doing now is adding fuel to their cause and increase their chances of succeeding. And we have been making many wrong moves making easier than ever for them to recruit and eventually succeed at causing serious damage in Europe or USA. Especially if we keep antagonizing Russia which has most of the nuclear technology and material that terrorists need.

PS written 2 days later:  I just found out that 7 Spanish tourists were killed in Yemen.  What I don´t know is if they were killed because they were Spanish.  If they were singled out for being Spanish I guess many of the things I said before are simply wrong and there is no logic to their madness as the current policies of the Spanish government are hardly inflamatory by any standards.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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