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The terrorist atrocity in Madrid shocked the world. The general revulsion at the tragedy, when 201 innocent commuters died and over a thousand were wounded, has isolated the terrorists. Al Quaida had some sympathy in parts of the Islamic world and elsewhere in their fight against the perceived aggressive and lawless military giant modern America has become, but that was surely squandered in the bloody carnage of the carriages, in the same way as the US squandered the world's sympathy after 9/11 by choosing war in Afghanistan rather than targeting the evil-doers themselves. From now on, Al Quaida recruiting will be limited to psychopaths.
The vast majority of Spaniards were against the war in Iraq, yet their leader Aznar committed them to war. He was thrown out a few days after the atrocity and Jose Zapatero, who was against the war, elected. Now the Spanish contingent is to pull out of Iraq. Was this a victory for terrorism? A few thought so. The terrorists aim 'to kill innocent people in order to shake our will' (Bush). But the majority saw the election result in Spain as a salutary warning to leaders not to ignore the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent. No one has sympathy for the terrorists now, but that is a separate issue. The main thing is, wars that are illegal and immoral are not to be tolerated in civilised nations.
With respect to that, when elections are held hopefully Blair and Bush and Howard will be thrown out in their turn, for the same reason that Aznar was rejected. Is it too much to hope that future leaders will rely more on the United Nations and less on their own grandiose and aggressive instincts, more on rule of international law and less on might is right, if only to preserve their own skins?
It is now generally feared that the terrorists have not finished their work, and that all countries that have formed the 'coalition of the willing', including Britain, Australia and the US itself, will suffer terrible attacks on their innocent civilians. Terrorist strikes cannot really be prevented, no matter how draconian the precautions against. By their nature, when the hidden murderers can choose the timing of the attack and pick their soft target from all that are on offer in a peaceful society, terrorist atrocities are unstoppable, as our police are pointing out today. The smiler with the knife has an advantage. Our world has changed, and I believe we have the US warlike reaction to 9/11 to thank for that.
Channel 4 TV asked its viewers on 15th March: Do you think Britain's decision to go to war in Iraq has made terrorist attacks more or less likely? I predicted that 90% would say that we were more likely to be attacked, as the peace movement had warned before the soldiers were sent. I should have had more faith in the good sense of our citizens. The result announced the following day was 93% thought we were more likely to be attacked.

H. D.