May 15, 2013 By Michael N. Escobar
In 2004, Spain held national elections. The government at that time was led by José María Aznar, of the Popular Party, a right-wing conservative group. Many members of the PP are in fact descended from members of the fascist dictatorship led by Francisco Franco. Spain had sent a contingent of soldiers to Iraq as part of the “coalition of the willing”. Aznar had been in power since 1996 and had taken a hard line against the ETA, a terrorist group advocating independence for the Basque Country.
Spain is a diverse country: predominantly white and industrialized in the north, more brown-skinned, poor, and agricultural in the south; in the northern mountains the Basque people speak a language unrelated to any other in Western Europe, and in the east the region of Catalonia (whose capital is the wealthy cultural and commercial city of Barcelona) have long sought autonomy. The Conservatives, serving the King and the Church, have long fought for centralization in Spain, promoting a standardized “Spanish culture” and the Castilian language at the expense of regional privileges and local languages.
Three days before the election, a bombing struck the Madrid train system. 191 people died. The government instantly blamed the ETA terrorist group for the bombings – on the same day, within hours of the explosions. It subsequently emerged that the attacks were actually committed by Islamists, and as a result, the bombings were associated with Spain’s participation in the Iraq invasion, so that the bombings redounded to the discredit of the conservatives. And it emerged that the government had acquired hard evidence of the bombings’ Islamist origins very early on, but deliberately persisted in misrepresenting them to the public.
The theory was that, since Aznar’s policy towards the ETA had emphasized an aggressive police approach as opposed to a politically-negotiated “solution” to the conflict, the ETA could well be expected to retaliate. In this case, the bombings would not be a surprise, and since Aznar’s policy was popular with the public, such bombings would be politically tolerable for him. However, an Islamist source for the bombings would be blamed on the Iraq invasion, which had always been significantly unpopular at home. Not only did the bombings make the Iraq policy even more unpopular, but the government’s lying about the bombings completely undid its credibility. The Conservatives lost the election to the Socialists, who pulled all Spanish troops out of Iraq within a month of taking office.
Unfortunately for the conservatives in the United States, it seems that the Obama administration did not engage in any similar type of cover-up behavior in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. In fact, the conservatives’ current frenzy of accusations are based on outright lies and fabrications. See: http://gawker.com/cnn-says-abcs-benghazi-scoop-used-a-fake-quote-505835408
Wake me up if they find real evidence that the U.S. government lied when it was in possession of evidence to the contrary of what it was saying about Benghazi. If it turns out that was the case, you won’t find me making contortions to go on defending Obama. He needs to be held responsible for what he is actually doing with his office. In the meantime, there are plenty of other things blame the President for – selling us out to the banks, selling us out to the pharmaceutical companies, carrying on with drone strikes and rendition and countless other sins. These are actual bad policy choices – but they are conservative-leaning policy choices.