Yet more on Spain and al Qaeda

A clarification. As “I mentioned last night”:, I worry that the results of the Spanish elections, in which the PP was thrown out and the PSOE were voted in as a response to last week’s bombings, will be seen as a victory for Islamists such as Osama bin Laden.
But as reader Ted points out

The PP was poised to win the election even after the bombing. They lost because it became clear that they were intentionally obfuscating the truth about the authorship of the bombings because they knew that if the truth came out, it would damage (although not completely) their chances at reelection. In other words, they lost the election because they were caught lying to the public about a very, very sensitive issue, on top of everything else. It was the lie that was the nail in the coffin. It was their own stupidity that sealed their fate, not the act of terrorism.

I think there’s a lot of truth to this, and I should have been more clear in my writing — jetlag sucks — that regardless of the reason the Spanish voted out the PP, it’s almost assured that al Qaeda and other terrorists will believe they influenced the election. It is this conclusion — rightly or wrongly drawn — that I fear will embolden the enemies of peace. It’s certainly a hell of a recruitment tool.
Juan cole “notes that”:

There is no evidence at all that the Spanish public desires the new Socialist government to pull back from a counter-insurgency effort against al-Qaeda. The evidence is only that they became convinced that the war on Iraq had detracted from that effort rather than contributing to it. This is not a cowardly conclusion and it is not a victory for al-Qaeda.

Well, not in an absolute universe, no, and the fact that the elections went off at all is a victory against al Qaeda. But I’m not so much worried about how the Spanish vote will be spun on _Le Monde’s_ editorial page as I am how it will be spun in Peshawar’s _madrassas_. In a battle of ideas, it’s not always what’s real that wins; more often what’s more pleasing to believe does.
So the question is: Does an electorate have a responsibility to throw out a manipulative, distant ruling party — hm… — regardless of the consequences regarding its alliances, or does it “suck it up” and stick with the current party so as not to give the bad guys any ammunition? I guess it depends on whether you think the Spaniards should follow their own national interests or the United States.’ Spanish voters apparently felt — for whatever valid or invalid reason — that their country’s interest didn’t align with those of the United States regarding Iraq. And no one should blame them for that.