After initially blaming the attacks on ETA, Spanish officials are now looking for signs that Al Qaeda may have been behind the bombings that killed nearly hundreds in Madrid.
Regardless of the source of the attacks, the bombings are a stark reminder that terrorism is not only the key political issue of this election, but of a generation. Such has not been clearly reflected in primary exit polls nor in the pandering and fear-mongering being employed in campaigns.
A few related thoughts:
First, it’s interesting to note how quickly our national focus can shift regardless of the severity of an issue. For example, think back to the weeks and even months following the Sept 11th attacks. Back then in terms of politics, the ability of President Bush to prevent another attack on American soil (through merit or luck) looked to be the only metric by which his re-election chances would be measured.
Second, the internationalization of this threat has been made all-too-clear in the last few years. Internationalizing the fight should be seen as sensible, not somehow weak.
Third, it’s fair to ask at this point to what extent the couple hundred billion dollars and thousands of forces deployed to oust Saddam could have been beneficial the war against the terrorist acts like the ones we’ve seen around the world in the last year.
Fourth, we all know on some very basic level that that although military force, being aggressive and beefing up our intelligence are all critical elements in the war to stop terrorism, there’s no real way to stop every effort to launch attacks on free societies. So what is our broader plan?