Something needs to be made very clear: The war we wage, the United States and its coalition of friends, now Spain-less (spineless), is not a war on "terror." Terror is an emotion. It is not a war on "terrorism." Like blitzkrieg, siege or ambush, terrorism is a tactic. And it's not a war against "evildoers," a creaky tag that conjures faceless heavies of a vaguely extraterrestrial nature, not the seedy killers who lurk in our cities' secret cells. The war we wage, the United States and its coalition of friends, is a war on Islamic jihad -- the spread of Islam by violent means -- and we wage it against Islamic jihadists who dream of death and destruction in their religion's name.
Two and a half years after the Twin Towers fell, our nation and its friends fight on, but in those two and a half years this great semantic fudge has allowed our enemies to remain ill-defined. Maybe that explains why we have seen confusion spring up between "the war on terror," which is conceived of as a response to the attacks of 9/11, and the "war in Iraq," which has sometimes been erroneously depicted, particularly by anti-war Democrats, as a wholly disconnected venture. No such confusion arises when you set out to combat global jihad, a phrase that just as aptly describes the struggle against Islamic fighters in Iraq or the West Bank as it does the struggle against Islamic fighters in the skies over Pennsylvania or on the train tracks of Madrid. Terrorism may be the tactic Islamic fighters employ, but jihad is the ideology they share.
A great irony of the Spanish election is that even as mass-murdering jihadists take credit for bringing about the Socialist victory -- expected to result in Spain's withdrawal from Iraq of its 1,300 troops -- they have also thrown a giant spotlight on the intertwined tactical connections between Islamic terror networks and the war in Iraq. The most likely scenario is that Islamic fighters either affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaeda chose to attack Spain in order to strike at the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
"The approaching general elections in Spain in March must be exploited to the extreme," announced an online manifesto that has been appearing on jihadist Web sites associated with Al Qaeda since December. The manifesto went on to predict that attacks on Spain would virtually guarantee a Socialist victory along with the jihadist objective of seeing Spanish troops leave the American-led coalition. If jihadists make the connection between "terrorism" and Iraq, why can't we?