The reign in Spain died mainly on the train. I apologize for a silly, but irresistible, opening to a deadly and portentous topic: the electoral fall of our ally Jose Maria Aznar's Popular Party in the aftermath of a presumed Al Qaeda terrorist assault on a Madrid train.
The Spanish electorate decided to defeat its government for seeming to bring Islamist terrorist slaughter to Spain. It is true that a large majority of Spaniards never supported their government's decision to send troops to Iraq. Nonetheless, the day before the terrorist attack, every Spanish poll and political expert predicted a solid win for Aznar's party.
But after the attack, about three million Spanish voters changed their impending electoral decision. Thus, their vote was not out of anger at Aznar's policy but out of fear of the terrorists' wrath. And so we are returned to Winston Churchill's lamentation about avoiding crocodiles.
On Jan. 20, 1940, four months after Hitler invaded Poland, Churchill gave a world address to urge the neutral nations of Europe to abandon appeasement and rally round the Union Jack and the French Tricolor (France was still in the fight then) as the surest path to safety against the Nazi onslaught: "At present their (the neutrals) plight is lamentable; and it will become much worse. They bow humbly and in fear of German threats ? Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured. But I fear -- I fear greatly -- the storm will not pass. It will rage and it will roar, ever more loudly, ever more widely." The European neutrals, however, continued to appease -- until, in the spring, they were devoured.
Appeasers are likely to underestimate the price of appeasement. They always assume that peace and tranquility are available at some price. But the crocodile doesn't want a finger or a toe -- he wants the whole carcass.
The Spanish voters' fear is understandable. But not only have they not saved themselves from further harvest by the Saracen scimitar, they also have increased the likelihood and advanced the arrival of similar slaughters for their cousins in the streets of Europe and America. It is hard not to assume that within the Al Qaeda war councils, advocates of pre-election terror attacks have gained a fearsome advantage.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.