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September 30, 2004

Former Spanish President Aznar's Speech at Georgetown University

Sal sends this:

Finally, I have to remind you that the new terrorism does not put an end to the old forms of terror. Unfortunately we know that in Spain, having suffered ETA attacks for more that 30 years now. But there is something we must understand and be clear about: Violence and terror must be condemned in all circumstances. There are no, and can be no, good and bad forms of terrorism.

Many times I have read and heard in the American media how ETA terrorists have been described as “young rebels” and “pro-independence militants”. I would like you to know that these individuals murder, kidnap, torture and bully free citizens in a democratic country. They are terrorists, and nothing more. It is easy to look with some sympathy upon those who commit their crimes thousands of miles away. It is seriously immoral and extremely detrimental, because every phrase and every gesture of tolerance signifies new encouragement for them to commit further crimes. In other words, calling ETA a “separatist group”, or the FARC in Colombia a “liberation organization”, would be like calling Al Qaeda “a religious or spiritual organization”. Simply unacceptable.

If we want to win, the terrorists must be made to feel our hostility everywhere.

...

I am telling you all this in order to give you an example of the endurance that is required in certain situations. Endurance is not only important, it is vital. Otherwise, when your strength is seen to be flagging, it is the terrorists who win. When President Bush warned us that this would be a long war, one that would last many years, he was not resorting to rhetoric. This is something you should all know.

Endurance and moral clarity.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear American friends, let me conclude by saying again that despite all, I am an optimist. I have managed to apply some successful policies to fight against terrorism in my country. And I know terrorism can be defeated. I am not saying that it will be easy. I have already mentioned several extremely painful incidents in my own life. However, we must stick to the conviction that they cannot beat us. It is true that the yardstick for victory is different in the case of ETA when compared to that of Al Qaeda. However, a yardstick for victory does exist.

Bin Laden was forced to flee Afghanistan, and although he remains alive and has not yet been captured, his movements and capacity for directing operations have been severely diminished. This is not only in our eyes, but even more importantly, in the eyes of his own followers. The terrorists achieved a clear victory after the 11th March atrocities in Madrid and the subsequent withdrawal of the Spanish contingent from Iraq. However, this was only a partial victory, in spite of the boost in morale it gave them. I do not know what they will attempt to do now. However, the pressure to demonstrate that they are not losing the war is very intense. It is so intense that they may be tempted to carry out an attack here in order to influence the electoral process, as they did in Spain.

I do not wish to sound alarmist. It is not my place to warn you of the degree of threat that hangs over the United States. I would simply state that I believe the terrorists would wish to be present at the November elections, either through direct action here if they can, or indirectly by making Iraq an inferno for our political leaders.

But whatever happens, let us be sure not to let the terrorists believe that they are getting away with it.

It's a long speech, and that's just the last of his seven theses on terrorism. But it's worth reading.


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posted by Ace at 03:43 PM

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