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Illogical Comparisons Between Attacks

I would like to respectfully add some footnotes to Daniel Barclay's epochal column "Europe's Sept. 11" [Mar. 19], if only to remove certain flaws from its conclusions. The author suggests as a difference in reactions to terrorism, that the attacks of 2001 "heightened America's resolve to bring the perpetrators to justice," implying this is not true for Spain in 2004. In addition to being a slap in the face of the Spanish and the Spanish security services, this statement does not coincide with reality: it assumes that this resolve is somehow an exclusive quality attached to individual politicians like Mr. Aznar, or perhaps Mr. Bush. That is as wrong as the assumption that this goal is necessarily and appropriately pursued in the form of declarations of war. He further assumes that the Spanish blamed their government for "aggressively confronting" the terrorists. This interpretation relies on the tacit assumption that the attack on Iraq was justified and suited to "confront the terrorists." It does not take into account that 90 percent of the Spanish population, then ignored by their government, rejected the idea of an attack on Iraq as illegitimate and a threat to international -- and thus national -- security. Barclay further suggests that in Europe, "there are lingering, perhaps subconscious concerns that acting with too much gusto might stir up resentment, create more terrorism." Again, this is incorrect. These concerns are neither lingering nor subconscious but very consciously and explicitly expressed, not only in Europe. And paying attention to what is going on in the world, these concerns seem justified.

It is unclear what misleads the author to think that Europe "generally followed the path where an increased threat of international terrorism led to less vigilance" (probably not Europe's U.N.-backed involvement in Afghanistan). But he becomes more explicit about what he means by a country's "vigilance," by which he means expanding "its presence" in other parts of the world and "heightening law enforcement operations" -- in plain words, starting wars of aggression similar to the attack on Iraq, which left several thousands of people dead and uncounted crippled, including tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, hundreds of American soldiers, and thousands of civilians, thus multiplying the efforts of the terrorists.

Even more surprising is Barclay's enthusiastic conclusion that while the bombings in Spain bear no "greater significance" and merely "will become a footnote to history"; in contrast to that, Barclay writes that "the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were truly epochal setting the terms of international relations for the next decade" -- a decade under terms set by terrorists and a policy driven by their "epochal" actions? I hope not. And frankly, I don't think so: The view that the book of history is written with blood is the view of lunatics. Every sane person -- in particular any responsible statesman -- will do whatever he or she can to avoid being responsible for even a footnote in such a book. I believe in reason and in reason's strength over madness. And thus I believe in a brighter future, shared by the people in Europe and the Americas, in Asia and Africa.

Sebastian Raupach G

Israel's bin Laden

On March 22, the State of Israel fired a missile into the car of the founder of Hamas, a terrorist group operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that the State Department recognizes as such. This action was entirely justifiable, due to the terrible atrocities Sheik Ahmed Yassin sponsored and planned since 1987, when he founded Hamas. Since the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, Hamas has sent 72 suicide bombers against Israel, killing 227 Israelis, and wounding 1393 (as compiled at, and with independent verification from numerous news sites). Evidence exists linking Yassin directly with these attacks. In August 2003, the United States listed Yassin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Condoleezza Rice said on March 22, "Let's remember that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that Sheik Yassin has himself, personally, we believe, been involved in terrorist planning" ( Yassin opposed the peace process, as well as ever recognizing the sovereign state of Israel. He argued in the Hamas Covenant that "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad."

It is clear that he was a ruthless villain. In many ways he represents Israel's Osama bin Laden, who plans, finances, and recruits for attacks. All sovereign nations have the right to defend themselves against terror. Finally, Yassin was a terrorist, who is not endowed with the rights of civilian non-combatants, obviously. Israel's actions were therefore legal according to international law (as summarized in

Sam Raymond '06