- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Spain’s Socialist prime minster-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, celebrated his Sunday electoral victory by characterizing the U.S.-led war that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as an “error.” Yesterday, two days before the first anniversary of the beginning of hostilities and less than four months before the Coalition Provisional Authority is scheduled to return sovereignty to the long-suffering Iraqi people, Mr. Zapatero insisted that the occupation of Iraq was “turning into a disaster.”

Mr. Zapatero, who declared during his campaign that he hoped Sen. John Kerry would win the U.S. presidency, recently repeated his preference. “We’re aligning ourselves with Kerry,” Mr. Zapatero said, according to the International Herald Tribune. “Our allegiance will be for peace, against war, no more deaths for oil, and for a dialogue between the government of Spain and the new Kerry administration.” In a radio interview yesterday, Mr. Zapatero, whose victory was propelled in part by the terrorist attacks in Madrid, emphatically asserted that “fighting terrorism with bombs … with Tomahawk missiles isn’t the way to defeat terrorism.”

Instead, Mr. Zapatero, who presumably would have preferred that the United States respond to September 11 with indictments and extradition requests, insisted that “terrorism is combated by the state of law.” To prove that he was serious about his misguided emphasis upon law enforcement procedures to combat the terrorism that had just massacred his fellow Spaniards, the prime minister-elect announced that he would appoint a single commander to oversee Spain’s Civil Guard and National Police. “[The terrorists] will not have a moment of rest,” he naively asserted.

Now that Mr. Zapatero has explicitly endorsed Mr. Kerry, the Massachusetts senator ought to tell Americans where he stands. Does he endorse Mr. Zapatero’s preference for law enforcement procedures to deter the intercontinental terrorist campaign being waged by al Qaeda and rogue states against Western democracies?

On Jan. 23, 2003, four months after he voted to authorize war against Iraq and less than two months before the war began, Mr. Kerry declared: “[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation … And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction.” Does Mr. Kerry believe that the war to obliterate what he rightly described as Saddam’s “brutal, murderous dictator[ship]” represented nothing more than “deaths for oil,” as Mr. Zapatero clearly believes? If not, then he ought to renounce the endorsement from the Spanish Socialist.

If Mr. Zapatero is misreading Mr. Kerry’s confusing signals — votes authorizing force against Afghanistan and Iraq, on the one hand, and a vote against funding postwar military activities in both Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other — then Mr. Kerry needs to clarify his views. If Mr. Kerry does agree with Mr. Zapatero, then Americans need to know.

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