It wasn't Iraq that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, right? That's what Ted Kennedy has been telling us for the last year.
Maybe he should tell it to al Qaida.
Al Qaida, the organization that did carry out the Sept. 11 attacks, took credit for the train bombs in Spain that killed 200 people on the eve of last week's national elections, calling the bombing punishment for Spain's participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The attack accomplished its purpose. The conservative president, a faithful ally of the United States and Great Britain in the war in Iraq, was defeated by a socialist who had vowed to remove all Spanish troops from Iraq. National polling showed the Bush ally with a comfortable lead prior to the bombings, but voters switched en masse in the wake of the bombing, which occurred just three days before the elections.
Spanish voters not only proved themselves to be sniveling milquetoasts, they also made the free world more dangerous by encouraging terrorists to repeat this performance in other countries, including the United States, where they want to control the outcome of an election. The newly elected socialist president has performed on cue, promising to go ahead with his pledge to remove Spain's soldiers, further reinforcing the danger of terror attacks against other nations.
The French are reportedly celebrating the election results -- not because Spain's new president caved to terrorist demands but because now the French no longer hold the distinction of being the biggest cowards in the world.
But back to the al Qaida/Iraq connection. The question Ted Kennedy and all the other kneejerk critics of the war should be asking themselves is, why would al Qaida care about Spanish soldiers in Iraq? I mean, haven't the war critics accused this president of going to war in Iraq just to distract public attention from his failure to capture the real 9/11 culprit, Osama bin Laden?
Despite the fact that we know Saddam financed international terrorism and harbored terrorists, including members of al Qaida, the war critics have stubbornly refused to see any connection. But al Qaida has unwittingly confirmed the connection.
In the past it was Iraq shielding al Qaida. Today it is al Qaida standing up for Iraq, at least the old Iraq, which had been, under Saddam Hussein, a reliable ally in international terrorism.
The question too many Americans asked themselves on Sept. 12, 2001, was, "Why do they hate us?" Many Americans thought that if only we could better understand our attackers and sympathize with their plight we might diffuse their anger. Some Americans even asked what we did to deserve the attacks.
The correct response to terror attacks is unblinking retribution. When a poor fellow wanders into your yard and tells you about his suffering you show sympathy. But when the same poor fellow harms your loved ones you blow his fool head off. He doesn't deserve sympathy -- and more to the point, your sympathy would not restrain him even if you extended it.
Americans seem to understand this better than Spaniards. The hunt for al Qaida that has resulted in the capture or death of an estimated two thirds of their number must continue as long as any are left standing. Since 9/11 our military and intelligence agencies have foiled additional terror plots against our country. Terrorists should be shown no quarter, nor should their accomplices, including any nation that sponsors or harbors them.
After the events in Spain, the world community is speculating about what would happen if al Qaida attacked the United States on the eve of our November elections, especially since the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry, has echoed the socialist Spanish president's pledge to undertake military operations only under the auspices of the UN.
But given the recent events in Spain, Kerry should now serve warning that the United States will not be held hostage by terrorist demands under a Kerry administration. He should promise he will continue to hunt down and punish al Qaida members, wherever they are, with or without UN approval.
The UN has already demonstrated its impotence in failing to respond to terror or even enforce its own resolutions. The security of the United States and the free world, therefore, depends on the determination of the United States to act.
There are plenty of other issues on which Kerry can continue to oppose the president -- the budget deficit, taxes, abortion, gay marriage. But on the War on Terror, the world should see the two major candidates for president united in their resolve. Now that al Qaida itself has publicly linked itself to Islamic extremists still killing Americans in Iraq, Kerry should back off his attacks of the commander in chief.
If Kerry wants to prove his worthiness to lead he can start by putting national security ahead of personal ambition.
And maybe he can tell his friend Ted Kennedy to shut up.