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Report Summary March 2007
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Is anger at the U.S. growing?
By Samuel Loewenberg

“We are all Americans,” a banner headline in Le Monde declared after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. But the warm embrace from France and the rest of the global community was short-lived.. . . .

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The Issues
  • Is the United States the primary force behind globalization policies that harm other countries?
  • Is the United States threatening other cultures?
  • Is the “American Century” over?

Will anti-Americanism wane after President Bush leaves office?

Pro Pro
Dr. Farish A. Noor
Professor of history, Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin. Written for CQ Global Researcher, March 2007
Manjeet Kripalani
Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; India Bureau Chief, Business Week. Written for CQ Global Researcher, March 2007

Spain's support of U.S. seen as critical factor

On the morning of March 11, 2004, a coordinated bomb attack on four rush-hour trains in Madrid killed 191 people and injured more than 1,700.

Spain had lived through decades of terrorism from the Basque separatist group ETA, but these bombers were not seeking independence; they were attempting to intimidate the Spanish government. In February 2007, Spanish authorities put 29 men on trial for the bombings, claiming they belonged to a local cell of Islamic militants aligned with al Qaeda.

In sharp contrast to the American reaction after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Spanish citizens did not view the assault as part of a war between Islam and the West. Instead, many turned their anger toward the United States and their own government, which had supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

“We didn't want to go to war, but we did because of [former Prime Minister José Maria] Aznar,” said Miguel Barrios, a 45-year-old maintenance worker who was in one of the bombed trains. “They didn't pay attention to the anti-war movement.” Footnote 1

It became clear that in an effort to stay aligned with the interests of the United States, the world's sole superpower, the Spanish government had run against the will of its own people. In the wake of the railroad attacks that Spanish government was voted out. The new prime minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, withdrew Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq within weeks, risking a rupture of the close alliance Spain had enjoyed with the U.S.

“Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair will reflect on our decision,” said Zapatero. “You cannot justify a war with lies. It cannot be.”

People felt the war in Iraq had never been Spain's business, said Miguel Bastenier, a columnist for El Pais, Spain's largest newspaper. “Aznar was doing what Bush wanted without any particular reason for Spain to be there.

A tear rolls down a girl's cheek during a rally in Madrid following terrorist bombings in March 2004 that killed nearly 200 people. Her message: “Peace, not terrorism.” (Getty Images/Ian Waldie)
A tear rolls down a girl's cheek during a rally in Madrid following terrorist bombings in March 2004 that killed nearly 200 people. Her message: “Peace, not terrorism.” (Getty Images/Ian Waldie)

“There was undoubtedly the feeling that Spain was being punished for its association with the aggressive policies of the United States,” and that “their country had been targeted by Muslim terrorists because it was now seen as being allied with the Jewish state.”

In 2002, when war in Iraq was still only imminent, millions of Spaniards had taken to the streets to protest the coming invasion; polls showed more than 80 percent opposed to supporting the United States.

“Bush wants to go into Iraq to get the oil,” said Virgilio Salcedo, a 29-year-old computer programmer who came to the rally in Madrid with his parents. “Everybody knows that he doesn't want to help the people there.”

“We think our president has sold out the country to the Americans,” said Susanna Polo, a 30-year-old economist.

“Aznar is Bush's dog,” added Raquel Hurtado, a 19-year-old economics student. Footnote 2

Even for those most deeply affected by 9/11, like 53-year-old Rosalinda Arias, whose sister died in the World Trade Center attacks, U.S. motives were suspect. “It is all business. They want petroleum; they want to bring U.S. imperialism,” said Arias, owner of a restaurant in Madrid.

For the many older people attending the rally, memories of the Franco dictatorship were still fresh, including America's support of the fascist regime in the 1930s. Now they had little faith in Bush administration claims that America was going to liberate Iraq.

“There are lots of dictatorships that have been backed by the USA,” said Carlos Martin, a 67-year-old translator of Italian literature. “I can't imagine how the Iraqi people are feeling now. They were bombed in 1991, then they had 12 years of horrible sanctions, and now they are being bombed again. l can't imagine they will look at the Americans as liberators.”

Some of the protesters' worst fears were realized as the U.S. Coalition Forces invaded and subdued Baghdad in 2003, then settled into the current quagmire.

But Spain did not seek revenge against the killing of 191 of its citizens. A 40-year-old teacher named Valeria Suarez Marsa gave a softer voice to the public mood. “It is more important then ever to call for peace,” she said. “The bombs reminded us of that urgency.”

[1] The author covered the Madrid protests in 2002.

1. The author covered the Madrid protests in 2002.

[2] Quoted in Samuel Loewenberg, “A Vote for Honesty,” The Nation, March 18, 2004.

2. Quoted in Samuel Loewenberg, “A Vote for Honesty,” The Nation, March 18, 2004.

Document Citation
Loewenberg, S. (2007, March 1). Anti-Americanism. CQ Global Researcher, 1, 51-74. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/
Document ID: cqrglobal2007030000
Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/globalresearcher/cqrglobal2007030000

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