OPINION

Tragedy and punishment

There is no better weapon against terrorism, theocracy and a global superpower that snubs international law than democracy. Worn out, distorted and manipulated as it may be, democracy is still more valuable and humane than any other system. However, democracy’s sacrosanct principle is that, at least on fundamental issues, the rulers have no right to lie or mislead, and they have no right to put personal and party interest above the common good. This principle was blatantly violated by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. His haste to blame ETA, the Basque separatist organization, for Madrid’s gory terrorist attacks was condemned by the electorate. Aznar’s conservative party, the front runner up to Thursday blasts, was swept from power and the Socialists won with a comfortable margin. Why was Aznar defeated? It would be enough that he joined the crusaders’ invasion of Iraq when 90 percent of the Spanish people were firmly opposed to such an engagement. Nevertheless, Aznar appeared to have neutralized the fallout of the anti-war movement. Yet he still lost the election – not so much because he joined forces with George W. Bush and Tony Blair, tainting the image of his one-time imperial country in the eyes of the world’s pacifists by putting the lie-machine in operation. The crude fashion in which he tried to bamboozle the public and shirk responsibility irked his own supporters who voted him out of power. Aznar mocked democracy’s only weapons against terrorism and theocracy: reason, sincerity and respect for the truth, even when this does not serve one’s self-interests. He was politically defeated because in trying to con the public, exploit public grief and manipulate democracy, he suffered a deeper defeat.