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The War Nerd March 18, 2004
Basques My Ass!
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
Page 3 of 3
In 1995, ETA tried one of its biggest operations, trying to kill a Spanish politician named Aznar. He survived. In fact, getting targeted by these losers made him so popular that he was elected Prime Minister of Spain in 1996. All the ETA could do was kidnap and shoot this poor Basque politician, Blanco, in 1997 to show how pissed off they were.

That was didn't exactly win them a lot of friends. The Spanish were so shocked that six million people marched in the streets against ETA. The Spanish government grabbed the chance to crack down on Herri Batasuna: they threw a dozen or so "activists" in prison for being ETA guerrillas.

After all this time, even the diehards in ETA were coming around to admitting that their "war" just wasn't working. They declared a ceasefire in 1998 -- and nobody noticed. I mean, when you kill fewer people per year than get hit by lightning, you can't expect people to be too grateful when you stop. But ETA was so hurt it declared the ceasefire was off in 1999. Same deal: nobody noticed.

Anzar's anti-ETA policy was so popular he won in a landslide in 2000. That explains some of what you saw on TV in the last few days: slapping those poor ETA idiots around was so popular that everybody just naturally went back to it.

ETA got active in 2000, with 12 attacks between May and July. These were typical ETA/IRA style bombs: little packages of semtex left in front of government buildings, with lots of phoned-in warnings so they'd be sure no civilians were left in the kill zone. They managed a few assassinations that year too, but your chances of getting hit by a drunk driver in the sacred "Basque homeland" were still about a million times higher than the odds you'd run into a real ETA terrorist.

In 2002 it just got worse for ETA: their political wing, Batasuna, was suspended for three years for not playing nice. And that's about where things stand for the brave defenders of Basque-dom right now.

You get the picture. These aren't nice guys, but they're sure as Hell not up to planting ten no-warning bombs set to go off simultaneously in train cars all over Madrid. That's way, way out of ETA's league.

Whereas it's absolutely textbook Al Qaeda tactics. Multiple bombs; simultaneous explosions; maximizing innocent civilian casualties. That's straight out of the bin Laden playbook.

Like I said, that was clear from the first reports to anybody who wasn't a sucker. But Jesus Christ, there sure are a lot of suckers around these days.

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Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.

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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
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