View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Basqueing in Success

The Washington Post this morning reports that Spain's long Basque rebellion, agitating for a separate state for its 800,000 Basques, may be coming to an end.

Some of the decline in attacks has been attributed to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's hard-line policy toward ETA: no negotiations, no concessions and unrelenting police pressure. Aznar, who escaped unhurt from an ETA bombing of his car in 1995, has been faulted by many in the Basque region for failing to have political dialogue with moderate Basque nationalists who run the regional government and reject violence.

Yet many critics concede that his tough approach has succeeded in keeping the group on the defensive. "Little by little, it's the end of ETA," said Gorka Landaburu, an editor at the magazine Cambio 16 and a frequent radio commentator. "ETA is arriving at the end of the road."

Fuuny, that. Anzar didn't offer them a state, self-determination, or offer to divide Bilbao. He didn't give them provisional autonomy, or let some Basque leader from California return from exile to lead his people. The EU hasn't funnelled tens of millions of dollars into Basque schoolbooks asking, "If you have 10 Spaniards, and kill 5, how many do you have left?" I've seen no UN resolutions on the Basques, nor have I head of HRW fact-finding tours.

Tellingly, the French are involved:

Spanish officials had long contended that French police had been slow to act, because almost no attacks occurred on French soil. But the French anti-terrorism police have put severe pressure on ETA members in France in the past year and a half -- prompted, many said, by the EU's labeling of ETA as a terrorist group and the shift in France, in May 2002, to a center-right government that campaigned against rising insecurity.

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