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» Student Handout: "Madrid Bombings and U.S. Policy"

Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 31, 2004
By Philip H. Gordon, Director, Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution

The Brookings Institution is an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to research, analysis, and public education on economics, foreign policy, governance, and metropolitan policy. [URL: http://www.brookings.edu/views/testimony/gordon20040331.htm]

Directions: Find the article online and answer the Reading Questions below. Meet in your group to review the Reading Questions to make sure everyone in the group understands the article. Then in your group, answer the Discussion Questions as a guide for preparing your presentation to the class.

Reading Questions:

  1. The author opens his talk with a discussion of the effects of Spain's actions after the March 11 train bombing. What examples does he present that would support the belief that Spain's actions are a rejection of the war on terror?

  2. What evidence does he present that such a conclusion is "misplaced and counter productive?"

  3. What mistakes does the author feel the outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar made right after the train bombings that contributed to the change in government?

  4. The author believes that although the vote against Aznar's Popular Party was a vote against the Iraq war, it was not, in Spanish eyes, a vote against the war on terrorism. What evidence does he present to support this claim?

  5. Because of these conclusions, the author warns against making policies based on false assumptions. Describe the six policy guidelines he suggests the U.S. should make to:
    • help ensure Spanish support in the short run
    • provide continued European support for the war on terror in the long run

Discussion Questions:

  1. Examine the two contrasting views presented in the article on Spain's reaction to the Madrid train bombings, in particular the election results changing the government and the eventual withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. Which do you feel has the strongest argument? Support your answer.

  2. Explain the connection between Spain's rejection of the Aznar government and its position on the war on terror and its participation in the war in Iraq.

  3. What do you see as the strengths of the proposals made by the author in this article? What do you see as the weaknesses?

  4. What "middle ground" can be found between the new Spanish government and the U.S. for continued positive relations and mutual support of the war on terror?

  5. How would strengthening this relationship help improve security for both Europe and the U.S.?

In your group, develop a presentation that provides an overview of the content of the article from the reading questions and the conclusions your group developed from the discussion questions.

In the class "summit meeting" have different members of your group present the different parts of the presentation:

  1. A summary of the reading — provide the title of the article, name of the author(s), name and perspective of the publisher and date. Summarize the content of the article by reviewing the Reading Questions.

  2. Point out important aspects of the article that you discovered in the Discussion Questions.

  3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals or recommendations made in the article.

  4. Present your proposals, as close as possible to the point of view of the author, on what you think should be done to address the problems presented in the article.

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