THE IRAQ WAR AND THE LONDON BOMBINGS
There is a heated discussion in progress at the moment about whether the war in Iraq caused the London bombings. Jack Straw was quoted yesterday dismissing the notion that it had anything to do with Iraq, pointing out that bombers had also struck in countries which did not have troops in Iraq. Tony Blair has made the point that on September 11 2001 Iraq had not yet been attacked. Which is true, although he and Bush had already agreed to do so.
But unlike the bombs in New York and Turkey, these involved young British Muslims. To pretend that the anger of young British Muslims is not stoked by Blair’s foreign policy is just absolute nonsense. Following along with the George Bush international agenda, including the attack on Iraq, has made us deeply unpopular with Muslims everywhere.
On 18 March 2003 I sent Jack Straw an official telegram from Tashkent about US foreign policy in Central Asia, and our support for it. An extract reads:
“4. Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid – more than US aid to all of West Africa – is related to comparative developmental need as opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov’s vicious regime as a bastion against fundamentalism. He – and they – are in fact creating fundamentalism. When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West?”
It is Iraq, but not just Iraq. It is a foreign policy of oil grab cloaked in hypocrisy, and the impact of that policy on Muslims, that has caused this hate. And that is squarely the fault of Blair and Straw.
None of which justifies the terror. It is probable that most of the people who got killed and injured on 7 July were opposed to Blair and Bush. Only 23% of eligible British adults voted for New Labour. Several of the victims will have marched against the war. Violence just begets more violence.
Nor will it help to rush through yet more legislation restricting civil liberties. It is already against the law to incite someone to commit terrorism. An offence of ‘indirect incitement’, now proposed, sounds very dangerous indeed. It could be just what is needed to silence critics like us.
But perhaps most laughable is the government’s claim that the new legislation is needed to ‘prevent further terrorism’. The idea that you can do that by legislation is laughable.
It is also hard to equate with the other government line, that attacks on London are ‘inevitable’. They are not. Had we not thrown our lot in with Bush, we would not have been attacked. Terrorism is a politically motivated act by human beings. It is not a natural phenomenon like the wind.
We should certainly not change our foreign policy in response to terrorism. We should change it because it was seriously misguided in the first place, and is bringing on us consequences that many of us saw and predicted.