Compare and contrast

With Galloway, that is.. he’s been making more ridiculous statements. Peter Taylor has just completed a new series for the BBC – The New Al Qaeda – and he has an article in The Guardian with some interesting comments on the attacks.. and on the background to them. While, over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens agrees with Galloway that the attacks were to be anticipated, and that they’re probably not the last.. but that’s about all they agree on. Hitchens notes Blair’s response – “he was reacting not so much with shock as from a sense of inevitability.”

Peter Taylor suggests that the bombers were British jihadis –

Al-Qaida’s new modus operandi is a combination of strategy and necessity. After the US coalition destroyed its training bases in Afghanistan, word went out, allegedly from Bin Laden himself, that jihadi veterans should return home to their countries of origin, recruit locally and prepare to attack domestic targets. The attacks in Casablanca and Madrid were illustrations of this. What made the Madrid bombers so difficult to detect was that some members of the cell were takfiris, Islamist militants committed to jihad while continuing to live a western lifestyle, drinking, smoking and taking drugs. The leaders of the cell deliberately set out to radicalise and recruit street criminals so they could bring their expertise to the cause. Jamal Ahmidan, the Madrid takfiri who got hold of the explosives, was a drug dealer. One of the critical questions to be answered is: where did the London bombers come from? Were they British jihadis, some of whom, Peter Clarke admits, have gone to fight in Iraq?

Christopher Hitchens looks at the timing of the attack (and also considers the homegrown cell or gang theory) –

Another possibility is the impending trial of Abu Hamza al Mazri, a one-eyed and hook-handed mullah who isn’t as nice as he looks and who preaches Bin-Ladenism from a shabby mosque in North London. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States, and his supporters might have wanted to make a loving gesture in his favor.

Hitchens ends with a prediction and a warning –

If, as one must suspect, these bombs are only the first, then Britain will start to undergo the same tensions—between a retreat to insularity and clannishness of the sort recently seen in France and Holland, and the self-segregation of the Muslim minority in both those countries—that will start to infect other European countries as well. It is ludicrous to try and reduce this to Iraq. Europe is steadily becoming a part of the civil war that is roiling the Islamic world, and it will require all our cultural ingenuity to ensure that the criminals who shattered London’s peace at rush hour this morning are not the ones who dictate the pace and rhythm of events from now on.

And I’ll just take this opportunity to note Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s recent statement, via RTE

The Taoiseach has said there are a number of al-Qaeda sympathisers in Ireland who are being taken very seriously by the Gardaí.

  • Mick Hall

    Hitchens has become like all writers who take the man in the big houses shilling, they become shallow, sloppy, egotistical and obsessional. Sloppy here as Abu Hamza has not preached in a shabby mosque in North London for some time and his current address would make it somewhat difficult.

    To centre his article around a tirade against the left, written presumable on the day of the attack, just highlights why he gets employment these days. To suggest islamic fundamentalism is the motor of yesterdays atrocities is to deny reality. Without the cancer of US funding for Israel with no strings attached, no matter what international law’s that State ignores and how many UN resolutions it breaks, coupled with the US support for the satraps who rule in Arabia, which led to the USA’s arming and training of Bin Ladens outfit in the first place; and the USA’s totally failure to destroy or capture him after 9/11, is were our current problems germinated.

    If you couple this with the Blair governments criminal foolishness over Iraq and it is not difficult to see where the overall blame lays for yesterdays deaths.

    Firstly of course with those who committed the criminal acts, but over all with a British PM, who allowed his ego and vanity to get the better of him, when he followed the lead of an international war criminal without a thought in his head about how he would protect the people he governed, or indeed even how the end game in Iraq would pan out. In other words the charlatan had no plan beyond the Iraqis rolling over at his feet, either in happiness or fear and proclaiming him along with the thief in chief as their saviors.

    Why is it in our private life most of us understand actions have consequences, yet we are led by politicians who do not seem to understand this. The days are long gone when great powers can mess about destructively in someone else country; and their people back home can get on with their lives in blissful ignorance. Sadly, yesterday the people of London learnt this the hard way. Although, as a great many of them marched against the so called war on terror, I doubt it was a lesson they needed to learn. God bless them.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “it is not difficult to see where the overall blame lays for yesterdays deaths”

    You’d think

  • peteb

    Hitchens has become like all writers who take the man in the big houses shilling, they become shallow, sloppy, egotistical and obsessional.

    Uncharacteristically playing the man there, Mick.. but, interestingly, Hitchens dealt [rather well] with an similar accusation towards the end of a recent discussion on blasphemy and the incitement to religious hatred bill.

    You can listen at the link in this post..

    A Crank’s Charter

  • Sean Fear

    I daresay the rest of us don’t subscribe to the SWP’s World Outlook.

  • Tug of her stool

    ‘To suggest islamic fundamentalism is the motor of yesterdays atrocities is to deny reality.’

    But it is the motor of yesterday’s atrocity. What you have described – US support for bin Laden and Israel – is the motor of what causes islamic fundamentalism, but not of the actions that it takes. Those islamic fundamentalists still had choices as to what to attack, and their fanaticism led them to choose attacks on civilians, and not on US, or in this case British military/government targets.

    Like the cowardly terrorists in Ireland of whatever stripe, these fundamentalists had thousands of military/government targets in Britain to choose from, but chose to attack civilians instead. If they had a point to make they could have attacked a police station or army base, or even a government establishment, but they chose a target where the only outcome was going to be dead civilians.

    You are excusing what they do based on what led them to believe in what they believe in. This is the old chestnut of excusing anything that people do with the trite cliche ‘they had no other option – they wouldn’t have had to do that if it wasn’t for…..’.

    Thus in Northern Ireland Begley and Kelly are excused for what they did on the same basis – ‘they had no other option – they wouldn’t have had to do that if it wasn’t for 800 years of British occupation/80 years of partition/Bloody Sunday etc etc’. But they did have options as to how they expressed their fanaticism. They could have attacked a police station or army base, but they chose to attack a fish shop on the Shankill that contained nothing but civilians.

    Fanatics/fundamentalists still have choices no matter what drove them to become they way they are. They can avoid civilian casualties or they can choose to go after exactly that. In this case the islamists went after civilians, just as the PIRA went after civilians in Warrington in 1993 by putting bombs in litter bins. Of course the PIRA, with an eye on PR, gave useless warnings but the intent was clear – what other purpose is there in putting anti-personnel bombs in litter bins in a shopping area other than to kill civilians?

  • peteb

    Tug

    Let’s keep this thread focused on the topic.

  • harpo

    ‘and it is not difficult to see where the overall blame lays for yesterdays deaths’

    Of course if the bombers had been Irish they would have been described by some as brave volunteers risking life and limb by taking the fight to the territory of the enemy, wouldn’t they Mick? Ignoring the fact that were only there to attack civilians.

  • Mick Hall

    Pete,

    Normally I am reluctant to play the man,

    [And now play the ball – ed. Mod]

    For sean fear to imply that I in any way sympathies with the SWP shows his, quite understandable ignorance of my politics. Hitchen now supports the war on terror with its crusade against Islam in much the same way he once advocated Democratic Centralism and the dictatorship of the Party. [sorry proletariat] Anyone who has so little understanding of us workers that he once believed we would support such undemocratic nonsense and now demands we all support the new world order deserves contempt in my humble opinion for his inconsistency and stupidity.

    harpo,

    Every thing does not revolve around the conflict in the north, this thread has nothing to do with it as far as I can judge, however if you wish to discuss the IRA strategy of bombing-cities, I would be happy to debate it with you on another thread or off list. Although you seem to have a closed mind on what my opinion on this matter would be. However it does seem strange to me that you would be interested in the opinion of someone you regards as being sloppy,egotistical and obsessional, although I suppose it takes all sorts.

    Tug of her stool.

    What part of the following which I wrote in my post do you not understand?
    “ If you couple this with the Blair governments criminal foolishness over Iraq, it is not difficult to see where the overall blame lays for yesterdays deaths.

    Firstly of course with those who committed the criminal acts,”

    You may wish to go through life believing only wicked, evil or Psychotic people do bad things, if so, in my experience you are mistaken, unless we try and understand what makes people much like ourselves behave in such a violent manner, then we are never going to begin to understand the world we live in. Thus we are doomed to a life of one continuous groundhog day where one terrible act begets another.

    I have no problem with anyone telling me that my reasoning is wrong or stupid, that the bombs on the Madrid trains and [probably] the recent explosions on the tube have nothing to do with Iraq etc, as long as they go on and give their reasoning.
    Indeed for me one of the joys of the web is that it has enabled me to understand people who differ from my politics often have a valid point of view, something I doubt Mr Hitchen would adhere to.

    Apologies for going on a bit.

  • Baluba

    Harrumph, Mick!!!

    Harpo, this thread has nothing to do with the IRA, don’t try to drag it down that road.

    Galloway, distasteful as I find his style, has hit the nail on the head here and I suspect that a lot of British people will be telling Blair exactly that over the coming weeks and months.

  • barnshee

    Simple really -adopt the french style- if you riot we will shoot you -if we catch you we will ship you back where you came from (or worse) france has it racial/religious problems but it will take no shit- the extremists know it and act accordingly

  • michail darley

    barnshee: Simple really -adopt the french style- if you riot we will shoot you -if we catch you we will ship you back where you came from (or worse)

    Here we go. The inevitable violent backlash that begets more violence and plays into the hands of the extremists.

    There have been some excellent comments here, so far. Very informative and balanced. I would like to add a few thoughts:

    The bombings in London were an atrocity. Full stop; no ifs no buts. I agree with Ken Livingstone and many others that these acts stand alone as shameful and barbaric.

    British policies in the Middle East have contributed to the conditions within which the murderers of Thursday can survive and justify their acts to themselves and their support base. It was a commonsense belief that the Iraq invasion would increse the risk of terrorist acts.

    If any fair, open minded person knew what really happened in Fallujah, say, they would place those perpetrators in a similar category as the murderers of Thursday. Similar, but not the same- for example, although the civilian dead in Fallujah number in the thousands and in the takeover of that town it was inevitable that these deaths would occur, most people consider their deaths not quite as deliberate as those caused by the bombs on Thursday.

    We are responsible for the predictable consequences of our actions. If we start wars, based on lies and false motives then we are murderers and barbarians. Full stop. No ifs. No buts.

  • harpo

    ‘However it does seem strange to me that you would be interested in the opinion of someone you regards as being sloppy,egotistical and obsessional, although I suppose it takes all sorts.’

    Err…you were the one who was interested enough in the opinion of someone who you described as ‘shallow, sloppy, egotistical and obsessional’ to make a long post about him, adding in a personal attack. If you find it strange for me to reply to your opinions in a similar manner, then presumably you find yourself strange for doing the exact same thing first regarding Hitchens. But then you probably don’t find yourself strange, do you?

    ‘although I suppose it takes all sorts’

    Indeed it does Mick, indeed it does. Even those who can hand it out but can’t take it.

    ‘Every thing does not revolve around the conflict in the north’

    I thought everything on this board did. That why it is titled ‘Notes on Northern Ireland politics and culture’. Since we don’t know for sure who set off those bombs the usual suspects have to remain in the frame. And who would the usual suspects be? Who has bombed London for decades? Swedish grandmothers? Or Irish Republicans from Northern Ireland? And anyway if as you say ‘this thread has nothing to do with it as far as I can judge’ why is it even on the board in the first place?

  • Mick Hall

    Whilst I could just about understand having part of my post removed because the editor/moderator thought I was getting off thread, I reject I was playing the man in an unfair manner which necessitated the Ed’s actions in removing the meat of my post.
    For it seems to me, if one is to discuss the work of a writer like Mr C. Hitchen‘s, it is almost impossible not to personalize it as this is how the man himself writes. Take the article under discussion, in it he mentions his son flew in from London and used the following language to describe George Galloway and I presume all of us who opposed the war on Iraq from the left. i e we are “George Galloway and his ilk”. despite the fact the only connection between most of us and George Galloway is we all opposed the war on Iraq. A case of man not ball if ever there was one.

    When we are debating an article posted on slugger, I would have thought an understanding of the writers political background and what motivates them to write what they do is essential if we are to have some understanding. Mr Hitchen‘s attacks the left from the perspective of once being a former leading member of it [in fact he was a member of a smallish sect like element of the left] and he thus claims to understands the left better than most, especially his US readers.

    Thus any writer worth their salt, in my opinion, has a duty to point out his past links and those he idealized to the point of mimicry. Hitchens is not unique, there is a long history of middle class intellectual leftists becoming reactionary due to their god having in their eyes failed. Again what is a poster supposed to do, ignore this fact? True my opinions on the man are subjective but what is not. If it is libelous or untrue I can understand the marker pen being brought out. But if it is an opinion, then surly it is up to those who disagree with it to post their own comments.

    On the issue of pulling down posts on slugger, If the moderator takes the time to censor a post, surly he should ask the person he is censoring if he/she wishes for their censored post to stay up on the board, as it may well be out of sink and reflect a different meaning to that which the writer intended, due to part of their post being struck out.

    Finally,I would not wish anyone to think this is a major criticism on my part of the Editor and moderators on Slugger, as in my view they do an excellent job and I thank them for their work, I just feel when something like this happens, it does no harm to contribute ones two pennyworth as people can so easily misinterpret it.

    All the best.

  • peteb

    Thus any writer worth their salt, in my opinion, has a duty to point out his past links

    Mick

    Rather than present a potted biography of every writer of every article that’s linked.. it’s my opinion that it is better to assume that the reader can form their own opinion of the writer concerned.. if they haven’t already. If they feel they must, they can always do a little research [and reading] and come to their own conclusions.

    Otherwise the discussion will be side-tracked away from the actual article.

    You have now posted your narrative of Hitchens career and motivation three times – including the edited post – That’s surely enough playing the man for any thread.

    But if you feel that the editing substantial altered the content of the post.. let me know and I’m sure we can arrange to have that post removed.

  • harpo

    ‘A case of man not ball if ever there was one.’

    True, but then he isn’t playing on this board is he? Hitchens didn’t come on here and break any rules. What he said was quoted, and that isn’t his fault.

  • Waitnsee

    Mick H., you may be making a deeper point than Hitchens but by your own terms does your own analysis go deep enough?
    9/11 predates the invasion of Iraq, Bin Laden first attacked the US during the Clinton administration, and the genesis of the present mess goes back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and a US foreign policy that backed the very people now running Al Queda – who themselves were only in Afghanistan because Saudi Arabia needed an outlet for the fanaticism of thousands of educated middle class young men coming out of its religious universities.
    You can drag this issue back and back forever. We’ve also got to remember that America will always have a foreign policy agenda and it will always ruin life for somebody.

    If I had to pick a weak link in the chain of events that has led us to where we are now – and a ‘bad guy’ to blame for simplicity – I’d single out Saudi Arabia above the US. What do you think?

  • Marty

    Some would view a separation of Saudi Arabia and the US regarding Middle Eastern politics as a purely academic exercise given the fact that the former is considered by many inside, as well as outside, the Middle East as a “puppet regime” of the US.