London bombs: the blame game continues

With a second round of bomb attacks on London: none asgoing off, there is considerable heat being generated over the vexed question over the primary cause. Dodgblogium links to Matthew d’Ancona’s attack on Ken Livingston’s remarks on Radio Four yesterday.

…he deployed the whiskery argument that western imperialism is at the root of all evil. If we had only left the Arab nations alone after the First World War, the mayor said, “and just bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control the flow of oil, I suspect this would not have arisen”. This was Dave Spart at his most repugnant and most juvenile. Does Mr Livingstone really think that the legacy of the Great War is what drove the Leeds terrorist cell to commit their atrocities?

Is he truly blaming the murder of 56 commuters on the Balfour Declaration, and the 1920 San Remo Conference? And would the mayor be willing to tell the bereaved relatives of Shahara Islam, the 20-year-old from Plaistow who was buried on Friday, or of James Adams, 32, from Peterborough, and Monika Suchocka, 23, a Pole who was living in north London (both of whom were named as among the dead on Tuesday), that their loved ones would still be alive if not for the Treaty of Versailles?

  • peteb
  • fair_deal

    Peter Cook Comic Genuis

    “It’s a complete lie, of course,” said E L Wisty of one of his own political claims, “but you can’t afford to be too scrupulous if you’re going to dominate the world.”

  • Tom Griffin

    Why does D’Ancona think this is so absurd? He certainly doesn’t provide any alternative explanation.

    Hitler was an evil individual but that doesn’t mean that Versailles didn’t help to give him a following.

    The legacy of the Balfour declaration is hardly academic in the modern Middle East.

    A lot of Londoners will find Livingstone’s statements less grating than Tony Blair’ rhetoric about a battle of hearts and minds which he was prepared to lose for the sake of Britain’s alliance with the US.

    I suspect Livingstone will retain his ‘role in national political life.’ After all he has survived the hostility of both Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, to twice gain the largest personal mandate in British politics.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Who’s Dave Spart?

    Anyway, I find it pathetic that seemingly intelligent pundits (I used to read D’Ancona in the Telegraph regularly) have this crazy idea that trying to analyze the cause of evil is the same as justifying the evil. For God’s sake, we even teach kids about the causes of the rise of the Nazis in Germany (as pointed out by others on Slugger), and be aware of the reasons they used to justify their hatred of the Jews.

    If Matthew (and those who agree with him in their attack on Ken) wants to show any consistency, he’ll have to replace all history teaching in schools with “the Germans did it because they’re just evil Krauts”, and also lock up every general who has ever helped a Prime Minister by trying to predict the enemy’s next move.

    Matthew said “Is he truly blaming the murder of 56 commuters on the Balfour Declaration?“.
    The cause of the Holocaust might ultimately go back to the passage in the Bible where a Jew apparently says that the Jews will always carry responsibility for Jesus’ execution. Does this mean that this was the cause of the Holocaust? Yes. Does knowing your history mean that you believe the Holocaust was justified? No.

    A debate on the causes of anything is always a good thing, and will not be helped by Matthew’s ignorant ranting. There are many different positions that I can think of that are relevant:

    1. “I have no idea why London was attacked.”
    2. “I think I know why the attacks happened, but I don’t agree with their complaints, even if they protested in a legal way.”
    3. “Those people could justify some sort of attack, but nothing military. Perhaps blockading ports exporting oil.”
    4. “They would be justified in launching a conventional war if their concerns aren’t met, such as an end to interference in Middle Eastern affairs, but not suicide bombing or anything like that.”
    5. “The suicide bomb attacks are justified.”

    Matthew is pretending that everyone subscribes to position 1 or position 5, and even worse, that you can tell whether someone is good or evil depending on which of those two positions they take.

    I look forward to everyone who might know something about the causes of the Holocaust flogging themselves publicly for their lack-of-ignorance. I myself must book myself in for a frontal lobotomy or something to remove that information from my head.

    Matthew and Norm Geras must stop playing the man in such an evil way and clearly state which of the 5 positions above they think Ken subscribes to, and include a detailed proof. They must also be honest about exactly where they stand – I’m guessing they secretly take position 3, which could mean they actually agree with Ken! And they must admit that only position 5, and possibly 4, could fairly be described as being an apologist for the attacks.

  • Occasional Commentator

    I said: [Matthew thinks] that you can tell whether someone is good or evil depending on which of those two positions they take.

    I should have said: “depending on which of those 5 positions they take”.
    I was trying to make the point that you can’t call someone an apologist for terror if all they would condone is peaceful blockades of ports for example.

  • heck

    The is something sinister in the fact that those of us who point out the real reason these terrible incidents are happening are subject to vile abuse (including on this site) while those who propagate ridiculous, racist, reasons such as “they really want 77 virgins”, “they want establish Islam as a world religion”, “they want to reestablish the caliphate” or best of all, “they want to enslave our women”, are given a free pass.

    Attacks on London are a direct result of Blair’s (and the labor party’s) policies in the Middle East. I hope I don’t get accused playing the man when I say that anyone who says otherwise is simply lying.

    This reminds me of the racist narrative used in Britain to explain the situation in Northern Ireland. “The Irish are all stupid”, (who can forget the epidemic of racist Irish jokes in the 70’s and 80’s), or that the Irish were a race who just loved violence.

    The same thing is happening now with regard to the situation in the Middle East and anyone who cares about the death and suffering in that part of the world should prevent this racist narrative from developing.

  • La Dolorosa

    Tom Griffin’s comments are spot on. I think D’Ancona is being disingenuous and over simplistic. It’s important to identify and examine the root causes but of course to those on the right that is tantamount to justifying the actions and being cheerleaders for Al Q or whoever it is…..

    I think Ken’s coments were honest and it was courageous of him to be so when there’s so flim flam going on from Teflon Tony et al

  • Deaglan

    Heck

    “Attacks on London are a direct result of Blair’s (and the labor party’s) policies in the Middle East.”

    I’m really not trying to be smart-arsed here, but again – millions of people opposed and continue to oppose Iraq war and other foreign policies undertaken by Britain.

    Let’s pretend this is true. Why do you suppose some people (British citizens no less) choose to express that opposition by blowing themselves up with as many non-combatants as they can take with them? Does the religious rhetoric of martyrdom play no part in this at all? It’s ALL Blair’s fault?

  • Deaglan

    Sorry – ignore “Let’s pretend this is true” in the above. All the ‘excitement’ in London must be getting to me today.

  • Occasional Commentator

    The assumption is made that everyone must be either:
    1) pro-Iraq war and pro-ignorance
    (ignorance about the causes of conflict that is).
    or:
    2) anti-Iraq war and pro-discussion.

    Once you realise this assumption is false, and that Matthew D’Ancona is labouring under this assumption (which might be true of Ken, but Matthew isn’t attacking only Ken), then you realise Matthew hasn’t a leg to stand on.

  • Deaglan

    I don’t think anyone of good faith is against understanding the causes of these attack. But to start pinning the responsibility on say, Tony Blair is taking it too far. People are not automata and the jihadis have responsibility for their own actions.

    Also, while racist insults were thrown at the Irish during IRA bombings, jihadi groups are committed to an actual death-cult of martyrdom. It is not racist to say so – it is pointing out their policy and ideology.

  • Tom Griffin

    Condemning the ideology of the bombers and pointing out the circumstances which have enabled that ideology to prosper are not incompatible. Livingstone has done both in recent days.

    It’s woth noting the history of the rise of fundamentalism in the Middle East.

    The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, succeeded in driving out the secular PLO, but only at the expense of creating Hezbollah.

    Likewise in the occupied territories, Israel saw Hamas for a long time as a counterweight to the PLO.

    For decades, the Saudi Conservative religious establishment was used by the US as a bulwark against secular Arab nationalism.

    This repression of normal national development helped to pave the way for the abnormal transnational movement of jihadism.

    All of this was well-known in 2003, hence the joint intelligence committee’s warning to Blair that war would increase the threat of terrorism.

    Of course, Blair is not to blame for the actions of the bombers, but he is certainly guilty of playing into their hands.

  • Brainster

    When I see the comments about how it’s all Blair’s fault, I can’t help thinking that what those folks are really saying is “I’m with the terrorists”. Did you ever consider that maybe it’s the rhetoric of the anti-war contingent, harping on the supposedly legitimate grievance of (the Palestinians/the innocent Iraqis/the Gitmo prisoners) who give moral support and comfort to the terrorists who are at fault?

  • Occasional Commentator

    Deaglan,
    It seems as if you might be saying that Tony Blair and Matthew D’Ancona are not of good faith! Can you be clear, are you saying that Matthew d’Ancona is in favour of full debate and discussion on the causes of these attacks? He’s clearly against such a discussion as far as I’m concerned.

    His article is pathetic. He attacked Ken not because of anything he said, but because he was Ken, this is obvious from almost every sentence. I’d be the first to disagree with Ken on most things, but it’s clear to me that if Ken said “2+2=4” then Matthew would disagree. I’m not here to defend Ken, but to attack Matthew incredibly illogical and incoherent article.

    Matthew quoted Ken:

    “I don’t just denounce the suicide bombers,” he said. “I denounce those governments that use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy” – by which he meant Israel, and, one presumed, America.

    Why did Matthew quote that? It’s proof that Matthew isn’t attacking Ken for anything to do with last weeks attacks, but just wants to get a dig into anyone who disagrees with him on Israel. Matthew can’t understand, as Tom Griffin has just pointed out, that nothing in that quote could give any reasonable person grounds for thinking that whoever spoke those words is any less disgusted by the attacks.

    Matthew obviously has opinions on Israel, socialism, Ken Livingstone, the causes of Islamist terrorism. He might even be able to make a good case for all his opinions. But in this instance, he just went into an incoherent rage and confused all these questions together. Matthew may well be right about the Iraq War, and Israel, and what the causes of these attack are, but he’s totally unable to put together a decent case.

    Just because someone is right, it doesn’t create and excuse for badly researched and downright ignorant arguments. I’d expected more from a professional pundit.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Brainster,
    Which comment here said it was Blair’s fault? Please tell us. I see comments which say they were caused by Blair’s policies, but that doesn’t mean they blame Blair. “Blame” is a pejorative or negative word which includes a condemnation of the person/policy, not just attributing a cause and effect to that person/policy.

    Suggesting that there may be a causal link between A and B, where B is a disagreeable effect, does not mean blaming A.

  • Brainster

    “I see comments which say they were caused by Blair’s policies, but that doesn’t mean they blame Blair.”

    My mistake. Perhaps it’s some form of congratulations that I’m not familiar with?

    And Heck:

    “I hope I don’t get accused playing the man when I say that anyone who says otherwise is simply lying.”

    I’d like to ask how you know what the terrorist’s motives are? I’ve heard explanations ranging from racism to Guantanamo (last I heard not part of Blair’s policies in the Middle East) to generalized hatred of infidels bred by the madrassas. As far as I know, they’ve left no suicide notes explaining their reasons. When did you get the inside scoop?

    This is why I say you might as well hold up a sign saying “I’m with the terrorists” (excuse me, bombers). It’s because faced with a bombing, you immediately assume that they did it because they agree with your cause.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Brainster,
    You seem to be insisting that these terrorists/bombers must be sensible, rational, agreeable people. The reason I say this is because you are adamant that these people couldn’t have an unjustified reason for their attacks.

    I’m sure you’ll jump to respond that they are none of those things, which leads to only one possible conclusion, that the reasons for these attacks must be reasons that you do not agree with, therefore Guantanamo Bay is well up there as a potential cause.

    Also, the history of Islamic violence and the reasons behind their strategies is no secret. Duncan Shipley Dalton got it pretty much right in this thread.

    PS: I say terrorist/bomber because I defended the BBC’s editorial policy on the term in an earlier thread. I want to be consistent. I am not trying to wind you up. Don’t bother attacking me on this, you will surely succeed (I’m not here to defend myself), but it still won’t take away from the logic that the long standing foreign policy of the UK/US is a plausible cause of these attacks.

    PPS: For all you know, I might be a supporter of the foreign policy of the UK and US. We’re not discussing whether the policies are correct, but whether or not they lead to these attacks.

  • la Dolorosa

    Occasional Commentator: I agree with you wholeheartedly – Brainster is missing the key point.

    You can still be a supporter of the (illegal) war and still expect/understand ( to those on the right: understand does not equal condone ) such attacks are inevitable and are intrinically linked to the Iraq war and Western policies vis a vis the Middle East and in particular Israel/Palestine.

  • Brainster

    “Brainster, you seem to be insisting that these terrorists/bombers must be sensible, rational, agreeable people. The reason I say this is because you are adamant that these people couldn’t have an unjustified reason for their attacks.”

    Eh? Where do you get that from? I specifically said that we don’t know their reasons. And whatever the actual reasons, the bombings are thoroughly unjustified regardless.

    What I object to is those who insist they do know the reason (see Heck’s comment) and it’s because of Blair’s policies in the Middle East (or Guantanamo). What I see are a bunch of people assuming that the terrorists are on their side of those particular issues. Chacun a son goute, I suppose.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Brainster, I suppose you have a point that we can’t be 100% certain who the perpetrators are. Are you saying that you aren’t even sure they are Islamist fanatics? I was under the impression that most people was working under the assumption that it was (although it’s not hard to come up with a lot of other theories, including conspiracy theories), and we were just wondering what drives Islamic fanatics.

  • Brainster

    No, I’m pretty much assuming that they are Islamic fanatics. But was it women in bikinis that set them off? Was it the tragedy of Andalusia? Was it the Crusades? Israel? Iraq? Was it Afghanistan? Gay marriage? The Balfour Declaration? Pakistan’s defeat in a recent cricket test match?

    As far as I know, there are no tapes where they explain their reasons, so for people to say it’s obviously Gitmo or Blair’s policies is just an assumption. What was the reason for 9-11, which after all happened before Gitmo and the Iraq invasion?

  • peteb

    Two relevant articles/comments to note on this.

    One from the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, from which I’ll excerpt a large section (apologies), as someone has said – Go read the whole thing

    So Iraq is central. But it is not the whole story. For, as Taylor explains, al-Qaida is not like Eta or the IRA – organisations with a clear, single goal. It is not simply a troops-out movement, demanding nothing more than a withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and justice for the Palestinians. It is not the armed wing of the Stop the War Coalition.

    Its aims are rather different. Central to its ideology is the reintroduction of the caliphate, an Islamic state governed by sharia law that would stretch across all formerly Muslim lands, taking in Spain, Morocco, north Africa, Albania, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, as well as Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. Plenty on the left tend to skim over this stuff, dismissing it as weird, obscurantist nonsense – and imagining it as somehow secondary to al-Qaida’s anti-imperialist mission.

    That’s a big mistake. For it is this animating idea which helps to explain al-Qaida actions that otherwise make no sense. Why did the Madrid cell that staged last March’s train bombings continue to plan attacks, even after Spain’s new government had begun withdrawing from Iraq? Perhaps because al-Qaida wants to recapture at least part of Spain for Islamist rule. Why did it bomb a nightclub in Bali? Partly to attack western tourists, of course. (Taylor says the bombers thought the clubbers would be American, not Australian.) But its chief aim was to destabilise Indonesia, which it wants to place under Islamist rule as part of the yearned-for caliphate.

    And from Australian Prime Minister John Howard

    When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan?

    It would be of benefit to any discussion on the terrorist attacks if everyone would stop trying to promote their own pet topics and hobby horses and understand that what the terrorist jihadists are motivated by is not any particular foreign policy by a western democracy.. it’s the very existence of a foreign policy by a western democracy.. for now.

    Retreat into a bunker if you must.. but don’t demand that everyone else follows you.

  • TBJ

    The fact still remains that prior to the invasion of Iraq there had never been an attempt at a suicide bombing by muslims (fundamentalist, jihadist or otherwise) on British – or Iraqi – soil.

    Coincidence? Hardly.

    It’s obviously much too late in the day for the UK to start trying to analyse or preempt the next attack(er). They need to take note of the American methods of dealing (or not as the case may be) with terrorists and address the crux of the problem.

    Rumsfeld conceded weeks ago that he had, and has had, operatives in discussion with the Iraqi “insurgents”. How many suicide attacks have there been in the USA post 9/11 or the invasion of Iraq?

    Blair may do a fine line in the “not talking to terrorists” rhetoric but his electorate are wise to the fact that it was the very opposite approach which ended atrocities like the Arndale Centre in Manchester & Canary Wharf.

    To try and analyse the methodology and reasoning behind why anyone should elect to blow themselves and innocent commuters to bits is beyond comprehension. To refuse to admit that a decision you made is the root cause as to why they feel justified in doing so is beneath contempt.

  • peteb

    the root cause?

    beneath contempt, indeed.

  • Nick

    Peteb: “beneath contempt, indeed.”

    To suggest we should not try understand the causes of terrorism is to argue that we do not need to understand its motivations to defeat it. Ssurely that offers one of the best weapons we have to predict their actions, weaknesses and possible fissures in their organisations etc?

  • peteb

    Nick

    I have already posted my [or rather others whom I agree with] recommendations on this in thread.

  • Tom Griffin

    There’s a good article at Opendemocracy, on similar lines to the Freedland piece

    Terrorism: not who but why?

  • Nick

    I appreciate your earlier comments and citations, and actually tend to agree with lots of them (more so Freedland, than Howard).

    However, I didn’t think the post you made that I responded to was in keeping with them. Certainly the Freedland / Taylor piece does not negate root causes (unless it was the singular you were objecting to – root cause, as oppossed to root causes). On the contrary, it rather takes the left to task for not analysing causes in enough depth.

    A few point in response. When we talk about Al Quada now, we are perhaps not reffering to the same thing as we were before 9/11. I attended a lecture last year, where Shirley Williams described the Al Quada as not being an organisation, but being closer to an ideology. I think this is very perceptive (and seems, from the pieces I have read so far, fairly close to the Peter Taylor hypothesis of the new Al Quada).

    Seeing Al Quada as an ideology or terrorism-by-franchise necesserily changes the problem the West is faced with. It follows that the same strategies that would to cope with a monolithic organisation will not work.

    As an upshot of this, I would suggest it completely destroys the concept of the war against terrorism, as a single unifying, global edifice – we are not faced by a universalist monolithic set of ideas, but rather a series of local problems, exasapated by the power of an adaptable Islamic fundamentalist rhetoric and narrative.

    Need to think about this a bit more, as I still have quite a few things to round out in my head and I am not expressing it hugely well (it is two in the morning ;-).

  • TBJ

    Peteb.

    Yes, “the root cause” of terrorists now feeling it is entirely appropriate to blow themselves and innocent people to bits in London. In light of my previous statement regarding the history of suicide bombings in London how else would you propose to suggest that this chain of events has come about?

    I sense, and indeed share, your, and others, unease that whilst suicide bombings in Iraq are an inconvenience happening on an all too regular basis the fact that they are now happening in London is perhaps a bit too “real”.

    This is a pivotal element of the terrorist’s armoury. In essence they have adopted the approach of “what’s good for the goose….”. Shirley Williams is right in her assertion that this is a different ball game.

    You can bet your life, or that of an innocent mainland commuter, that whilst I’m here trying to encourage you to up your join the dots game there are individuals, collectively working as a group, somewhere in England deliberating over how best they address what they see as their “failure” yesterday.

    That anyone should be surprised that these attacks have happened, and will continue to happen, is beyond belief.

  • kevser

    All i can say is, if I’m fed up to the back teeth with the duplicity, spin and gall of the so called defenders of freedom in the west, i can only imagine what a muslim, non-white person feels.

    Imagine you’re a muslim or someone who does not identify with the west and you read about the fact that washington argued that they couldn’t release the photos and videos of the torture in Iraq by Task Force Liberty soldiers because they wanted to protect the victims rights under the geneva convention, what would your feelings be?

  • T.Ruth

    Many people in the United Kingdom have accepted too easily the lies told to justify the “war” in Iraq where a highly efficient technology defeated a nation that had little military capability.Our acquiesence without effective civil protest is essentially evdence of our consent for government action and all that has flowed from that.

    The London bombing campaign by extremists is not unconnected to that decision. The haste with which Blair on a personal agenda supported Dubya and the lies he told have not been sufficiently challenged by the UK electorate.We must however continue to give moral support to our countrymen and women called upon to give or risk life and limb in our name in Iraq.

    Guantanamo Bay continues to be a festering sore in relation to democracy human rights, worse than Robben Island where prisoners at least had the benefit of a trial.

    If we wish to describe ourselves as a democracy we should be more vocal in our protests when our government abuses its mandate to preserve Liberty and Equality.We have listened to Blair’s lies again and again and again and have failed to challenge the total failure to develop an adequate foreign policy.

    That these events in London,Spain,Bali and New York and elsewhere have happened does not justify terrorism-in the same way that nothing in Northern Ireland could have justified the IRA murdering and bombing people.The use of internment here for example enabled the IRA to justify its vicious sectarian campaign against the community and made a bad situation worse.

    Livingston’s support for those engaged in or associated with terror here and on mainland Britain over the years makes him singularly ill equipped to lead the people of London in such a situation.

    Blair’s total failure to accept that the IRA is a terrorist organisation make him similarly disqualified for the job of bringing new perspectives to our situation here.

    We must preserve democracy by being more vocal,more active and more effective in challenging every breach of human rights,every lie told by the government,every failure to justify political decisions.

    The situation here in Northern ireland spiralled out of control in the early seventies because of such failures and nothing in the present situation would lead me to believe that anything learned from that experience is being applied.

    Of course we must pursue terrorists using every legitimate means possible and using all legal available technology. Sentences should be severe and those who assist terrorists in any way should be deemed equally guilty as those who commit the acts of terrorism.

    Inevitably all of us in prosperous parts of the world will have to commit seriously to the genuine work of removing inequality, insufficiency and injustice throughout the world.Poverty and deprivation are at the core of instability.We must all be more effective in demanding genuine action to eradicate world poverty,starvation,sickness and ignorance. How can we tolerate a situation where millions are spent exploring space and yet thousands of children die daily for the want of water or medicine.
    Meantime we can only give all possible support to those in London who have to deal now with the fear with which we were familiar in the seventies and eighties and hope those who have participated in terrorism here will feel some degree of remorse for their crimes against humanity.
    T.Ruth

  • theDEEMAN

    OC. asked “who is Dave Spart”

    he is your archetype, sterotype, looney left, trotskyite. c.70s-80s
    a trouble maker for troubles sake.

    As created by Private Eye.

  • jocky

    A couple of points on the Iraq war as root cause arguement. I think that their motivation is different from the reasoning they use to persuade the bombers to blow themselves and others up. And this distinction has to be made.

    As argued in the this thread the Iraq war is a factor used in recruiting the bombers, along the lines of “look at the evil infidels subjugating your muslim brothers” a similar line as the anti western anti war brigade. This taps into the popular anti-war sentiment. (So popular that we re-elected Blair, cant be democracy.)

    But lets be clear, they are not trying to oust the british and American troops for the beneift or arab nationalism or muslim bortherhood. They are doing it to further their own agenda of creating a muslim state under Sharia Law. Are we to leave Iraq to descend into another Afghanistan? a merry training camp producing far more terrorists than at present. Now we are there (rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t matter now) we have to stay the course.

    And the reason the didn’t try to oust Saddam? because he had a far tighter grip on things than the current regime, but out of sight, out of mind eh.

    And one final point on foreign policy? do the anti war brigade believe we shouldn’t intervene in any circumstances? or merely that Iraq fell the wrong side of the deciding line?

  • Jo

    A man has been shot dead on a Tube train.

    Some bloodthirsty people are already claiming one Jihadist has been despatched to eternity and want more. Talk about jumping the gun? After all, police never shoot innoocent people who run away, do they?

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    You just beat me to it.

  • Jo

    Beano:
    JoHandWRinger.com: always trying to be abreast of the news! 😉

  • peteb

    Jo and Beano

    It’s in the updates on the other thread.

  • Jo

    Beano:
    JoHandWringer.com: always trying to be abreast of the news, given the apparent absence of new threads, probably this one will continue today?

  • Fobo

    “Some bloodthirsty people are already claiming one Jihadist has been despatched to eternity and want more. Talk about jumping the gun? After all, police never shoot innoocent people who run away, do they?”

    Yes and there are others who like to jump the gun and complain the police are gung-ho racists etc.

    With recent events anyone who decides to run away from the police to board an underground train is choosing to put their life at risk. The problem with suicide bombers is you can’t wait around to see if they want to murder a train full of people. It would have been utterly irresponsible for the police to have acted otherwise.

  • Jo

    Fobo:
    No-one yet knows the full circumstances.
    You should know full well that the police and army have killed innocents.
    I won’t celebrate death at all, since I refuse to join in the death-worship that permeates our society, but I’ll be less sorry if this guy was really a bomber.

  • Fobo

    “No-one yet knows the full circumstances.
    You should know full well that the police and army have killed innocents.”

    No we don’t but as I said if this person was innocent then his death is unfortunate but brought about by his own actions. The police cannot afford to take a chance with a train full of people. From what we do know at the moment you seriously don’t think the police should have acted otherwise?

  • Jo

    “anyone who decides to run away…is choosing to put their life at risk.

    Yes, I think the McBride family are aware of this.

  • Fobo

    “Yes, I think the McBride family are aware of this.”

    This is a totally different case Jo. Peter McBride wasn’t a potential suicide bomber running onto a train full of people.

    You seem to be taking the position that if a British police officer kills someone that they couldn’t have a good reason and they are just evil psychopaths. That is every bit as racist as claiming all Arabs are terrorists.

    Now are you capable of holding a proper discussion on this or are you just going to cite totally unrelated events?

  • Jocky

    Jo, it is very easy to criticise from a position where you have no responibility. Its a lot harder to make that call when you are responsible for the safety of people. You tend to err on the other side of the line.

  • Jo

    I am not quoting unrelated events – police/Army shoot innocent people.
    I am presuming innocence until proved otherwise -hardly supporting Jihad, is it? Unless you believe that the state of alert justifies a shoot-to-kill policy?

  • Jo

    Forgive me if I think you are getting a little hysterical by assuming I believe British policement to be evil psychopaths.

    I am related to one!

  • Nick

    “And one final point on foreign policy? do the anti war brigade believe we shouldn’t intervene in any circumstances? or merely that Iraq fell the wrong side of the deciding line?”

    Hey Jocky,

    I think you are wrong to think about the “anti-war brigade” as being a unified set of ideas and arguments. For example, it is quite possible to encounter people who objected to the war on isolationist grounds, but also arguments against the invasion from internationalist perspectives.

    This point being made, I can only offer my perspective. I would argue that, of the three most recent major wars the UK has been involved in, Iraq is the only one that cannot be justified.

    Intervention in Kosovo was required because genocide was clearly organised and taking place. Intervention in Afghanistan was justifiable because the country had supported an act of war against an ally (important to note that France, Germany and Russia all support that particular action).

    Iraq on the other hand is much more tricky to justify. As I see it, we have had three arguments (which slightly overlap) presented to us. This is made more confusing by the fact that the British and American governments made different arguments at different times.

    The issue of weapons of mass destruction is problematic (even if we forget the fact there weren’t any ;-). Should we wage war on countries trying to develop weapons of mass destruction? I think we are getting into very dangerous ground for justifying war there, not least because there are numerous countries engaged in such acivity.

    The second reason is human rights. I would draw the distinction between human rights and genocide (i.e. the difference between Iraq and Kosovo). Saddham Hussein’s regime was undoubtably one of the nastiest in the world. However, it was not organising genocide. I would argue, on these grounds there is a far better argument for intervening in the Sudan than there was for invading Iraq.

    Finally, there is the implied argument (at least made by American politicians) that Saddam’s Iraq was somehow part of the war on terror. This was clearly nonsense – on the contrary, Saddam Hussein was arguably one of the strongest buttresses against fundamentalism in the Middle East. The war in Iraq thus cannot be compared to the war in Afghanistan.

    However, I also think this is now essentially an historical argument. The situation in Iraq now is rather different and altogether more dangerous – not least because it has become linked to the “war on terror”, not because of Saddam Hussein, but because the invasion opened Pandora’s Box, and so degraded the Iraqi state’s capacities to police itself.

  • Fobo

    “I am not quoting unrelated events – police/Army shoot innocent people.”

    Yes occassionally they do. But from what we know about this case is that the police acted properly due to serious concerns. You have no evidence that these officers murdered someone for the sake of it so you shouldn’t throw that allegation at them.

    “I am presuming innocence until proved otherwise -hardly supporting Jihad, is it? Unless you believe that the state of alert justifies a shoot-to-kill policy?”

    I don’t think when a potential suicide bomber is running onto a train there is time to hold a trial and hand down sentences. Where there is a serious threat of mass murder then I do think the police have the right to kill someone.

    And you seem to have convicted these officers of murder without a trial or a shred of evidence. You should work on your own concept of innocent until proven otherwise.

    “Forgive me if I think you are getting a little hysterical by assuming I believe British policement to be evil psychopaths.

    I am related to one!”

    Perhaps you shouldn’t judge all police officers by your family then :o)

  • Deaglan

    New Statesman’s front cover today: picture of a rucksack with “Blair’s Bombs” written beside it.

    NS’ cover demonstrates how badly the Left has lost its way.

  • Fobo

    “The issue of weapons of mass destruction is problematic (even if we forget the fact there weren’t any ;-). Should we wage war on countries trying to develop weapons of mass destruction? I think we are getting into very dangerous ground for justifying war there, not least because there are numerous countries engaged in such acivity.”

    If WMD are one of their favourite tools of genocide then I think it is a good idea to prevent such a state getting their paws on them again.

    “The second reason is human rights. I would draw the distinction between human rights and genocide (i.e. the difference between Iraq and Kosovo). Saddham Hussein’s regime was undoubtably one of the nastiest in the world. However, it was not organising genocide. I would argue, on these grounds there is a far better argument for intervening in the Sudan than there was for invading Iraq.”

    Saddam Hussein was quite fond of genocide as a cursory look at modern Iraqi history would tell you. One of the most disgraceful acts committed by Western states was to encourage Iraqi’s to rebel during the Gulf War and then to sit back and allow them to be massacred. So if anything we have a special responsibility to deal with this particular tyrant who is fond of genocide.

    As for Sudan the only people who seem to be calling for intervention are the much maligned neoconservatives. You can also be fairly certain that if there is American intervention then you will hear cries of ‘imperialism’ and ‘oil grabbing’ from much of the left.

  • Jo

    “One of the most disgraceful acts committed by Western states was to encourage Iraqi’s to rebel during the Gulf War and then to sit back and allow them to be massacred.”

    Quite…see, we CAN agree 🙂

  • Mick Hall

    I feel to either condemn or praise the police officers/solders/security offices who shot the man this morning in London is silly, as to date we have few of the facts. Although we should all ask questions when a human being is shot dead on our streets, no matter who pulls the trigger. To do so is not being disloyal or to support these bombers.

    As to Iraq, I cannot see how any one can deny it has not played a role in the 7/7 bombing, the age of most of those who were responsible for exploding the bombs means they would have been to young to have much actual experience of the conflicts mentioned prior to the Iraq war. Although Kashmir may have played some part due to the family history of three of the men.

    The war on Iraq has been a disaster, in the main for the Iraqi people, but we are in all probability now getting our own overspill from it in the UK. I say again the days are long gone when the governments of nations can act unjustly in other peoples countries and their people at home will not have a blow back from there politicians act’s.

    Chatham House not an anti government organisation,recently reported that 25 thousand civilians have been killed since the invasion of Iraq, others claim the figures are nearer 100,000. In some areas, Baghdad, Fallugah, Mosel life has become intolerable. the US government along with MR Blair’s nodding dog of a government invaded Iraq without any strategy as to how they would govern the Iraqi people, let alone provide them with life and liberty. Beyond a small core of exiled freeloaders who were shipped in to Iraq in the wake of the invading US army, few Iraqis want the occupiers there. They are like a red rag to a bull as most Iraqis understand only to clearly what their game is. Black gold, the coalition care little about the chaos and suffering of the Iraqi people, as long as they can pump the oil and the multi nationals can get their snouts in the the oil or provide the services needed by the forces of occupation.

    Plus containable chaos in Iraq cancels out one of the more secular nations in the middle east, with enormous oil resources from becoming a prosperous and powerful country, that could become a bulwark against Israel, the USA’s permanent aircraft carrier in that part of the world.

    If you consider at the end of WW2 Germany had almost one million troops occupying it, you can see how ridiculous it is to believe 145,000 troops could successfully occupy Iraq and move it forward to democratic nationhood. The number of troops currently in Iraq is designed to just about keep the lid on things, but never fully on top of them, hence we have mysterious individuals like Mr Zarqarwi seemingly being able to create mayhem and murder at will, whilst Saddam pops out of a hole in the ground heading to jail or the scaffold.

  • Jocky

    Nick, Mick, here’s a link to a summary & reports that expands on the variety of reasons / motivations of the terrorists that I was attempting to give earlier on. Worth a read, seems pretty spot on to me.

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2123010/

    sorry cant do the link thing, if someone could fix it would be appreciated.

  • Mick Hall

    Cheers Jocky,

    What I found interesting was Robert Pape’s statement in his book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. [Pape, a military historian and professor at the University of Chicago,] that there was ‘only’ 315-suicide bombing from 1983 to 2003 carried out by 462 bombers. Considering this is world wide it does confirm that most of us will not be caught up in such an attack, although that is little comfort to those who have lost loved ones. I would be interested to know if such attacks have increased of late,etc.

    Mick

  • Fobo

    “The war on Iraq has been a disaster, in the main for the Iraqi people, but we are in all probability now getting our own overspill from it in the UK.”

    No, Saddam Hussein’s continued rule of Iraq would have been a disaster. A democracy isn’t, even if it is opposed by psychotic terrorists.

    “I say again the days are long gone when the governments of nations can act unjustly in other peoples countries and their people at home will not have a blow back from there politicians act’s.”

    So do you feel the terrorist attacks we have seen are justified?

    “Beyond a small core of exiled freeloaders who were shipped in to Iraq in the wake of the invading US army, few Iraqis want the occupiers there.”

    So you think victims of Saddam’s regime are freeloaders, it’s good to know where you stand on those who oppose tyrants.

    As for Iraqi public opinion it was expressed through democratic elections. Their government wants the coalition to stay. Moqtada Al-Sadr and his ilk were overwhelmingly rejected.

    Now you may feel Iraq should be abandoned to the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi but you shouldn’t pretend that is the wish of most Iraqi’s when it clearly isn’t.

    “Plus containable chaos in Iraq cancels out one of the more secular nations in the middle east, with enormous oil resources from becoming a prosperous and powerful country, that could become a bulwark against Israel, the USA’s permanent aircraft carrier in that part of the world.”

    Chopping off the heads of ‘prostitutes’ in front of their children, legalising ‘honour’ killings and executing gay people doesn’t make a regime ‘secular’.

    And as for you wanting Iraq to be a ‘bulwark’ against Israel it was never going to happen. Even if you got your way and sanctions had collapsed allowing Saddam Hussein to produce all manner of goodies it is unlikely Israel would tolerate it. Luckily there would probably be another repeat of Osiraq. Not a bad thing too considering what Saddam Hussein did with chemical weapons.

  • Tom Griffin

    As for Iraqi public opinion it was expressed through democratic elections. Their government wants the coalition to stay. Moqtada Al-Sadr and his ilk were overwhelmingly rejected.

    The US only conceded free elections under the threat of a Shi’ite uprising.

    The big winner was the Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance list, which stood on a platform calling for a coalition withdrawal timetable, which to date has not been conceded.

  • Fobo

    “The US only conceded free elections under the threat of a Shi’ite uprising.”

    Now you are living in cloud cuckoo land. Neither Blair or Bush could have survived politically if there wasn’t free elections. It was clear from the outset that if Iraq was to liberated then it would get democratic government.

    “The big winner was the Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance list, which stood on a platform calling for a coalition withdrawal timetable, which to date has not been conceded.”

    And since getting power they haven’t called for a coalition withdrawal as they are aware that their security forces are not ready yet. It is only when the insurgency is crushed or the Iraqi forces are able to deal with it themselves that you are likely to see a call for troops to leave.

  • Tom Griffin

    The US wanted the Government which wrote the Iraqi constitution to be chosen by a caucus of notables.

    There’s some good stuff on the details at Informed Comment and Needlenose

    It’s true that the Iraqi Government has not called for a coalition withdrawal, but still, given their platform, it cannot be said that the election result was a vote for the coalition to stay.

  • Biffo

    fobo

    “Now you may feel Iraq should be abandoned to the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi but you shouldn’t pretend that is the wish of most Iraqi’s when it clearly isn’t.”

    Then why did we pull out of Somalia? Did we always intend to abandon that country to the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ?

    Why do we want Somalia to be an anarchic nightmare and Iraq to be democratic?

  • Brian Boru

    “Livingston’s support for those engaged in or associated with terror here and on mainland Britain over the years makes him singularly ill equipped to lead the people of London in such a situation.

    Blair’s total failure to accept that the IRA is a terrorist organisation make him similarly disqualified for the job of bringing new perspectives to our situation here.

    And are the Loyalist groups that continue to kill each other not also “terrorists”? Or is that a term to be reserved only for Catholics and Muslims?

    The root causes of terrorism often lie in oppression and injustice. Too often the evil of the methods used by a minority who espouse a cause are allowed to tar the cause itself, or all or most of those espousing it. I want a United Ireland. I have always opposed PIRA terrorism. As have most Irish nationalists. So it is important not to confuse the aim of a United Ireland with terrorism.

    This is an important point in the light of how insurgents opposign what they consider to be foreign rule in their countries are often labelled en-masse as “terrorism”. Chechnya being a particular example of concern to me. After Beslan, Putin was handed a propaganda victory being able to portray the entire Chechen independence movement as “terrorist”. Western leaders concurred, while saying not a word or signing not a single book of condolence for the many hundreds of thousands of Chechen civilians butchered by the oppressive Russian military. Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

    While British crimes in NI have been far less severe in scale to those of the Russians in Chechnya or the Israelis in Palestine, nonetheless the same double-standards apply in the eyes of the politicians, e.g. Lee Clegg/Mark Wright/James Fisher being protected by the Establishment who get them cleared or released, and then reinstated and promoted into the British army. Now again with regard to Iraq, the same dinosaurs are out again insisting that those involved in war-crimes in Iraq – including the kicking to death of an Iraqi POW – be seen as above suspicion and merely discplined by their superiors rather than tried in a court of law. So much for the Geneva Convention and its protections for POWs.

    Precisely what kicking someone to death in custody has to do with achieving a democratic Iraq is beyond me. Certainly, it and other tools of oppression used by the Allies including “renditioning” (the kidnap of terrorist “suspects” in European countries before they are flown to countries in the Middle East for torture – notice the complete absence of a trial – so much for the evidence available against them), Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, will act as powerful recruiting seargeants for Al Qaida. Congrats US/Britain.

  • dror ben-adam

    It’s funny how the Janjaweed gangs in Sudan don’t prompt the same despair and indignation that brings young muslims to blow themselves up inside buses!

    And it’s even funnier that it’s against British people, who out of all the Europeans, and even out of the world have usually done their best to become a more tolerant society, thus ignoring radical clerics (Imams) in the mosques and giving them a full freedom of incitement.

  • FRA

    It is a constant amazement to me that there are still people in the west that subscribe to the socalist/communist mantra that the west, free world or those who many years ago may have participated in colonialism are the cause of the sickness that emanates out of the middle east and any other patch of earth that wilfully participates in the mental illness known as islam. Another constant is the way that the contirbutors here can separate each act of savagery and then, depending on which terrorist group carried it out assign to it some sort of justification. Then the kicker is, they demand rights for those who would prefer to see us all dead, preferably dispatched to eternity in the most barbaric means they could come up with. I have read with incredulity, the threads of contributors like “Brian Boru”, and first, laughed at the naievity, which later turned to a feeling of sickness in the stomach. For although he can write volumes of crap, there are those who will read and to whom thinking and the appliance of values are alien, will take his rantings as some form of informed truth and accept it as their own, passing it on until we have whole pubs, then neighborhoods full of nitwits and dullards believing that it was Tony Blair’s and George Bush’s fault that a bus or a Subway train got blown up, whether in London, Belfast, New york, or Madrid.

    I have to go at this time, have to work. I’ll look back later

  • Comrade Stalin

    “are the cause of the sickness that emanates out of the middle east and any other patch of earth that wilfully participates in the mental illness known as islam”

    Nice to hear a constructive tolerant view there.

    “I have to go at this time, have to work. I’ll look back later”

    Don’t hurry.

    Fobo, I disagree with you on a number of counts. To me it’s not at all clear that Iraqis are better off now than they were with Hussein. I spoke to a few Iraqi expats in Dublin a few years ago, and their view was that while he was a rotten piece of work, as long as you kept your head down and your mouth shut you could have a trouble-free existence. He did put a lot of effort into creating a pretty decent healthcare and education system. I’m not putting forward the old “at least the buses ran on time” cliche, my only point is that there are no yardsticks which matter to the people on the ground that show that their life is better.

  • peteb

    “as long as you kept your head down and your mouth shut you could have a trouble-free existence”

    That’s an appropriate comment for Stalin.

    It’s worth noting that they’re actually getting on with the process of drafting a Bill of Rights.. something that we still haven’t managed to do.

  • Mick Hall

    I really despair when despite all the evidence to the contrary, people still seem to believe the USA/UK can govern other peoples countries better than their own citizens. Governments also have a responsibility to provide their own citizens with life and liberty and i cannot see how the British people are gaining from their armed forces being in Iraq, although the down side is there for all to see, not least the cost to the UK taxpayer, as clearly Bush and Blair’s original idea to give the Iraqi people the bill for their own oppression is now a none starter, as the Iraqi people are refusing to be a party to this grubby shake down.

    If fabo must go back to Saddam lets get our facts straight, he would not have lasted a day without the support of western Nations and when the Iraqi people decided at the end of gulf war one that they had had enough of the old butcher, instead of giving them support the west stood back and allowed them to be massacred under the stupid justification of it is better the devil we know.

    As to Mr al-Zarqawi, who is he and who does he work for. If he is what our media claim, i.e. bin Ladens man, why is he able to survive so long. Who is funding his outfit, we know it is not Iran, almost certainly not Syria as the dictatorship there has no wish to go the same way as saddam and has a bloody history of killing sunni Islamic fundamentalists. True he may be being allowed to create mayhem by those who wish to see the backs of the US military, however the random nature of his violence means he is just as likely to kill friend as foe. However if he is being allowed to run, then once the US withdraws, as it will in the end, then he will not last a day longer, as he has a long list of Iraqi killings to answer for.

    In this type of situation it is always wise to ask who gains, in the case of Zarqarwi it may well be Pres Bush, as he uses him as the excuse for Iraq not returning to a more stable society. Is it a coincidence that in all of the recent wars the US has been involved in, a hate figure has been used to justify the President actions. In Afghanistan we had the leading Talabin Imam and bin Laden, in Iraq first Saddam and now it is zarqarwi, all of them comparatively small fish and not one of them has been captured bar saddam who was no longer a player. Where as in Checnia the Russians seemed to have no problem killing their leading enemies

    If bin Laden and Zarqarwi were removed from the picture what justification would the USA and Noddy have for staying in Iraq, especially as Tom has reminded us, the majority group in the new iraqi government are keen to see the back of the US military.

  • Tom Griffin

    Antiwar.com has an interview today with an Iraqi Minister who claims Ibrahim al-Jafaari has already asked the Americans for a withdrawal date.

    Iraqi Official Demands Timetable for Withdrawal

  • peteb

    antiwar.com???

    Hmm.. they sound like an objective source..

  • Tom Griffin

    How about the Associated Press?

    Iraq Wants Quick Withdrawal of U.S. Troops

    ;-p

    To be honest, I don’t think there’s any doubt that a substantial drawdown in troops is on the way.
    It would be interesting to know theough how far the Iraqi and US governments see eye to eye on the question of permanent bases.

  • 6countyprod

    It’s strange that the British media hasn’t picked up on Jack Straw’s recent comments concerning Red Ken’s endorsement of suicide bombers in Israel.

    Among other things, Straw said, “There is no, and there can be no, moral equivalence between a lawful political party (Likud) and its supporters operating in a democracy, Israel, and a terrorist organization (Hamas) whose so-called political method is the slaughter of innocents”.

    Ken’s mental condition