Blair's racialist view of terrorism?

Geoffrey Wheatcroft with a fierce critique of Tony Blair’s apparently contradictory stance on the Northern Irish peace process, and his more combative and aggressive approach to terrorism in Britain. He concludes:

If there is no moral distinction between Adams and al-Zarqawi, and Adams’s objectives are certainly no more honourable or rational than al-Zarqawi’s, there is one objective difference: Adams is white. No doubt Tony Blair doesn’t consciously think in terms of ‘darkies’ or Mahometan savages, but the grim and very dangerous truth is that the terrorists he will never negotiate with or give an inch to are Asian by birth or descent and Muslim by religion, whereas the terrorists he propitiates are Catholic, Aryan, white Europeans.

His distinction between good and bad terrorists is not only dishonest, cowardly and hypocritical, it is racist. If millions of embittered youths from Leeds to Basra to Islamabad notice that, should we be surprised?

  • beano;

    Thought that was a very good assessment of Bliar’s latest whitewashing of history.

  • circles

    A shockingly bad and deliberately provocative piece which purposely ignores the lack of an international agreed definition of what terrorism actually is (and isn’t) and instead tries to score the cheapest points possible.
    (The use of the simple term “terrorist” has allowed governments everywhere to get rid of opposition as part of their war against terrorism – but thats another discussion..)

    Wheatcroft obviously is trying to forget the fact that the Irish in general (never mind any particular group) have been the object of racist abuse for years in England, with an Irish accent enough to rouse suspicion there back at the height of the troublks. To turn round now and claim that they are somehow preferred because the are white, Aryan (?), and catholic is beyond ridiculous. Or is he trying to establish a ladder of racial preferences among the english establishement, with the mucky micks preferable to british people of pakistani/somali/eritrean/jamaican descent?
    At the height of their bombing campaign in britain, the IRA were hunted as fiercely as the recent bombers have been hunted – and enough irish people have spent a week in jail under the PTA to testify to that.

    I would imagine that the reason Tony Blair has made a difference between the IRA and al Qaida is that the IRA have been relatively inactive since 1994 and have proven to be serious in their approach to ending the conflict.

  • Mick


    Can you give us a quick outline of that definition? I’ve never known the word to do other than create profound disagreement between political opponents.

  • circles

    Even at UN level there has been no agreement on the definition of “terrorism” – as different states prefer to leave it as unclear as possible, allowing them to through the net fairly widely to catch all forms of dissent. I coulod try and provide one, but it wouldn’t have any weight whatsoever.
    Last week Kofi Annan actually made a public plea for the international community to finally agree on a definition as it has been holding up an anti-terrorist resolution at the UN for the last 3 or 4 years.
    So there is no agreed definition, and I can’t see one coming. Its too handy a label to have to stick on your opponenets to actually pin it down as meaning something.

  • qubol

    That Arguement doesn’t add up because Blair would also draw a destinction between supposed Palestinian terrorism and the Terrorism carried out by Al Qaeda. Tony Blair was makin a fair point its just some people are so blinded by Hatred that they can no longer be objective about such things.

  • beano;

    The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

    Works for me.

  • circles

    I like the George Bush spelling beano :o)
    Works for me too – but I can’t see the States for example signing up to that defintion at all as it basically describes their foreign policy in the middle east (particularly Iraq and Iran) and North Korea.

  • maca

    Terrrism by GWBush.

    Terrrism: The things terrrists do.
    Terrrists: The people who do terrrism.

  • bernie

    Definition of a terrorist:
    someone who cannot afford a plane to drop their bombs from

  • bertie

    that must be why they robbed the bank

  • Michael MC

    All this bullshit about state force and terrorism being the same really gets to me.

    The state is the organisation we recognise to enforce law, among other things. Armed groups like the IRA are not.

    These school kids who think a suicide bomber is the moral equivilent of state force are the same people who harp on about the sanctity of the UN, the very body which recognises states and states alone.

  • T.Ruth

    Let’s compare Mandela and Adams. Mandela and his people did not have access to a democratic avenue of expression for his people’s case. Adams and co. had access North and South of the border to a democratic process in which their votes were equal to every one else’s.
    The IRA resorted to violence because it could not win the political argument and Sinn fein endorsed a sectarian anti-protestant-anti Unionist anti-British fascist campaign of insurrection.
    By definition the IRA is a terrorist organisation which sought to achieve its aims by terrorising an entire community. By definition, though no one should resort to murder and violence, the ANC could regard themselves as freedom fighters.
    It is the use of violence when a democratic system affords free expression that characterises terrorism. I do not believe that this present phase in IRA affairs is other than a further push to gain even more concessions from the so called peace proces and from a spineless,deceitful,unprincipled British government which has failed again and again to protect the rights and liberties of the greater majority of our citizens. Does anyone think an organisation like the IRA will fade away,that criminality by republicans will end, that the weapons will be destroyed,that there will be an acceptance that their campaign had no legitimacy,that they are committed to a future in which the rights of Unionists will be respected?


  • cladycowboy

    Michael MC

    ‘The state is the organisation we recognise to enforce law’

    Thats the deal we’re told we’re getting when we vote. Of course if a million or so voters march the streets of London reminding the state that it didn’t give their consent for the state to flout International law and kill thousands of innocent Iraqis, it feels a bit like terrorists have usurped the Government cabinet.
    Things aren’t that clear if you actually think about it. i mean actually think…

  • cladycowboy

    ‘Let’s compare Mandela and Adams’

    Funny how this freedom fighter has had little problem personally and through the ANC been friendly and supportive of the bog terrorist

  • Chris Gaskin

    The ANC send reps to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis and we send reps to theirs

  • cladycowboy

    I heard the ANC rep speak at it. I remember him saying something like ‘If Jesus was alive he’d be voting SF’!
    If only Paisley was there…

  • PS

    On the terrorism debate, Richard English defines terorism as having six characteristics

    1. Heterogeneous
    2. political violence
    3. designed to achieve a psychological effect beyond immediate targets
    4. transgressive of normal expectations of acceptable violence
    5. related to questions of power and power-relations
    6. forming part of a war

  • Chris Gaskin

    Cindy Combs analysis in her book “Terrorism in the 21st Century” looks at the direct targetting of Civilians as a primary objective of Terrorists.

    That said “Terrorism” is such a polemical term most respected commentators don’t use it

  • circles

    “All this bullshit about state force and terrorism being the same really gets to me.” – and when states fund groups which they later classify as terrorists because they’ve turned against them?
    When states ignore the law (not enforce) whether at national or international level and use violence to achieve their means?
    All this bullshit about the sanctity of the state and its God given right to do whatever it wants under the pretence that it has some kind of higher authority above morality really gets to me!

    T. Ruth: The polemic is not worth commenting. The Mandela / Adams thing has been done to death here, and your re-working of the past to strengthen your argument moved your post inot the realm of unionist fiction.

    And to Richard English’s definition – to me it describes any violent conflict (firmly putting Hiroshima on the list as the biggest terrorist act of all time). But I have to say “transgressive of normal expectations of acceptable violence ” is a gem that opens up another can of worms. Just what are of normal expectations of acceptable violence?

  • Gum

    Read an article a few years ago on the problem of defining terrorism: think there were 107 definitions of terrorism at the last count!

  • paddyjoe26

    “One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter” Someone mentioned Nelson Mandela, I would like to mention another arch terrorist-Menahem Begin, He led an extreme jewish terror group ‘The Irgun’ as leader of this group fighting British rule in Palestine he was responsible for the bombing of the ‘King David’hotel killing 91 people (28 Brits, 41 Arabs 17 Jews and 5 other)The British government put a reward on his head and put up wanted posters, he was later to become a prime minister of Israel then won the Nobel peace prize. Terrorist, Freedom Fighter, Statesman?