Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Violence begets violence

By Henry Blackhand

It's been over two weeks now since the despicable bombings in London, and the authorities have had plenty of time to find out information about the perpetrators, as well as their motives for committing such an act. There has been a lot of media analysis -- background research, analysis of ethnic strife in modern Britain, and brainstorming of reasons as to why these four apparently normal young men would want to do such a terrible thing.

But up until now, I haven't seen many newspapers or columnists mention what the majority of Brits would probably consider the main reason these murders were committed -- Britain's role in Iraq and Afghanistan as the poodle of the US, and the deaths of thousands of innocent Muslims.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not unpatriotic. I'm British and I support our soldiers, and I know the British in Iraq are a hell of a lot more organized, responsible, friendly, and less trigger-happy than their coalition counterparts.

But is the Muslim world aware of this? When Muslim people around the world see stories of prisoner abuse, bombed villages, and Fallujah-type massacres, naturally they equate it with coalition forces in general, even if British forces are reportedly doing a great job, and winning many "hearts and minds" in southern Iraq.

It is the very fact that the British are there as part Iraq's modern-day colonial occupiers that causes these radical Muslim preachers to spout their evil diatribes, and to recruit young, disillusioned men from immigrant families in poor areas of Britain. That is the long and tall of it, and no matter how much the government pretends otherwise, this problem will not go away until the British and US troops do the same.

We need to tackle the cause of these atrocities, not wage war and kill thousands more in US President George W. Bush's "wild west" fashion. The politicians point to the fact that people in Britain have suffered terrorism attacks before, and of course they are correct. The IRA set off numerous bombs during the dark days of the struggles, and killed a fair number of innocent people to boot. But have young, Muslim Britons ever set off suicide bombs in their own country before?

Americans will often say that the Sept. 11 attacks were totally unprovoked, and that is more or less true. But was the solution to invade an unrelated sovereign country, kill tens of thousands of people, and create a global network of torture camps provoked? The occupation of Iraq has only exacerbated the chance of further terrorist attacks, as events have already proven, and anyone who denies this is living in cuckoo land.

The solution to Sept. 11 was to invade Afghanistan, it was right to topple the Taliban, and then it was right to leave, and right to hunt down and bring Osama bin Laden to justice. It was not right to stay there indefinitely and most certainly not to go after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and invade Iraq. If this had been done, I think that people in Australia, Madrid, and now London would not be holding annual commemorative ceremonies and silent vigils in tribute to lost ones.

If this, and only this had been done then I'm pretty sure most of the Muslim world would have considered it reasonable and justified. But going into Iraq has given the "War on Terror" a "War on Islam" feel. After the original "WMD threat" and "nasty regime" justifications crumbled under scrutiny, and the episodes of torture, murder and religious desecration emerged, who wouldn't forgive any ordinary Muslim for feeling that the major Western powers are against him? How many other "nasty regimes" have been toppled out of love for democracy recently?

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