Galloway: Bombings Price of Iraq and Afghanistan

Predictably, George Galloway, the Member of Parliament who was ousted from Britain̢۪s Labour Party for his radical views on the Iraq War, said yesterday̢۪s attacks that killed nearly 40 people and wounded hundreds of others, was the price Britons had to pay for their foreign policy.

No one can condone acts of violence aimed at working people going about their daily lives. They have not been a party to, nor are they responsible for, the decisions of their government. They are entirely innocent and we condemn those who have killed or injured them.

The loss of innocent lives, whether in this country or Iraq, is precisely the result of a world that has become a less safe and peaceful place in recent years.

We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the Security Services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence.

Galloway: Bombings price of Iraq (BBC)

Londoners have paid the price for Iraq and Afghanistan, says George Galloway. The Respect MP, whose Bethnal Green and Bow constituency includes the site of at least one of the bomb attacks, said the attacks were “despicable”. He told the Commons it was the US-led coalition’s actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo which had inflamed hatred of the West in the Muslim world.

But minister Adam Ingram accused Mr Galloway of “dipping his poisonous tongue in a pool of blood”. The armed forces minister added that Mr Galloway’s comments were “disgraceful”.


Downing Street declined to comment on Mr Galloway’s comments. But Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was wrong to think that withdrawing from Iraq would make the UK immune from the threat of attacks. “People have to remember that 11 September was in 2001 before the military action,” he said.

While this would seem obvious enough, Juan Cole disagrees:

Straw seems unaware that according to the September 11 Commission report, al-Qaeda conceived 9/11 in some large part as a punishment on the US for supporting Ariel Sharon’s iron fist policies toward the Palestinians.

Of course, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States in February 1998,* over two years before Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and nearly three years before Sharon became Prime Minister. [Not to mention that Galloway didn’t say that yesterday’s attacks were in retribution for Western policy in Israel.]**

Arthur Chrenkoff notes that Galloway adds to the list of Western crimes some things omitted even by the terrorists in their claims.

In a Guardian piece, “The price of occupation,” fellow traveler Tariq Ali expands on Galloway’s ideas:

Ever since 9/11, I have been arguing that the “war against terror” is immoral and counterproductive. It sanctions the use of state terror – bombing raids, torture, countless civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq – against Islamo-anarchists whose numbers are small, but whose reach is deadly. The solution then, as now, is political, not military. The British ruling elite understood this perfectly well in the case of Ireland. Security measures, anti-terror laws rushed through parliament, identity cards, a curtailment of civil liberties, will not solve the problem. If anything, they will push young Muslims in the direction of mindless violence.

The real solution lies in immediately ending the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Just because these three wars are reported sporadically and mean little to the everyday lives of most Europeans does not mean the anger and bitterness they arouse in the Muslim world and its diaspora is insignificant. As long as western politicians wage their wars and their colleagues in the Muslim world watch in silence, young people will be attracted to the groups who carry out random acts of revenge.

Ah yes. The solution to terrorism is capitulating to the demands of the terrorists. Because, as we all know, nothing stops an undesirable practice faster than rewarding it.

Besides which, as Amir Teheri explains in a Times editorial,

[S]orry, old chaps, you are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it his divine duty to kill you.

Of course, that’s only in the long run.

It is, of course, possible, as many in the West love to do, to ignore the strategic goal of the Islamists altogether and focus only on their tactical goals. These goals are well known and include driving the “Cross-worshippers†(Christian powers) out of the Muslim world, wiping Israel off the map of the Middle East, and replacing the governments of all Muslim countries with truly Islamic regimes like the one created by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and by the Taleban in Afghanistan.

How to achieve those objectives has been the subject of much debate in Islamist circles throughout the world, including in London, since 9/11. Bin Laden has consistently argued in favour of further ghazavat inside the West. He firmly believes that the West is too cowardly to fight back and, if terrorised in a big way, will do “what it must doâ€. That view was strengthened last year when al-Qaeda changed the Spanish Government with its deadly attack in Madrid. At the time bin Laden used his “Madrid victory†to call on other European countries to distance themselves from the United States or face similar “punishmentâ€.

Bin Laden̢۪s view has been challenged by his supposed No 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who insists that the Islamists should first win the war inside several vulnerable Muslim countries, notably Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Until yesterday it seemed that al-Zawahiri was winning the argument, especially by heating things up in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yesterday, the bin Laden doctrine struck back in London.

Quite right. If their history is any guide, though, the Brits will not choose the course of appeasement. They tried that once, quite briefly, and did not like the results.

*A commentator notes, correctly, that Bin Laden had already declared war in August 1996. This was the “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.” The subsequent February 1998 “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” is more widely known, since it is co-signed by several of bin Laden’s collaborators.

**Correction: I’m informed by a reliable source that Galloway’s comments to the House of Commons did indeed include a diatriabe on the Israeli occupation. My apologies to Juan Cole.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sammler says:

    If I am reading the atmosphere here in London correctly, the British will mostly just “keep on keeping on.” They have taken yesterday’s attacks stoically. I believe they will neither capitulate (a la Spain) nor redouble their efforts.

  2. McGehee says:

    The Brits have shown they can take a lot of pounding, and they know that a single day of attacks, even unprecedented ones, doesn’t necessarily mean the momentum has turned against them.

  3. wavemaker says:
  4. pat says:

    Osama issued his declaration of war on the Us in August 1996. Here’s the full text:

  5. Atm says:

    Juan Cole is an idiot. The 9/11 attacks were conceived before Sharon was elected. That’s why Atta was training for it in the US before Sharon became PM.

  6. DUNUT says:

    Becazse UBL knowed Buckfush was gong be selctd he travled back in time to do it.

  7. Galloway is not the only one that needs hanging. Paul Reynolds of the BBC had a very similar contribution to the debate here.

    Reynolds obviously believes that the British people, having failed the BBC in its political adgenda to un-elect Mr Blair as the prime-minister, deserve everything they get.

    In describing this as Al-Qaedas response to the general election he suggests that we should choose our politicians more carefully in future to avoid antagonising the extremists (and the BBC).

    He advocates abandoning the war on the causes of terror in the Middle East to “minimis[e] the risk of further attacks” in the UK.

    He goes on to offer the following encouragement to his islamofacist readership: “if put under enough pressure, [the British Government will] make concessions”.

    For the BBC to pronounce to the world that terrorism is a viable policy tool – that “the Israelis are withdrawing from Gaza […] because they feel they have to.” – that we must make concessions to the terrorists or “accept the consequences”, that we must choose our leaders and make foreign policy based upon what is acceptable to those terrorists is the most dangerously irresponsible example of poor BBC journalism since the Gilligan scandal. Capitulation to terrorism only ever leads to more terrorism.

    To allow terrorism to force our withdrawal from the war on terror is to capitulate to the terrorists. It assumes, wrongly,

    that negotiation with the terrorists is possible, that there is some concession other than the blood of innocents that could be offered and that capitulation would lessen the likleyhood of our being targeted.

    Terrorism is not the result of the war on terror -the war on terror is a result of terrorism. These terrorist attacks on London have no more to do with fight against terror in Iraq than did the 9/11 attacks on New York or the attack in Bali in 2002.

    Iraq was not the motivation for Camel Bourgass, the Ricin Bomber, or for Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. All these incidents happened before a single allied soldier set foot in Iraq.

    We live under the threat of terrorism not because of our involvemnet with Iraq, not because of patrolling no-fly zones, nor even because of our association with Israel.

    We live under the threat of terrorism because Islamofacists believe that our modern globalised world is an abomination to Allah. By attacking transport targets they hope to roll back to clock of globalisation to the good old days of circa 1400.

    There is no concession that will alter the terrorists course. There is no concession we could offer that would not devalue the lives lost in London yesterday.

  8. John Graham says:

    It’s unbelievable that you people still think that the Iraq war was about terror rather than about oil. Try looking at the other side of the argument for a change. Don’t just ignore the facts that don’t fit your blinkered vision. No-one in American politics would give a rat’s ass about Iraq if it didn’t have oil. Oh didn’t we help those suffering people by bombing them. Sure. Funny how those so anxious for war are those that manage to avoid being involved in one themselves, including Bush and Cheney – such Patriots during the Vietnam war. If Osama Bin Laden is the kingpin of world terror then why are only about 200 solders looking for him whilst the rest of the army are bogged down looking for those WMD’s that don’t seem to exist? It’s about Oil. Get it through your heads.

    Tell us something useful instead of suggesting we bomb everyone who might be threatening. Will that defeat people who are fully prepared to blow themselves up? Yes there is a fundamental threat of islamic extremism but it cannot be bombed away. There must be something else to do.