Galloway: Bombings Price of Iraq and Afghanistan
Predictably, George Galloway, the Member of Parliament who was ousted from BritainÃ¢€™s Labour Party for his radical views on the Iraq War, said yesterdayÃ¢€™s 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.
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.
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 Ã¢€œCross-worshippersÃ¢€ (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 Ã¢€œwhat it must doÃ¢€. 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 Ã¢€œMadrid victoryÃ¢€ to call on other European countries to distance themselves from the United States or face similar Ã¢€œpunishmentÃ¢€.
Bin LadenÃ¢€™s 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.