Nothing to do with Iraq. There is, strictly speaking, no causal link between the war in Iraq and the London bombing. Iraq was just another example of our rapacious or misguided foreign policy, depending on whether you believe our government to be malevolent or hopelessly incompetent. I opt for a combination of the two, being the cynic that I am.
In the same guise as we have been patronised throughout the Iraq war campaign, since the first terrorist attack in London, we have been fed with the trite rhetoric on the evil of terrorism and illiberal fanaticism endangering our lives and liberties.
Our lives are not, we are told, endangered by an illegal occupation that has sparked terrorism in the country of Iraq (although we do say so to Israel). Our liberties are not endangered by biometric ID cards, endless opting out from the European Convention on Human Rights, but by some wicked fanatic resenting our wealth.
There are many reasons behind terrorism, and I do believe that a fundamental ‘envy’ for our wealth and democracy accompanies every action. On the other hand, who imposed dictatorships in the illiberal and undemocratic countries we are fighting? Who opposed elected parties to be in power because they were Islamic? It is the hypocrisy and inconsistency of our Western governments that I can’t stomach more than their superficial rhetoric.
Walking down the streets of London a day after the latest incident, I’ve come across front pages proclaiming unity. The nation is united, they say. I doubt it. In fact, people are increasingly uncomfortable with the protraction of a war they never wanted. How do British Muslims feel? Betrayed by those who call themselves ‘their brothers’ for attacking their country and killing innocent people? Betrayed by their country for attacking Iraq and killing innocent people?
The nation, or the Daily Mail, might be united in their shock, horror, anger, fear and also suspicion and hatred. This is what violence brings about, not the end of occupation or peace agreements, not democracy and freedom, but fear and hatred.
On the tube I had a couple of thoughts: one was for Tony (and it was rude). The other was about the phenomenon of suicide bombing that is reliant on terrorist techniques invented, employed and exported by European anarchists, and, of course, made ‘legitimate weapon’ in recent conflicts in Northern Ireland and Israel.
Many think violence works and can end conflict. They are those carrying explosives in their rucksack and those ordering their army to attack. The two are not the same, far from it, the difference is politics.
That is why Hamas was quick at condemning the London bombing. They have now gained political power and don’t want to lose it. Al-Quaeda has a lot of ‘military’ power, has enormous influence over minds, but it is not a political entity. That’s also what makes their terrorism difficult to prevent, predict and battle against. There is very little political message, only hatred. The only way to stop hatred is by stopping fear. I felt totally powerless while crossing the centre of London on the tube, but I couldn’t let fear take over.
Out of fear, we went to war in Iraq (fear of losing strategic political and economic prominence); out of fear, we refuse to let Islamic parties take control. We impose our rule, we know best, we will deliver democracy. I’m sure ‘they’ have a lot of growing up to do in democratic terms, but until we let go of the hand, they will never walk. As long as we treat as pariahs political entities we disapprove of, they will fight against us, not with us. They will make it easier for more extreme fringes to act and attract following.
The government fumbles in the dark, wanting to be tough, and inevitably ends up mirroring the other side. Between the rock of terrorism and the hard place of a tough government, we are the village idiots taken for a ride to the risk of our lives.