Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Placing Blame for the London Attacks

After 9/11, the vast majority of people agreed that the terrorists needed to be confronted. After the 7/7 attacks in London, there is no such unity. Since the very morning of the attacks, there have been two divergent lines of reasoning. The first holds that the attacks are a reminder that we are still at war and that we must keep confronting Islamic extremists. The second is that Britain brought this on itself because of Iraq.

This is not a uniquely American discussion. Today, two articles from overseas exemplify the debate that is raging between those who see terrorism as a result of our actions and those who see it as a result of a fascist Islamic ideology.

Writing for The Australian, Phillip Adams argues that Britain had this coming:

Had [Blair] not misled his nation into that murderous folly of an invasion, the people would have walked off the trains instead of being carried off on stretchers.
David Aaronovitch, writing for The Times of London has a different theory:
The proposition is that we probably wouldn’t have been bombed last Thursday if we hadn’t been in Iraq, and we probably won’t be bombed in the future if we pull out.

I want us to agree one thing first. Someone would have been bombed. The jihadist campaign outside the Middle East first started when the omens for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement looked good, not bad. Then, just under seven years ago bin Laden’s people attacked the US embassies (no Bush back then) in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam and killed 225 people, the vast majority of them local Africans. That was before 9/11.

In November 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, 54 people were killed in a series of bombings in Istanbul. We remember the death of the British consul-general, which was described yet again as payback for Iraq. We forget the attacks on the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues a few days earlier. What exactly was that payback for? Attending bar mitzvahs, perhaps.

Aaronovitch goes on to list numerous Islamic extremist terrorist attacks that had little or nothing to do with Iraq or even Afghanistan. He concludes:

What does all this tell us? First, that if they aren’t blowing us up, then they’ll be blowing up someone else. And you don’t get to choose who. Secondly, who or what they blow up is largely a matter of what’s available. Jews anywhere, Americans after that, Shia next and Brits probably a distant fourth. Africans for fun.

It’s impossible to know if London would have been spared last week’s bombings if they had never joined in the Iraqi invasion. But they would have been hit eventually. The terrorists came after us when our crimes were listed as nothing more than supporting Israel and stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. Does anyone doubt they will find new justifications to attack if we left Iraq and Afghanistan?

Terrorists are liars and we shouldn’t take their demands seriously. They’ll just keep changing their demands until their goals are met. And those goals don’t include a world where we exist. Certainly we should not needlessly inflame hatred. But nor should we assume that we are any more at danger because of Iraq than we were before it.

In the words of those who would have us abandon Iraq or stop confronting Islamic extremism all together, I hear the echo of Neville Chamberlain. “Peace in our time” is a trap with this enemy as it was with Hitler. Like the Nazis before them, the Islamic fascists of today want nothing but war. Any attempt to appease them will fail to stop them.


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