The London Blasts: Media
TWO: 9 July 2005 Part 2 The Link to Iraq
The link to Iraq
Parris, the former Conservative MP and now a respected
columnist in The Times,
makes the connection with Iraq today, in a piece entitled,
' "No surrender" moves swiftly from heart to lip
but it detours the brain'. In a long piece, he stealthily
moves from saying that Britain should continue to fight
the war on terror, to saying that we should also pull out
Parris opens by warning
that, 'Simple defiance is always
moving but it is not always wise. Our resolve never to submit
to blackmailers and bullies has echoed eloquently and often
through the chambers of legislatures or the columns of newspapers,
but sometimes we did later change our minds, and sometimes
we were right to.'
'Some wars are wrong.
Some wars are right but unwinnable. Some wars are right,
winnable and best won by sheer guts and force of arms, with
all guns blazing. These are the easy ones. But there are
others which are right and should be fought, but with the
utmost subtlety and patience, and only on the most carefully
Parris suggests that the
"War on Terror" is one of the latter. After a
long diversionary middle section (in which he tiresomely
repeats the lie that 'there are no clear demands' in al
Qaeda's campaign - see yesterday's
Media Review for discussion), Parris moves on the issue
of Muslim disaffection in his final paragraphs. He warns
that 'extremism', while 'not the
predominating opinion among British Muslims', is
a 'mood' which exists in the Muslim community.
The key question is how
the British Government can win the trust of British Muslims:
'They are our countrymen, people
we have got to be able to rely on to walk straight into
the nearest police station if they think there's something
fishy going on in the flat next door.'
Parris comes to his punch
line: 'Nobody began office better
placed than Tony Blair to persuade British Muslims he was
in Downing Street for people like them. He has lost them.'
'Without their trust we too are lost.
The road back to their trust
is the road back from Baghdad.'
In other words, the war in Iraq is
not right, and it is not winnable, and it is undermining
the security of the British people.
(When Matthew Parris says this, in
a roundabout and elegant fashion, he is a thoughtful commentator.
When George Galloway says this, angrily and bluntly, he
is a public enemy.)
Once again, the responsibility for
bringing al Qaeda's campaign to an end is placed on Western
shoulders, on the shoulders of those who carry out unjust
Much the same point is made, more directly
and in more detail, by former Labour government adviser
Clark, in the Guardian:
'An effective [counter-terror] strategy
can be developed, but it means turning our attention away
from the terrorists and on to the conditions that allow
them to recruit and operate. No sustained insurgency can
exist in a vacuum. At a minimum, it requires communities
where the environment is permissive enough for insurgents
to blend in and organise without fear of betrayal. This
does not mean that most members of those communities approve
of what they are doing.'
'It is enough that there should be
a degree of alienation sufficient to create a presumption
against cooperating with the authorities. We saw this in
'From this point of view, it must be
said that everything that
has followed the fall of Kabul has been ruinous to the task
of winning over moderate Muslim opinion and isolating the
terrorists within their own communities.'
'In Iraq we allowed America to rip
up the rule book of counter-insurgency with a military adventure
that was dishonestly conceived and incompetently executed.
Tens of thousands of innocent
Iraqis have been killed by US troops uninterested in distinguishing
between combatant and noncombatant, or even counting
the dead. The hostility engendered has been so extreme that
the CIA has been forced to conclude that Iraq may become
a worse breeding ground for international terrorism that
'Bin Laden can hardly believe his luck.'
'The political dimensions of this problem
mean that there can be no hope of defeating terrorism until
we are ready to take legitimate Arab grievances seriously.
In other words, 'counter
terrorism: build justice'.
JNV welcomes feedback.
3 of Media Review
This page last updated 9 July 2005