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The London Blasts


The London Blasts: Media Review

DAY TWO: 9 July 2005 Part 2 The Link to Iraq

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Onto Part 3

The link to Iraq

Matthew 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 of Iraq.


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 chosen ground.'


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 policies.


Much the same point is made, more directly and in more detail, by former Labour government adviser David 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 Northern Ireland.'


'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 Afghanistan was.'


'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'.



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Part 3 of Media Review


This page last updated 9 July 2005






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