The London Blasts: Media
NINE: 16 July 2005
to Part 1
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Part 2 Realism and
REALISM - PAKISTANI STYLE
Harding of the Guardian
talks to Ahsan Siddiqui of the "moderate" Jamia
Ashrafia madrassa, who says, 'the
reason terrorism exists is because of injustice. If you
take away injustice all these problems will disappear.'
In the more "radical"
Lahore madrassa, a student speaks out: "If
it's been declared that society is at war, and non-Muslims
are killing Muslims, then Muslims have the right to kill
non-Muslims," said 20-year-old Hafiz Abdul Rehman.
"We have the right to defend
our brothers if they are being killed, whether it's in Afghanistan,
Iraq or Kashmir," he added. Like many in Pakistan,
though, Hafiz condemned the London bombings.'
REALISM - IRAQI STYLE
Mundher al-Adhami, an
exile from Saddam's Iraq, and a co-founder of Iraq Occupation
Focus, has a moving piece in today's Guardian,
which includes these words:
Tony Blair talks about
"them" hating "our values and our way of
life". But I have seen atrocities like last week's
London bombings taking place in Iraq over the past two years.
Attacks there, as those in London, are not about hating
anybody's way of life, but straightforward revenge: revenge
for Falluja and al-Qaim - and for Palestine and Afghanistan,
which have been subsumed in them.
The pictures of Iraq, Afghanistan or
Palestine, with their dust and grime, might be different
to the pictures of the London bombs, but they represent
a continuity. The war of revenge and collective punishment
has arrived in London. And it has its own rationality. Don't
give me the nonsense about why do they hate us. They don't.
The response to the neo-colonial adventures
in Afghanistan and Iraq should surprise no one. Islamist
extremism and terrorism, unknown in Iraq before occupation,
now fights side by side with the more measured Iraqi resistance.
It responds with callous bombs there, and now in the west.
REALISM - LABOUR STYLE
Short, the former Development Secretary under Tony Blair,
has said she has 'no doubt' that the war in Iraq was a factor
in the London atrocities, and claims that half of Labour
MPs agree with her.
Tomorrow's Sunday Programme
on GMTV will carry these comments:
"Of course September
11 2001 happened before Iraq, we all know that."
"But then Iraq happened . . .
and America claimed that al-Qaeda was there and we all know
that was a lie, and we now know that our own prime minister
deceived the country terribly."
"We know there has been horrendous
loss of life and suffering and we know that there is anger."
Asked how many Labour
backbenchers shared her view, Ms Short replied: "It
would be hard for me to give a proportion because I have
not talked to every single one and actually the power of
patronage and the sort of fear and punitive nature of the
whipping in the parliamentary party means collectivity and
intelligent discussion is breaking down... but I would say
a good half."
REALISM - FT STYLE
in the FT today - 'Slaughtering
civilians is beyond the pale' - has some sensible things
to say, amounting to an
attack on US military behaviour, as well as a recognition
of certain realities about the sources of al Qaeda-type
Beginning with a condemnation
of the London bombings and the 'obscene cult of death' of
Osama bin Laden, and calling for an effort to achieve a
global consensus to 'isolate jihadi extremism', the FT
goes on to observe that:
'Any such attempt will
soon enough run into a wall
of Muslim grievance (about Chechnya and Palestine, Kashmir
and Iraq), and will force into the open transatlantic
and intra-European disagreements about policy
towards the Middle East and Muslim world.'
In other words, the insurgency
that we face is rooted in US foreign policy in the Middle
East, a foreign policy wihch is the subject of transatlantic
dispute, and dispute within the European Union.
ASYMMETRIC, UNIPOLAR EXCEPTIONALISM
also calls for an 'ambitious' response: 'The objective should
be to get an international consensus, including the leadership
of the Muslim and Arab world, which places all
attacks on civilians and non-combatants in a war situation
beyond the pale' (emphasis added). The lethal clarification
'This is not just a problem
for one "side". The
US military doctrine of force protection, for example, results
in practice in indiscriminate use of devastating firepower
to protect American soldiers, causing widespread civilian
casualties - probably tens of thousands in Iraq - against
which there is no real redress.'
we wish to end recourse to so-called asymmetric warfare,
we need to restrain the unbridled use of asymmetric
For those unfamiliar with
this jargon, 'asymmetric
warfare' is a term to describe a grossly unequal military
contest, often one between a state and a non-state actor
- a group or movement - in which the weaker party uses the
weaknesses of its opponent. (For example, the devastation
caused on 11 September 2001 was carried out by men who only
had box cutters for weapons.)
Translating the FT's
phraseology: if we want to end the use of terrorism against
the West, then (among other things) we must stop the United
States from killing large numbers of civilians (in Iraq
and elsewhere) with impunity
as a routine matter of troop safety procedure.
Curiously, the FT
hedges by observing that, 'There
is, nonetheless, a difference to be made here. Only the
jihadis are advocating the slaughter of civilians as a legitimate
tactic.' This is difficult to credit.
We have yet to hear from
the Pentagon, either the civilian leadership or the military
command, that the 'US military doctrine of force protection'
- in other words, shooting first, as soon as a potential
threat is perceived, and long before a gun is waved or a
shot is fired - is not a 'legitimate tactic'. The impunity
granted to US personnel after such incidents speaks for
REALISM AS SELF-HATRED
Howard Jacobson adds to
the literature. Yesterday Gerard
Baker of The Times
attacked the 'sizeable chunk of
serious, influential British opinion, from across the political
spectrum, who act in a way that suggests they honestly think
this country is the principal author of the bad things that
happen to it'. (We discussed his views in the Media
Today Jacobson goes further
(page 36 or paid-access here).
Where did the four bombers get their ideology of hatred?
'From us!' While preachers
and commanders helped them along the way, 'what
we call their disaffection - that miasma of rage and bewilderment
and misinformation without which this death cult could never
have taken hold of them - is the staple diet of our own
left-leaning news media, no more virulent than anything
the educated middle classes have been expressing for years,
the received wisdom of teachers, students and academics
from one end of the country to the other.'
How did the Home Office
and the Foreign Office miss this obvious cause of extremism?
Why does the 'Young
Muslims and Extremism' report not devote a single paragraph
to this obviously central driver of alienation and disaffection?
REALISM AS 'AWARENESS'
observes mildly, 'Confused young
men, torn between cultures, are easy prey for preachers
of hatred. Britons
must bind their own wounds and be more aware of the impact
of their government's policies - on Iraq, Palestine etc
- on Muslims everywhere.'
While this is a significant
pointer in the right direction, this is not an agenda for
change or action. It is a handful of wilting flowers, of
no significance except as an expression of good intentions
that do little good.
Either that, or it is
the 'miasma of rage and bewilderment and misinformation'
we have been warned about.
JNV welcomes feedback.
to Part 1
This page last updated 16 July 2005