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London Bombings

Barbaric, But Not Unexpected

by RAMZY BAROUD

Barbaric. There is hardly any other term that is capable of depicting the murder of over 50 people and the wounding of hundreds more during London’s rush hour on July 7. Unexpected, however is the least relevant term.

But why would "mass murder" an expression used fittingly by London’s highly regarded Mayor Ken Livingstone following the attacks become an "inevitable" event, is another dreadful component in this disastrous episode.

It was Livingstone who warned in September 2002: "An assault on Iraq will inflame world opinion and jeopardize security and peace everywhere. London, as one of the major world cities, has a great deal to lose from war and a lot to gain from peace, international cooperation and global security."

The mayor’s words were poignant and ring true today more than ever before. However, they were of little consequence for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, so adamant in his quest for war, so incessant in maintaining his country’s dangerous alliance with Washington’s self-serving and now debauched "war on terror."

Although Britain can only claim a small portion of the subsequent carnage in Afghanistan and Iraq, Blair was and remains an unyielding partner in both wars. He has, so pompously, overlooked untold atrocities against innocent civilians in both countries while maintaining an active role in ridding the-world-of-evil-farce, which continues to plague the world and increasingly, albeit misguidedly define the correlation between the West and the Muslim world.

It is quite a paradox that Blair was the first to infuse the term "barbaric" following the London carnage; a paradox because the barbarism in London had an undeniable kinship with the years of barbarism in Iraq, which continues to unfold in full force.

In May 2003, following protests from human rights groups regarding the British army’s use of cluster bombs in and around the Iraqi city of Basra, British officials had nothing but unabashed rationalization as a response.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram justified the use of cluster bombs, in an interview with BBC radio, on military grounds, arguing: "Cluster bombs are not illegal. They are effective weapons. They are used in specific circumstances where there is a threat to our troops."

Those "specific circumstances", according to British media, compelled the dropping of 2,000 Israeli-made cluster bombs on Basra and its surroundings in April 2003 alone. Richard Lloyd, Director of Landmine Action, asserted that he had seen maps – provided to the UN by the US military – showing cities that were almost completely masked by a heap of symbols indicating where cluster bombs had been used. "These weapons were used in and around virtually every built-up area where there was major fighting," Lloyd said.

Hundreds of these bombs are still there, not yet detonated and just waiting to go off among hoards of scavenging children, a dreadful and recurring episode in both Afghanistan and Iraq; utterly barbaric indeed.

It’s a catastrophe that innocent Londoners, who have fought so earnestly for the cause of justice from the very beginning, objecting so earnestly to the war, mass protesting and taking on their government like in no other capital in Europe, had to pay the profound price for Blair’s reprehensible lies and forgeries – his groundless case for WMD and his unsubstantiated claims that regime change in Iraq means security for his country. But whoever said that barbarism subscribes to any rules of conduct?

Terrorism is not random; it’s a callous mirroring to an equally callous legacy of terror and violence, this time ensued in part by relentlessly arrogant and self-congratulating statesmen like Tony Blair.

Commenting on the slaughter in London, Blair’s response failed to abandon the highly predictable and self-observed rhetoric. "My opinion is that those people who kill the innocent and cause such bloodshed are solely responsible".

But isn’t the above so twisted an underlying principle? It’s another cruel irony that following years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq with a human toll that has been put past the one hundred thousand mark and a price tag of hundreds of billions of dollars, to pin the sole responsibility’ on a few terrorists, who despite their reprehensible acts pale in comparison to the mega crimes of Bush and Blair against humanity.

Is it possible that we have not learned a single thing since the massacres of September 11, Jenin, Kandahar and Fallujah? Such erroneous logic will persist with pundits like Gerard Baker of The Times blaming "14th century (Islamic) fanaticism" for the London bombings, while strongly rebuffing any linkage between group and state terrorism.

When will the Bush and Blair crowd wake up and smell the decomposed Iraqi bodies and forever quit utilizing the ever handy "we will not change our way of life" comeback to terrorism, based on the fallacious conclusion that terrorists are blowing people up because they hate freedom?

The reality that Blair conveniently wishes to neglect is as plain as it is tragic. Terrorism and militancy is thriving all around, with Iraq as a base and a cause. The Anglo-American war has wrought nothing but murder and mayhem, which crossed the borders of many countries and cities with London as its latest target. The intelligence failure that has led to war in Iraq is repeated with another disastrous failure that couldn’t intercept a major bombing scheme that disabled a major city like London. This is yet another attestation of which neither sheer military strength nor superior intelligence holds the answer.

The answer lies in an immediate halt of all military aggressions perpetrated in the name of civilization and democratization by the super powers against vulnerable and defenseless countries. This void can only be filled by sensible diplomacy, cultural integration and dialogue to achieve what cluster bombs have utterly failed to deliver. Otherwise the "inevitable" attacks on London will go on with the same certainty as the promise of each new day.

RAMZY BAROUD, a veteran Arab American journalist, teaches Mass Communication at Curtin University of Technology. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Writings on the Second Palestinian Uprising (Pluto Press, London).