I sometimes having trouble even finishing news stories. Tony Blair, as per my reading on the BBC website and elsewhere, said that Iraq was no excuse for the London bombings.
But the invasion of Iraq was justified by the New York bombings? It’s precisely this sort of hypocrisy that pisses people off. How many people, all over the world, are going, “Sir, you most definitely believe in the principle of retaliatory violence, even when it violates international laws and standards. Further, what was done to London is insignificant to what you have done to the whole of Iraq. Your own organizations have determined that between 25,000 and 100,000 innocent civilian Iraqis have been killed by coalition violence in Iraq, which your government fully supports from inception to the present. Indeed, the damage that you and your allies have done dwarfs on all scales the violence done to New York on September 11th, 2001. Al-Qaida destroyed a few buildings, bombed a few tunnels; the invaders of Iraq wholly destroyed Fallujah, a city of 300,000 people, so that no stone stands next to another.”
So, Blair clearly believes that it is acceptable to meet violence with violence. The idea that violence in one place does not justify violence in another place is preposterous, to be guided by his actions. Of course, the article doesn’t mention the absurdity of what Blair is saying.
I mean, he goes on to say: “Let us expose the obscenity of these people saying it is concern for Iraq that drives them to terrorism. If it is concern for Iraq then why are they driving a car bomb into the middle of a group of children and killing them.”
Let us also expose the obscenity of murdering Iraqis under all manner of lies and false pretenses, to take revenge in Iraq for murders in New York for which no Iraqi had any culpability. Let’s do that, too, while we’re at it. Let’s talk about the bombs that coalition forces have dropped on weddings, or how a truck with Italian agents was shot up after they’d just got down rescuing a journalist who had been kidnapped, or the bombs that burned mosques to the ground filled with Friday worshipers, or the other tens to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who have been murdered by Blair’s war.
Tony, again: “We are not going to deal with this problem, with the roots as deep as they are, until we confront these people at every single level – and not just their methods but their ideas.”
But, Tony Blair, you share their ideas. You share the idea that it is fitting and proper to take retaliatory violence on innocent people for violence done to, well, heck, not even you, but people with whom you identify (they for Palestinians and other western Asians suffering under Western imperialist violence; you for Americans who have suffered terrorist violence). You’re part of this continuum of attack and retaliation, and just like Osama bin Laden has his justifications for murder (the Western support for Israel, troops in Arabia, the continued exploitation of the Middle East by Western powers for oil, etc.) you have your justifications for your murders — justifications which different from bin Laden’s not very much at all, except that yours are lies: there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Saddam was not a threat to his neighbors or the world, and it is demonstrably not true that he could get chemical warheads ready to gas his neighbors in 45 minutes.
Tony: There is “no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine, Iraq, in London, in Egypt, in Turkey, anywhere. In the United States of America, there is no justification for it. Period.”
Why such a problem with suicide bombing? Why not all bombing? I mean, are laser-guided smart-bombs somehow more moral than suicide bombs? Are the people killed and maimed by laser-guided smart-bombs any less injured, any less dead than those killed by suicide bombs? Do laser-guided smart-bombs somehow know how to kill only those deserving of death? Are they somehow less indiscriminate than suicide bombs? I mean, really! All bombing is equally morally atrocious or acceptable, the delivery method isn’t terribly relevant. But it is suicide bombs that are unacceptable, it is the weapon of the enemy that is unacceptable while no discussion about the morality of our weapons (which have done thousands of times more damage, killed whole magnitudes more people) is not discussed. What they do is evil, despite it causing a fraction of the harm of our techniques, but it is evil because it is they who do it. Our weapons, far, far more dangerous, are good because it is we who use them. No comparsion is done between the weapons we use and the weapons they use in terms of effects, because effects are not important. The only thing that is important is who attacks and who dies; when we attack and they die it is acceptable losses, merely “collateral damage”. When they attack and we die, it is simple evil, terrorists serving as a stand-in for Satan, even when they damage they inflict is tiny compared to the damage we do — it is always them who will be evil. For most people, that will be enough, but for those to whom morality is more than just a hollow word, it cannot be enough because Iraqis deserve their lives as much as Englishmen or Americans, so it is unjust, unfair to ignore the wounds that we have done to them.
He said that he will not give an inch to terrorists. He has chosen, instead, to give them the world. By dismissing them as simple villains, he robs them of their humanity and thus offers no way out except either humiliating submission to Western authority or violent resistance with the weapons they possess. He has worked, hard, to create a political climate that justifies to many their atrocities — the largest of which is sharing with them their ethic of violence. That violence as retaliation is acceptable, that civilian deaths are acceptable, that the wholesale dismantling of civil society is acceptable.
Sometimes it is hard for me to read the news.
CHRISTOPHER BRADLEY is a speculative fiction writer and ne’er-do-well who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.