Monday, July 18, 2005

Too Much to Ask

Chatham House, a UK think tank, has just released a report on the London terrorist attacks. In this report, the authors decry Britain's role in the War on Terror, saying,
the UK government has been conducting counter-terrorism policy "shoulder to shoulder" with the US, not in the sense of being an equal decision-maker, but rather as a pillion passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat.
While the report appears to blame the US—and the Iraq war—for the attacks, the authors would like to have their cake and eat it, too. They shy away from directly blaming the attacks on the Iraq war, but note that, "there is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has posed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism." While this is undoubtedly true, connecting terror attacks to the war in Iraq only gets it half right (or, rather, somewhat less than half). Do they suppose that if Iraq had never been invaded, there would be no terror threat?

British MP George Galloway certainly does. Here is an excerpt from his statement released on the day of the attacks:
We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the Security Services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence.
This point of view has also found currency among the anti-war set here in America. If only we could meet the terrorist's demands, they say. There must be a political-diplomatic solution. Unfortunately, unlike with the IRA or even the FALN, there is no political organization with which to negotiate a peace. The demands of al Qaeda and other nihilistic terror outfits cannot be met. Anyone who thinks they can be has a very short memory, indeed.

Shortly after the London attacks, Christopher Hitchens wrote an article for the Mirror called "We Cannot Surrender." The title is not meant to be Churchillian bluster. Rather, it is a statement of fact. There is no one to whom we can capitulate, even if we wanted to. Hitchens eloquently enumerates the grievances of the terrorists:
The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.
In order to live in a world free from terrorism, these are the "wrongs" we would have to make right. Either that, or we fight for the world we believe in. The other side is doing as much, and only one side can win in the end.

This is not meant to be a blanket endorsement for the Iraq war or a free pass for the Bush Administration. It is simply in recognition that the Iraq war is but one of many grievances that set the terrorists to arms, and ending that occupation would only be the start of it. I don't think any of us would want to live in a world where we have satisfied all of their complaints.
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