So, it started with up to about 9 bombs going off in London, which thankfully (though inexplicably) became four bombs. Lots of people tragically killed, but could have been lots more – times like this we all get thankful for lil’ things.
Anyway, a few stream of conciousness thoughts that have been circulating my head over the last 24 hours…
Predictably, the cliched rhetoric has started to pile up like media manure pile all that ‘it’s not an attack on London, it’s an attack on Freedom and Democracy … they want to destroy our freedoms … they won’t beat us …’
OK, #1, we don’t know who ‘they’ are, for certain. It has all the hallmarks of an Islamist extremist group, and some previously unheard-of group linked to Al Quaeda have claimed it, thus far unsubstantiated.
#2, it’s not an attack on democracy – while the killing was indiscriminate, if it was Al Quaeda, or any other islamist extremist group (which we’ll assume for the sake of argument, though wait for clarification in the long run), the targeting and motivation weren’t indiscriminate at all. This was in direct response to the bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq. A situation where the people of Afghanistan and Iraq had no democratic say in what went on, and thousands upon thousands of innocent people were killed. More than were killed in London yesterday were killed in single attacks.
Falluja was flattened, large parts of Baghdad was flattened, 10 thousand years of history obliterated. From where they were sat, that didn’t look like democracy in action. I’m not defending the bombing of London – it’s hideous and evil. But I’m equally not defending the bombing of Iraq or Afghanistan. If yesterday was an attack on Freedom, it’s the assumed freedom to bomb nations into the stone age to get rid of their leaders (albeit, seriously fucked up leaders). That’s not democratic, especially when the nearest to a democratic body voting on the legality of the war said ‘no’.
It’s also about the ongoing Iraeli military action in the middle east. From house clearances to kids with sticks being shot with helicopter gunships. The support given to the Israeli armed forces from the British and American governments is perceived as an attack on Islam. Talk of ‘attacks on freedom and democracy’ sound pretty hollow if you fail to deal with the senseless killing happening on both sides in Palestine.
#3, there’s nothing to ‘beat’ – this isn’t a war, it’s a terrorist attack. The form is, they blow shit up, we tidy up and try to stop it happening again. Each time, everyone changes their tactics and carries on. They aren’t going to ‘beat’ us, no-one’s going to ‘win’ – they’ve made the point that they are unhappy with something, by murdering lots of people. That’s a pretty screwed up way of proving a point.
the US and the UK both have a pretty poor record in protecting democracy – we’ve done precious little about the regime in Burma, about the Chinese occupation and genocide in Tibet, and we prop up dictators around the world, particularly the Reagan-era interventions in Cental and South America, aimed at keeping back the communist onslaught, by funding and arming right wing militia groups to oust democratically elected left-wing governments. So much for freedom and democracy.
World politics is far more messy than talk about ‘them’ attacking ‘us’ and ‘our freedoms and democracy’. These were seriously fucked up people, but also seriously desperate people with a point to make. They made it in a hideous murderous way and I hope they are caught and locked up for a long time. But I don’t want to hear anymore jingoistic shite about Dunkirk spirit or attacks on liberty.
These things HAVE to inspire introspection. There’s a reason, whether the motives are screwed up or not. If you want to prevent it from happening again, you have to try and understand the motivation. Hitting a wasps’ nest with a stick won’t make it go away. There is no ‘war on terror’ any more than there’s a war on poverty or a war on bad stuff. Terrorism is a method not an ideology. It’s what happens when very desperate people are dispairing enough to see their cause as worth both killing and dying for. Ironically, it’s almost always through a lack of any possible democratic international discourse.
The tragedy of all this is that the way to stop terrorism is dialogue. It’s happened with the IRA, it needs to happen here. A war on terror just shows their supporters how ‘right’ they were in the first place, and that those who were previously sympathisers become militants. It’s like Jason and The Argonauts – you chop one in half, two jump up to fight. The invasion of iraq has turned it into a military play ground. Apparently, militant organisations are practicing terror attacks there. The rhetoric is still confusing. Insurgents, Militant Islamists, Jihadis, Terrorists, Freedom Fighters? Who knows. Someone somewhere needs to do more talking and less shooting. And it doesn’t look like they are in a position to start the talks. Who’s got the balls to look at ways of making sure it doesn’t happen again, rather than ‘getting even’?by