West's Policies Must Change 

By Eric Margolis 

07/24/05 "Toronto Sun"
-- -- Having witnessed the first London transit bombings on July 7, last week's fizzled bombings, exactly two weeks later, brought both nasty deja vu and deep relief the attacks only disrupted transit and badly frayed nerves. 

Thursday's incidents intensified the fierce war of words that has raged in Britain for the past two weeks over who was to blame for the original attacks. 

Canadians should pay close attention because their latest dispatch of troops to Afghanistan, accompanied by much chest-thumping, makes them a potential target for attack. 

Britain's PM Tony Blair claims the young British-Pakistani men who staged the July 7 bombings were motivated by a rabid, misguided view of Islam, and incited by fanatic imams preaching a cult of hatred against the west. 

U.S. President George Bush and Australia's Prime Minister John Howard repeat a similar litany: Terrorism is caused by evil Muslims who hate the west because of its values, religion, freedoms and selfless efforts to bring the light of democracy and civilization to the benighted Islamic world. 

They insist attacks by Muslims have nothing whatsoever to do with the west's military actions in the Muslim world, its efforts to control or plunder oil, or the corrupt, despotic regimes installed there by the U.S., Britain and France. 

British investigators believe the 7/7 attackers may have had links to radical Islamic groups in Pakistan, which is increasingly portrayed as the fount of Islamic terrorism. Pakistan's madrassas (religious schools) again came under heavy criticism for churning out young fanatics. 

The usual suspects 

Embarrassed by Britain's angry charges, Pakistan's military ruler, President Parvez Musharraf, ordered his security services to round up the usual Islamic suspects. A "key al-Qaida terrorist" was suddenly arrested, Islamabad's standard response whenever Washington and London turn up the heat. 

Two weeks ago, from London, I wrote that the underground bombings were the despicable but inevitable retaliation by angry young Muslims for Britain's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Unsurprisingly, I received a good deal of flak. 

Still, an embarrassing leaked report from MI-5, Britain's security service, and a study by Chatham House, a leading UK non-partisan research group, confirmed links between the attacks, Afghanistan and Iraq. Polls show a majority of Brits agreed. 

London's popular mayor, Ken Livingstone, spoke for this silent majority, blaming "80 years of western intervention in Arab land because of our need for oil." 

The always controversial Livingstone went on to accuse the U.S. and Britain of a double standard over terrorism. 

Though Livingstone is way to the left of many Britons, his words, echoing those of rogue MP George Galloway, reflected what many Britons think, but Americans dare not say: U.S. political policies and wars in the Mideast were responsible for 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. 

By playing George Bush's Sancho Panza in the so-called war on terrorism -- seen by most Muslims as a western crusade against Islam -- Blair imported Mideast violence to Britain. 

Blaming Islam allows Bush and Blair to decouple their wars in the Muslim world from counter-attacks by small groups of terrorists practising private enterprise violence. 

Ironically, most British oppose Blair's foreign crusading. The British-Pakistani terrorists who bombed London's transit system only succeeded in creating support for Blair's aggressive policies. 

Naive claim 

Still, anyone who claims you can bomb, invade and occupy other people's nations and not get return fire is being either incredibly naive or untruthful. 

Murdering civilians in London, New York or Tel Aviv is a heinous crime. But to many people around the globe, so was the trumped-up invasion of Iraq that violated every norm of international law, the ongoing U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and the agony of Palestine. Deporting or jailing loudmouth radical Muslim clerics and closing madrassas won't stop the dangerous jihadist movement. Neither will blaming Islam or Pakistan. Terrorist violence is the effect, not the cause. 

The west must crack down on home-grown extremists, but it also needs to change its inflammatory, counter-productive policies in the Muslim world. 

2005 Toronto Sun

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