Green Left Weekly: Stop All The Terror!
Stop All The Terror! Troops Out Of Iraq And Afghanistan
By Alison Dellit
Green Left Weekly
On July 7, some of the horrific consequences of the “war on terror” hit working-class Londoners. In a series of bomb blasts on the London tube and buses, more than 50 people were killed, and more than 700 injured, many losing limbs or suffering other debilitating injuries.
This was the third major terrorist attack targeting citizens whose governments compose the “coalition of the willing” since the invasion of Iraq: following the 2002 Bali bombing; and the 2004 bombing in Spain. As in those cases, the incessant media coverage of the suffering inflicted upon innocents — those who have never bombed or shot or starved a nation — has brought home to First World residents just how awful political violence against civilians is.
And at the same time, there are the attempts to use this to further the war on the Third World. We have already been treated to pronouncements by British PM Tony Blair, US President George Bush and Australian PM John Howard, that these terrorists are targeting “civilisation”, “our values” and that great standby, “our way of life”.
But this approach is deliberately misleading. Robert Fisk said it best in the Independent on July 8: “It’s no use Blair telling us, ‘They will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear’. They are not trying to destroy ‘what we hold dear’. They are trying to get public opinion to force Blair to withdraw from Iraq, out of his alliance with the United States, out of his adherence to Bush’s policies in the Middle East.”
A similar line is being pushed by Australian politicians, from Howard to ALP leader Kim Beazley, who are all scrambling to get their sad-looking mugs on television.
Amid all the rhetoric about the terrorists wanting to “make us more afraid” is an attempt to portray the attacks as some kind of clash of cultures. As if the culture of violence is not promoted by Bush, Blair and Howard. As if their wars on Iraq and Afghanistan do not kill working people, or maim and terrorise their children.
The terrorists are certainly brutal and murderous, and we at Green Left Weekly condemn their acts, as people have worldwide. But such “evil” does not come from nowhere. It certainly does not come from Islam, or from being Middle Eastern, and it does not come from poverty either, despite Blair’s claims.
It comes from the systematic and incredibly brutal violence that is currently being inflicted on the people of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Palestine and elsewhere.
This violence is not separate from the economic terrorism of the neoliberal policies that are rammed down the throats of poor governments, pushing unemployment up and destroying social services, while trade rules remain stacked against the Third World. The iron grip that the imperialists use to support their mega-corporations’ profits is maintained by the threat of real, military terror. It is enforced by the constant threat that those who do not play ball will end up like Saddam Hussein; and their people will end up like the Iraqis.
We do not get 24-hour newsfeeds from Iraq. The 100,000 people that the British-US-Australian invasion wiped from the face of the earth will not get their mugshots in any First World newspaper. There will be no star-studded fundraiser to help their families deal with the grief and loss. The Iraqi victims of the “war on terror” have become a statistic; the scale of individuals’ loss too terrible to grasp.
The Afghan victims of Bush’s war are even less visible to us. “Liberated” Afghanistan is run by warlords, has an economy dominated by opium production, and is policed by US troops that have been found, repeatedly, to use torture and brutality. It is not a good place to be female, or vulnerable. Becoming somewhat of an embarrassment to the US, Afghanistan has quietly vanished from our television screens and newspapers.
In the aftermath of the attacks in London, we can expect a new “security offensive”. Already, police in the US have been patrolling trains with machine guns (which are so much more useful against timer bombs than regular hand-guns). In Australia, there have been calls for tighter security on trains.
But there is no military solution to fighting al Qaeda-style terrorism, which relies on a relatively small group of people willing to risk everything to cause maximum damage. More terror laws, ID cards, armed police, and even cops on trains will do nothing more than enable the state to harass Arabs and Muslims further (persecuting young Arab-Australians seems to be the main raison d’etre of the NSW transit cops, at least).
There is only a political solution to ending the violence, and that is to actually end the violence. End the occupation of Iraq. End the occupation of Afghanistan. Stop support for Israel’s Apartheid-style regime that is slaughtering Palestinians. How can Bush and Blair condemn terrorism when they use terror to kill democracy? When they use terror to destroy left-wing movements that might mobilise effective dissent, and thus reduce support for the right-wing fanatics? When they occupy a country and drive its youth into a guerrilla war?
Of course, most Londoners know this. That is why they have protested in their hundreds of thousands against the war on Iraq. That is why Blair may go down in history as the most widely loathed British prime minister (and in a country that produced Margaret Thatcher, that’s quite a feat).
The London bombers did not target war criminals. Quite the opposite — Edgeware Road is, in fact, in one of the most highly Arab-populated areas of London. Aldgate Station borders on Bethnal Green & Bow, whose constituents just months ago threw out the pro-war Labour Party to elect the anti-war Respect candidate George Galloway. It is a couple of blocks from London’s largest mosque.
Those who were killed in London have become the latest victims of the “war on terror”. There has been enough killing: it is time we renewed our efforts to stop it, by fighting our government’s war agenda, and by supporting those offering legitimate, constructive resistance in the Third World. This includes the Iraqi resistance — whose soldiers are fighting to free their country — who must not be tarred with the same brush as the right-wing murderous, and ultimately counterproductive, terrorists. We must focus on where the violence is really coming from.
There has never been a better time to stop a war.
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