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"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Blair Put Us in the Firing Line

The War on Iraq Made the Attack on London Inevitable

Amid all the punditry about whether there was an al-Qaida connection to Thursday's attacks on London commuters, it should not be forgotten that the bloody trail of blame leads straight to 10 Downing Street.

The prime minister's early return to Westminster was a fitting response to the carnage unleashed on the capital. It was the only hint of personal responsibility for our entanglement in a war that has made prime targets of innocent Britons.

The fury generated by Tony Blair's decision to coat-tail George Bush into what only the blind still call a justified war has put us all in the firing line. When Blair led us into the war on terror, he knew that a country with which Islamist networks had no immediate axe to grind would be drawn into their sphere of hate as a consequence.

That is why we have had tightened anti-terrorism laws, public scares and training exercises for emergency services. They were all premised on the inevitability of blowback for Blair's foreign exploits. In the calculation that staked our security against some ill-conceived national interest in occupying Iraq, our government has turned us all into expendable pawns, in the same way it did Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan.

Not that this outrage is likely to shock us into realising we have become involuntary martyrs for Blair in the service of his master's imperial cause. In the politics of fear, attacks like Thursday's rarely lead to awareness beyond the most immediate danger. Those further down the chain of causation usually escape censure in the resulting wave of revulsion.

So it came as little surprise to see Blair trotting out the same tired juxtaposition of our civilisation and their barbarism. Those responsible have no respect for human life, he said. At such times of high emotion we can perhaps forgive him for losing a sense of perspective. It might serve him well to remember our conduct in a conflict waged without rules and mercy. Abu Ghraib, Guant√°namo and the bombing of innocent Afghans in their homes might conjure up images of US brutality, but our policies and military action ever since the first Gulf war, including sanctions and the use of depleted uranium, have maimed and wiped out hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, whose only crime was to live under a tyrant of our making - not theirs.

Blair is in too deep for us to hope for extrication in the lifetime of this parliament. The anti-war protests have come to a halt in the cul-de-sac of Downing Street. Iraq is now a forgotten war in the national media. Besides, it has taken on a momentum of its own and too much blood has been spilled for any party to make a clean break. Perhaps the bombings are an attempt to remind us that, however we try to put it out of our minds, Bush and Blair's war goes on.

Nor can we be clear that the perpetrators are Bin Laden's lieutenants, despite the internet claims being attributed to groups linked with al-Qaida. In 1995 Paris was hit by metro station bombings, believed to be the work of Algerian Islamists punishing the French for their support of the Algiers government. No one declared responsibility for the attacks, and they were attributed to the GIA, one of Algeria's more radical anti-government groups. But subsequent evidence under oath from former members of the Algerian military, now widely acknowledged to have infiltrated the GIA, pointed the finger at the Algerian secret services.

Whoever carried out Thursday's abomination, the fallout is likely to have an impact on Britain's Muslims. Community organisations are receiving reports of verbal assaults and of Muslims afraid to venture out.

Many have asked the community to be on its guard in the knowledge that Islamophobic incidents are directly proportional to terrorist atrocities. We are all victims in this phoney war on terror, some of us more than others.


· Faisal Bodi is news editor at the Islam Channel

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