Monday, July 18, 2005
Compost & carrion. posted by Richard SeymourVia Third Avenue I discovered this clueless effort from Normblog . Norm isn't too happy with those who think the war on Iraq was a contributing cause of the bombings in London. So? Well, he combines this affront to common sense with a rather feeble analogy:
Just as if you were to hear from a distraught friend that her husband (or lover, mother, son) had just been murdered while walking in a 'bad' neighbourhood, and were to respond by saying how upset you were to hear it (or maybe even to give that part a miss) but that it was extremely foolish of the deceased to have been walking there on his or her own.
Honey, please! It's got nothing to do with that. I live in London, you bloody great compost heap, and many of the people I speak to who live here share my sense that the government bears part of the responsibility for this. Do you think we're all sitting here, kicking ourselves for having the foolishness to walk and live here? Maybe I'm silently gloating over my own foolishness and wishing I'd taken that tube from Edgware Road as I'd intended, so that I'd get my just deserts. What silliness on Norm's part. Try another analogy. Wait, Shuggy does (in Third Avenue's comments box):
Other analogies make the same point but here's one I was thinking of: if your house was burgled because you left the window open, people would say, "What do you expect?" but as you say, it's not a zero-sum game and people would still think the house-breaker was wrong. But if you left the window open and the burglar stole all your property and then shat on the carpet, killed your dog and put it's severed head in your bed, people would be so horrified that they would forget the leaving the window open bit. Methinks the bombings are like this. Those of us who maintain Iraq isn't the cause don't think the bombers couldn't have used this as their motivation; it's just that nothing in this world can possibly justify this - so ultimately, the "causes" lie internal to the perpetrator.
Wrong again. It's got nothing to do with justification. The bombings in London had no justification - no one, neither the Socialist Worker, nor The Guardian, nor George Galloway, nor Chatham House has said otherwise. The fact that these people are incapable of understanding the distinction between the government acting in ways that put citizens at risk, and groups of radical Islamists turning that risk into reality, is alarming to say the least.
It is not, as Norm suggests, that we are 'apologists' who simply wish to dissolve or attenuate the responsibility for the atrocities that accrues to those who planned and carried out the bombings. It is simply that we don't care to reduce it to that, ignoring the role that our criminal, barbaric war in Iraq had in this. If in some fantasy world, this war had been just, then arguably we should accept that there would be an increased risk. Isn't this exactly what the apologists for war are saying to us? Our government is responsible to us, and responsible for securing our safety. If it is known that undertaking a particular action is likely to increase the risk of us being blown to bits, then we perhaps deserve to have a say in whether we think it just or wise. And if we don't have a say in that, and the risks materialise, don't expect us to pretend we aren't angry about it - with the bombers, but also with a government that seems impervious to registering our needs.
And let's get this 'chronology' business straight as well while we're at it. Yes, a nightclub in Bali was blown up before the war in Iraq. 9/11 happened before the war on Iraq. But why stop there? Did not the European and particularly the British destruction and usurpation of the Muslim world under the rubric of Empire precede the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood by Hassan al-Banna? Wasn't Mossadegh overthrown and replaced with the Shah before Islamism in Iran was even a twinkle in the Ayatollah's eye? Ideas don't just develop from thin air, and saying so doesn't absolve anyone who has reprehensible ideas of responsibility for them or for implementing them.