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INSIDE TRACK ON WORLD NEWS
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis
THE HORROR IN LONDONCopyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005
July 11, 2005
LONDON - After the worst bombings in London's recent history, a determined Prime Minister Tony Blair declared: `The purpose of terrorism is just that - it is to terrorize people and we will not be terrorized.'
Blair spoke for all Britons. In the crowds milling about central London right after the four bombings, I saw people who were dazed, confused, and edgy, but there was no fear or mass panic. Britons rise to their fullest measure in adversity. And so they did on 7/7, their smaller version of America's 9/11.
On the eve of the bombing, I had, along with thousands of other Londerners, ridden the two Underground Lines that were attacked. As I did so, I mused about the omnipresent danger posed by London's extremely deep, narrow and poorly ventilated subway tunnels. My fears were amply confirmed fourteen hours later at King's Cross station where trains became trapped far underground.
London's emergency service functioned brilliantly treating the at least 52 dead and 700 wounded. There was none of the chaos or flag-waving patriotism we saw after 9/11 in New York. Britons uniformly exhibited stiff upper lips, coolness, and the good manners for which they are deservedly respected. I was very proud of them.
The bombings paralyzed London during morning rush hour, but by afternoon the city's trademark red busses were again careening around corners and underground service partly resuming. There were no witch hunts or calls for revenge against London's Muslims, 10% of that great city's population.
A senior British police official made a point of declaring there is no reason why the words `Islamic' and `terrorist' should go together, even though Blair had just linked them.
The police official was right. The terrorists who struck London on 7/7 may have been Mideast, Pakistani or British Muslims, but their motivation was entirely political, not religious.
Britain's most outspoken, controversial and, many would say, courageous MP, George Galloway, ignored the outpouring of platitudes from British and G8 politicians over the bombings and identified the real reason: `Londerners paid the price for Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.'
A hitherto unknown group called European al-Qaida affirmed the transit attacks were indeed revenge for Britain's invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. You can't expect to invade other nations without getting some form of return fire.
Iraq and Afghanistan's regimes were too feeble to resist US-British invasion, and quickly crumbled. But angry Mideasterners and Afghans have launched their own privatized war to counter-attack the west for its invasions of their nations. Lacking any modern arms or military organization they resort to their only major weapon, bombs - the poor man's cruise missiles.
We are horrified that anyone would attack innocent civilians packed in subway cars. But the extremists and fanatics who do so say they are exacting revenge for the 500,000 Iraqi civilians who died, (confirmed by the UN), from the ten year US-British embargo of Iraq. For the criminal destruction in 1991 of Iraq's water and sewage treatment plants that cause massive cholera and typhoid. Or for the occupation of Iraq and destruction of the city of Falluja that killed tens of thousands more civilians, and, of course, for Palestine.
We saw the frightful TV footage from the London bombing but no footage at all of the destruction of an entire Afghan village just days before by the US Air Force.
I am not in any way justifying terror attacks, only putting them into context. I believe US and British military forces do not target civilians - though this has happened far too often - but in the end what they term `collateral damage' means many dead civilians.
When we kill them in droves, some of them will strike back. Calling on such avengers to fight fair is a waste of time. Claiming these extremists attacked because they hate our western way of life, as Bush and Blair have done, is dishonest. They attacked us because we have been attacking them.
As Tony Blair rightly said, murdering civilians on their way to work is `barbaric.' But so is dropping bombs on Afghan or Iraqi villages, using tanks to crush Palestinian demonstrators, or the slaughter of 100,000 Chechen civilians by our ally, Russia.
The London bombing was clearly designed to humiliate President George Bush, who had declared his co-called `war on terror' almost won.
If bin Laden was behind the attack, it showed America's nemesis was still alive and dangerous. But the relatively modest number of casualties suggested this might not have been a bin Laden operation but one carried out by a new, like-minded extremist group. The attacks came embarrassingly right after Tony Blair had assured Olympic officials Britain's security was solid.
The bombers may have come from among Europe's 20-million strong Muslim community, or were perhaps angry, radicalized British youths of Mideast or Pakistani origin.
We do know the head of British counter-intelligence, MI5, just reported to Prime Minister Blair, `Iraq is producing a new generation of militants,' replacing the former role of Afghanistan. CIA leaked a similar report last month. In other words, the US invasion of Iraq, which Bush now claims was designed to end terrorism, has back-fired badly and produces more extremists than ever.
Al-Qaida has gone from being a small, isolated organization into a hydra-headed transnational movement whose power and danger is growing.
So the bloody week of 7/7 should have made the G8 summit turn from pop star evangelism about saving Africa from itself to asking what the western powers can do about those hothouses now germinating anti-western violence, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan.
To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here
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