Fishy Tales

26 July 2005

The North Wind and the Sun

Very worrying: I'm actually in partial agreement with Tony Blair today.

Indeed, the war in Iraq - or more accurately, the continuing presence of British troops - cannot be used to justify the London bombings and the slaughter of innocents. No matter Bin Laden's slippery statements (2002) about the American people (and by extension anyone in a democratic country) being "the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies" - that's just trite over-simplification and obfuscation. How many of those murdered actually voted for the current government? How many marched in protest against government foreign policy? How many may have been actively pushing for change of policy, possibly even succeeding in some small way? Many were Muslims, of course. You can't justify that other than by saying God knows his own and will give them a good afterlife ; small comfort to their bereaved families.

The other justification used is that tens of thousands of innocent Muslims (including very many women and children) have died as a result of British/US foreign policy, with Iraq being a case in point. Suicide bombings etc merely return the compliment. Well, I certainly wouldn't argue with the fact that an obscene number of innocents died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed the original rant page that led to this blog was obsessed with the matter. But what is an appropriate response by those wronged, or rather one to be made on their behalf? Does it really make them feel better to see the same suffering inflicted on other innocents? I'd expect them to be more strongly in favour of preventing such atrocities ever happening again. Mothers are mothers, fathers are fathers, brothers are brothers and sisters sisters no matter where you are in the world, regardless of race, culture or creed. Would one mother who had lost her son want any other mother to lose hers, save perhaps another who had actually committed the murder, or at least had unarguable direct responsibility? Surely the love of family is a powerful force for good, something to be deeply revered even within what is seen as a corrupt and/or decadent society?

Perhaps it comes down to good old-fashioned vengeance, underwritten by God, as according to Bin Laden:
Allah, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the option to take revenge. Thus, if we are attacked, then we have the right to attack back. Whoever has destroyed our villages and towns, then we have the right to destroy their villages and towns.... And whoever has killed our civilians, then we have the right to kill theirs.
But this doesn't tally at all with, say, Osama Abdallah of Answering Christianity (who would certainly appear to be a seriously devout Muslim and dedicated student of the Quran):
Whether people speak evil of you, in your presence or behind your back, or they do evil to you in either of those ways, all is known to Allah Almighty. It is not for you to punish. Your best course is not to do evil in your turn, but to do what will best repel the evil. Two evils do not make a good.
Osama backs this up with copious quotes from the Quran. He does the same in speaking powerfully against the interpretation of Jihad so beloved of so-called Islamic terrorists. A highly recommended read.

The bombings can't even be justified as a means of preventing further atrocities against Muslims, for the simple reason that they will never change anything. Part of me is delighted to be able to say this, because it means that we will never allow our decisions to be dictated by terrorists. Part of me is deeply saddened, because I would personally like to see the UK out of Iraq as soon as possible, and now it won't happen for quite a while. If anything the bombings will have served to keep us there for longer. It's a bit of a North Wind and Sun thing - the more we're pushed, the more obdurate we will become, and the more we will draw together against a common enemy.

So wasn't Spain's response to the terrible Madrid Bombings appeasement, letting Al Qaeda get what it wanted? Certainly not. And it's very important that everyone realises that.

Because if any terrorist group is ever seen to be getting what it wants by murdering innocents then the killing will never ever stop.

And I couldn't disagree more with Justice not Vengeance:
British withdrawal from Iraq is a fundamental building block for creating a safe and vibrant Iraq, free from exploitation and violence. We should withdraw from Iraq because it is the right thing to do, and it so happens that this will also increase the security of the British people.
If only it were true.

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