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A Viler Barbarism: An Isolated Regime by Tariq Ali

A Viler Barbarism: An Isolated Regime by Tariq Ali

19th July 2005


On 8 July I wrote that the London bombings were the result of Blair's participation in the Iraq war. The next day the entire media was united in refusing to accept there was any link. They loyally echoed the Government. Blair said there was no link and tried to prove it by arguing that 'President Putin opposed the war in Iraq but his country has been subjected to terrorism'. He must have thought that British citizens had never heard of Chechnya (Blair had supported Putin's offensive against the Chechens and applauded Russia).

But why did these attacks happen? That is the key question which the entire media and the entire political class in this country tried to ignore. They did so because the government and the main opposition party know perfectly well why it happened. They have a guilty conscience. To accept the link meant that the pro-war politicians and newspaper editors were, at the very least, partially responsible.

As I traveled in different parts of London and elsewhere in Britain, I was amazed by the number of people who told me, without hesitation, that we were paying the price for the war in Iraq. A few went further and argued that British politicians thought they could press buttons and make war in the Arab world and remain safe themselves. Now they had a reply.

On July 18, a Foreign Office think-tank, the Royal Institute of International Affairs published a special report which argued that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had resulted in an increase of terrorism and Blair had made the UK vulnerable. In other words (mine) it happened, without any doubt, because Tony Blair decided to lock himself in embrace with the US president, from which he could not be easily prised loose. Blair and his court denounced the report.

On July 19, a special opinion poll commissioned by The Guardian/ICM has made this view public. 66 percent of the British public believes there was a link with Iraq. The Guardian, embarrassed by its own findings did not report this on its own front page. The message is clear. Despite the weight of official propaganda people refuse to believe Blair. The British political and media elite is as isolated from the public as its French and Dutch counterparts. No doubt Blair's tame journalists will accuse the public of being scared and ignorant. The reality is otherwise.

Unless you give people a political explanation for what has happened, the only other explanation is an apocalyptic one, which the prime minister duly gave - barbarians versus civilisation. Blair says this, his parrot cabinet members have been repeating it, and even Bush has picked up a few phrases.

We have to be clear. If the killing of innocent civilians in London is barbaric, and it is, how does one define the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians? A viler barbarism.

In the dominant culture of the West there is a deep-seated belief that the lives of Western civilians are somehow worth more than those living in other parts of the world - especially those parts being bombed and occupied by the West. If these attitudes become entrenched, so will terrorism. Meanwhile in Britain even the most servile New Labour parliamentarians (a large majority) should understand that it's time for Blair to have a long holiday ­ - Berlusconi could be helpful in this regard ­ and then resign.

  • Tariq Ali is an editor of 'New Left Review', a novelist, playwright, filmmaker and his books include A Sultan in Palermo, Speaking of Empire and Resistance: Conversations with Tariq Ali, Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties, Landscapes of War: From Sarajevo to Chechnya, Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq, September 11 and the U.S. War: Beyond the Curtain of Smoke, Anti-Imperialism: A Guide for the Movement, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism, Masters of the Universe: Nato's Balkan Crusade, On the Abyss: Pakistan After the Coup, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, The Book of Saladin, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity and The Stone Woman. He lives in London.

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