Thursday, August 10, 2006


By now everyone will know that British police have foiled a plot to bomb up to twenty airliners travelling between the UK and the US. It's good news, but there's also a couple of things worth commenting on. Firstly, as with the 7/7 bombings, the suspects are reported to be British Muslims. What are the odds that, when explaining what has gone on to its people, the British authorities will once again steadfastly try and sidestep the question of motivation, and try to pretend that their foreign policy has absolutely nothing to do with the increased number of attacks on Britain or by British citizens? This isn't trying to excuse anything - nothing justifies the murder of innocent civilians - but people act for reasons, and understanding those reasons is vital if we want to prevent further attacks and eventually solve this problem.

Secondly, how were these people caught? Not by bombing and invading another country, not by torture and secret prisons, not by control orders and the erosion of human rights at home, but by good old fashioned intelligence and police work. Which shows how unnecessary Blair's knee-jerk legislation has been. Despite this, I think it is a safe bet that we will see Tony Blair standing up in the next few days and arguing that this incident shows the need for a further erosion of human rights, for more control orders, detentions without trial, deportations and secret evidence before secret courts. Which, in a very real sense, will be handing the terrorists victory on a platter...


>Which, in a very real sense, will be handing the terrorists victory on a platter...

First you complain they dont talk about their motivations and then you blatantly misrepresent them.

The terrorists are not fighting to remove briton's freedom (at least not 'in itself').

It isn't a "victory" for them even if it is a "loss" for British citizens - unless the british citizens then use that loss of freedom as a reason to appease the terrorists.

Posted by Genius : 8/11/2006 05:51:00 AM

Cf. Martin Bell in the Guardian's Comment is Free:

"Alone among the countries of Europe, Britain pursues a foreign policy indistinguishable from that of the United States.

Alone among the countries of Europe, Britain has not pressed for an immediate ceasefire in the month-long Middle East conflict.

Alone among the countries of Europe, Britain has played a leading part in waging a war described by the United Nations as illegal.

Now our diplomacy is sidelined. Our voice is an echo. Our moral authority scarcely exists. Our people are the targets of terrorism and the threats of terrorism, wherever they are, and whether they travel by underground or in the air.

Our government has endangered us. It is time we connected the dots."

One of my comments:


"You are again simply providing a spurious justification for terror. There ARE no excuses for what they do. Stop giving them one. - how many times does it need to be pointed out that to explain something is NOT the same as justifying it nor excusing it."

How many times does it need to be pointed out that to explain something is NOT the same as justifying it nor excusing it. This stupid conflation was used time after time in the US after 9/11 and here by Blair and co to undermine any attempt to merely explain why some Muslims might wish to attack us, given our policies.

Historians attempt to explain why Hitler, Stalin, etc. adopted the policies they did - in doing so they are not justifying or excusing them.

As I pointed out above, to explain that Blair and co's foreign policies create enemies is not to say that we should only adopt policies which won't antagonize aanyone, but that if they are likely to do so, there should be overwhelming reasons for the policies. But Blair's policy on Iraq was a predictable disaster, was NOT necessary to protect us - no WMDs - and so not worth doing at all - and ALSO not worth the risk of provoking others (including UK citizens) to make attacks on us.

Posted by we'renotfooled : 8/11/2006 06:06:00 AM

Abortion clinic bombers have "root causes" too. I don't see many liberals agruing "people act for reasons, and understanding those reasons is vital if we want to prevent further attacks and eventually solve this problem."

We already know the reasons. Just like wea lready know the reason for this latest plot - they don't like liberal values or democracy. That is what they say.

Posted by Neil Morrison : 8/11/2006 08:37:00 AM

"Not by torture or secret prisons..." Are you certain of this? If you discovered that this information had been extracted by torture, would you remain opposed to it? Or would you prefer 1,000 people died rather than one person be tortured?

Posted by Anonymous : 8/11/2006 09:21:00 AM

neil - i think that "stop screwing over my people and get your troops out of my homeland" is quite different to "i dont want you to have control of your own body"

but your right, arguing that "people act for reasons, and understanding those reasons is vital if we want to prevent further attacks and eventually solve this problem." is still something we should do if we want to stop fundie nut jobs from killing abortion clinic staff and patients.

And i think youll find that this is EXACTLY what many "liberals" will say when faced with that topic.

One of the best ways to stop the anti abortion terrorists is to understand their mindset and motivations. The same logic applies to attempting to resolving any conflict.
The liberals usually arent the "hang em high" crowd.

But we arent talking about abortion are we. So put the straw man down.

And as for the "they hate us cause we're free" angle, well, that has probably been said here and there. But it is pretty well established that is not the real reason and to present it a such is a simplification of a much larger, complex issue.


Posted by Anonymous : 8/11/2006 09:24:00 AM

Could you tell us Fraser, when Pakistan was invaded??

Posted by Anonymous : 8/11/2006 09:49:00 AM

These terrorists are the portrait in the cupboard of our leaders who for sixty years have preached one thing whilst doing another and cried rivers of crocodile tears for the Palestinian people while arming Israel to the teeth. As it stands, we must live with terror because our lofty words about freedom and democracy are mocked by the West's long history of expedient support of totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and our hypocritical talk of being peace loving is crushed beneath the tracks of U.S. and Israeli tanks in countries they have invaded.

Unless we change our policies Israel will not celebrate 100 years of existance and our freedoms and liberties will be meekly surrendered to our own men of violence. A Middle Eastern nuclear holocaust that will leave tens of millions dead is almost inevitable on current policy direction. The West created Osama and his like and the West made the ground fertile for Islamic fundamentalism. They are merely the mirror image of our leaders rapacious greed and cynical, inhumane diplomacy. What we made we can unmake. If we want no more terror, we must demand Israel withdraws to the 1967 frontiers, that all Arab nations recognise its right to exist, that a viable Palestinian state be created on the West Bank and Gaza strip and Israel negotiates a lasting peace with the Palestinian people. Nothing less will remove this canker of hate from the world. We must insist our leaders truely have to courage of the universal principles of mankind that underpin our free and liberal democracies, and apply those principles in their dealing with Middle East. Only then will we recover our moral imperative and only then will enlightened and humane Islamists gain the credibility to challenge their men of violence in their own backyard.

Posted by Sanctuary : 8/11/2006 12:32:00 PM

anon - "Could you tell us Fraser, when Pakistan was invaded??"

and your point is?...

Posted by Anonymous : 8/11/2006 03:21:00 PM

whoops - that last anon is from me


Posted by Anonymous : 8/11/2006 03:22:00 PM

Genius: we are told again and again and again by our leaders that we should not, under any circumstances, give in to terrorists, and that there will be no policy changes in response to terrorism, because that would be handing the terrorists a victory. We are also told that the purpose of terrorism is to force us to change our way of life to cope, and that this will not be allowed to happen, because that too would be handing the terrorists a victory. I can only conclude that political leaders such as Tony Blair and George Bush do not see human rights as being fundamental to their respective countries' way of life...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/12/2006 01:09:00 AM

Neil: I'd suggest that the reason for the different treatment is that, in the case of anti-abortion terrorists, we don't see our governments blatantly lying to us and trying to deny that it is anything to do with abortion.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/12/2006 01:23:00 AM

Justin: yes, I would. Nothing justifies torture, and I regard the consequentialist argument for it as a reductio ad absurdum of that sort of moral system.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/12/2006 01:26:00 AM


I agree with Idiot here. You can't do an evil action in order to do good.

Torture is unjustifiable.

Posted by Muerk : 8/12/2006 12:58:00 PM

Justin; Torture is utterly unjustifiable. Torture to 'end terror', is inherently contradictory. You will not end terror with torture, nor will you with missiles. To torture renders you undistinguishable from the enemy within.

The pain and suffering of innocent civilians collaterally damaged by the heavy handed foreign policy of powerful nations in the last 5 years sickens me.

Any remaining moral high ground is completely lost with the use of torture. Respect for the rights of individuals must be paramount.

I am in 100% agreement in I/S.

peace and respect, james

Posted by james cairney : 8/12/2006 05:39:00 PM