Friday, July 08, 2005


I wasn't really planning to write anything about yesterday: it really does feel like ambulance-chasing. But I saw a comment that David Vance posted on ATW and felt that I should respond. David's comment indicates at a general right-wing story about the liberal position and also, I suspect, at the sorts of things we'll be hearing over the next few weeks. For David, the (presumably leftist) pigheaded person thinks that "terrorism will go away if you ignore it, or are nice to it's proponents." The 'human rights lobby' is purely concerned with protecting terrorists and ignoring their victims etc etc.

We should remember that there are good moral reasons in themselves for maintaining the rule of law, no matter what the situation. But there are also good instrumental reasons. The real point is to win against today's terrorists by whatever means are available and, perhaps more importantly, to win the propaganda battle so that today's terrorists fail to recruit their own disciples.

Which is not an appeal to withdraw from Iraq - we broke it so we buy it to my mind. I suspect that yesterday was only tantentially related to Bush and Blair's Iraqi adventure, or that Iraq was the merely explicit chrystallisation of a more ethereal motive - these peope seem more Dostoyevskian than like the IRA. Where are their aims? Unlike the IRA, these groups seem utterly apolitical to me. They have no purpose or plan. Anyway, although there are many reasons to think Iraq was a foolish move in the purported War on Terror, yesterday isn't one of them.

On the international front, as well as tackling cells wherever they're found, the point is to do precisely what these bastards don't want, which is to engage with the Middle East in a way that actually encourages reform. I'm not sure that the Iraqi adventure will do that, or be allowed to do that, but I might be wrong.

On the domestic front, since this seems to look more like Oklahoma than 9/11 (all it would have taken was 10 disaffected young guys, one with a chemistry degree), the other members of British society will have to continue engaging with their Muslim fellow-citizens. Maintain the rule of law. Come down hard on Kristallnacht rhetoric. Make sure that being Muslim is in no way seen as incompatible with being British.

None of which contradicts the idea that punitive measures should be taken against today's terrorists. Let's see them on trial and let's see them exposed as the fools that they are. And let's remember that this isn't about a war we are yet to win: it's about the extremists' responses to an argument we've ('we' including most British Muslims) already won. Seeking to really spread the fruits of economic and social democracy is not a concession: it's precisely what these people are afraid of.

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