Barbaric. There is hardly any other term that is capable of depicting the
murder of over 50 people and the wounding of hundreds more during London's
rush hour on July 7. Unexpected, however is the least relevant term.
But why would "mass murder" an expression used fittingly by London's highly
regarded Mayor Ken Livingstone following the attacks become an "inevitable"
event, is another dreadful component in this disastrous episode.
It was Livingstone who warned in September 2002: "An assault on Iraq will
inflame world opinion and jeopardize security and peace everywhere. London,
as one of the major world cities, has a great deal to lose from war and a
lot to gain from peace, international cooperation and global security."
The mayor's words were poignant and ring true today more than ever before.
However, they were of little consequence for British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, so adamant in his quest for war, so incessant in maintaining his
country's dangerous alliance with Washington's self-serving and now
debauched "war on terror."
Although Britain can only claim a small portion of the subsequent carnage in
Afghanistan and Iraq, Blair was and remains an unyielding partner in both
wars. He has, so pompously, overlooked untold atrocities against innocent
civilians in both countries while maintaining an active role in ridding
the-world-of-evil-farce, which continues to plague the world and
increasingly, albeit misguidedly define the correlation between the West and
the Muslim world.
It is quite a paradox that Blair was the first to infuse the term "barbaric"
following the London carnage; a paradox because the barbarism in London had
an undeniable kinship with the years of barbarism in Iraq, which continues
to unfold in full force.
In May 2003, following protests from human rights groups regarding the
British army's use of cluster bombs in and around the Iraqi city of Basra,
British officials had nothing but unabashed rationalization as a response.
Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram justified the use of cluster bombs, in an
interview with BBC radio, on military grounds, arguing: "Cluster bombs are
not illegal. They are effective weapons. They are used in specific
circumstances where there is a threat to our troops."
Those "specific circumstances", according to British media, compelled the
dropping of 2,000 Israeli-made cluster bombs on Basra and its surroundings
in April 2003 alone. Richard Lloyd, Director of Landmine Action, asserted
that he had seen maps - provided to the UN by the US military - showing
cities that were almost completely masked by a heap of symbols indicating
where cluster bombs had been used. "These weapons were used in and around
virtually every built-up area where there was major fighting," Lloyd said.
Hundreds of these bombs are still there, not yet detonated and just waiting
to go off among hoards of scavenging children, a dreadful and recurring
episode in both Afghanistan and Iraq; utterly barbaric indeed.
It's a catastrophe that innocent Londoners, who have fought so earnestly for
the cause of justice from the very beginning, objecting so earnestly to the
war, mass protesting and taking on their government like in no other capital
in Europe, had to pay the profound price for Blair's reprehensible lies and
forgeries - his groundless case for WMD and his unsubstantiated claims that
regime change in Iraq means security for his country. But whoever said that
barbarism subscribes to any rules of conduct?
Terrorism is not random; it's a callous mirroring to an equally callous
legacy of terror and violence, this time ensued in part by relentlessly
arrogant and self-congratulating statesmen like Tony Blair.
Commenting on the slaughter in London, Blair's response failed to abandon
the highly predictable and self-observed rhetoric. "My opinion is that those
people who kill the innocent and cause such bloodshed are solely
But isn't the above so twisted an underlying principle? It's another cruel
irony that following years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq with a human toll
that has been put past the one hundred thousand mark and a price tag of
hundreds of billions of dollars, to pin the sole responsibility' on a few
terrorists, who despite their reprehensible acts pale in comparison to the
mega crimes of Bush and Blair against humanity.
Is it possible that we have not learned a single thing since the massacres
of September 11, Jenin, Kandahar and Fallujah? Such erroneous logic will
persist with pundits like Gerard Baker of The Times blaming "14th century
(Islamic) fanaticism" for the London bombings, while strongly rebuffing any
linkage between group and state terrorism.
When will the Bush and Blair crowd wake up and smell the decomposed Iraqi
bodies and forever quit utilizing the ever handy "we will not change our way
of life" comeback to terrorism, based on the fallacious conclusion that
terrorists are blowing people up because they hate freedom?
The reality that Blair conveniently wishes to neglect is as plain as it is
tragic. Terrorism and militancy is thriving all around, with Iraq as a base
and a cause. The Anglo-American war has wrought nothing but murder and
mayhem, which crossed the borders of many countries and cities with London
as its latest target. The intelligence failure that has led to war in Iraq
is repeated with another disastrous failure that couldn't intercept a major
bombing scheme that disabled a major city like London. This is yet another
attestation of which neither sheer military strength nor superior
intelligence holds the answer.
The answer lies in an immediate halt of all military aggressions perpetrated
in the name of civilization and democratization by the super powers against
vulnerable and defenseless countries. This void can only be filled by
sensible diplomacy, cultural integration and dialogue to achieve what
cluster bombs have utterly failed to deliver. Otherwise the "inevitable"
attacks on London will go on with the same certainty as the promise of each
Ramzy Baroud, a veteran Arab American journalist, teaches Mass
Communication at Curtin University of Technology. He is the author of the
forthcoming book, Writings on the Second Palestinian Uprising (Pluto Press,