Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Blair Effect

Almost one year on from the worst terrorist attacks the UK has ever suffered - the first ever suicide bomb attacks on British soil - the government is disgracefully still refusing to allow a full independent inquiry. It is extraordinary.

You really should be supporting Rachel's tireless campaign to pressure the government into doing the right and decent thing for once in their self-serving miserable lives.

This week, Sadiq Khan, a normally loyal Labour MP and also a Muslim (to be fair, not an unthinking Blairite drone. He voted "quite strongly for" Blair's anti-terror laws but "very strongly against" the invasion of Iraq) has been speaking out about the failures and lack of progress of government policies to engage with the Muslim communities in order to address terrorism:
What has happened to all the good ideas? Why hasn't an action plan been drawn up with timelines? There has been limited progress but there is an air of despondency. Only three recommendations have been implemented, and group members feel let down. I worry that the government might become the Duke of York - marching all these talented British Muslims up the hill of consultation and dialogue, only to march them down again as very little appears to have changed.
Government lackeys have attempted to play down these criticisms.

At the same time, Peter Clarke, the head of the Metropolitan police's anti-terrorist branch, has warned that the level of threat for terrorism is at unprecedented levels. Only idiots or expert practitioners of Orwellian doublethink could believe that the government's strategy is working and simultaneously believe that the terrorist threat has risen to unpredented levels. I leave it to you to judge which of the two describes our government who are indeed perfectly happy to subscribe to these two contradictory views.

Blair has also been speaking about terrorism today. The key is this:
We can only defeat it if we have people in the community who are going to stand up and not merely say 'you are wrong to kill people through terrorism... you're wrong in your view of the West, the whole sense of grievance, the ideology is wrong, is profoundly wrong'."
[my emphasis]
This is possibly the least helpful thing I've ever heard our moronic Prime Minister say, and that's really going some.

The problem, clearly, is based on the fact that legitimate greivances *do* exist, certainly as percieved by many Muslims. (Just to be absolutely clear, this does not in any way excuse the murderous behaviour of terrorist extremists.)

Extremists play on these grievances; they exaggerate and manipulate them for their own ends while often genuinely believing that they are acting for the greater good - a bit like Blair exaggerating and manipulating the threat from Saddam for reasons he thought to be worthwhile. What's more, extremists argue that the "West" doesn't care about these grievances and will never address them. This, given the way key western government's tend to behave, is a powerful argument.

For Blair to then simply dismiss these greivances as wrong, indeed as non-existent, is astonishingly stupid. At the most fundamental level, he just does not understand the problem he is supposed to be addressing. Extremist propagandists will be overjoyed with what he has said today. "Blair doesn't care about the injustices suffered by Muslims around the world", they'll say. "He doesn't even accept that we have any. How can you reason with such a person?"

And potential recruits to the violent Jihad, by far the most important element of the "war" on terror, will be further alienated from the mainstream and more open to succumbing to extremist propaganda as a result of Blair's total dismissal of their concerns. How could they possibly believe that their grievances can be addressed through the democratic process when the democratically elected leader of their country refuses to acknowledge that these grievances even exist?

Many moderate Muslims too, I suspect, will be angry with Blair's statement. I know I am.

Blair's inability to understand the fundamentals of the causes of terrorism is, ultimately, one of the key reasons why what Peter Clarke said yesterday is true. We do indeed face an unprecedented threat of terrorist activity (although perspective should always be borne in mind - you're still far, far more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, for example, than by a terrorist).

To say that Blair alone has caused this is to oversimplify the matter. To say that his policies and attitude have been a significant contributary factor however, is surely indisputable.

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9 comments:

Philip said...

Only idiots or expert practitioners of Orwellian doublethink could believe that the government's strategy is working and simultaneously believe that the terrorist threat has risen to unpredented levels.

Ah, but but but the more we ratchet up our precautionary detentionisations, the more the Islamist fiends plot against us. It's the eternal paradox of national security turning full circle once again, which is why we must bring back drawing and quartering at the first opportunity.

Simon said...

Minor correction: Sadiq Khan couldn't have voted against the Iraq invasion, because he only became an MP last year. I do believe he was personally opposed to it, however. His only rebellion to date has been against the 90 days' detention bill, which was enough to have him excommunicated from the Blairistas. Despite his loyalism otherwise, though, he is a very smart and independent-minded backbencher, possibly one to watch for promotion when Blair leaves.

Rachel said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thought I'd share some thoughts with you that I put on Shuggy's blog, which in the context of your blinkered views on Blair et al and his Government's anti-terror strategy however misdirected seem quite apposite (though I guess you won't agree).

When I learned that the bombers were from my neck of the woods, I decided that they were disaffected youths who had latched on to the fundamentalist Islamist thing as a desperate, albeit horribly mistaken mode of expression. You only have to walk around the poorer, mostly Muslim neighbourhoods of Leeds and Bradford to see the viability of that analysis. They were scumbags nonetheless, but I thought their despicable deed looked more like a copycat emulation of established terror than that of a valid Al Qaeda cell (like the failed nutters who followed them a fortnight later.....where are they now?). But I've changed my mind. The two videos we've seen since the attack and the spacing between them indicates to me that Al Qaeda was much more involved and that the bombers' distance from heavily watched London made them ideal fodder for covert recruitment and radicalisation. It's made me realise that Al Qaeda operatives or sympathisers are at work in many of our provincial towns and cities. Moreover, it seems highly unlikely that the Muslim Council of Britain isn't at least aware of this but chooses not to publicly acknowledge it. Indeed, the failure of virtually all Muslim organisations to condemn the bombings without a caveat or other 'however' is one of the biggest disappointments for me and I daresay for the communities they supposedly 'serve'. I also note with some dismay, the statement put out by the MCB yesterday calling on Christians and Muslims to strengthen existing links and find ways to create a society where all people can live together in justice and mutual respect. Excuse me if I'm mistaken, but I've always assumed that that was essentially what we had in Britain, mainly thanks to the waning of establishment Christianity over the past forty years or so. It looks to me from that statement that the MCB will find it harder to reach a rapprochement with non-Muslims than we will with them.

CuriousHamster said...

Anon, you've only got half the story on the statement yesterday. It was released jointly by the MCB and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

This Christian group has quite a large membership. The C.of E. and C. of S. the RC churches of Scotland, and England and Wales, to name but a few.

The statement was a joint call by Muslim and Christian groups to work together to promote justice and mutual respect. It startles me that it has somehow morphed in your mind to be about Muslims imposing themselves on our soceity somehow.

PS, I'm guessing the "I guess you won't agree" means you just want to discuss my "blinkered views". Although I don't think it's particulary useful to simply disagree, you're welcome to express your opinion. But how about leaving out random disparaging comments about something you don't wish to discuss? Politeness costs nothing and all that.

mintymiller said...

"The statement was a joint call by Muslim and Christian groups to work together to promote justice and mutual respect. It startles me that it has somehow morphed in your mind to be about Muslims imposing themselves on our soceity somehow."

Either you've misunderstood my comment or I was unclear with its content. I am well aware that the MCB's statement was a joint one, but there's nothing in it that alters my view that the MCB expects less of Muslims in this respect than non- Muslims. For equal partnership in society, Muslims should have no greater tolerance of rogue elements in their midst than any other religious group.

"But how about leaving out random disparaging comments about something you don't wish to discuss? Politeness costs nothing and all that."

Oh for goodness sake man; no offence was intended; I apologise if I caused you any.

CuriousHamster said...

mintymiller, I do like to remind people that there's a human being behind these words. I wouldn't say something like that to you in real life and try to foster a friendly atmosphere here. No offence taken though.

I guess I don't understand what you mean about the statement. It calls for no special treatment, makes no reference to "extenuating circumstances", and contains no "buts" that I can see.

We continue to resist all attempts to associate our communities with the hate filled acts of any minority who claim falsely to represent us. We look to all community leaders to give an example showing wisdom and a sense of justice.

One year on from the explosions we call on Christians and Muslims to strengthen existing links and to find ways to cooperate to create a society where all people can live together with justice and mutual respect.’


I just don't see what the problem is.

mintymiller said...

Here's the problem as I see it. It's not the statement itself that I take issue with, it's the whole tenet of the MCB and their affiliate organisations. The best exposure of their mendacity to date was John Ware's Panorama programme broadcast in August of last year (see BBC web site for a transcript). One of the biggest eye openers was Iqbal Sacranie refusing to disown Ahl-e-Hadith. This group has little praiseworthy to say about any religious creed other than Islam. Moreover, it and the MCB continues to be a safe haven for extremist crackpots who regularly spout racist nonsense in general and anti-Semitic diatribes in particular. Admittedly, most of what they say is based on a twisted interpretation of the Quran, but that doesn't seem to worry the MCB unduly.

So the MCB's statement, to me, has a hollow ring to it. It smacks of the hypocrisy that's typical of this and other Muslim groups that say one thing to the media and quite another to their own constituency. I include the Christian groups you referred to among the 'media' because to be perfectly honest, I don't think you lot are treated any differently in this respect. If you really think that you are, and I guess from your blog that you think they're being straight with you, then you too are in denial!

I'll finish off by saying that I'm an atheist by conviction but that people should be free to practise whatever religion they like, provided they pose no threat to alternatively minded people (like me). At least the Judeo-Christian flavours have got over the impasse of the 19th century, embraced modern times and have adherents who are (on the whole) no threat to me or anyone else. Sadly, the Islamic world has some serious catching up to do in this regard!

CuriousHamster said...

Yikes, I hope you don't think I'm a Christian.

I'm an atheist by conviction but... people should be free to practise whatever religion they like, provided they pose no threat to alternatively minded people (like me).

I second that exactly. I'm an atheist too and fundamentally opposed to any sort of totalitarian religious belief system.

I understand what you're saying now. To paraphrase, you complain that Muslim groups don't condemn extremism and when they do, you don't believe that they are sincere. Hard to see how that can be got round really.

For my part, I'm not denying that there are extremists in the Muslim Communities. I would say though that the perception that most Muslims seek to impose their religious beliefs on unbelievers is unfounded. This is an interesting article on that subject. This, I think, is particulary useful to know:
[T]he Qur'an states that it is God's will for peoples on this earth to remain different (11:118), including that they will follow different religions and God tells the Prophet Muhammad that most people will not believe, "even if you are eager that they should." (12:103)

Again, that's not to deny that there are no Islamic fundamentalist who want a worldwide Ummah. There clearly are. But to believe that these extremists represent the totality of Islamic opinion is to succumb to their propaganda. They're full of it. Much of the Western media doesn't seem to get that.