The BBC's Have Your Say on the subject has been swamped by giyus subscribers but even so, reading through the comments is proper scary. Not as scary reading John Reid's response of course but we'll get back to that.
How many of those who've commented there bothered to read the letter, do you think? It looks like many didn't feel the need. Never mind, I'm sure they've got a perfectly satisfactory version of it in their head built out of nothing more than their own raw prejudices. Sigh.
That sort of thing is, of course, exactly what bin Laden is trying so hard to provoke. He wants us to be hostile to all Muslims. I'm going to write that again. Bin Laden wants us to be hostile to all Muslims. Tell your friends.
If you think bin Laden wants the Israelis to stop bombing Lebanon, you've got totally the wrong end of the stick. He sheds no tears for the Lebanese people. For the likes of him, this crisis has been a fantastic opportunity and he embraces it as such. On a similar note, bin Laden doesn't want us to withdraw from Iraq; he's got us right where he wants us blundering around down there. I'm going to write that again too. Bin Laden doesn't want us to withdraw from Iraq. When he says he does, he's bluffing. Tell your friends that too.
This is all about strategy. As I've said before, bin Laden is a callous long termist. He may genuinely believe that he's acting for the good of all Muslims in the long term, and I think he probably does, the moron, but he clearly doesn't give a toss about individual Muslim lives in the present day. He wants a create a clash of civilisations and he doesn't care how many Muslims have to die to bring it about. And he wants us to hate all Muslims because that'll divide "them" from "us" and provide an environment which is more conducive to the dissemination of his propaganda.
It is vital to understand this if we are actually serious about winning the "war" on terror. Terrorism, ultimately, is fought mostly inside people's heads, "ours" and "theirs". Bin Laden gets this; our leaders don't seem to.
As for the letter itself, note that it says this:
Attacking civilians is never justified. This message is a global one. We urge the Prime Minister to redouble his efforts to tackle terror and extremism and change our foreign policy to show the world that we value the lives of civilians wherever they live and whatever their religion.That is as unequivocal a statement as you're ever likely to get. Try asking Blair, Bush or Olmert to say "attacking civilians is never justified" and see far you get.
(They'll add "deliberately" every time if you're wondering. As in "deliberately attacking civilians is never justified" . That's because sometimes their armies will "have no choice" but to attack civilians and they need to be able to justify this by saying they didn't kill anyone "deliberately".
This letter is not about support for terrorism. It is a warning but it is not a threat. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the real message will be heard above the howls of indignation amd outrage.
John Reid illustrates the point with some proper hardcore scariness:
No government worth its salt would stay in power in my view, and no government worth its salt, would be supported by the British people if our foreign policy or any other aspect of policy was being dictated by terrorists.Yeah, John, I don't know if anyone told you but we're in the middle of this thing called the "war on terror. It's quite important apparently. In fact, it sort of dictates our whole foreign policy and has done for quite some time. I know you're at the Home Office these days but I'm surprised that no-one told you about it when you worked over at Defence. "War"on terror. Google it. I'm not making this up...
Tomorrow's headline should be
John Reid Says Terror Threat Best IgnoredI don't know about you but the fact that someone so idiotic could be in a position of power is the most frightening thing I've heard today.
As I'm not in full agreement with the authors of the letter, here's a final thought on the letter as a whole. I think they needed to separate this out into two distinct issues:
- Our foreign policy is ethically unsound and (more importantly for all you old school realists) isn't achieving the desired results
- Our foreign policy is creating new enemies
(I've sort of used bin Laden as a simplified personification of al Qaida strategists generally here. Not sure how important he is personally to al Qaida anymore. Like white dog shit, you just don't see him about these days.)
Tags: News, Politics, Terrorism