ONE OF the first points the anti-war movement made was that this country’s participation in the invasion of Iraq would make attacks on British targets more likely. The bomb attacks on British targets in Turkey tragically proved those arguments right. The response of Blair and his government is to carry on regardless, stoking the hatred higher.
Foreign secretary Jack Straw used the attacks in Turkey to lash out at the anti-war movement. The bombings have nothing to do with this year’s war on Iraq, claims Straw, as the attack on the World Trade Centre took place before the invasion. But the whole point is that we were told invading Iraq would ‘undermine the terrorists’. It has done the opposite.
It has further enraged people across the Middle East, who see daily what is an ongoing war of occupation. Every 500-pound bomb the US drops on an Iraqi village makes it more likely that someone will strike back with improvised car bombs against whatever Western target they can. Of course the reasons that drive people to such attacks are deeper than this year’s invasion.
Long before the attack on the World Trade Centre the US and Britain had led a war against Iraq, in 1991. They also imposed a decade of sanctions that killed over half a million Iraqi children.
The US and Britain have supported Israel as year after year it has meted out brutality to the Palestinains. The US has also propped up dictatorships across the Middle East, such as in Saudi Arabia.
And across the world the US has waged war, mounted coups and imposed brutal regimes to enforce its interests for decades. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ is intensifying all those grievances. Do Bush, Blair and Straw imagine they could inflict all this without provoking a response? Of course not. But they knew a terrorist reaction was more likely to hit ordinary people than them.
The British government is now considering new repressive powers here. That won’t stop attacks. Turkey is a highly repressive state. It has detention without trial and thousands of ‘terrorist’ suspects in prison. Still last week’s bombings happened.
Hundreds of men are held without trial or charge in the US’s Guantanamo Bay camp. Thousands more take up arms in response to the injustice. You’ve nothing to fear if you are innocent, say those who would bring the methods of a police state to Britain. Remember the Birmingham Six? The Guildford Four?
And the cry that a bit of repression is a price worth paying for security was the alibi of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. The police in Britain have already used ‘anti-terrorist laws’ against anti arms trade protesters.
The government is using fear of attacks to try to drum up support for Bush’s war, which makes those attacks more likely. Blair is prepared to make us pay what he last year called the ‘blood price’ to help the neo-conservatives in the US.
The only way to reduce the chances of more bombings is to withdraw from the disastrous war in Iraq and to stand with the victims of US policy across the globe. The sacrifice needed is not to surrender civil liberties. It is to depose Tony Blair.
Union leaders have been silent