Comment on the recent tragedy in London

Yesterday’s disgusting attack on London will naturally be seized upon by politicians of all hues to advance their various agendas. Opponents of the war in Iraq have lost no time in blaming Tony Blair and British engagement for the bombs that hit London and killed dozens and injured many hundreds. They have a point. As the Butler report revealed, the Government was explicitly warned before the Iraq war that our involvement would exacerbate the risk of terrorism in this country. But that does not for one moment mean that if Britain had not been involved in Iraq, then London would have been safe. It bears repeating that more British people died in the attacks on the World Trade Centre than in yesterday’s brutal outrages, and it must never be forgotten that 9/11 preceded the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, as did the series of vicious Islamicist bombings in Paris in the 1990s.

Which is to say that we in London, Paris, New York and the rest of the civilised West face a terrorist threat which cannot be said wholly to have been provoked by Iraq. These are people whose hatred of what they see as Western values is seemingly ineradicable. It is impossible to negotiate with them. Their grievance is not just with the war in Iraq or with the treatment of Palestinians by Israel but with the whole system of Western values that they find troubling and disturbing, not least the emancipation of women.

We must tackle the terrorist threat with calm resolution and without recourse to wild or hysterical measures. Yet the Government will now seize on this event with no less vigour than their opponents to campaign for a series of repressive and illiberal measures of doubtful utility in the so-called war on terror. Prime among these is the compulsory ID card. It must be stressed that whatever the merits or demerits of an ID card system, it would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the horrors of yesterday. As with the 19 suicide killers of 9/11 the problem was of intention and not identity.

In the coming days and weeks the public will urged to accept such restrictions on their liberty as ID cards as a price we must all pay for liberty itself. We believe that argument to be absurd and fallacious, and hope that defenders of liberty will recognise that it is exactly this kind of panic-stricken measure that will most gratify the killers.

98 thoughts on “Comment on the recent tragedy in London”

  1. The only good thing to have come out of what has happened here is that we have been reminded that these terrorists want to destroy our way of life, our freedoms and our rights.

    That means that every time the government wants to crack down on civil liberties, we can – at least – answer back that to do so is to let the terrorists win.

    To sum up, a Britain that stays free and without limitations is the ultimate victory over Al Qaeida. We should strive to preserve it.

  2. Here Here, mr Johnson, sir!

    Charles Clarke has already hinted that yesterdays outrages may bring about more civil restrictions…and civil restrictions will, inevitably, cause more terrorism as people rebel against the limits upon their freedoms. Although he DID admit that ID cards would have done nothing to prevent the bombings!

    I’d also like to take this opportunity to express my sympathy for yesterdays victims, their families, and their friends.

    (When will people wake up to the fact that killing others is wrong?)

    🙁

  3. Bravo Boris! Would that there were more politicians who could see through the specious arguments for compulsory ID cards/the NIR, and all the more so in times like these. I’m a Briton and a free man and I intend to stay that way.

  4. Thia attack has been on the back burner of the Jihad driven terrorists’ stove since previous American-led incursions into countries where Fundamentalist Islam is the norm. Even predating Desert Storm, there was Carter’s unsuccessful attempt to rescue his fellow Americans in Teheran, during Khomeini’s reformation years. There was the only partly successful attempt to solve the permanently unsolvable in Afghanistan,( where others , over many years had also failed) each of these totting up revenge points for future( now the present)use against ” The Devil Incarnate , and his acolytes; the US and its allies. It is clear that the terrorist tactics of ‘ kill one , terrorise thousands’ is one with which they are satisfied: FOR THE TIME BEING.Our intelligence services must have lists of suspected fellow travellers, and there are enough practising hatemongers generally known , for at least the beginnings of an investigation to be facilitated. Identity cards are , and probably will remain, useless. They would not have been of any use in identifying against those already here: sleepers since years, who are now being called into wakefulness. We must not panic ,the famous phlegmatic spirit of the British will, I believe, assert itself , as has widely come to be accepted as our norm.

  5. The folks at No2ID are asking people to pledge to refuse to carry ID cards and to donate a tenner to a legal defence fund — but only if 10000 others also do this (so you don’t end up looking a chump doing this by yourself, or wasting money on a fund that never raises enough to be viable).

    Currently over 9300 people have pledged, so only another 700 are needed:

    http://www.pledgebank.com/refuse

  6. If these ‘whole system of Western values’ are those of destroying a country, dropping napalm on Iraqi people, and photographing the torture of civilians is it any wonder why ‘they’ hate us?

    Why can’t we simply ask ‘why’? Instead of hiding behind facile phrases as hating ‘freedom’ or ‘our way of life’?
    The answers may be too painful for these two hypocrites Bush and Blair.

  7. Absolutely agree, Boris. It makes you wonder, though, seeing as there was just as much chance of killing a Muslim or anyone from that part of the world as there was of killing westerners in general, if it really is that these people have so much against our ways of life, our ideas and their influence in world, or are they just using their ‘ideology’, their ‘religious beliefs’ as an excuse just to kill people because they are evil. If that makes any sense. On another tack, it is inevitable that Labour and their band of followers will get all hysterical over this and attempt even further to tighten control in general over what should be a free country, and they claim they are not after running a nanny state.

  8. The real trick here is to oppose and deal with the terrorists without alienating bona fide members of the Islamic and other communities.

    During the IRA bombing campaign in London in the 90s, I was advised not to be apologetic, just because those who commited the atrocities claimed to do so in my name.

    Not as easy as it sounds, but good advice in the long run, nevertheless.

  9. I believe that the majority of people; everywhere; know that the average person, merely by identified as being from a particular community, because of difference in accent ; dress or behaviour, is not necessarily an enemy or a terrorist. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is , despite hundreds of generations of so called civilsation, there are still some Neanderthals prepared to place everyone different in one pot. It is therefore probably prudent not to draw attention to those differences if one belongs to a minority.

  10. Londoners have already said that these horrific attacks will not lead them to change their way of life – why should this, therefore, be used by the Labour Government as a carrier device to haul through their way to change our lives?
    I do not like the idea of compulsory ID cards, especially as I am the kind of person who could quite easily forget about it, leave it at home, and therefore leave myself at risk for being treated like a criminal when I am, to all intents and purposes, a law-abiding citizen.
    This is the kind of plan that makes me consider leaving this country (which I do love) and move to Germany, where I can live freely, without any kind of fuss.

  11. I have been giving some thought to the ID card issue…
    Let us imagine that a policeman comes up to someone and asks to see their card. He is does not have one because he is an illegal immigrant. So what choice does the person have?
    Hit the copper on the head or run away! He wont stand there stupidly and say,
    “I don’t have one, please deport me”.
    So I think we will expect a lot more violence towards the ID card enforcers…..

  12. As long as your party remains resolute in the opposition of I.D. cards and other such infringements of liberty we have nothing to fear from this government. I suspect that many people will fear the government’s plans more than the terrorists. No doubt they will use the attack to justify their plans, but does this not simply do the work of the terrorists for them? They wish to change our way of life, and I.D. cards would certainly do that. It seems wholy wrong that we should have to fight our own government as well as terrorists.

  13. The places where two of the bombs went off are well known to me. One was next to where I used to live, one was where I both studied and worked at different times. What can one say? We live in an awful world where killing leads to more killing. We hoped that the end of the cold war would lead to a gentler, more rational world, but instead we are involved in a conflict that is primitive and irrational, where the action is dictated by the great destroyer, religion.

    Instead of an intellectual argument between left and right and east and west, we now follow a trail of blood leading from Auschwitz to Palestine and from there to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, on to New York, then to Iraq for an extraordinary amount of killing including war crimes by the Americans in Fallujah, to Madrid and now to London. Where will it stop? Man’s capacity for killing increases all the time. The carnage in London could have been much worse. Perhaps next time it will be.

    The best thing we can probably do is not to add to the evil. We must remain an open, tolerant and humane society. As such, we should act in accordance with our basic values when we oppose those who hate us and want to destroy us. Terrorists must be put on trial and not locked away in places like Guantanamo Bay and they must not be tortured. Inhumanity just leads to more inhumanity. And we should leave Iraq – not because we have lost our nerve – but because we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    As this is a Conservative blog, I’d like to quote what a Conservative politician said in the Commons on 26 February 2003:

    “. . . . Any war will be won easily. I am glad that if we go to war, it will not take long. However, we should consider alternatives because of the consequences of war. How many terrorists will we recruit in the greater, long-standing battle against international terrorism? It will be far harder to win. . . . The next time a large bomb explodes in a western city, or an Arab or Muslim regime topples and is replaced by extremists, the Government must consider the extent to which the policy contributed to it. That is why hon. Members should pause and why, unless evidence is produced for a breach and a material threat, my judgement today is that we should not go to war.” (Kenneth Clarke)

  14. Hear, hear, hear … Boris

    Give me liberty or give me death. As Edward R. Murrow noted: ‘A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.’

    Al Qaeda and their affiliated groups have declared war on our civilization, and we

  15. I think the worst photo I’ve seen so far is the one that is oblique rather than inyourface – the blood spattered on the neoclassical walls on the British Medical Association in Tavitock Square.

    When I walked down Euston Road to work yesterday the entire area down to Russell Sq was cordoned and screened off. Police were waiting to do the forensic search. One of them said to me – going against the official Plucky London line – the bombs had locked London down on 7/7. However, at leat people wereeven more determined to get to work on 8/7.

    I still don’t feel comfortable posting anything about Blair but, briefly, I think he will have to go after this. It’s not a matter of blood on his hands but simply very poor judgement(politically, legally, morally). He was warned beforehand about the likely conequences of his Big Adventure by the relevant agencies. So he should be sacked, like any incompetent CEO. (Erm, when was a CEO last sacked?)

  16. Agree with you Boris and Kevin.

    But when people say ‘this is a free country’ what do they mean? It seems to be a free country for anyone who chooses to come here, to this little island and do what they will. Enforcing the laws we already have, securing our borders and stopping asylum would do something. ID cards would achieve nothing but expense and notoriety for Bliar.

    I believe Blair is getting a bit confused with the term ‘government’ and instead of ‘conducting the policy and affairs’ of this country is wholly concentrating on the ‘control’. Perhaps it would be better if we reminded him that this is an administration and he is an admin clerk.

  17. Applying the logic of the opponents of the Iraq War to 1939, then one must conclude that it was
    wrong to engage the Nazis in Poland – another faraway country – because that led to bombs over London a year later.

    The opponents are only right if they can show that the Saddamites and terrorists of that region were less of a threat to us than the Nazis.

    I think people are confused by the “assymetrical” nature of the warfare into thinking that the threat is not so great. You need to learn a bit about Jihadist Islam to see what motivates them. This idea being put about by Ken Livingstone and others that they are nihilists with no religion or ideology is rubbish.

    They are believers in Islam and justify all their acts by reference to Islam which offers has a complex and complete guide to government, law and indeed all human affairs – and has a history of 1400 years behind it. The aim of Islam is to ensure the dominance of Islam across the whole globe. That is an aim shared by all devout Muslims. But the militant Jihadists of Islam are prepared to use virtually any means – including the use of weapons of mass destruction – to achieve that aim.

    The idea that if we left the Jihadists alone they won’t at some stage acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them on us is pathetic wishful thinking. The Americans understand thsi better than we do because they in effect have already suffered a mass destruction attack (9/11) whereas the bombings of Thursday were nowhere near that scale.

    The fact that Muslims have been injured in these horrific attacks is, from a Jihadist point, of view irrelevant. They will rationalise those deaths. In the USA they have given specific instructions for Muslims not to live in the great cities. They may have done the same in the UK – we don’t always hear the full story through our media. They will also think that any Muslim woman going to work by herself is not acting Islamically and that any young Muslim men in London should instead have gone on Jihad to Iraq.

    It’s not my logic – it’s theirs.

    I don’t think anyone should really make a judgment on all this until they have had a look at what is actually in the Koran and what Mohammed’s example in life was (try faithfreedom.org) . Then I think they will see that the Jihadists far from representing a “perversion” of the religion are in fact much closer to mainstream practice over the last 1400 years.

  18. Don’t Muslims have the ten commandments? What on Earth happened to “Thou shalt NOT kill”? Conclusion? The bombers have nothing to do with any (G)gods will!

    I think blaming anything on a religion is overly dangerous. These barbarians (the bombers) are, in my mind, less than human. Unfortunately, sub-humans exist in all walks of life. Lets not take it out on innocents, eh?

  19. “Applying the logic of the opponents of the Iraq War to 1939, then one must conclude that it was
    wrong to engage the Nazis in Poland – another faraway country – because that led to bombs over London a year later.
    The opponents are only right if they can show that the Saddamites and terrorists of that region were less of a threat to us than the Nazis.”

    Could I point out that not only was Saddam not a threat, since he had nothing in the way of WMD let alone enough conventional weapons to fight an invasion, but he ran a secular State. He and bin Laden were ideologically light years apart. Bin Laden in fact called, in one of his videos, for Saddam to be killed. Islamic Jihadists are active in Iraq NOW. Terrorists have crossed porous borders from Syria and elsewhere — the tightening of borders being one of the non-existent parts of the US non-existent plans for post-war Iraq.

    I opposed the invasion of Iraq, and marched in protest against it. Everything I have seen since has only confirmed my original stance. Not only was it not justified, or legal, but it has proved to be a rallying point and training ground for terrorists.

    “on to New York, then to Iraq for an extraordinary amount of killing including war crimes by the Americans in Fallujah, to Madrid and now to London”

    Could I also point out that while people mention 9/11 and Madrid etc, they seem often to overlook Bali, which, as a percentage of population, was every bit as bad for Australia as 9/11 was for the US.

    Are the most recent bombings the price for going into Iraq? Probably yes.
    Is it a price worth paying? No.
    The invasion was illegal. Iraq is a shambles (as is Afghanistan), and bin Laden is still at large. 1391 days today since G W Bush said he’d catch bin Laden dead or alive.

    [I have posted my sympathies and condolences on a previous thread.]

  20. Nora –

    Your comments I think are incredibly naive. Take a look at the Melanie Phillips site where she sets out the evidence that has so far found its way into the public record (through Senate hearings) about the contacts and co-operation between Sadaam’s regime and AL Queda. I don’t doubt that OBL called for Sadaam’s death. Hitler said some nasty things about Stalin and then signed the non-agression pact with him.

    I am glad that you think that someone who killed several hundred thousand of his own citizens, conspired to assassinate the American President,
    launched two wars on his neighbours which resulted in the deaths of millions, sent missiles hundreds of miles to kill people indiscriminately, routinely used the most barbaric forms of torture, and whose TV stations played “Death to America” songs when the two towers went down could not possibly be a threat to the West. You must live in a very cosy universe.

    I accept that the USA’s post war planning was criminally negligent but would suggest the jury is still out on Iraq. What amazes me is that you think Afghanistan now can in anyway be considered a failure compared with what existed before: the Taleban regime (which mercilessly persecuted women amongst others and destroyed a world class heritage site). Perhaps that shows the quality of your judgement on these matters.

  21. I am not naive, thank you, field.

    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page A01:

    The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq …

    … the report of the commission’s staff, based on its access to all relevant classified information, said that there had been contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda but no cooperation. In yesterday’s hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.

    The staff report said that bin Laden “explored possible cooperation with Iraq” while in Sudan through 1996, but that “Iraq apparently never responded” to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, “but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship”.”

    ~*~

    “I am glad that you think that someone who … could not possibly be a threat to the West.”

    What Saddam did, or did not, do in the past is not relevant to his capability by the time of the invasion. The “case” put for a threat to either the US or the UK at the time of the invasion was a plethora of lies. Not only that, but Iraq was bombed heavily in the latter part of 2002 in an attempt to get Saddam to retaliate (something which could be used as leverage at the UN) but this did not succeed. The war was in fact begun before Parliament in the UK, or Congress in the US, knew anything about it.

    “the jury is still out on Iraq”

    I don’t think so. And polls in the US are showing an increasing number of Americans want the troops OUT. Have you looked at the death toll recently? How can you bring “freedom and democracy” to 100,000 dead? Doctors and teachers are leaving Iraq, people have electricity for only a few hours a day, they have major water shortages, diseases are multiplying, people cannot go outside in any safety, and the long-term effects of DU are to come. Iraqi security forces are seen as ‘collaborators’, and killed in their dozens by suicide bombers. Maybe when the US completes its 14 planned permanent bases there you’ll be truly satisfied? How long are you prepared to have the jury out, and how many more innocents will die before it returns?

    As for Afghanistan: Karzai has no control outside of Kabul. And Amnesty International is still calling for investigations into continuing abuses of women there.

    http://t2web.amnesty.r3h.net/library/Index/ENGASA110072005?open&of=ENG-AFG

    Opium production has soared to record levels, and farmers continue to be reluctant to plant crops that pay buttons by comparison. There is no law or order – other than that meted out by warlords. [And no bin Laden caught.]

    You call all of that a success? I suspect that you are the one who is naive, and believes too much of what you see on TV and in the mainstream media.

    As for world class heritage sites … maybe you’d consider Babylon:

    “The sterile term ‘collateral damage’ justifiably brings to mind the human tragedy of war. But the devastating and wanton damage inflicted on the ancient city of Babylon by US-led military forces gives another meaning to the term. In this case, we are witnessing violence against one of the world’s greatest cultural treasures. Babylon’s destruction, according to The Guardian, ‘must rank as one of the most reckless acts of cultural vandalism in recent memory’. When Camp Babylon was established by US-led international forces in April 2003, leading archeologists and international experts on ancient civilizations warned of potential peril and damage. It was ‘tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain’, according to a damning report issued in January by the British Museum.”

  22. Hello Boris, please God do not be like those ghastly Northern people, especially Liverpudlians and their ugly brothers Mancunians and do not be mawkish in our time of grief.
    I was a bit annoyed at Liz having the flag at half mast to be honest.
    We’re Londoners and you don’t show outporings of grief.
    There’s money to be made and life goes on.

  23. Kevin: ” When was a CEO last sacked?”
    What about Nixon and Watergate in 1974? The fear of impending due legal process certainly got rid of him, along with others of his Administration. I would consider that a sacking , never mind the fancy name of the process, and the fact that he resigned before he could be pushed. he was the first US President to resign,which he did, only because of the certainty of the success of an impeachment had he not done so.

  24. Nora –

    First you were trying to claim that OBL and Sadaam hated each other so much they would never
    want to co-operate. Now you are admitting that OBL sought Sadaam’s help and that there were contacts between Iraq and Al Queda. Not quite the picture you were trying to paint at the beginning. It is a matter of interpretation as to whether the contacts amounted to collaboration. I notice the conclusion you quote has the weasel word “apparently” in it.
    I think the fact that Sadaam encouraged the creation of an Al Queda affiliated base in North East Iraq is highly significant.

    Why do leftie-liberals always quote such suspiciously round figures. Where did you get this 100,000 figure from? I expect it’s that Lancet rubbish you’re recalling. The death toll in Iraq rarely exceeds 50 a day as far as I can tell from the news. It’s usually far less. Let’s assume 50 are killed. That’s still only
    15,000 a year. Nowhere near your figure even over three years – and I don’t believe it’s that high anyway. You’re just repeating Goebbels style propaganda taking virtually every fatality and ascribing it to the war.

    I’m glad Amnesty International are waking up to the abuse of women in the Islamic world – although they seem to have been more enthusiastic in pursuing issues in such vile dicatorships as the UK. Of course there is abuse of women – but a lot less than under the Taleban.

    As for opium production that flourished under the Taleban until their last year in power when some mad Mullah decreed it shoudln’t be grown which was probably instrumental in their downfall. Just because it’s grown doesn’t mean that the government isn;t better than it’s predecessor.

    As for the odious comparison of the garrisoning of a few troops with a deliberate decision to fire high explosive rockets into the two Buddhas – I am amazed at your bare faced cheek.
    Your faith in the accuracy of the Guardian is touching. But anyone who cites that organ of the left-liberal establishment as an authority on anything to do with Iraq, terrorism, cultural beliefs or ethics condemns themselves.

  25. Nora

    Just to add to my post, I would point you to the “Iraq Body Count” which gives a figure of 25,000 for civilian casualties. This is a leftie outfit so I don’t necessarily accept their figures but they are clearly much closer to mine than your Goebbels-style total.

    I would also point out that you have to look at the other side of the balance sheet. Sadaam is not out there killing Kurds and political opponents which he did so readily in the past. He was killing his own citizens in amounts that added up to several hundred thousand.

    I think the jury should stay out for another 5 years at least. Much is in the hands of the Arabs and Kurds of Iraq themselves. If they can’t get a grip on the insurgency then the future viability of Iraq as a state is in question and I would certainly support the Kurds being given their independence in those circumstances. Iraq has always been an artificial construct so I am under no obligation to argue for its continued existence. But I take heart from the fact that despite all the terrible risks people still queue to join the police and army. They may jsut have the mettle to defeat the death-cult insurgents.

  26. Nora and Field: The information that Nora gives in her long comment (July 9, 7.31 pm) is all well-founded and properly referenced. If David Field wants to dispute the information Nora has provided (which he is entitled to) I wonder if he would give us some facts and references?

    Field: “As for the odious comparison of the garrisoning of a few troops with a deliberate decision to fire high explosive rockets into the two Buddhas – I am amazed at your bare faced cheek.’

    As an archaeologist (who follows archaeological news, notably that from the US), I can confirm that due to the negligence of the American army there has been considerable damage to sites and museums in Iraq. Before the war, leading American archaeologists asked the State Department to ensure that the Baghdad Museum would be protected in the end of an invasion. They – and I believe the State Department as well – were ignored by the Pentagon.

    I deplore the destruction of archaeological sites wherever they occur, whoever is at fault. I visited Bamiyan when the Buddhas were intact and I was horrified when they were destroyed. I have also worked in Vietnam and seen the temples there (My Son etc.) which were deliberately targetted by US bombing.

    You will find a lot of information about Iraq on the website of the Archaeological Institute of America:

    http://www.archaeological.org/webinfo.php?page=10129

  27. Field: the word apparent, far from being a weasel word as you describe, is a precise word: its prime definition is ” Open to view: clear or manifest to the understanding.” You appear to have a different understanding, based, probably, on its increasingly false use in the popular press, where it is used as a synonym for illusory, or ostensible.It also has another synonym: evident, which is much nearer the mark.

  28. Has Blair yet explained how ID cards would have prevented 7/7? No doubt he will be able to apply his twisted logic to it.

    I am surprised that Boris has fallen for Blair’s twisted logic. The claim that the illegal Iraq war was not responsible because 9/11 happened first left me gasping in astonishment. What mastery of double-speak that man has!

    I expected something like this ever since 9/12 when Blair suddenly pooped up at Bush’s side in Washington shouting “Me too!”. Blair seems to revel in the tarnished glory of war. Perhaps someone could give me the dates of all the times he has sent troops into battle. I think you will find that in almost every one of his 8-9 years in power he has been to war.

    In my 56 years I have never known such instability in the world or such a warmongering leader as Blair. The Cold War was nothing compared to what Blair and Bush have fabricated.

    If I was cynical I would believe that Blair was trying to frighten us into compliance with his own authoritarian, dictatorial agenda.

    But I am a realist; so I am cynical.

  29. Errata: for ‘pooped’ read ‘popped’. Works much the same though!

    Can anyone explain why, if Blair’s foreign agenda is to remove wicked dictators, Robert Mugabe has not been deposed by us?

  30. Colin Whyles: “Can anyone explain why, if Blair’s foreign agenda is to remove wicked dictators, Robert Mugabe has not been deposed by us?”

    This may be rhetorical – but it’s a key question. Sending the big guns into Iraq has, in my view, made other dictators more secure rather than less.

    The international community have to set up institutions/mechanisms (like the International Criminal Court at the Hague) to react effectively to abuses of human rights. This means putting some limits on national sovereignty. Occasionally using brute force against the odd abusive regime that happens to have oil, is not an effective substitute for an overall policy. Invading Country A, but leaving offending countries B, C, D and E untouched, is not good enough.

    We need to raise the bar (of civilized standards of behaviour) for all countries rather than concentrating our energies on trying to make fundamental changes in the political, economic and social life of one or two individual countries – which in the case of Iraq are being resisted.

  31. The point about the evil regime of Mugabe has been raised on more than one occasion on these pages, but nothing is done, or has even been attempted, to ease the suffering of such a large number of people being made homeless, and worse by that piece of ordure Mugabe. The remainder of Africa, so recently the subject of so much concern, merely close ranks and do not condemn such high-handed treatment. They demand to be treated as equals in the political arenas of the world, but remain stubbornly blind to the behaviour of a corrupt and evil man. Are not the people of Zimbabwe your continental brethren? The West should not condone the treatment of the many by the corrupt few. If sanctions are the answer, which I personally doubt, other means must be employed in order to ensure that Dictators do not prosper.

  32. Thanks again for making sense Boris, yep the explosions are frankly a shit but why should they change how I live any more than the last set I lived through did? Just wish our glorious government could see things a bit more clearly. Some hope of that though I suspect, although I did appreciate the speeches of Blair and Livingstone after it all, they actually seemed genuine for a change.
    I do wish this 100,000 dead figure wouldn’t be banded around so much if I remember it was an IRC poll which they readily admitted at the time of publication was grossly out due to some irregularities of the areas polled. I’m no fan of the war, but I’m equally no fan of people who abuse statistics without caveat.

  33. Only way is to have UN authorise intervention for mass abuse of human rights. They have been heading that way for some time now.

    Difficulty is the record of some prominent UN members in this area, and in Mugabe’s case, the stance taken by his neighbours.

  34. George: “Only way is to have UN authorise intervention for mass abuse of human rights. They have been heading that way for some time now.”

    I would like to see a specialized body of the UN having the ability to order an immediate investigation when a major human rights incident occurs, on the basis of a minimum number of states agreeing to action. This would work in response to incidents such as the Burma massacre (30 May 2003), the Uzbekistan massacre (13 May 2005) or indeed Darfur,

    An investigation team could be empowered with the right to enter the country in question, talk to both sides in the conflict, and quickly report back to the UN. Mandatory action could be taken against countries that refused to accept investigations.

    Some major countries like China and the United States would probably refuse to agree to this, just as they have refused to accept the International Criminal Court at the Hague, but aid-receiving countries could be required to sign up to it before receiving money from the EU or wherever.

    Some countries that are now reluctant to take action against immediate neighbours (the situation with both Burma and Zimbabwe) might well be in favour of a system that does not require them to take the initiative, while in the longer term bringing more stability to their region.

    Just my two kyats’ worth . . .

  35. Macarnie –

    That was most unfair.

    My post gave a proper reference for a figure of 25,000 – the web site is http://www.iraqbodycount.org
    Any fair minded observer will I think agree that the site is not a right wing one. It looks pacifist and leftie in fact.

    Nora’s post gave no reference for the 100,000 dead figure. I challenged her on that. She still gave no reference. The Amenesty reference is to women in Afghanistan – a subject which seems to excite more interest than say the position of women in Sudan or women in Mali or women in South Africa. I wonder why?

    It was I who referred to the Senate hearings by way of challenging her assertion that OBL and Sadaam could never contemplate collaborating together. Her subsquent quotations from those hearings show that OBL actually DID want to co-operate with Sadaam – against all she had previosuly written. The only question is whether they did in fact co-operate. I and others – including Melanie Phillips – believe that they did and the evidence shows they did.

    I haven’t got time to go referencing everything but I suspect all this stuff about the Babylon site is a load of hyped up hooey – just as the sacking of the Bagdhad Museum proved to be (asked Boris – he exposed that in the Spectator). Although I haven’t got the time I will research that. But I do recall that the Babylon site had in case been comprehensively ruined by Sadaam who in essence built a kind of “Disney Babylon” with bricks stamped in his name.

    What I really object to is the claimed moral equivalence between deliberately firing high explosive into two world heritage statues and possible accidental damage resulting from a possibly bad operational decision which is indicative of the way people like Nora work.

  36. Simon –

    It would be nice to have an effective International Criminal Court but we can’t for the foreseeable future, the reason being that the left-liberal judiciary will be more interested in trying an American President than those who preside over illegal claims to Tibet and Taiwan; mass murder of citizens (Zimbabwe); sponsoring of terrorism (Pakistan); oppression of women (Saudi Arabia); human experimentation (North Korea). Any such court would soon become a Circus of the Left. They’d be dragging Maggie out of her death bed to stand trial for the infamous sinking of the Belgrano.

    It’s the equivalent of the police cracking down on law abiding citizens going 5 mph over the speed limit but doing nothign about the million untaxed, unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the roads.

  37. Last weeks bombs make up a mere 1% of the mainland bombings we have experienced in the UK in the last 35 years. I received the following from a friend (apologies to him for re-printing it here!):

    You don’t scare me. You’re not terrorists, you’re cowards.

    You don’t scare me. You dare to take the lives of innocent people just because they live in a country who’s regime you don’t agree with? You’re
    pathetic and aimless. How do I make you understand that? You’re not big enough or brave enough to attack the people in power, so you attack defenceless people in the street, on the trains and on the buses. How do you know if they even agree with your reasons for attacking them? You don’t, do you? But yet you attack them with all the skill of swatting a fly.

    You don’t scare me. If you want to scare me then stand up and show your face and explain what it is you want and how you want it achieved. Then I might listen, then I might be prepared to open my mind and maybe change the way that I live to accomodate your needs. But this way it’s impossible.

    You don’t scare me. Whoever you are I feel sorry for you, that you can only attempt to negotiate and communicate by mindless violence. You don’t seem human. You don’t seem sane.

    You don’t scare me. You *can’t* scare me. In fact, if you were here now pointing a gun at my head I would pity you. I would pray for you as
    I don’t believe any God would even think of accepting you into his realm.

    You don’t scare me. You’re a misguided fool, and if you think that there is a religious reason for doing what you do, if indeed that is
    your motive then you’re *wrong*. Every religion I know abhors such acts.

    You don’t scare me. If I’m wrong then I’m wrong, but I call on all others like myself to follow you, to find you, to be vigilant, to
    prevent you causing more suffering. I will watch for you, I will see you, I will stop you. We will win and you will not.

    You don’t scare me. Do you have family that you love? Do you *really* love them? Then remember that they are human beings, like you and I,
    they have feelings and they are no different than you and I. If you kill me, you might as well kill them. There is no difference. A life
    is a life, I’m enjoying mine and you will not change that. Are you enjoying yours?

    And remember. You don’t scare me.

    (The above is the thoughts of a Londoner)

  38. please please stop being so mawkish! we need to just get on with hour lives. Remember Boris was right about sentimental Northerners who caused their own deaths at Hillsborough- now fellow Londoners must take heed and get on with life.

  39. Reactions, opinions and developments

    Robert Fisk – Blair’s Alliance With Bush Bombed: If we are fighting insurgency in Iraq what makes us believe insurgency won’t come to us? One thing is certain: If Blair really believes that by “fighting terrorism” in Iraq we could…

  40. Just a few thoughts from Jaq:

    * Britain is not the planet police

    * We do not owe the world a home

    * It is not the job of our elected admin clerks to take tax payers money and give it to anyone else, we can do that for ourselves.

    * Said admin clerks have a job and IT IS UP TO US TO MAKE SURE THEY DO IT.

    * It is not the job of said clerks to force British people to die abroad for ANY personal agenda when there is no direct threat to this nation.

    *we have a history and culture and should be proud of it and not be made to feel apologetic.

    *one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter? What these terrorists/murderers fail to realise is that however many indians they target, it will not change the chiefs decisions one bit.

    * Only we can do that, through due process, and Boris Johnson.

    * On the tax burden Boris, perhaps you could have said that it is not the amount of the burden that is in question but it’s distribution, both from and to. Poor administration you see?

  41. Field: whatever was unfair in pointing out your use of the word ” Weasel” in conjunction with the word,”apparent?.”I did not , nor do I question your figures for dead / future or past dead; merely your choice of words.A lot of what you say makes sense.
    Jaq : as ever, you have hit the spot: it may not be universally popular, nevertheless what you say is absolutely true. Good to see you back from semi silence.

  42. semi-silence? total bloody poverty! If only the DT would pay me to write a column instead of the silly tart who extolled the virtues of riding a scooter then said not to wear real leathers (not a good look) but to go to GAP and wear a fashion jacket with white jeans and stilletoes – yeh, if you want your legs ripped off!

    Good grief they print some rubbish – I could write rubbish, they could pay me!

  43. I read in Paul McKennas book last night, in this can’t sleep heat, that if you believe it, so shall it be. So I am not poor but rich, beautiful and I have servants and live in the middle of 400 acres of baa lambs and my neighbours are merely an argument in the distance that I can happily ignore.

    Anyway, Rachel Johnson. After the sad demise of the ‘Mummy Diaries’ she has started a new column in the DT: ‘Home Truths’ – a relevant, witty, intelligent and well written collection of thoughts and comments. Check it out! In it she recommends including the ‘name’ ICE and the telephone number of the person that should be contacted In Case of Emergency. I think this a splendid idea and one I think all emergency services should adopt and advertise. I shall be doing this when I log off.

    We’ve had three bomb scares here already and birmingham was evacuated en masse last weekend.

  44. Sorry – it should have read:

    In it she recommends including, on your mobile ‘phone, the ‘name’ ICE and the telephone number of the person that should be contacted In Case of Emergency.

    I neeed coffee.

  45. * We do not owe the world a home

    * It is not the job of our elected admin clerks to take tax payers money and give it to anyone else, we can do that for ourselves.

    * Said admin clerks have a job and IT IS UP TO US TO MAKE SURE THEY DO IT.

    * It is not the job of said clerks to force British people to die abroad for ANY personal agenda when there is no direct threat to this nation.

    *we have a history and culture and should be proud of it and not be made to feel apologetic.

    Hell yeah.

  46. Wow, some souls are blogging about the most powerful sentiment in the world … Ach a picture being worth much more than thousand word
    http://www.werenotafraid.com/

    “Si Dieu nous a fait a son image, nous le lui avons bien rendu.”
    (If God made us in his image, we have certainly returned the favour)
    – Voltaire, Le Sottisier

  47. Reply to Jozef:

    1st para – good powerful spirit of Dunkirk sentiments on that fearless blog – well done

    2nd para – very profound – what do you think of the statement – Have we returned the favour?

  48. Your version of blogging agrees with this sentiment of favours 😉

    I have seen enough rain to appreciate the sun more so in my eyes most of the people I come across do return the favour, most of the times … politics is an imperfect game… And yet it is the best game we have for making the world work better.

    Where there is indifference and apathy there is no hope. If we look around hope is hiding inside a mirror on every corner.

  49. It’s been announced on the BBC news this morning that the men suspected of detonating the bombs on 7/7 were Britain’s first suicide bombers.

    These murderers were young men. One was just 19, another early 20s. ‘Clean skinned’ is apparently the description of the bombers used by the Intelligence services, meaning that each of them had no criminal record or other marker that might have been picked up in a security audit. Probably regarded as normal young men by the community in Leeds. What went wrong with them?

    Already there are signs of a indiscriminate knee-jerk backlash againt Muslims. While it would be misguided to see 7/7 as an Islamic act per se – was the invasion of Iraq a Christian act? (Well, depends on where you’re standing…) – there will need to be hard questions addressed by Muslims (and other faith communities including Christians) about jihadism and any equivalents, fundamentalism and faith.

    Why would a young man sacrifice his life and take other people with them? Why is his life in this world not worth living? Is faith in another world beyond this a toxic belief?

    Answers on a prayer card please.

  50. The arrest of the terrorists is a defining moment for this country. We wait in vain for someone to speak some necessary truths

  51. If these poor deluded youngsters are brainwashed into believing that the WORD is the law, and this seems to be the case, then surely it is time that the politically correct school of thought, championed by Labour and their lackeys, is brought up to date. True believers in Islam are at a state of readiness for Jihad at all times and in any way which is considered appropriate in extreme Muslim teachings. Before there are shrieks of protest from any bleeding heart liberal thinkers, enough extracts fom the Koran have been shown ,both here and elsewhere, to show what this blog is about. Right thinking Moslems are, as we of other faiths are , aghast that this act should have been carried out in the name of Religion .

    There have been cases , prior to 7.7. where aBritish born bomber (unsuccessful in the event) have been caught with an explosive device in his possession, so it is not a new phenomenon. What grates is the self satisfied , and even worse, self forgiving, manner in which this Government’s Ministers abandoned wakefulness and awareness to the possibility of terrorist attacks, ( now alas past the ‘possible’ stage ) and hid their disquiet and shame behind cobbled together explanations and half hearted apologies to the Nation. Meanwhile , they simultaneously praise the resilience of those in the centre of the terrorists’ attention , hoping to evoke the blitz spirit, which most of them are too young to have experienced.

    Waiting for another, perhaps even bigger attack is not the answer: active and effective counter-terrorist measures must be continuously reviewed and sustained . I have no doubt that the Ministers’ sorrow is genuine, but they must now take effective action to prevent the promulgation of hate loaded invective against this land of ours , being daily preached by prophets of the “inevitable victory” of Islam. Our laws must be obeyed , and be seen to take precedence over all other so called ” Laws”.
    Everyone is entitled to a belief, but, if the practice of that belief, illegally ,includes the factor of enticement/ encouragement to destroy the British status quo; by definition , that is a crime: ergo these extreme preachers of hate are criminals. Since most of them are here only on sufferance; being foreign nationals; the answer seems to be staring one in the face, but will these toothless disciples of PC have the will to do anything positive.
    No matter how dangerous bee stings might be, one has to disturb the swarm to obtain the honey.

  52. Field: “Terrorists have to be able to swim in a sea that supports them. . . . In the UK the sea is the alternative universe of Islam. . . . on virtually any issue you might care to think about Islam has a view that is conflict with our modern day values. . . .the key tasks for the British people . . . are (a) to find out what is being taught in the Islamic Saturday schools and to prevent brainwashing of young minds and (b) to get control over the Muslim clerics and what they are propagating ”

    Macarnie: “True believers in Islam are at a state of readiness for Jihad at all times and in any way which is considered appropriate in extreme Muslim teachings. . . . enough extracts from the Koran have been shown, both here and elsewhere, to show what this blog [sic] is about. ”

    I deplore Islamophobia which reduces the problems we face to a hostile view of Islam.

    A large part of the world has an Islamic background, just the West has a Christian background, and we have no alternative but to peacefully co-exist with it. To the extent that we are an open society with open borders, this also applies domestically.

    Fortunately the norm in Islamic countries is tolerance just as it is everywhere else in the world. Normal people do not take religion too seriously. Economic, social and political life carries on.

    Religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism all have one foot in the medieval and ancient worlds. They all have texts which can be used to justify extreme acts. They all have ‘fundamentalist’ sects which practice extreme action of one kind or another.

    The best way to minimize the influence of extremist groups of all religions is to exclude religion from politics and education, in other words, for the state to be secular as in the United States and France.

    In the past many British governments have been essentially secular, with deference to Anglicanism/Presbyterianism as a part of our history and culture, rather than as anything essential to our modern way of thinking.

    Unfortunately the Blair-Brown government is different. We now have active Christians in charge and a pro-faith agenda. This informs foreign policy, and the close identification with Bush. Fundamentalist groups are also being allowed, indeed are being encouraged, to sponsor schools through the academy programme, which are then backed with taxpayers’ money. I am opposed to this. (Some strange things have been reported, reliably or not, which have so far not reached the mainstream media, including the teaching of creationism, the banning of computers in some schools etc.)

    Kevin B gave an excellent summary of the problem (above):

    Kevin B: “Already there are signs of a indiscriminate knee-jerk backlash against Muslims. While it would be misguided to see 7/7 as an Islamic act per se – was the invasion of Iraq a Christian act? (Well, depends on where you’re standing…) – there will need to be hard questions addressed by Muslims (and other faith communities including Christians) about jihadism and any equivalents, fundamentalism and faith.”

  53. Sorry if I confused anybody before by talking about the arrest of terrorists. I meant of course the identification of terrorists.

    Macarnie, I couldn

  54. Simon: I would advise you to read , again, those words you refer to as Islamophobic. They might just as easily have been said about any extremist sect of any religion.One cannot gainsay what is written in the Koran. I would not argue with a Rabbi, when he tells me what is written in the Torah, neither will I argue with a leading Moslm scholar’s( Dr. Hain Al Siba’i )utterances today, when he spoke on an Arab TV Station of a victory achieved by the 7.7. bombers. His words continued, ” In Islam, there are no civilians, there are only those who are :-
    1)of the House of Islam.(Dar ai Islam.)
    2)of the house of war.” ( Dar al Harb.) He further claimed that the moderate Muslims of this country ” Do not represent Muslims, and are collaborators with the British Police”
    I would argue that if anyone were anti anything, then this ingrate is against his asylum land: Britain. Incitement to racial or religious hatred, is not by any means a one way street, I am not even in the same town.
    Religious hatred is not necessarily preached in the the language of the layman .

    I repeat, I am not against anyone, of any calling, colour or creed. I AM , however FOR the observation of any law in any country in which I have voluntarily settled, be that temporarily or permanently. Were I to transgress that rule of law, I would expect no special treatment from the law. The law is there for all: not for the PC few. Those , whoever it might affect, who are of the opinion that they need not, or indeed must not, abide by the law in force in that place , are courting trouble.

  55. I keep being told about ‘multicultural Britain’ and that we live in a ‘multicultural society. Well there’s a recipe for disaster. It is human nature to form groups and to war with different groups. When these different groups were seperated by country it wasn’t so bad, though conflict did happen, naturally.

    Surely a culture is accepting laws and boundaries and codes of behaviour. These codes of behaviour may not be written down but be part of the culture, like arranged marriages or traditional values and manners. Some are written down like school uniform. Of late the PC brigade has diluted our culture and caused resentment. What goes for one does not necesarily apply to all. I believe that this government has distanced politics from the people and damaged democracy in this land, not least by fracturing the house of Lords to favour itself. This must have an effect on the mood and confidence of it’s people.

    There must be some research to show that a large group can absorb some newcommers who choose to integrate quite haapily, but a large influx will cause unrest.

    I’m sure Boris or Mac can tell you who said ‘Man, who is a coward to the backbone, will fight for an idea like a hero’ It seems that Boris’ 72 Virgins was close to the mark. I’m not surprised that those arrested were male and young.

    What is the answer? some may ask. What are going to do PC brigade? Education, education, education? Ship all designated abroad to see that Britain aint so bad after all? I don’t think they were brainwashed Mac – you can lead a horse to water. We’re ignoring events like the group of CHILDREN who crowded around a boy whith a bike impaled in his leg TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS! I’m really not convinced the problem is a few angry young men.

    And I have no answers, no quick fix – over to you Boris.

  56. There are many quotes to illustrate the point Jaq, but I fear none for this precise occasion. Here are a few; without comment, though some scream out for one.( some are shortened for clarity).
    The bard himself penned:” Cowards die many times before their deaths: the valiant never taste of death but once”

    GBS said,believe it or not , in 1905:-
    “Our laws make law impossible”.
    “Our liberties destroy our freedoms”.
    “Our morality is impudent hyporisy”.
    “Our wisdom is administered by inexperienced or mal-experienced dupes”.
    “Our power is wielded by weaklings and cowards, and our honour is false in all its points”.

    And most cogent, Bertolt Brecht wrote:
    A:” Ungluechlich das Land das keine Helden hat.
    B:” Nein, ungluechlich das Land das Helden noetig hat!”
    “Unhappy the land without heroes”
    “No ,unhappy the land which has a need for heroes!”

    Whatever the beliefs , tenets or even manner of living an individual, or group of individuals, chose to follow; thanks to our more than liberal laws and customs, that person or group of persons is / are free to follow: PROVIDING, it does not infringe anyone else’s rights and personal liberties.
    There is one common law in this country, with supposedly equal rights and responsibilities for all. If those same rights and responsibilities are adhered to, not merely by the majority, but by all; friction between differently minded people would not occur: that is,unless purposely manufactured .

    France , for once, has the right idea. Secularity in public life , whilst upholding the rights of religious freedom in private. It seems to be working there; is this country so craven as not to be able to impose similar attitudes here? Religion has no place at the table of power in a modern State. It is a private thing and should be enjoyed so.

  57. Field:

    In case you think I’ve avoided you, I’ve been having internet connection problems since last week (and the situation is still not normal, so I may not get this comment posted.)

    You say:- “The death toll in Iraq rarely exceeds 50 a day as far as I can tell from the news. It’s usually far less. Let’s assume 50 are killed. That’s still only 15,000 a year.”

    50 killed in a London bombing is (naturally) worldwide news, and you state that the deathtoll in Iraq “rarely exceeds 50 a day” like you were talking about cornflakes or mosquitoes? Just under 3,000 killed on 9/11, and you blithely talk about “only 15,000 a year” in Iraq. You make me feel ill.

    You’re aware of the Tommy Franks quote: “We don’t do body counts”. Your casual assertions, above, smack of similar racism, although you talk of “Islamophobia”. In my experience, people who talk about Muslim/Arab/Iraqi deaths in this way do *not* equate one Iraqi life with one British or American life. Or indeed one Irish or French life. And where I come from, such an attitude stinks.

    “I’m glad Amnesty International are waking up to the abuse of women in the Islamic world”

    Ammesty has been issuing reports and statements regarding the abuse of women, inside and outside of the “Islamic world”, for many years. Those since 1997 are archived on the net here:

    http://web.amnesty.org/library/eng-373/index

    Basically, I agree with what Simon has said above (I’m rushing as I may be cut off.)

    As usual on these topics, there is a remark about “bleeding heart liberals”. I’m in that category (I assume) and also a “peacenik” (as many would label me.) What I’m doing here at all is a good question. I may well not be back.

    When Bush announced his “GWOT” (and taking into account all that he has said since) it can be, and obviously is, seen as a declared Global War on Islam. For that reason (among several others) I think that G W Bush and his cohorts are currently some of the most dangerous people in the world.

    For Blair to have tied the UK so closely to that gang was probably the most dangerous decision of his political life. Not for him obviously, but for the people of the UK.

    Someone said the other day, “trying to understand is not to justify”. I don’t justify terrorism, in any shape or form.
    Including terrorism by States.

  58. Nora –

    Tommy Franks was a complete a**hole. He was definitely part of the problem and not part of the solution. But the quote you give is on the Iraq Body count site which shows that they – who give the much lower figure than you – hold no brief for Franks. My view is that the Coalition shoudl have been counting evetry body from Day 1 and comparing and contrastign with the hundreds of thousands of grave sites found in Iraq dating from Saddam’s era.

    I don’t doubt that Amnesty have done work on the issue of oppression of women but it’s a questino of what they choose to publicise at any one time.

    I don’t mind peaceniks as long as they are consistent peaceniks. I don’t like figures plucked out of the air. You still haven’t told us what your figure of 100,000 is based upon apart from wishful thinking.

    You claim I must be racist. This is the last refuge of the left-liberal in argument. I am concerned about every death whoever is dying. I was concerned about Afghanistan before 9/11. I;m concerned about Darfur now. I’m concerned about the needless deaths in South Africa and the USA, from gang violence. I’m concerned about the oppression of the Tibetans, the slaughter of Christians in Indonesia by Muslim fanatics. I’m horrified to think of what is being done to North Korean dissidents under cover of secrecy.

    I am certainly highly critical of the approach that holds one death in London is worth a thousand times the column space devoted to one in Iraq. We must be prepared to pay a price in blood to defend liberty jsut as the Iraqis are. They went out to vote in their millions despite the threat of car and suicide bombs. It seems you want to deliver them back into the arms of a tyrant.

  59. Mac – I chose that particular quote because it illustrated perfectly my meaning. That is that a young man may feel strongly about this or that but his behaviour may have no grounding in experience. Hence he will fight for an IDEA like a hero. For instance; I have met some champagne socialists who spouted ‘socialism’ and ‘yay for the common man, up the workers’ who then went on to ridicule the common men who came to thier house party (invited by me) who were not of the same privilaged background. The champagne socialists had certainly never lived in Russia or China. I think it’s one thing to visit but another thing to live there. And if they like that lifestyle so much, why not just move?

    I think this may be the first time I have come close to disagreeing with you Mac, which may be worth a post-it note in the diary! However, you say “France , for once, has the right idea” and I totally agree: it has many good ideas.

    You also say: “There is one common law in this country, with supposedly equal rights and responsibilities for all” and that used to be true but one of my points is that in practice it isn’t any more. It’s not just law, which Tony Bliar has done more than anyone else to change, but everything, even down to our day-to-day speech and humour. When are we going to stop being punished for being just who we are in our own country? And I don’t just mean white or pink or black or purple. Bombs don’t descriminate. If you don’t like it here and don’t like our way of life, why don’t you just leave.

    If people choose to punish ‘the workers’ for joining Bush then I just want to say it wasn’t thier choice. It wasn’t my choice, I wasn’t given that choice. The indians didn’t choose, the chief did.

    But everywhere I see agression and intolerance. It’s not colour coded believe me, or religious. Football is the new religion here. It’s neighbour against neighbour, road rage, paedophilia, gang bullying, you name it. I’m going to sound like a grumpy old woman but it really wasn’t like this when I was a girl.

    You might think I need some support tights and a cup of ovaltine but I’m just trying to make sense of this and can’t. I really do have to trust the politicians, like Boris, to do the right thing, because this is beyond me. A bomb scare outside a school, I just don’t understand.

  60. Field: “I’m concerned about . . . the slaughter of Christians in Indonesia by Muslim fanatics’

    Unlike you, I have walked through villages in Indonesia where every mosque and every shop and every house owned by Moslems had been burned down by the Christians – and, of course, the same was true in reverse.

    Have you ever been outside Britain? Have you ever been to a Moslem country?

  61. Macarnie: “Simon: I would advise you to read , again, those words you refer to as Islamophobic. They might just as easily have been said about any extremist sect of any religion.”

    Are you suggesting that I misunderstood you, misquoted you – or that you want to change what you wrote? You said “True believers in Islam are at a state of readiness for Jihad at all times”. The quotation was not about an ‘extremist sect’ but about ‘true believers’.

    Do you agree with me that some Moslems, most Moslems, the vast and overwhelming majority of Moslems are not extremists?

    “I repeat, I am not against anyone, of any calling, colour or creed. I AM , however FOR the observation of any law in any country in which I have voluntarily settled, be that temporarily or permanently. . . . ”

    _Any_ law in _any_ country? I don’t understand. Can you clarify?

  62. Nora –

    I’m quite aware that Christians have retaliated in Indonesia and I am just as concerned about the Muslim victims. I couldn’t list every example in the world but I would include the poor Muslim victims of the violence in Gujerat in case you think I am being one-sided.

    You seem to make a lot of assumptions about people. I have been abroad and I have been to a Muslim country – Turkey. Turkey is the only country in the Muslim world that has really been the subject of a secularising and modernising effort which seems to have paid some dividends although an Islamist party is now in power. I found the Turkish people very nice, like most people around the world, but I was concerned about the Islamic TV channel I saw there. It was rather sinister in my view.

    A Turkish Muslim has lived with us. Again very nice although you might find some of her attitudes a bit reprehensible. When an English football fan was stabbed to death in Istanbul she had not the shadow of a doubt that he deserved it! She was also quite open about the practice of forging documentation for your job applications. I’m not particularly passing comment on these foibles – just making the point that not all cultural differences are to celebrated in my view.

    Going back to the issue of violence, don’t you find it surprising that of all the many serious conflicts around the world over the last couple of decades probably 80% involve Muslims – Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Palestine, East Timor, Southern Sudan, Darfur, Somalia, Algeria, Iraq and Kuwait, Iraq and Iran, Aceh, Southern Thailand, Kashmir, southern Phillipines. I’m not saying violence is exclusively Muslim but given they are only about 15% of the world’s population they seem to be involved in a huge proportion of the world’s conflicts. What explains this? Do you subscribe to the Muslim view that they are the victims of a Jewish-Christian conspiracy or do you think it might have some other cause. Please don’t plead poverty. That’s an insult to the poor of the world who don’t resort to violence.

  63. What an amazing calibre of debaters we have on this site!

    Well done all of you especially Field, Nora, Simon, Mac, Jaq – you all bowl me over folks !!! it isn’t even the weekend yet!

    Field:

    >We shouldn’t plead poverty

    – sometimes the poorest are the happiest. Baroness Cox of Christian Solidarity Worldwide believes that the Sudanese in their poverty-stricken circumstances are happier than most of the people in this country. When she visits them in their mud huts they beam out joy in their fulsome welcome. The truth is that evil exists and is here to stay – just relax, as there is nothing we can do about it. As we are alive by a miracle, let us appreciate every moment of life as a miracle too.

  64. Simon: My statement about ” true Muslims” should have been in inverted commas, since they are not my words, but words available for all to see in the Koran,and on the lips of the poisonous few, whose machinations have contributed to this mess. I regret that you took them as my own. It does not change the thrust of my argument, nor the content of the Word. You say you have been in Muslim territory where religious action and counteraction has taken place, mosques and churches burnt etc. If you are , as I thought, a person of insight, you would see that I temper everything that I say by excluding the normal non extremist, the non violent, section of society, ANY innocent section of society from my condemnation.

    As for the paragraph about the observance of the rule of law in any land where I might momentarily or semi permanently choose to cast anchor. If what I said was not clear, here it is again:- I will always , in every situation, in any country where I might wind up, obey the law; however foreign to my nature it might immediately be. To disrespect the law of a host country, or a country in which one perceives oneself as exotic, even though it might be one’s native country, is the ultimate in discourtesy and bad taste. If I felt that I were unable to do that, I would leave, since I feel that as a “non Roman “, I should at least make an effort to behave like a Roman. Basic manners have apparently been abandoned; for manners of expediency.

  65. Shame on you Boris!

    I am sorry to say (and i really like your stuff most of the time…) that the ID issue is’nt the point when commenting on the London bombings.

    It is about people, killing innocent people and to that you should comment. There is such a thing as being ‘relevant’ and ’emotional’ in politians today?

  66. “As we are alive by a miracle, let us appreciate every moment of life as a miracle too.”

    Melissa, your reference to miracles took me to Lennon’s idea how imperative it is for us to use communication in order to stop evil franchises to flourish:

    The new Al Qaeda: local franchises
    A decade ago Al Qaeda was an entrepreneurial jihadist start-up firm. Today it may have evolved into something bigger, and less tightly controlled: a worldwide franchiser of terrorist attacks.
    That may be one lesson of last week’s London bombings, say some terrorism experts. The British attacks were well-organized, low-tech, and prepared in great secrecy – all hallmarks of the now-decentralized Al Qaeda network. The Madrid subway attacks of 2004 were similar. So were the bombings carried out in Casablanca, Morocco, in 2003
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0711/p01s01-woeu.html The lessons of London [Actions such as the war on Iraq have alienated many ordinary Muslims http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/this-is-no-way-to-wage-the-war-on-terror/2005/07/10/1120934123814.html This is no way to wage the war on terror; It is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article298802.ece The police’s nightmare: home-grown terrorists]

    ‘We’re all Christ and we’re all Hitler. We are trying to make Christ’s message contemporary. We want Christ to win. What would he have done if he had advertisements, T.V., records, films and newspapers? The miracle today is communication. So let’s use it.’
    -John Lennon ’69

  67. Thinking back to my youth there was a lot of romantic involvement with revolution — change the world, buy a Che poster and so on. Much was harmless, some even constructive, but few crossed the line from thought to violent action. Today it seems that Osama has replaced Che, jihad has replaced world revolution and so on. Impressionable people swept up in the cause, given a mission — maybe not a suicide mission, just carry these rucksacks to addresses in London. Simplified logistics for the organizer — no conspicuous packages, no martyrs to get cold feet, maybe little or no evidence. They’re young, impressionable — and expendable.

    Maybe this tradgedy will bring it home to similarly minded people that this is nothing to do with class struggle or jihad. Its murder, and the people responsible for organizing it are not heroes, they’re the face of evil.

  68. Simon: I have indeed read Deuteronomy, and if for instance the Judeo-Christian factions in the West were using its text as an almanac or manual for advice in whom to kill or destroy, I might find it cogent to the debate. It is an antique relic of a totally different world : a totally different era. At the time of the inception of the Pentateuch,(of which, needless to say , Deuteronomy is a part), a time of unenlightenment, in an educational sense, there had to be a set of rules under which an ordered life might be possible; laws set out in such a manner that the people, hearing their leaders lay out the behavioural pattern, of a half way civilized life,would understand. They would also, from the wording of those rules and regulations, be afraid of retribution from a higher authority. The leader would have had to claim that he had the ear of that unseen higher authority ( Just as they do today) in order that the common folk would behave in a manner conducive to peace and harmony , at least amongst themselves. The law , not of the jungle, but of the desert, was formulated with the precise needs of such an environment in mind. Who knows how these basic tenets were moulded, or misinterpreted by the scribes who eventually came to immortalise them in the written word? Jewish scholars are still, as I write , trying to make sense of the words of Moses, 6000 years after the event, and if they , who are acknowledged experts in the field, cannot come up with unequivocal agreement as to what was or was not meant: how on earth can Joe Bloggs.
    More to add to this. have I not.

  69. Martin Usher –

    I understand what you are saying and of course there are similarities with extreme socialists. I’m old enough to remember the Angry Brigade who were a nasty violent group nevertheless in some senses an offshoot of the otherwise peaceful hippy movement.

    Nevertheless it is absurd to say as you do that these events have nothing to do with Jihad. The Jihad has a 1400 year old history. Suicide bombing is really only a technical modification to Islamic tactics. Throughout its history the Jihad has involved violent, unprovoked attacks and the deliberate spreading of terror.

    I have no doubt these young men who committed these crimes were idealistic believing that they were playing a part in a great moral reformation that would bring the whole world closer to God – which is the ultimate purpose of Jihad. However, it is naive in the extreme to accept what the BBC and others are trying to peddle, that no one had a clue what these young men’s beliefs were given one or more had been to a religous school in Pakistan. Are the Muslims of Northern England really ignorant of what is taught in the Madrassas of Pakistan? I – a non-Muslim am not – so I can’t believe that most adult Muslims are ignorant of what it means to go to one of those religious hate factories.

  70. Macarnie: I agree with you that we should see early texts such as Deuteronomy (with advice about how to rape and then discard captive women, who to kill and how etc.) as historical documents. But surely this applies to the Qur’an as well. The problems start when people take these texts literally.

    By the way, can I make a small request? Could you possibly use paragraphs? That will make it a lot easier to read your comments. Thanks.

  71. Simon: once again, my point in all of this , is the difference in the interpretation of ancient texts by different religious followers : whichever religion one wishes to cite.

    I am unaware that any Jew believes, or might even countenance, an urging to regress to a state of semi barbarism, as favoured in the ancient scriptures, should any radical Rabbi preach it .In the event hardly likely. That ois , I think, also true for followers of the Judeo-Christian creeds.

    On the other hand , the teachings of various Muslim clerics . in particular , those about whom Blair yesterday promised to deal . The promulgation of interdenominational hate does not stem from the normal Muslim community:indeed quite the opposite is being proved every day. Young Khan, the Bolton boxer, spoke out in today’s press, expressing his personal, and his comtemporary’s horror that these thing are being carried out, unwanted , in the name of right minded Muslims. I think that his is the view of the vast majority of human beings.

  72. Boris

    by the way – do you read these comments?

    Anyway – I liked your article. It took the right line by acknowledging the Iraq link but not falling into the Galloway trap of thinking that a withdrawal from Iraq would terminate terrorism immediately.

    ID cards – well, Clarke himself acknowledged that they were not likely to have stopped THESE terrorists, at least.

    The argument, for me, hinges on this. It is quite right that a British citizen should not be harrassed by the state if he or she is not suspected of wrongdoing. HOwever – how do you prove you ARE a citizen of Britain without some sort of ID card? The mere fact that you are standing on British soil is no proof. You could be a tourist, a student, on a work permit or an illegal immigrant. The ID card says “I am a citizen of the United Kingdom” as a passport does when you are abroad.

    The arguments about the state or private companies holding data on you is a totally separate argument. They hold that data already – and in the case of the security services they don’t have to tell you about it. The complaint that you cannot do certain things – open a bank account, drive a car, claim a pension, travel on an aeroplane – without a card – is futile. That’s the way things are.

    The anti-ID card argument is IMO entirely emotional. Europeans are not REALLY less free than we are because they carry ID cards.

  73. Macarnie: “I am unaware that any Jew believes, or might even countenance, an urging to regress to a state of semi barbarism, as favoured in the ancient scriptures, should any radical Rabbi preach it. In the event hardly likely. That also, I think, also true for followers of the Judeo-Christian creeds.”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe every act of terror in the British Isles previous to 7 July involved Christians (e.g. Guy Fawkes). There have also been Israeli terrorists (e.g. Goldstein, 1994). So I don’t think violent religious fanaticism is in any way monopolized by Islam.

  74. I agree totally with Boris Johnson’s comments about this.

    Yes, I know most Moslems do not run round chopping peoples hands off or trying to fly aeroplanes into skyscrapers. Yes, I know Moslems sometimes have grievances but then so do many other people.

    But frankly I would like to see even the moderate Moslems be far more honest in admitting that there is currently a particular problem of violent intolerance coming from within their own religion, more than most others; and that Moslems often take advantage of a tolerance that they fail to show to others when they are in the majority.

    Few of us in Britain share the religious or scientific beliefs or political world view of the American Christian fundamentalist right-wing, for example, any more than most of us are Moslem.

    But there is the inmportant difference that it would not even occur to American fundamentalists to want to kill us for having a different belief from theirs. To a significant number of Moslems, it does.

    Likewise if we go to te USA our freedom of religion and freedom of speech are protected by the American constitutiuon, even if our views are abhorrent to the Christian majority there.

    Yet in e.g. most of Malaysia it is punishable by law for a former Moslem to convert to any other religion, and in Pakistan there is actually a death penalty for denying that Mohammed was a prophet of God. Yet I have never heard any Moslem spokesman in Britain express the slightest embarrassment at seeking a legal protection from discrimination and even from criticism few if any Moslem countries allow to those of a different belief.

    Even this business that we hear endlessly about the war in Iraq being wrong because “illegal”; well, if the Arabs had ever been militarilty strong enough to drive the Israelis into the sea, do you really think they would have given a damn about whether it was permitted by international law or United Nations resolutions?

  75. Simon: The acts which you cite were indeed the result of religious matters: and of course Christians were involved: in past centuries, Britain was overwhelmingly composed of Christians. There are cases today where one sect is locked in seemingly endless argument against another: both Sects professing Brotherly Love as their war cry. To experience this phenomenon, you must be aware that you will not have to travel too far.

    You have in fact just missed the 12th. , so we must wait another year for ” The Sash”( incidentally, I was unaware of this particular “difference of opinion”, until I was stranded in Glasgow , one fateful 11 July evening, when my train was delayed for a number of hours. An eyeopener!)

    However, my point about the instigators still stands. I believe that these acts were not the result of any stance taken by the ruling hierarchy of whichever religion was concerned in each case; rather the actions are those of separately acting individuals, who believed that there was no other way to prove a point.

    I suspect we now approach the crux of the matter in its particularity and totality.
    RELIGION,
    I was always told, that religion is a particularly personal way in which to express one’s belief in the omni -presence; the omni-prescience, of someone or something supernatural, a supreme being, known by special ‘Holy’ names or descriptive phrases, special in the sense that it would be recognized in the religion where it was conceived.. Religion does not always travel well, rather like some wines. Therefore it is better to drink from a known and trusted source, rather than from a suspect bottle.

    All religions claim, in some form or other, their own superiority over other religions, and jealously resent any incursions into their territory. Those religions and the followers thereof, who do tolerate other religious incursions into their previously exclusive territories, almost always end up regretting their misplaced trust. However, in many parts of the world, new religions are being founded and introduced to a seemingly insatiable and dissatisfied waiting public , and these new ?Religions? are typified by the particular missionary zeal of their followers. This should not give reason for; or incitement to street demonstrations or even acts of terrorism, sometimes culminating in’ war’: supposedly to prove the supremacy of one set of beliefs over another, but it very often does.

    Religion is a matter of Conscience; not of Science: of Belief; not of Knowledge; all are merely human attributes. These “facts”, as seen through the differently focussed eyes of the different disciples, are set to be argued forever, since there is no definitive answer to be found.

    The proponents of each branch of, “The One Truth”, are all equally convinced that theirs is the only way to God. None will brook an argument that they might be mistaken. The inevitable result will be conflict between the Religions; each one vying for the supremacy of THEIR brand of The Truth.

    As each religion becomes entrenched in its own monopolistically inclined ideology, there will be ‘war’: not necessarily physical war, although that is not unknown( Crusades), but war nonetheless; in which innocent people might get hurt, mentally as well as physically; in the name of a Supreme Being.

    In my opinion there are no innocent religions, there are only innocent victims of their struggle for Power and supremacy. Religion is, or at least should be, a private matter, residing in the heads and hearts of its followers..

    Remember the old favourite, often played on a honkey-tonk type of piano at School Assembly:-

    Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war; with the Cross—– Etc Etc Etc

  76. Macarnie: I agree with that analysis. That is why I think we should separate church and state and have strictly secular education.

    Freedom of religion (and freedom of speech) are essential, but the state should not be involved in church affairs, and church leaders should not hold un-elected political office.

  77. I was of the opinion , until recently , that normal paragraphing was sufficient. I learn by the day Simon.

  78. I may be posting somethimg here which , strictly speaking, belongs in another thread, but since I’m here now :- Simon, you recently asked what others thought was their idea the state of being “British” . Elsewhere I have made noises on this subject, but , faced with a direct question , I , unlike an obedient party politician of almost any grade in any party, I will endeavour to give an openly honest answer.
    ————————————————–As a human being, I am an amalgam the various additions, multiplications and divisions, of that(those) part(s) of the human gene pool which was(were) involved in producing me. This gene pool; if analysed and categorized, would, no doubt, show that I am made up of the characteristics of widely mixed ancestry. Up to now I have merely fuzzily described any of hundreds of millions of members of the human race, but not yet;exclusively; a Briton.

    Although the aboriginal population were the true British, they appear to have disappeared as a separate entity. I understand that little is known of them, apart from some archaeological discoveries, which apparently go as far back as the 8th Millennium BC, with traces of hunter

  79. Macarnie – You write beautifully and I feel swollen with British pride.

    Simon – I agree on the church and state point you made – another whose elegant analysis is admirable.

  80. Macarnie: ” . . .some of the things which make me a Brit. How about you?”

    Politically, I am (as you know) a member of the SNP. I would like to see the English, Welsh, Scots and Irish as a family of nations living in harmony and equality (rather as the Nordic countries do).

    The Britishness that you describe seems to be (subliminally at least) about supporting the monarchy, to which I am rather indifferent.

    I am British when I am with Americans, Chinese, Japanese etc – because they define me that way. Personally I feel akin to “Rick’ in the film Casablanca when he is asked “what is your nationality?” by the Nazi villain and replies “I’m a drunkard.” (Perhaps I should say “I’m a blogger”?) I consider myself a European.

    Of course I’m affected by patriotic thrills just like anyone else – comprehensively in my case – I am inspired by Burns, by the singing of the Marseillaise (e.g. in films like Renoir’s La Grand Illusion). I will never forget appearing in the (Tarkovsky production) coronation scene of Boris Godunov swinging a halberd to catch the light, as the bells of the Kremlin tolled and the people sang “Slava! Slava!” (Glory! Glory!) – unbelievable – and there must be lots of other examples.

    All the major countries have their good, and bad, points. I am or have been attracted to aspects of life in Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Russia, China, Japan, America and others. Fortunately I have never been in the situation where I was confined to one culture. It would be miserable.

    Imagine being condemned to British food, British drink, literature, TV, films, music, holiday resorts etc etc. horror, horror, horror . . .I suppose that is what prison must be like.

    Having said all that I must add that the English language has been of great importance in my life.

  81. Simon – I get your thinking a little clearer now ~ it takes a little time ~ sounds a good ideal to follow on from the Scandinavian example.

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