Friday, July 15, 2005
"LONDON CALLING, TO THE FARAWAY TOWNS...
ow that war is declared, and battle come down..."
I'm sure that the present situation isn't what Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had in mind when they wrote those words more than a quarter century ago, but they seem even more apropos today than at this time last week (when I noticed numerous opinion pieces, blog articles etc. with "London Calling" for their titles). Today, seeing the footage of Britons across their country honouring the fallen, including HM the Queen standing on her front porch in silence, it does feel as if London is calling. In cities and towns across the world, similar events took place in solidarity with Londoners, including a vigil at Legian, in Bali (where islamist bombs Oct. 12, 2002 killed more than 200). "Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls." Indeed.
By the way, the origin goes way before The Clash. BBC's Worldservice shortwave broadcasts used to open with the announcer saying, "This is London calling." Later, it was the title of the monthly Worldservice schedule magazine, which I think I still have a few old copies stuffed in a box somewhere. When they stopped mailing it out for free, I'd drop in to the British Council over in Siam Square to peruse their copy.
I've been alternately dismayed and encouraged by what I've heard and read over the past week in response to the London attack. Most encouraging of course, is the astounding speed at which the police investigation has uncovered the plot and perpetrators (I wanted to type perpetraitors). Having followed many stories over the past couple of years which made apparent the growing number of islamist hate preachers in Britain, and even the generous reception the country has given to such people after criminal convictions in their own countries (give them political refuge, a nice flat and state support), my own initial suspicion was that Britons would soon quite likely be shocked by the bombers' identities as local home grown jihadis. After all, the hate preachers have been working full time without much encumbrance, and even visiting foreign hate mongers like Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi had been welcomed and honoured by His Lordship Mayor Ken.
And the Lord Mayor provided a little on both sides of the ledger with his evocation of Churchillian resolve from Singapore. While the tough, uncompromising words were most welcome, parts of it made me uneasy. He emphasised that the bombers had killed and injured the common people, not the powerful. The targets were a reflection of London itself, people of all ethnicities and religions on the public transport, and not the political elite.
"This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever."It's almost as though this constitutes the really bad part -- that the slaughter was willy-nilly and without "considerations" that might have spared certain segments of society. I'm sure he couldn't have meant it that way, but I watched him speaking these words, and they left an uncomfortable impression that was at odds with the Winston-esque theme. Had the bombers killed 54 and wounded hundreds at, say, Scotland Yard -- would that have made a difference? In fact, how can one avoid the similarities with Michael Moore's attitude to September 11? Remember? He was outraged that al Qaeda had killed thousands of people who "didn't even vote for Bush" and were from the most Blue State (Democratic Party) of the Union, and the most "progressive, liberal" city in the US. Why kill thousands in New York, instead of say, Dallas or Houston or some other Republican place? Red Ken's speech of bulldog resolve held an unfortunate echo of Moore's inexcusable ravings, but maybe it was unintentional. I will hope so.
The Lord Mayor also revealed his own suspicions early (the precise opposite of mine), that the attackers were probably foreigners:
Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.Well they did (or at least three of them did) come to London to take life. All the way from Leeds. All known suspects are British born. Now as I said, this doesn't surprise me as it must have Mr. Livingstone. But the aspect that I am finding alarming is the consistent portrayal of these boys by the people who know them, as not having the classic jihadist attitude, to put it in shorthand. The same apparently for the older fellow, a primary school assistant teacher in his mid-30's. These people just do not fit the profile of suicide bombers, nobody ever heard them express the fundamentalist cliches, hatred for kuff'r, and all that. The teaching assistant left a wife and baby behind, his co-workers and the children apparently loved him.
As common as it seems to be these days in London and in the UK generally, to run across the preachers of intolerance and global jihad (not to mention their disciples, ever willing to give an incendiary quip to the media), the real surprise is the evident normalcy of all the suspects so far. Local born, well adjusted children of successful immigrant families, described by acquaintances with words like "sweet" and "kind". There are however, some reports now about one of the younger men having recently spent time at a Pakistani madrassa, becoming much more religiously devout and being angry about Iraq. Maybe the picture will become more clear in the coming days; if it turns out they were all mad at George Bush and his imperialistic war for oil, Haliburton and world domination, then I guess we'll just have to blame Hitler McChimpy for everything!
I wondered how long George Galloway would wait before doing so, but before I'd even started wondering, he was already out with his boneheaded announcement before the bodies had even stopped twitching. It was all Bliar and Chimpy's fault, these were just the latest victims of Iraq policy, I told you so, and on and on. What can one expect from Saddam's biggest booster? I saw him on BBC's domestic news program Newsnight on the weekend (broadcast on C-SPAN) where he was promoting this "I told you so" nonsense, and he was so rude and agressive to Gavin Essler, that Essler cut the interview short. What a clown.
Many commentators, Grauniadistas prime among them, began to bang on the same drum. We must understand the grievances of the bombers, which drove them to having no choices left but to blow up people on public transit. Of course nobody actually said it that way, but that's what it boils down to. I will not be linking you to purveyors of this attitude, though they are not hard to find. Reading some of these "progressive" opinions myself was enough to instill a feeling of despair for civilisation as we know it (and indeed, for the definition of the word progressive). I think that's why I've just had nothing to say for the past 9 days.
Some of the analysis though, has been excellent. Wretchard of Belmont Club has written a number of very good pieces on this in the past week (and has also come out of his anonymity in Sydney). One can also count on Christopher Hitchens to make powerful sense, as he does here in the Weekly Standard, and here in the Mirror. If you can stand to see Hitchens sweep the floor with another flaky lightweight, he was on Ronny Reagan's TV show last week. Transcript here, video here.
Norm Geras at normblog has written some great pieces since 7/7, and I particularly loved "Apologists among us." Sometimes I wonder whether the intellectual class who insist that the liberation of Iraq causes terrorism actually have an attention span that extends to before last week. It's as though bombings of embassies in Africa, bars in Bali, skyscrapers in New York, and countless other atrocities prior to March 2003 come from some alternative universe in which al Qaeda didn't declare war on us, smack in the middle of President Clinton's term of office. But maybe there's something I'm missing here, and it really is all Chimpy's fault. Yeah, I'll sign up for Gutfeld's Guide To Good And Evil seminar over at the Huffington Post. Deepak knows the way to dissolve the evil in men's hearts, after which we can all sit and share a halal snack together. Maybe some hot buttered Huffington's Toast?
I noticed a number of things following the London attack which seemed like echoes from September 11. The handwringing over understanding their grievances has been mentioned, why do they hate us? and all. The difference of course, is that for the Brits, they are us in a very real sense. But here again, moonbats coming out of the woodwork to propose theories that Tony Blair engineered the whole thing (if not Chimpy himself!). The conspiracist kook Justin Raimondo flogged his theories again, which boil down to something beginning with J, and ending with ooooooooos. But this time, how did all those types manage to be evacuated from crowded tube trains before the blasts? Never mind that; AP reported that an Israeli government delegation was given advance warning of the attack to ensure their safety. Complete bullshit of course, but you just know the "correction" isn't going to travel as far and wide as the original crap story. Thanks a lot AP. The Jews who didn't go to work on September 11 is an article of faith for many Muslims around the world to this day, and so will that fictitious AP story.
Moderate British Muslims are starting to stand up straight, which is certainly encouraging, and hopefully a corner will have been turned on this front. Despite all the agonising over "root causes," what comes more sharply into focus is that the phenomenon of islamist terror is not the product of a civilisational clash, but of a fundamental dispute within Islam itself. Islam is going to have to deal with its own reformation one way or another, and if this has been enough of a wake-up call for them, perhaps British Muslims will be able to show the way forward.
IRAQ AND ISLAMIST TERROR
hich came first? There are those who still insist that Saddam had nothing to do with terrorism, a statement usually backed up by the careful paraphrasing of a finding in the 911 commission report. The commission wrote that they had not found proof of a real, "operational cooperation" between al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime in carrying out the September 11 attacks. This is usually parsed into, "Saddam had no connections with terrorism!" (often with multiple exclamation points)
But in fact, the connections are many and varied over a considerable period of time. Stephen F. Hayes has written extensively on the links, and they really ought to be common knowledge by now. He and New York based writer Thomas Joscelyn bring us up to date with recent discoveries since the publication of Hayes' book The Connection, with a new article in Weekly Standard, The Mother of All Connections. It's quite long, but very much worth reading. This is a story you won't find in the New York Times or on CBS News, where the "no terrorists in Iraq, no WMD's, Bush lied us into war" mantra remains a framework upon which everything hangs. If the United States, Great Britain, Australia and more than 30 other countries had not liberated Iraq, just given what they knew then (which is a lot less than we know now), then I believe it would have amounted to dereliction of duty all around. Leaving him to string the world along for another dozen years, as the Chinese, French, Russians and Germans preferred, would have amounted to gross negligence.
Claudia Rosett, who is almost singlehandedly exposing the UN-Saddam collaboration in "Oil for Food", has further thoughts on Opinion Journal. Hayes promises there is a lot more to come, to be elaborated in upcoming articles in the Standard.
And if you ever hear someone lauding the "resistance" in Iraq (Michael Moore's Minutemen), just send them to this page for correction. Wai to the InstaPundit.