Friday, July 08, 2005

Articulating a different analysis

Mike Marqusee offers some affirming words in the face of the attacks in London yesterday:

On 15th February 2003, some two million people gathered in London to demonstrate against the imminent attack on Iraq. I remember speaking to a neighbour who told me proudly that he was going on the march – his first ever protest march – because he was damned if he was going to let Tony Blair endanger his children’s lives by making London a prime target for attack.

Everything that has happened since then – the exposure of lie after lie, the deaths of British soldiers, the refusal of ground realities in Iraq to conform to Blair’s scenario - has further entrenched popular resentment of the war, widely seen as a result of Blair’s determination to court favour with George Bush. The prime minister calculates that the bomb blasts will unite British people behind their government and that a touch of well-rehearsed statesman-like gravitas will refresh his image. Much of the media will pump out the message that we are all under threat from faceless barbarians irrationally opposed to “our way of life”. It will be up to the anti-war movement to articulate a different analysis, to remind people that this attack is a consequence of our role in dishing out brutality in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, and to insist that no amount of moralistic posturing by our leaders can substitute for a desperately needed change in policy.
And Kim Peterson strikes a similar note:
The London bombings are terrorism and as such the actions are deplorable. But terrorism is terrorism no matter who is carrying it out. The numerous bombs, cruise missiles, cluster bombs, and napalm rained down on Iraqi civilians is no less terrorism and the horror and mayhem experienced by Iraqis no less than that experienced by Londoners. Western leaders who refuse to deplore and denounce the terrorism of the western world carry little moral dignity in condemning the London bombings.

The bombings are a sad day for all peace-loving people. But when the response to terrorism is further terrorism, people of peace can only mourn the lack of humanitarian values in their society.
Yes, yes. I can hear the cries of "moral equivalency" already, but this is precisely the sort of medicine the west needs right now.

It is possible, you know, to recognize these attacks as a major crime and to simultaneously acknowledge that they likely follow as a consequence of past actions that have inflicted far greater carnage and misery. The challenge now, as always, is to articulate a way to escape the cycle of violence characterized by ruthless western interventionism and those various forms of "blowback," especially acts like those witnessed yesterday in London.