The Fog of War is thick over London today, after officers shot and killed a man on the Tube for fear that he was a suicide bomber. Some eyewitness reports say the man had wires hanging out of his belt (note to self…) and that police shot him after he ignored their repeated commands to stop, while others say that he was carrying nothing remotely bomb-like and that the police shoved him to the ground before shooting him five times at point-blank range. Obviously, there’s a slight difference there. So far as I can tell, it’s simply too early to know what the hell actually happened, or to jump to any conclusions, either favorable or unfavorable toward the police officers. More here.
It is certainly not too early to say, however, that Australian Prime Minister John Howard is exactly right in responding thusly to the notion that the Brits and Aussies could extricate themselves from this whole terrorist mess simply by
giving Germany the Sudetenland withdrawing their troops from Iraq:
Once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it’s given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.
Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.
And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.
Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia’s involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn’t have done that?
When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan? …
The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.
Amen. The Anchoress makes the same point graphically; Oliver Roy points out that “In justifying its terrorist attacks by referring to Iraq, Al Qaeda is looking for popularity or at least legitimacy among Muslims. But many of the terrorist group’s statements, actions and non-actions indicate that this is largely propaganda, and that Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are hardly the motivating factors behind its global jihad.” (Read the whole thing.)
But while those arguments are certainly persuasive, I think the utter wrong-headedness of the “it’s because of Iraq” argument is best expressed (albeit unwittingly) by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, a radical Muslim cleric in England who notoriously praised the 9/11 attacks (and who is, at best, an apologist for Islamist terrorism generally). He tries to blame Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war for the recent attacks in London, but then adds: “I would like to see the Islamic flag fly, not only over number 10 Downing Street, but over the whole world.”
That is what we are dealing with here. The Islamist radicals don’t just want us out of their backyards — they want to take over ours. Just like we were foolish to ignore Hitler’s long-term goals for “Greater Germany” and pretend that he would be satisfied with a few incremental concessions here and there, we are foolish to ignore the Islamists’ long-term goal of a worldwide Islamic state.
Withdrawing from Iraq for fear of further attacks would not stop them — it would not even slow them down. On the contrary, it would encourage them, because it would show them that they can convince us to change our policies by terrorizing us. It would give them reason to hope that, with a few more attacks and a few more surrenders, maybe they really will be able to see the Islamic flag flying over the whole world. We must not feed that fantasy.
That’s not to say the Iraq war is necessarily justified — that’s a separate debate, but the debate must be conducted on our terms, not theirs. Whatever else might be said about Iraq, the terrorists’ ire is NOT a valid reason to consider withdrawing. Appeasement is not the answer.
Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. –Winston Churchill