VICTORIA WHITE: To end atrocities like Nice we must first accept what drives them

In an update to her weekly column, Victoria White, argues that we can never come to the beginning of the end of atrocities such as Nice if we don't understand that Bastille Day doesn't mean the same thing to many Arabs as it does to the French.

Algerians don't remember too much "egalite, liberte and fraternite" from their horrific war of independence with France between 1954 and 1962 which France attempted to suppress with appalling ferocity. French estimates of the death toll run to about 450,000 while the Alergian estimate is 1.5 million people.

The 50th anniversary of the peace agreement was marked with official queasiness but it was then-President Sarkozy who came out in the city of Nice with the line, "There were atrocities on both sides... but France cannot repent having conducted this war."

When I visited refugee camps in Greece last month "being sent to France" was a running bad joke among the Syrians who mostly seemed to see France as an oppressor.

Travelling around Tunisia and Morocco I have had cause to be glad we were colonised by the British and not the French for they are countries in which the ability to self-govern seems to have been severely compromised.

Our lack of any will to understand that we westerners are often seen as savage oppressors in the Muslim world creates the vacuum into which leaders like Tony Blair and George W. Bush can step and create mayhem. Which in turn creates a scenario for a lone psychopathic Tunisian to con himself that there is justice in ploughing into innocent people out enjoying themselves on a public holiday.

Which in turn creates a scenario for a lone psychopathic Tunisian to con himself that there is justice in ploughing into innocent people out enjoying themselves on a public holiday.

Even a glance at the main findings of the Chilcot report into the Iraq War should bring a chill to the heart of every citizen of the western world.

It makes clear that there was no urgency about disarming or effecting regime change in Iraq. British intelligence believed Iraq probably had biological and chemical weapons, because the US had sold Saddam Hussein anthrax and Thatcher’s government approved chemical and munitions factories there.

But they asked: “Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years and which we helped to create?” As for Iraq posing a terrorist threat, British Intelligence had told its government that there was no evidence of any collaboration between Iraq and Islamic terrorists and they judged it “unlikely”.

Yet the pretence for the invasion of Iraq was 9/11 and Chilcot says that “Mr Blair encouraged President Bush to address the issue of Iraq in the context of a wider strategy to confront terrorism after the attacks.” I have always seen the 9/11 context as a convenient excuse for regime change considered necessary for the free flow of oil out of the region. After reading Chilcot, I have changed my mind. It seems paranoia gripped the US and UK establishments after 9/11, born from their astonishment that mere

I have always seen the 9/11 context as a convenient excuse for regime change considered necessary for the free flow of oil out of the region. After reading Chilcot, I have changed my mind. It seems paranoia gripped the US and UK establishments after 9/11, born from their astonishment that mere A-rabs could launch a major attack on western soil.

Blair himself conflated al Qaeda with Iraq when asked if he was worried that an invasion would recruit Islamic terrorists: “Unless we take action against them, they will grow.”

How could it be argued that attacking Saddam Hussein would disarm al Qaeda, unless from the position that Arabs are all the same? Arabs — or anyone else silly enough to wear tea-towels on their heads, such as Afghans — had to be taught once and for all who was boss.

We tend to forget that Islamic terrorism and indeed “the war on terror” originated in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the last stand-off of the Cold War between the USSR and the US.

Afghanistan, sitting as it does bang in the middle of the Passage to India and all that tea, was invaded by Britain in 1839, 1878, and 1919 but the only policy they evolved in relation to this mountainous country was to arm the locals against each other.

The Soviets, who invaded in 1979 were defeated by local Islamist fighters armed by the US and controlled by Pakistan. Back then, American paranoia was mostly triggered by Russkies, not Muslims. As Afghanistan expert Christina Lamb puts it in her book, Farewell Kabul, “the US was happy to use Islam as a rallying cry.”

The University of Nebraska produced textbooks for primary school-children known as the “ABC of Jihad” which contained such charming ditties as “J is for Jihad. Jihad is an obligation.”

The Americans were apparently delighted to see the Afghan Jihad attract fighters from all over the Middle East and Lamb says reception centres were set up for Arabs in Pakistan’s airports. They were particularly delighted when a rich Saudi arrived called Osama Bin Laden.

The US set up Afghanistan as the perfect laboratory conditions in which to grow the Islamist terrorist movement which plotted 9/11. They temporarily defeated the Taliban in the wake of the atrocity But Christina Lamb’s portrait of US-mandate in Afghanistan is devastating.

She writes of Tarts and Taliban dress-up parties in western compounds, of poor and under-resourced military planning and of walking into President Karzai’s HQ to find his officials watching Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Meanwhile Islamist terrorism was allowed to fester, ISIS was forming in Iraq’s Camp Bucca and Osama Bin Laden had a nice house less than a kilometre from Pakistan’s leading military academy.

Everything about the “taking out” of Bin Laden compounded Western errors. There was no “fire fight”, as Barack Obama told the American people. Bin Laden was shot at point blank range, watched on TV by Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton back in Washington. “We got him,” announced Obama, as if he had just caught a big fish.

Back in an aircraft hangar in Afghanistan Admiral William McRaven laid Bin Laden’s corpse out to measure it and make sure he had the right man but he didn’t have a measuring tape. Obama later presented him with a measuring tape mounted on a plaque.

The fiction of a West so powerful it can win wars while watching telly has continued. Any remaining hummock of moral high ground was abandoned. Bin Laden’s son Hamza is vowing to take revenge for his father’s death and he will succeed.

Radical Islamic terrorism is clearly a response to Western imperialist invasions of Islamic countries. The “taking out” of Arab dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Bashar-al-Assad has cleared the ground for the growth of Islamic terrorism but the hatred of the Western Crusader has been their rallying cry.

Tony Blair was explicitly warned by British intelligence that an invasion of Iraq would “act as a recruiting sergeant for a young generation through the Islamic and Arab world” and his numbskull response was that the West had to get its retaliation in first. It seems any Arab nation would do.

A quarter of a million people died in the Iraq War, including 179,585 civilians. At least 92,000 Afghans have been killed since 2001, 26,000 of them civilians. We are faced with the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. And Theresa May, who voted for the invasion of Iraq, has a tough stance on immigration as her calling card.

Chilcot must mark the end the use of Shannon by US military. It is time for Ireland to move definitively away from the UK and the US on foreign policy and take the line of France and Germany who refused point blank to support this mindless invasion.

**** 

THE FULL TEXT OF VICTORIA'S ORIGINAL COLUMN 

Radical Islamic terrorism a response to our Western imperialist invasions

Is it time for Ireland to move definitively away from the UK and the US on foreign policy, asks Victoria White

EXACTLY a week since the Chilcot Report found that one British prime minister had undermined the UN by invading a sovereign state due to an unfounded conviction that it posed a terrorist threat a new prime minister eis installed whose big promise is a tough stance on immigration.

Earlier this year Theresa May even suggested ending the UK’s support of the European Convention on Human Rights because it “tied their hands” when seeking to deport foreign nationals. Her big “win” was the deportation of Islamic cleric Abu Qatada though it was claimed he might face torture in Jordan. He was eventually found “not guilty” of any links with terrorism.

She hasn’t come out with Donald Trump and said she’s going to stop Muslims coming to the UK. She’s just said she’s going to bring immigration down to “sustainable levels”. I predict a wee difference of opinion as to what is a “sustainable” level of immigration between Brexit voters and those in the EU negotiating the UK’s access to their markets.

The Tories have done Tony Blair a big favour by creating such a rumpus this week that Chilcot has virtually disappeared from the news media. But even a glance at its main findings should bring a chill to the heart of every citizen of the western world.

It makes clear that there was no urgency about disarming or effecting regime change in Iraq. British intelligence believed Iraq probably had biological and chemical weapons, because the US had sold Saddam Hussein anthrax and Thatcher’s government approved chemical and munitions factories there.

But they asked: “Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years and which we helped to create?” As for Iraq posing a terrorist threat, British Intelligence had told its government that there was no evidence of any collaboration between Iraq and Islamic terrorists and they judged it “unlikely”.

Yet the pretence for the invasion of Iraq was 9/11 and Chilcot says that “Mr Blair encouraged President Bush to address the issue of Iraq in the context of a wider strategy to confront terrorism after the attacks.” I have always seen the 9/11 context as a convenient excuse for regime change considered necessary for the free flow of oil out of the region. After reading Chilcot, I have changed my mind. It seems paranoia gripped the US and UK establishments after 9/11, born from their astonishment that mere A-rabs could launch a major attack on western soil.

Blair himself conflated al Qaeda with Iraq when asked if he was worried that an invasion would recruit Islamic terrorists: “Unless we take action against them, they will grow.” How could it be argued that attacking Saddam Hussein would disarm al Qaeda, unless from the position that Arabs are all the same? Arabs — or anyone else silly enough to wear tea-towels on their heads, such as Afghans — had to be taught once and for all who was boss.

We tend to forget that Islamic terrorism and indeed “the war on terror” originated in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the last stand-off of the Cold War between the USSR and the US.

Afghanistan, sitting as it does bang in the middle of the Passage to India and all that tea, was invaded by Britain in 1839, 1878, and 1919 but the only policy they evolved in relation to this mountainous country was to arm the locals against each other.

The Soviets, who invaded in 1979 were defeated by local Islamist fighters armed by the US and controlled by Pakistan. Back then, American paranoia was mostly triggered by Russkies, not Muslims. As Afghanistan expert Christina Lamb puts it in her book, Farewell Kabul, “the US was happy to use Islam as a rallying cry.”

The University of Nebraska produced textbooks for primary school-children known as the “ABC of Jihad” which contained such charming ditties as “J is for Jihad. Jihad is an obligation.” The Americans were apparently delighted to see the Afghan Jihad attract fighters from all over the Middle East and Lamb says reception centres were set up for Arabs in Pakistan’s airports. They were particularly delighted when a rich Saudi arrived called Osama Bin Laden.

The US set up Afghanistan as the perfect laboratory conditions in which to grow the Islamist terrorist movement which plotted 9/11. They temporarily defeated the Taliban in the wake of the atrocity But Christina Lamb’s portrait of US-mandate in Afghanistan is devastating. She writes of Tarts and Taliban dress-up parties in western compounds, of poor and under-resourced military planning and of walking into President Karzai’s HQ to find his officials watching Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Meanwhile Islamist terrorism was allowed to fester, ISIS was forming in Iraq’s Camp Bucca and Osama Bin Laden had a nice house less than a kilometre from Pakistan’s leading military academy.

Everything about the “taking out” of Bin Laden compounded Western errors. There was no “fire fight”, as Barack Obama told the American people. Bin Laden was shot at point blank range, watched on TV by Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton back in Washington. “We got him,” announced Obama, as if he had just caught a big fish.

Back in an aircraft hangar in Afghanistan Admiral William McRaven laid Bin Laden’s corpse out to measure it and make sure he had the right man but he didn’t have a measuring tape. Obama later presented him with a measuring tape mounted on a plaque.

The fiction of a West so powerful it can win wars while watching telly has continued. Any remaining hummock of moral high ground was abandoned. Bin Laden’s son Hamza is vowing to take revenge for his father’s death and he will succeed.

Radical Islamic terrorism is clearly a response to Western imperialist invasions of Islamic countries. The “taking out” of Arab dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Bashar-al-Assad has cleared the ground for the growth of Islamic terrorism but the hatred of the Western Crusader has been their rallying cry.

Tony Blair was explicitly warned by British intelligence that an invasion of Iraq would “act as a recruiting sergeant for a young generation through the Islamic and Arab world” and his numbskull response was that the West had to get its retaliation in first. It seems any Arab nation would do.

A quarter of a million people died in the Iraq War, including 179,585 civilians. At least 92,000 Afghans have been killed since 2001, 26,000 of them civilians. We are faced with the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. And Theresa May, who voted for the invasion of Iraq, has a tough stance on immigration as her calling card.

Chilcot must mark the end the use of Shannon by US military. It is time for Ireland to move definitively away from the UK and the US on foreign policy and take the line of France and Germany who refused point blank to support this mindless invasion.


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