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8 August 2005updated 24 Sep 2015 11:31am

The usual suspect

Two weeks ago in these pages, John Pilger argued that the London bombings were the inevitable conseq

By Tom Harris

It is a tempting indulgence to claim that Tony Blair’s Iraq policy was responsible for the attacks on London’s transport system. No doubt the Iraq war and occupation provided an excuse in the minds of the bombers, but what kind of logic concludes that, were it not for this aspect of our foreign policy, we would be immune from such actions?

Either the war was justified or it was not, and all the arguments on either side were exhausted long before 7 July, yet opponents of the war insist the events of that day strengthen their case. As if we needed confirmation that Islamists don’t approve of western policy in the Middle East. As if all it would take to remove the UK from the Islamists’ hit list was a change in policy and/or government.

Islamism – as opposed to Islam itself – aims to establish Islamic rule over all Muslim lands (or over the whole globe, depending on which branch is speaking), and that means imposing sharia law, with all it entails for democracy and human rights. Islamism wants the total destruction of Israel and its replacement by a greater Palestine, and it maintains that western society does not deserve to survive. Yes, Islamists also strongly oppose western involvement in any Arab or Middle Eastern country, but that is a small part of their agenda. Spain’s experience shows that when troops are withdrawn the terrorists merely gain courage.

And what if Iraq were the overriding motivation for the London attacks? Would that be reason to capitulate? Were the 21 deaths in the IRA bombings in Birmingham in 1974 caused by Britain’s commitment to keep Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom? If they were, was that justification for British troops to leave Northern Ireland?

There is a reluctance, particularly among the anti-Blair middle classes who marched against the Iraq war in 2003, to accept that any form of Islam might be responsible for the new terror. For some, any admission that the threat emanates from within one specific ethnic or religious grouping represents a retreat from territory hard won in the fight against racial discrimination. Such scruples may be commendable, but the result is that instead of pointing the finger of blame where it belongs, it is pointed in a familiar, easy direction: at Tony Blair and George Bush.

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The government and our security services need all the support they can get in dealing with the real threat. To deny them that support would be very dangerous indeed.

Tom Harris is Labour MP for Glasgow South

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