On Thursday 7 July, a series of bombs ripped through London’s transport system, claiming the lives of 56 people. Exactly two weeks later, on 21 July, another series of bombs were aimed at London transport. This time, however, there was no loss of life, as the bombs failed to explode. As one American progressive anti-war organisation – the International Action Centre – correctly stated, the “news is not that bombs killed more than 40 people today; it is that those people live in London rather than Basra”.
For the truth is that the Anglo-American imperialist army of occupation kills hundreds of innocent Iraqis every day of the week. While the bombers struck London and killed 56 people, precisely at that moment the US and British aggressors in Iraq would have been busy adding to the death list of 130,000 Iraqis they have killed since the commencement of the present predatory war against Iraq in March 2003. Yet not a single expression of grief was uttered by the chief executives of Anglo-American imperialism – Messrs Bush and Blair – over the deaths of those Iraqis.
In fact, the deaths in London were used by Bush and Blair, and most of their accomplices in the media, as an ex-post facto justification for their illegal, criminal and predatory war for domination. When all other pretexts for their war, ranging from the alleged possession by Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (no crime in any case) to the links of the former Ba’ath regime with terrorists, have been shown to be the barefaced lies that they always were, these two scoundrels are now attempting to justify the imperialist war against Iraq by reference to the London bombings, while at the same time denying the latter’s connection to the former!
Hypocritical Blair response
Blair’s reaction to the events of 7 July has been predictably hypocritical. Assuming the injured air of a victim, he attempted to contrast the “cruelty” of the London bombers with the “humanity” of the G8’s initiatives on Africa, climate change and the Middle East (as to the hollowness of the G8’s initiatives see elsewhere in this issue).
As though by way of a parody of the misdeeds of Anglo-American forces in Iraq, Blair stated that “terrorism” is “by its savagery designed to cover all conventional politics in darkness, to overwhelm the dignity of democracy and proper process with the impact of bloodshed and terror”. The Iraqi, the Afghan and the Palestinian people’s plights, who daily suffer from indignities and cruelty of imperialist savagery and occupation, not the honeyed and hypocritical words of Blair, bear eloquent testimony to the “dignity” of imperialist “democracy and its proper processes”.
In contrived, Churchillian tones, Blair stated: “It is important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.”
The “values” and “way of life” that Blair and his government seek to defend are those of imperialist exploitation, reliant on predatory wars for domination abroad and internal suppression and racism at home. These “values” can only be defended through indiscriminate bombing of civilians in places such as Iraq, by setting up torture chambers for abuse of those resisting aggression, and by detention without trial at home; and Blair’s government is more than willing to act in their defence. Since the defence of these imperialist values necessarily involves riding roughshod over the masses of humanity, it cannot but arouse the latter’s resentment, anger and resistance, and thereby sow the seeds of its own destruction. No matter with what determination the representatives of imperialism defend them, these values are hurtling to their well-deserved doom. In the struggle between imperialist “values” and humanity at large the latter is sure to emerge victorious. If there is anyone trying to “impose extremism on the world”, it is none other than imperialism – especially Anglo-American imperialism, with the guiding philosophy of market fundamentalism, compared with which Islamic fundamentalism pales into insignificance.
Iraq war and 7 July
Messrs Blair and Bush assert that the London bombings have nothing to do with war, and cite 11 September incidents in New York and Washington as an example, for these incidents preceded the current invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are, it seems, unable, or unwilling, to perceive the connection between earlier imperialist bombing raids, wars, sanctions and blockades and the September 11 happenings. Even the Financial Times, taking its cue from the likes of Blair, mindlessly asserts in its leading article of 9 July that the Islamists hate London, for it “is a living breathing refutation of everything the jihadi fanatics believe in” and because it “disproves the[ir] thesis that mankind is doomed to a clash of civilisations”.
As for Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, like the slippery opportunist he is, he makes mutually contradictory statements. Hours after the bombings, he declared that the bombers were seeking to destroy the values of free society, that there was no ideology or faith behind the attacks, nor was London attacked as a retribution for the Iraq war, and that theirs was “simply a criminal attempt at mass murder”. The following week, on BBC’s Today programme, he correctly stated that the bombings were the consequence of British and American foreign policy in the Middle East since the first world war.
It is to the credit of the British proletariat that it has not fallen for the argument that the bombings of 7 July had nothing to do with the Iraq war. In fact, most people have all along believed that it was not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ London would become a bombing target. The police were certainly of this view, as indeed were the government. Blair and his cronies have to stick to the version of a lack of connection between the Iraq war and 7 July events because they do not want to accept responsibility for their criminal actions in Iraq or London
To spoil things for Blair, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), a respected bourgeois think-tank, in its report of 18 July, warned that Blair’s positioning of Britain as a “pillion passenger” to the US ‘war on terror’ is proving a key impediment in preventing terrorism in Britain. The RIIA report says: “Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and US military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure, and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign.” The war in Iraq, it adds, “gave a boost to the al-Qaeda network’s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, provided an ideal targeting and training area for al-Qaeda linked terrorists”.
Almost alone among the bourgeois journalists, Robert Fisk had the courage to openly state:
“‘If you bomb our cities,’ Osama bin Laden said in a recent videotape, ‘we will bomb yours.’ It was clear Britain would be a target ever since British Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to join President Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and his invasion of Iraq. We had, as they say, been warned. The G-8 summit was obviously chosen, well in advance, as Attack Day.
“It’s no use Blair telling us, ‘They will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear.’ They are trying to get public opinion to force Blair to withdraw from Iraq, out of his alliance with the United States, out of his adherence to Bush’s policies in the Middle East. The Spanish paid the price for their support for Bush – and Spain’s subsequent retreat from Iraq proved that the Madrid bombings achieved their objectives – while the Australians were made to suffer in Bali.
“It is easy for Blair to call yesterday’s bombings ‘barbaric’ – they were – but what were the civilian deaths of the Anglo American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the children torn apart by cluster bombs, the innocent Iraqis gunned down at American military checkpoints. When they die, it is ‘collateral damage’; when ‘we’ die it is ‘barbaric terrorism’.
“If we are fighting insurgency in Iraq what makes us believe insurgency won’t come to us? One thing is certain: If Blair really believes that by ‘fighting terrorism’ in Iraq we could more efficiently protect Britain, this argument is no longer valid.” (‘The reality of this barbaric bombing’, The Independent, 27 July 2005)
Fundamentalism – a product of imperialism
In the aftermath of the second world war, the Arab peoples had begun to smash the chains of colonialism and embarked on the path of constructing a new life through the productive use of their oil wealth. Imperialism, through its alliance with the most barbaric, medieval and feudal puppet regimes, helped to destroy the proletarian and nationalist forces, thus driving anti-imperialist opposition to the mosques, from where it could only voice its grievances in the language of Islam. In the interests of the selfish aims of its financial manipulators, oil and armaments monopolies, Anglo-American imperialism, while hypocritically talking about freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights, successfully managed to leave the Arab masses marooned in a collection of tyrannies run by the autocratic stooges of imperialism.
This tyranny, and the collusion of US and British imperialism with it, is the greatest source of rage in the Arab world. As a result, writes David Gardner, in the Financial Times of 9 July: “The overwhelming majority of Muslims do not hate us for our freedoms. They do, however, despise these policies and some of the more frustrated among them are thereby prey to the siren songs of the jihadis.”
Thus the root causes of the conflict in the Middle East, and their ramifications in London, Madrid, New York and Washington, lie in the imperialist wars of domination, on the one hand, and the resistance of the Arab masses to this domination, on the other hand.
Instead of learning this lesson, the imperialist governments are bound to treat the London bombings as a justification for further repression and the state’s intrusion into the citizens’ lives through ID cards, further anti-terror legislation and other devices giving unlimited powers to the police. The shooting by the police in cold blood of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent young electrician of Brazilian origin, in London on 22 July is merely a foretaste of the shoot-to-kill policy being put in place to deal with the slightest manifestation of resistance – all in the name of protecting the public. New legislation is being hurried onto the statute book, which will create new crimes such as ‘acts preparatory to terrorism’, allow the use of telephone intercepts in court proceedings and increase the ‘haystack’ of electronic data with the hope of making easier the location of terrorist ‘needles’.
Imperialism would not be imperialism if it adopted any other course. Driven by its own inherent contradictions – by the crisis of profitability – it is driven to wars for domination abroad and suppression of dissent at home.
Duty of the working class
The working class movement for its part must insist that the bombings on 7 July are the inevitable consequence of the criminal predatory wars for conquest and domination by our ruling class in close alliance with the US; that the peace and prosperity of the peoples in the centres of imperialism are indivisible from the peace and prosperity of the oppressed peoples. We must demand the immediate withdrawal of the British forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and work for a just solution to the Palestinian problem.
We must not fall into the trap of equating the violence of the oppressed with the violence of imperialism. Instead, we must insist that innocent Londoners have paid the price for the criminal deeds of our government, which must be held fully responsible for the tragedy in London and for the bigger tragedy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
That the London bombers were all home-grown points to two important facts. First, that there is alienation of the Muslim youth in Britain through poverty, unemployment, poor housing, run-down schools, racism and heavy-handed policing. Added to this is their anger and frustration at the wars waged by Anglo-American imperialism in the Middle East, the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, in Abu Ghraib, in Bagram, and in “iniquitous but unacknowledged facilities where certain allied governments can practise torture unrestrained by law”. (Financial Times, 12 July)
Second, it testifies to the miserable state of the working-class movement, which is unable to channel the legitimate anger of the youth along the road that leads to a far more effective struggle against imperialism. While fighting against the discrimination meted out by our ruling class to various ethnic minorities, we must multiply our efforts at building a strong working-class movement capable of exposing opportunism and rendering full support to the national liberation struggles against imperialism.
While sending our condolences to the families of the bereaved, we pledge to build precisely such a movement.
You can read the CPGB-ML’s statement on the 7 July bombings at: archive.cpgb-ml.org/statements