It would be foolish to deny that western powers have done many bad things, but the arrogant assumption that almost all the world’s ills, from African hunger to mass murder on the London Underground, can be laid at the door of western politicians is not only stupid, but deeply harmful to those who live outside the western world. It lets their own rulers, however murderous, off the hook, and prevents people from taking responsibility for their own societies. After all, if everything is the fault of Blair or Bush, or “neo-colonialism”, or “globalisation”, why bother?Read it all here.
The war in Iraq may not have been a sensible move. It probably did galvanise religious extremism. For the record, I was against it. But to claim that we should not have gone to war with Saddam Hussein because it puts us in the firing line of holy warriors seems a bad, and certainly cowardly argument. Britain would have been in their firing line anyway. Contrary to what Faisal Bodi says, jihadis do have an axe to grind with the western world. Long before Iraq was a gleam in Blair’s eyes, the west was in the holy warrior’s “sphere of hate”. Another false argument against action against Middle Eastern despots is that “we put them there”. Even if it is true that, say, Hussein or Osama bin Laden once had the support of Britain or the US, this is hardly a reason not to oppose them now. Should we have turned a blind eye to their crimes just because Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney once did business with them? This smacks of the same perverted logic which holds that an imperial past should prevent Europeans from condemning the bloody dictatorships that followed the independence of former colonies.
16 July 2005
7/7 - 3
Ian Buruma has a characteristically insightful piece in the FT magazine today, taking on leftist attempts to pin the blame for the London bombings on Tony Blair and George Bush:
Posted by Paul Anderson at 18:45