Friday, November 21, 2003

Are Bush and Blair causing more terrorism?

Russell Brown asserts that dislike of the US is driving the people of Turkey into the arms of al Qaeda - "Somebody's going to fill the gap, aren't they?".

Despite the fact that the present outpouring of hostility in Turkey towards those responsible for the bombings suggests this not to be the case (they at least see no common cause with bin Laden), it is worth looking at the logic behind Russell's argument.

He is arguing that somehow Bush and Blair have got it wrong, that in fact their actions have made countries like Turkey more susceptible to the appeal of terrorism. Is this really true?

Let's go back to the Clinton years for a moment. What was happening when Clinton (bi-passing the UN of course) was protecting Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo from Christian fascists? Bin Laden was planning 9/11 and carrying out bombings against US embassies in Africa, killing many locals. Islamic extremists were killing other Muslims from Algeria to Afghanistan. All this well before Bush came to office.

To me this suggests that al Qaeda's appeal and motives have little to do with who happens to be the President of the US or what their policies on terrorism are. Bin Laden and his mates have their own motivations. Does Russell really believe that the people who killed Australians because of East Timor would behave any differently if Al Gore was President?

This liberal confusion is evident in Polly Toynbee's article where she also blames Bush and Blair for the bombings in Turkey but then goes on to say:

"Turkey tried to protect itself from contamination with the war by denying US troops access through its land to northern Iraq. But it was a natural target for al-Qaida fundamentalists attempting to turn back the clock to an Islamic dark age. To them, Turkey's ever strengthening democracy is a western abomination."

If the terrorists are attacking Turkey because of its liberal values, which is patently true, then why blame Bush and Blair? Are liberals expecting them to renounce democracy in-order to appease bin Laden? Turkey would still be reforming if Gore was President, it would still be a target. (In fact I could see liberals arguing that it could be a greater target because Gore might have promoted reform more than Bush).

As for the deaths caused in Iraq, he makes a valid point that this issue is glossed over. However, nowhere have I seen any attempt by those who opposed the war to consider the cost in human lives their alternative strategies would have entailed. And since these people proclaim so loudly their concern for human life then that should be considered fundamentally dishonest as well. And perhaps if the anti-war crowd had not been so hysterical in their predictions of how many would be killed then their opinions might be worthy of greater respect.

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