Thursday, July 07, 2005

London--7 July 2005

"I and the school children know
What everyone must learn.
Those to whom evil is done,
Do evil in return."

--W.H. Auden

Evil does not repay evil; it merely propagates itself. But listening to the joint statement released by Tony Blair and the leaders of the G8 summit, I couldn't help but think that the words could as easily have come from Osama Bin Laden. I couldn't think of the scenes in London today, without thinking of the picture of the father in Iraq holding his child, her leg blown off, that was published in the UCC newsletter a year ago. She was injured in a bombing conducted by the U.S. and Britain. Or of the pictures of Baghdad after "shock and awe," that Michael Moore included in "Fahrenheit 911."

When is it terrorism, and when is it a military tactic?

This is Blair's statement:

It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London.

There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured and our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with victims and their families.

It's my intention to leave the G8 within the next couple of hours and go down to London and get a report face-to-face with the police and emergency services and the ministers that have been dealing with this, and then to return later this evening.

It is the will of all the leaders of the G8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions that we were going to reach.

Each of the countries round that table have some experience of the effects of terrorism and all the leaders, as they will indicate later, share our complete resolution to defeat this terrorism.

It's particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long-term problems of climate change and the environment.

Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it is also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8.

There'll be time to talk later about this.

It's 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.

Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world.
I don't disagree with him. But privilege is such an interesting issue. And violence is relied on, again and again, to give "us" a privileged position with respect to "them." When does it become clear that the "bigger stick" simply does not exist? That "our determination" is the same as theirs, our "extremism" the mirror of theirs, our defense of our values as vigorous as "theirs"? That "they" hold dear in their countries matters that we hold just as dear in ours.

Bush says we will "spread an ideology of hope and compassion, that will overwhelm their ideology of hate." And how will we do this, if our rhetoric and our actions are indistinguishable from that of our enemies? Blair says we will not allow violence to change our way of life; but we rely on violence to change theirs. We say they are monsters for attacking "innocent people." But how discriminating are our bombs, our "smart" missiles, our soldiers who open fire on cars that follow them too closely in Baghdad? The Home Secretary calls this an act of "unspeakable depravity, " and it is. But what do we expect?

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