Tariq Ali Clears Things Up

I was planning, in the spirit of ‘sod you,’ to return to regular programming. I was planning to say more on that Noam Chomsky article, as I had intended to do yesterday until I turned the radio on; then once I started reading, I was planning to say something about that interview with Judith Butler. But now instead I’m going to say something about Tariq Ali, because there he is again, and I find I can’t just ignore him. It’s not my nature. (I wonder if, if I started taking Prozac, or some other brain-chemistry-tweaking drug, I would find myself able to ignore things like articles by Tari Ali. No doubt I would. What a horrible prospect.)

First let’s look at some idiosyncratic logic.

The bombers who targeted London yesterday are anonymous. It is assumed that those who carried out these attacks are linked to al-Qaida. We simply do not know. Al-Qaida is not the only terrorist group in existence. It has rivals within the Muslim diaspora. But it is safe to assume that the cause of these bombs is the unstinting support given by New Labour and its prime minister to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So we simply do not know (whether those who carried out these attacks are linked to al-Qaida). I take that to mean (though it’s not explicitly said) that it is therefore wrong to assume that they are. However, it is ‘safe to assume that the cause of these bombs is the unstinting support given by New Labour and its prime minister to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.’ Why? Why is that safe to assume while the other (apparently, though it’s not explicit) is not?

But on to a more basic point.

Most Londoners (as the rest of the country) were opposed to the Iraq war. Tragically, they have suffered the blow and paid the price for the re-election of Blair and a continuation of the war.

So it’s ‘safe to assume’ that the bombing wouldn’t have happened if the Tories had won the election? Is it safe to assume that? Is it safe to assume that that’s the only ‘reason’ the bombers put their backpacks where they did? It seems more tottery than safe, to me.

Ever since 9/11, I have been arguing that the “war against terror” is immoral and counterproductive. It sanctions the use of state terror – bombing raids, torture, countless civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq – against Islamo-anarchists whose numbers are small, but whose reach is deadly. The solution then, as now, is political, not military. The British ruling elite understood this perfectly well in the case of Ireland.

The solution is political. Is it. Meaning what? Meet and negotiate with whatever group or party or government-in-exile planted the bombs? Well, first, to do that one has to know who that is, which means whoever it is has to say: ‘We are the group who did this.’ One group has done that so far; opinions differ on how credible the claim is, but perhaps they could be invited to a diplomatic meeting anyway. Would that work? Does Tariq Ali think it would work? Would the group accept the invitation, would it offer proposals that anyone could agree to? Would, say, Blair and various other heads of states agree to impose Sharia on all the relevant countries? Would they agree to impose Talibanization on all the relevant countries? Would the group in question accept anything less?

But T.A. apparently doesn’t mean exactly that. Negotiations and meetings aren’t part of the package, it seems.

The real solution lies in immediately ending the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine…The principal cause of this violence is the violence being inflicted on the people of the Muslim world. And unless this is recognised, the horrors will continue.

The ‘Muslim world’? What’s that? But more to the point, which violence? In many places in the ‘Muslim world’ most or all of the violence being inflicted is by Muslims on other Muslims – men on women, Islamists on non-Islamists, ‘guardians’ on people who wish they would piss off and leave them alone. But that’s not the violence he has in mind, if I understand him correctly. Well – why does he ‘assume’ that only one kind of violence breeds resentment?

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