In the face
of terror attacks Anglo-Saxon politicians mouth the same rhetoric.
One sentence in particular - shrouded in layers of untruth - is
constantly repeated: 'We shall not permit these attacks to change
our way of life.' It is a multi-purpose mantra. The first aim
is to convince the public that the terrorists are crazed Muslims
who are bombing modernity/democracy/freedom/'our values', etc.
This is the
first lie. The terror attacks, however misguided and criminal,
are a result of the Western military presence in the Arab world.
If all the foreign troops and bases were withdrawn, the attacks
would cease. This is essentially a post-First Gulf war syndrome.
is another issue, but that has been simmering for 50 years and
was not the main reason for the bombings in New York, Madrid and
London. It has now been added to the repertoire, but the struggle
to force Israel back to the 1967 frontiers is one waged by the
Palestinians themselves. They have received little support from
terror attacks, however misguided
and criminal, are a result of the
Western military presence in the Arab
world. If all the foreign troops and
bases were withdrawn,
the attacks would cease.
itself is a falsehood, because the attacks have changed 'our way
of life'. The Patriot Act in the United States and the measures
being proposed by Tony Blair in Britain demonstrate this quite
clearly. What is being proposed in Britain is the indefinite suspension
of habeas corpus. Worried by the recent judicial activism with
senior Judges in Britain expressing a real concern at the growing
attack on civil liberties, Tony Blair warned them in public that
he would brook no dissent:
obstacles arise, we will legislate further, including, if necessary
amending the Human Rights Act, in respect of the interpretation
of the ECHR. In any event, we will consult on legislating specifically
for a non-suspensive appeal process in respect of deportations.
One other point on deportations. Once the new grounds take effect,
there will be a list drawn up of specific extremist websites,
bookshops, centres, networks and particular organisations of concern.
Active engagement with any of these will be a trigger for the
home secretary to consider the deportation of any foreign national.
As has been stated already, there will be new anti-terrorism legislation
in the autumn. This will include an offence of condoning or glorifying
terrorism. The sort of remarks made in recent days should be covered
by such laws. But this will also be applied to justifying or glorifying
terrorism anywhere, not just in the UK."
British Parliament accept this view and legislate in favour of
the new authoritarianism? Probably. It is a parliament dominated
by cons and neo-cons. If Blair is a second-rate politician with
a third-rate mind, his Conservative opponent, Michael Howard,
is a third-rate politician with a second-rate mind. He has both
accused Blair of inconsistencies and demanded even tougher measures.
In reality he is Blair's echo-chamber.
is proposing that judges who
try Muslim suspects should themselves
be security-vetted. In other words
files will be opened to determine
the reliability of judges.
In a recent
article in the Daily Telegraph, Howard denounced the law lords'
(Britain's equivalent of the Supreme Court) decision last year.
The judges had stated that the indefinite detention without trial
of foreign terror suspects under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act contravened
the Human Rights Act, and referred to the difficulties the latter
act creates for deporting extremists to countries where they may
face persecution or torture. Wrote Howard:
must be supreme. Aggressive judicial activism will not only undermine
the public's confidence in the impartiality of our judiciary.
It could also put our security at risk - and with it the freedoms
the judges seek to defend. That would be a price we cannot be
expected to pay."
we note a refusal to accept what really puts 'security at risk'.
These views of the neo-con Blairites and the old Conservatives
are an indication that Britain is undergoing a crisis of representation.
The corrupt first-past-the-post electoral system has now become
a serious threat to democratic functioning in Britain. Blair was
re-elected with only 35 per cent of the popular vote, and barely
a fifth of the overall electorate-the lowest percentage secured
by any governing party in recent European history. A majority
of the population opposed the war in Iraq; a majority of the population
favors withdrawing British troops; 66 per cent believe that the
attacks on London were the result of Blair's decision to send
troops to Iraq.
does not like to be bracketed
with right-wing religious
fundamentalists in the United States,
but like many of them he is
a genuine 'friend of Israel'..."
This is also
the view of important sections of the Establishment, including
MI5, the intelligence agency whose web-site makes the link of
Iraq to the terror attacks. Many measures proposed were tried
during the years of the Irish 'troubles'. Special courts sanctioned
imprisonment without trial, etc. But judges were more reliable
in those days. That is why Blair is proposing that judges who
try Muslim suspects should themselves be security-vetted. In other
words files will be opened to determine the reliability of judges.
Blair was denouncing soft judges, his wife Cherie Booth, a practicing
lawyer who will have to carry on working after her husband is
no longer Prime Minister, contradicted the Dear Leader in a public.
In a lecture in Kuala Lumpur she said:
democracy must fight with one hand tied behind its back. None
the less, it has the upper hand. Preserving the rule of law and
recognition of individual liberties constitutes an important component
of its understanding of security. At the end of the day, this
strengthens its spirit, and this strength allows it to overcome
its difficulties. Our institutions are under threat; our commitments
to our deepest values are under pressure; our acceptance of difference
is at a low point. At this time our understanding of the importance
of judges in a human-rights age should be at its clearest. And
it is at this time that our support for the difficult task that
judges have to perform must be at its highest."
the case, it is now obvious
that there will be no peace in Britain
or Iraq as long as Blair
remains Prime Minister.
He is part of the problem,
not the solution.
In the latest
New Left Review, reviewing a new biography of Blair, the historian
Richard Gott suggested that it was religion that explained Blair's
isolation from his own people:
"As an overtly
religious prime minister, Blair has been at odds with the larger
part of his country which, like most of Europe, has become increasingly
secular in recent years. His religious fervour - he was, unusually,
confirmed in the Anglican communion as an adult, when a student
at Oxford - is a relatively unfamiliar phenomenon in contemporary
Blair, who has apparently read through the Koran three times,
sometimes seems more at home with the Muslim revival experienced
by part of the British electorate than with the secular style
of the Church of England. Blair does not like to be bracketed
with right-wing religious fundamentalists in the United States,
but like many of them he is a genuine 'friend of Israel', a country
that he visited twice before becoming prime minister. His knowledge
of and support for Israel has long been guided by Lord Levy, a
millionaire in the music business who became Blair's tennis partner,
the Labour Party's chief fundraiser and, for a while, the prime
minister's eyes and ears in the Middle East."
the case, it is now obvious that there will be no peace in Britain
or Iraq as long as Blair remains Prime Minister. He is part of
the problem, not the solution. His departure has become an important
prerequisite to a safe Britain, which could detach itself from
the Pentagon and acquire a tiny measure of independence.
Tariq Ali is author of the recently released Street Fighting Years
(new edition) and, with David Barsamian, Speaking of Empires &
Resistance. He can be reached at: [email protected]
published in Il Manifesto, Rome on Aug 12 2005)
here to order Tariq Ali books.
Other articles by Tariq Ali:
A Viler Barbarism
The Price Of Occupation
The New Ultra-Imperialism Of The World
"They Think God Runs The IMF"
Imperial Delusions: "Domocracy Promotion" And Resistance
The New Model Of Imperialism: Saddam On Parade
The Importance Of Hugo Chavez: Why He Crushed The Oligarchs
Getting Away With Murder
The War Is Not Going Well For Bush