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27 February 2007

The U.K. and the ‘War on Terror’ – “taking the fight to the enemy”

The U.K. and the ‘War on Terror’ – “taking the fight to the enemy”
John Sigler*, 31 January 2007

Listening to the BBC this morning in Denver, Colorado, the headline included yet another terrorist plot in the United Kingdom successfully foiled. In this instance, a series of raids in Birmingham resulted in the arrest of eight people. Presumably the operation serves as further vindication of the Terrorism Act and the “1,600 suspects in 200 terrorist cells under surveillance” [1] in Britain today.

On the surface, this would appear to be yet another example of MI5’s successful counter-terrorism efforts, but realistically this is misleading. In view of the actual results of most previous counter-terrorism operations, it will be a few months before we learn whether this mornings raids actually stopped a terrorist plot or was nothing more than the most recent in a string imaginary, or grossly exaggerated, plots [2] that has become the standard cover for British anti-Islamic harassment. [3]

Whether this is a real terrorist plot or not, what is certain is that it is another example of British acquiescence in the Bush policy of “we must take the fight to the enemy.” [4] More often than not, when people think of this phrase, the ongoing U.S. initiated wars in Afghanistan and Iraq come to mind, but this is only one part of the “strategy” such as it is. Indeed, if one reads the publications of the neo-conservative movement that has utterly dominated the Bush administration, one learns that Britain is in fact viewed by many in that camp as enemy territory, the “European center for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism.” [5] The primary difference separating Britain from Afghanistan and Iraq is that unlike those other countries, the U.K. voluntarily chose to permit its territory to serve as a battleground in Bush’s war, whereas Afghanistan and Iraq were not given a choice.

From the outset of Bush’s war the British government rallied behind the U.S. neo-conservatives, hopping into a fight that was not its own nor in its interests and even to this day thousands of British troops continue to serve as auxiliaries for the U.S. occupation and looting [6] of Iraq. This was promptly followed by a rush to radically curtail British civil rights so that Britain could properly be converted into a battlefield pitting the government against whatever people happened to seem suspicious, that is, of course, non-white immigrants. [7] Britain even went so far as to waive their citizen’s right to a fair hearing if the U.S. demands that they be extradited, a measure that was promptly applied to all manner of cases having nothing to do with “terrorism.” [8]

It was only after all these measures went into effect that the Islamists opted to accept Britain’s declaration of war and London fell victim to the horrific July 7 bombings of 2005, thereby satisfying Blair’s demands to be a full participant in the “War on Terror.” Needless to say, in the wake of these attacks, measures that had previously been provocative suddenly became prudent, and yet, unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the British still have the open option of not having their country used as a battleground for the U.S. war. Further, despite Blair’s utter sycophancy, the U.S. has been careful to keep our little battleground in its proper place, noting that its occupation auxiliaries aren’t really necessary [9] and that whatever silly pretensions to a “special relationship” there may be in Britain, in the U.S. it is nothing more than a “myth.” [10]

Despite Blair’s successful efforts to pull the United Kingdom into Bush’s war, decent people in Britain – including many Muslims [11] – continue to implore the government to stop sacrificing Britain’s security and liberties on behalf of Bush’s oil wars in the Middle East. What is a shame is that these voices of reason can’t personally bribe Blair with a distinguished retirement plan on par with the one he received from the neo-conservatives in Washington [12]. In the meantime, every time one hears headlines about terror plots in the United Kingdom, first one has to wonder whether or not it is real; and then assuming that it is, why the British government continues to allow its country to serve as an American battlefield.


* John Sigler is a writer and activist based in Denver, Colorado. He is actively involved with the Internet Activist project (http://www.internetactivist.org), the Colorado Palestine Solidarity Campaign (http://colorado-palestine.blogspot.com/), Jewish Friends of Palestine (http://www.jewishfriendspalestine.org/) and a myriad of others.

[1] Alan Cowell, “British Police Arrest 8 in Alleged Kidnapping Plot,” New York Times, 31 January 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/world/europe/31cnd-britain.html?hp&ex=1170306000&en=c6f1e4d60fb26e7f&ei=5094&partner=homepage

[2] Norm Dixon, “Britain: The mysterious case of the disappearing 'terror’ plots,” Green Left Weekly, 13 September 2006, http://www.greenleft.org.au/2006/683/7996

[3] “The UK Terror plot: what's really going on?,” craigmurray.co.uk, 14 August 2006, http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/archives/2006/08/the_uk_terror_p.html

[4] George Bush, “President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address,” The White House (website), 23 January 2007, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070123-2.html

[5] Melanie Phillips, cited in “A Slow Awakening to the Threat,” Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), 24 January 2007, http://www.jinsa.org/articles/articles.html/function/view/categoryid/147/documentid/3662/history/3,2359,2166,147,3662 For the record, JINSA is a leading Neo-Conservative “think tank” whose members include such notable Neo-Cons as Dick Cheney (prior to becoming vice-president), Richard Pearle, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, and many others.

[6] Deirdre Griswold, “Iraq's new oil law: not even a figleaf,” Worker’s World, 23 January 2007, http://www.workers.org/2007/world/iraq-oil-0201/

[7] Gaby Hinsliff and Martin Bright, “Sweeping new powers in UK war on terror,” The Observer, 22 February 2004, Reproduced by The Guardian: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/waronterrorism/story/0,1373,1153576,00.html?=rss

[8] “Bosses decry US extradition law,” BBC News, 29 June 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/5129678.stm

[9] Roy Denman, “Wanting it both ways: Blair fails to bond Britain to Europe or the U.S.,” International Herald Tribune, 28 March 2003 http://www.iht.com/articles/2003/03/28/edroy_ed3_.php

[10] Toby Harnden, “Britain's special relationship 'just a myth',” The Telegraph, 1 December 2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/30/wusuk30.xml

[11] Mushtak Parker, “UK Terror Plot: Muslim Leaders Speak Out,” Arab News, 13 August 2006, http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=79208&d=13&m=8&y=2006

[12] Rupert Hamer, “Is Blair off to join $30bn world elite?,” Sunday Mirror, 21 August 2005, Reproduced online at: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20050821/ai_n14921612

Since your post, students have asked me if I had contact information for Lenni Brenner. other speakers include Hatem Bizian of UC Berkeley and Norman Finklestein.

If you can email me at affadshaikh@gmail.com or my friend at mohammad.harake@gmail.com with information that will be great.
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