Robert Fisk on where wars are fought

Middle East Realities spared me the expense of paying to read Robert Fisk’s column today in the Guardian by including it in their e-mail newsletter:

“If you bomb our cities,” Osama bin Laden said in one of his recent video tapes, “we will bomb yours.” There you go, as they say. It was crystal clear Britain would be a target ever since Tony Blair decided to join George Bush’s “war on terror” and his invasion of Iraq. We had, as they say, been warned.

It is a useful reminder. We feel no outrage at the ongoing terror of the US-led occupation in Iraq, no outrage at continuing Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians, no outrage at the tens or hundreds of thousands of innocents killed to spread “American values.” Though we might not approve of Osama bin Laden’s choice of targets, this is a war which in his reckoning, began long before 9/11. It began with the Crusades, when Christian royalty determined to liberate “Holy Lands” from Islamic infidels. It is a war that was prosecuted with “the civilian deaths of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the children torn apart by cluster bombs, the countless innocent Iraqis gunned down at American military checkpoints? When they die, it is ‘collateral damage’; when ‘we’ die, it is ‘barbaric terrorism’.” It is also a war that was prosecuted with sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Persian Gulf war, that enriched their putative target, Saddam Hussein and his family, at the expense of the Iraqi people–who in countless cases, paid with their lives.

I remember, crossing the Atlantic on 11 September 2001 – my plane turned round off Ireland when the US closed its airspace – how the aircraft purser and I toured the cabins to see if we could identify any suspicious passengers. I found about a dozen, of course, totally innocent men who had brown eyes or long beards or who looked at me with “hostility”. And sure enough, in just a few seconds, Osama bin Laden turned nice, liberal, friendly Robert into an anti-Arab racist.

Fisk thinks the target of yesterday’s bombing was the harmony between British Muslims and non-Muslims; this is another evil of war, to compromise those who would remain neutral, to force them to choose sides.

And yet, by the Bush administration definition, there may never be an end to the War on Terror. No end to the evil.

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