London Bombings and the Iraq QuestionOne of the disheartening things to observe in the wake of the London bombings was the suite of interviews run by all networks in the UK with young Muslims from Leeds. Two things stood out for me. One was their self-identification as Muslims; while they said the words that they were British, their laments marked their view of the world as Muslims versus the rest of us. That this was pretty deep and emotional was made clear by the exceptionally poor quality of their arguments.
One example "You don't see anyone mentioning Iraqi civilians being killed on the news" Well, in fact, you do, nightly on the news, and the civilians are being killed primarily by 'insurgents'. No reporter bothered to follow up with this observation.
In any case, it seemed to me there is no question the Iraq war likely serves usefully to Islamofascist recruiters. But so what? The commentators who like to claim this seem to think that if we agree with this notion, then it is automatic that the coalition should leave Iraq forthwith (the Spanish 'solution'). I am grateful to Gerard Baker for addressing this question in the Times.
His key observation:
His last sentence is key. Also all over the place on British TV after the bombings were exactly those good Muslims who want to live in a civilized world, and looked particularly vulnerable and confused. They had certainly been betrayed by their co-religionists.
It is true in an obvious sense that Iraq has increased our vulnerability; al-Qaeda and its allies play the game of international politics quite well. Their aim is to divide countries between and within themselves, to prise the timorous away from the struggle. Of course that makes London a target; they know full well that many in Britain’s elites are only too willing — wittingly or otherwise — to respond positively to their demands But Iraq has, I concede, made us more vulnerable in another sense. Invading Iraq has undoubtedly created in the minds of many millions of Muslims the idea that their people, their faith is under attack.
The right way to tackle that view is not to indulge it, sympathise with it or nurse it, but to correct it. The right way to deal with anti-American and anti-British sentiment in the Muslim world is not to pull out our troops from Iraq and beg forgiveness, but to continue to fight there on behalf of the majority of good Muslims for the kind of country they need and deserve.