Of course those who backed the Iraq war refute any link with the London bombs - they are in the deepest denial
Monday July 11, 2005
...It is no mystery why those who have backed the war in Iraq would refute this connection. With each and every setback, from the lack of UN endorsement right through to the continuing strength of the insurgency, they go ever deeper into denial. Their sophistry has now mutated into a form of political autism - their ability to engage with the world around them has been severely impaired by their adherence to a flawed and fatal project. To say that terrorists would have targeted us even if we hadn't gone into Iraq is a bit like a smoker justifying their habit by saying, "I could get run over crossing the street tomorrow." True, but the certain health risks of cigarettes are more akin to playing chicken on a four-lane highway. They have the effect of bringing that fatal, fateful day much closer than it might otherwise be.
Similarly, invading Iraq clearly made us a target. Did Downing Street really think it could declare a war on terror and that terror would not fight back? That, in itself, is not a reason to withdraw troops if having them there is the right thing to do. But since it isn't and never was, it provides a compelling reason to change course before more people are killed here or there. So the prime minister got it partly right on Saturday when he said: "I think this type of terrorism has very deep roots. As well as dealing with the consequences of this - trying to protect ourselves as much as any civil society can - you have to try to pull it up by its roots."
What he would not acknowledge is that his alliance with President George Bush has been sowing the seeds and fertilising the soil in the Gulf, for yet more to grow. The invasion and occupation of Iraq - illegal, immoral and inept - provided the Arab world with one more legitimate grievance. Bush laid down the gauntlet: you're either with us or with the terrorists. A small minority of young Muslims looked at the values displayed in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and Camp Bread Basket - and made their choice. The war helped transform Iraq from a vicious, secular dictatorship with no links to international terrorism into a magnet and training ground for those determined to commit terrorist atrocities. Meanwhile, it diverted our attention and resources from the very people we should have been fighting - al-Qaida.
Leftwing axe-grinding? As early as February 2003 the joint intelligence committee reported that al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent "by far the greatest terrorist threat to western interests, and that that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq". At the World Economic Forum last year, Gareth Evans, the former Australian foreign minister and head of the International Crisis Group thinktank, said: "The net result of the war on terror is more war and more terror. Look at Iraq: the least plausible reason for going to war - terrorism - has been its most harrowing consequence."
None of that justifies what the bombers did. But it does help explain how we got where we are and what we need to do to move to a safer place. If Blair didn't know the invasion would make us more vulnerable, he is negligent; if he did, then he should take responsibility for his part in this. That does not mean we deserved what was coming. It means we deserve a lot better.