Friday, July 08, 2005

First Indications

In the UK, as EURSOC reports, some of the usual suspects – George Galloway and “New Left” embarrassment Tariq Ali – have in the spirit of Lord Haw-Haw already found in the London bombings an occasion to plead for the satisfaction of the presumptive perpetrators’ demands. “The real solution lies in immediately ending the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine,” Tariq Ali writes in the Guardian. He thus manages to include three of the four contemporary frontlines of global jihad. Only Chechnya is left out, on which score the UK is presumably not in a position to offer satisfaction – short that is of redeploying British troops to the North Caucasus to help end the alleged Russian “occupation” there and pave the way for the establishment of the Imamate favored by Shamil Basayev and his Wahhabi friends. (Incidentally, once upon a time, in an op-ed in the Financial Times [“Crimes, Lies and Misdemeanours”, 1 April 2000], Tariq Ali demanded in a similar vein the withdrawal of US troops from Kosovo. He somehow managed to neglect that the large majority of foreign troops in Kosovo at the time were European – a strange omission that either tells us something about the extent of Tariq Ali’s knowledge or about the nature of his ideological motivations and, of course, possibly both.)

At those kindred media spots on the Continent on which I keep an eye, the reaction has thus far been more subdued. An article in today’s Le Monde does manage to take to task American “right-wing television channels” (despite the hopeful plural, it only succeeds in naming one, i.e. you-know-who) and “conservative” NGO’s for allegedly attempting “to exploit the attack politically” – as if there was something untoward, even downright unfair, about emphasizing the need to combat terrorism after, of all things, a terrorist attack. And Le Monde’s unsigned editorial – seemingly meeting the editors' need to carp about, well, something – contains this odd passage:
There is, nonetheless, a cruel irony in the spectacle of the meeting at Gleneagles. In a challenge to the powerful, terrorists place bombs in the public transportation system in London and kill dozens of people, while wounding hundreds more. And, at the same time, the statesmen of the G8 are meeting in Scotland in a veritable fortified encampment, protected by thousands of police from the hordes of anti-globalization demonstrators, who certainly are not all pacifists, but who keep their protest of the established order within the limits permitted by the institutions of liberal democracy.
I will leave it to the reader to try to figure out what exactly the irony is supposed to be here. Would the editors of Le Monde have preferred that the riot police at Gleneagles were dispatched to surround London buses? But I believe I can infer from the last sentence that they regard some amount of use of violence in the pursuit of political ends – perhaps the amount employed by the Black Block, for example, or maybe the carefully measured salvos recommended by Evo Morales in Bolivia – to fall within the “permissible limits” in a liberal democracy.

For the moment, however, it seems that the partisans of appeasement in the Continental media - unlike their fellows across the Channel and in what is by their standards a sign of decency - prefer not to spell out all the reasons that the UK has, in effect, deserved its sort. Instead, they are relying on years of ideological conditioning of their audiences to permit them to insinuate the same point by way of the little word "causes". Thus at the conclusion of its editorial, Le Monde lectures us on how the "fight" (in Europe, it is taboo to say "war") against terrorism can be won: "The conditions for success are called vigilance, solidarity and lucidity about the genuine causes and genuine aims of terrorism."

Not surprisingly, the editors at Munich's Suddeutsche Zeitung agree. Thus, an editorial comment signed Bernd Oswald draws the following lesson from the bombings:
The London attacks show it: there is no such thing as absolute security. Even the security fanatics in the Union [the CDU] should be able to see this. Instead of devoting their fervor only to the symptoms, they would do well to look more closely at the causes of terrorism.