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(DV) Random: London and Madrid -- Reflections on the War on Terror







London and Madrid: Reflections on the War on Terror
by Jack Random
July 7, 2005

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A year ago in March, when the innocent people of Madrid were attacked by terrorists, their government lied about the nature of that attack and the people responded by removing the government from office. Among the first acts of the new government was fulfilling their promise to withdraw from the American alliance in Iraq.

The people of Spain are not cowards.

When one is attacked -- even by fanatics that take the law into their own hands -- it is not cowardice to look inward as well as outward. It requires strength and courage to recognize that the attackers may have cause. It did not diminish the Spanish resolve to bring the terrorists to justice but to recognize the error of their ways and correct their course required a strength of character unknown to the American government in the post-911 environment.

Sadly, the leaders of the American war on terror have reissued the same deceptive clichés we heard in the wake of September 11, 2001. They speak of cowardly acts, a test of resolve, evil in the hearts of our enemies, and proclaim: “We will not be intimidated.”

Contrary to these views, geared to stimulate passion and pride, the terrorists did not attack London today because they hate British freedom. They did not attack London because they wish to impose Islamic rule in the heart of Europe. They certainly did not attack London to capture the publicity of the Olympic designation or the G8 Conference.  They attacked London because England is America’s ally in a war of aggression in the Middle East. They attacked London because they fear a revived Western crusade.

Let me be clear: Terrorism is the enemy of all civilized nations and civilized beings. Our hearts go out to all the victims of this horrid crime. Our hearts go out to all the British people who had absolutely nothing to do with the actions of their government. The people of Britain (as the people of Spain) have made their opposition to the American led war overwhelmingly clear. Even in the last election, confronted with a regressive opposition party and relative prosperity, the British registered their distaste for the foreign policy of Tony Blair.

However, civility also requires self-examination. Because the enemy employs indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians does not mean that they have no cause.  They have attacked our people, our friends, our colleagues, our brothers and sisters, and it is not shameful to admit that they caused us harm. To see the innocent killed and bloodied arouses our passion, our rage, our instinctive need for vindication but when the rage subsides, let us bow our heads, mourn our losses, and finally take account.

Inevitably, if we are a righteous people, we will recognize that our governments have also brought great harm, death and destruction to people who are no less innocent than the people of London, Madrid and New York. The rage, the passion and the deep sense of loss is not lessened because they are inflicted by missiles and invading armies.

Inevitably, if civilization is to survive and prosper, this self-perpetuating mutual hatred must end. The beginning of the end will come when both sides look inward. For our part, it begins by recognizing that while we have been wronged we have also done wrong.

One by one, the leaders of the war on terror stepped forward on this tragic stage not only to express their heartfelt condolences but also to declare that we must never alter our course in response to terrorist attack. I fully agree. We should alter our path because it is the right thing to do.

That is the path of courage and strength. It is the path of compassion and righteousness.  It is the path the people of the world have long since chosen though our leaders lag far behind.

For now, it is a time of mourning. For now, the fates in this never-ending conflict have chosen the city of London, a city of light and shadow, a city of art, literature and civil society, a city of tolerance and enlightenment, a city of a thousand cultures to express the world’s rage.  Tomorrow, it will be another.

As the days of sorrow unfold, as the rage gradually subsides, take time to reflect on our standing in this world. Take a long, hard look at our reflection in the actions of our government and come to a deeper understanding.

Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website:

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