A friend of mine wrote to me about the aftermath of the London bombings. He has kindly given me permission to post some extracts from his letter.
One thing that I have found infuriating about the (generally good) response to the horrible and predictable situation we now face in London (riding on the tube is an odd experience at present) is the refusal of Blair and his cronies to accept that the bombings have anything to do with Iraq. Their stock response is to cite the fact that NY was hit before Iraq and to add that there were bombings in places such as Tanzania and Kenya well before Iraq and Afghanistan, conveniently ignoring the facts that the targets in the African bombings were American buildings and that the USA was identified as a prime target because of its foreign policies vis-a-vis the Middle East and various African states. Surely the pro-war faction should at least have the courage of its convictions and accept that putting London in the front line was an inevitable consequence of engaging in the Iraq War and identifying Britain as the closest ally of the USA. If Blair accepted that, I would profoundly disagree with his policy but would at least have some respect for his acknowledgment of its cost. Instead, he refuses to countenance any such suggestions, arguing that the above statements in some way justify terrorism (which of course they do not) and that we were in any case vulnerable (which we were, but, the point is, nothing like as much as we are now). I heard that a poll following the 7 July bombs found that around two-thirds of Brits think that they were directly related to Iraq - common sense, of course, and, for those of us who were always against the war, the bleeding bloody obvious.
As you say in your article, there is no defence whatsoever for the contemptible idiots who (presumably) thought they were going to paradise by murdering as many people as possible on the London tube. But Blair effectively waved a red rag at the raging bull and shouted 'We're over here, come and get us!' I can barely stand any more to see his smug face, let alone listen to his pointless pronouncements about 'evil ideology' and 'get on with life as normal' (thanks, Tony, I don't think we need you to tell us that, and by the way how many times have you caught a tube recently?).
Ken Livingstone, I have to say, has been a trooper - Londoners have really appreciated what he has said and done over the past couple of weeks.
My personal hero was the driver of the bombed bus - the Greek guy who helped all his passengers, turned up for work the next day, and made one of the best speeches of all at the Trafalgar Square 'vigil'. That's the kind of defiance I admire.
There is also the issue of what someone called 'selective compassion'. It is understandable that a catastrophic event in London should get much more coverage in the British media than equivalent events elsewhere - that is natural enough - but it is less understandable that the daily mass murders in Iraq are treated more or less as statistical bulletins. The death of an innocent twenty year-old in London is no more or less tragic than the death of an innocent twenty year-old in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is not the coverage of the London bombings that is at fault, but rather that of the daily Iraq terrorist bombings (and, before that, of the victims of the British-US assault)- why don't we have pictures and family backgrounds of the many innocents murdered there as well? Blair's policy might seem less palatable then and the blood on his hands a little more in evidence. The terrorists of course are ultimately to blame for the continuing violence and can't be excused or justified, but the irresponsible governments of Bush and Blair have made things so much easier for them.