While bodies are still being dragged from the wreckage in dark tunnels, while other victims of Thursday's terrorist attacks are fighting for their lives, and while families are having to come to terms with the loss of those close to them, is it right to discuss the controversial issues that surround those attacks? I think it is not only right but also necessary because it cannot be assumed that what happened on Thursday will not happen again. Indeed it is highly likely that it will be repeated unless we understand and respond to the reasons that Britain is a target for Islamic terrorists. Tony Blair's statement on Thursday about the bombing was a standard “they will never succeed” kind of speech; there was no evidence in it that Mr Blair understands, or is prepared to admit, why Britain is a target. “Those engaged in terrorism,” he said, “must realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. It is our determination that they will never succeeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world.” The journalist Robert Fisk, one of the best informed Westerners on the Islamic world, frequently urges his readers to listen to what Osama bin Laden and others say in their video tapes and internet messages. “If you bomb our cities,” Osama bin Laden said in a recent video, “We will bomb yours.” It's a simple equation. The United States and Britain bombed Iraq cities during the invasion in 2003 and killed countless numbers of innocent civilians. What is more, the military action was illegal and, as we now know, purposeless. How can Tony Blair complain about terrorists causing “death and destruction to innocent people” when he has been responsible for exactly the same thing? Why, as Robert Fisk asked yesterday, is it called “collateral damage” when Iraq civilians are killed by bombing but “barbaric terrorism” when we are the victims?


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