Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

He's Probably Not Running for PM

You would have had to be pretty daring -- or stupid -- to venture in the days following 9/11 that the attacks on the Twin Towers occurred in retaliation for the West's exploitation and abuse of Muslim societies in the Middle East. "Why do they hate us?" was a question few dared to try to answer.

Least of all former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The man who would be president impressed the hell out of the country with his calm, take-charge manner and quiet attitude of defiance to terrorism. Never did he say anything except that his city was the target of deranged individuals who sought to undermine the American way of life.

Which was decidedly not what Ken Livingstone said the other day.

Livingstone is the mayor of London, which again rocked with terrorist explosions yesterday, two weeks after the bombings that killed more than 56 people. It was the worst violence in the English capital since the Nazi Blitz of World War II. And Livingstone made it clear that he had no truck with violence against innoncent civilians.

But that's where his resemblance to Rudy Giuliani ends. In an interview with a BBC Radio news program, Livingstone said that Western exploitation and abuse of Muslim societies dating as far back as the end of World War I contributed to the desperation that contributed to the upsurge of terrorism.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. print media didn't carry Livingstone's statements made on the "Today" news show last Wednesday, though CNN.com and MSNBC.com did. (Read the entire BBC story.) The BBC reported:
Mr Livingstone was asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme what he thought had motivated the bombers.

He replied: "I think you've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil.

"We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't consider sympathetic.

"And I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s... the Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan.

"They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators."
There was more:
Mr Livingstone said Western governments had been so terrified of losing their fuel supplies that they had kept intervening in the Middle East.

He argued: "If at the end of the First World War we had done what we promised the Arabs, which was to let them be free and have their own governments, and kept out of Arab affairs, and just bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control the flow of oil, I suspect this wouldn't have arisen."

He attacked double standards by Western nations, such as the initial welcome given when Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq.

There was also the "running sore" of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

"A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy," said Mr Livingstone.
And he followed with:
He also denounced "those governments which use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy, as we have occasionally seen with the Israeli government bombing areas from which a terrorist group will have come, irrespective of the casualties it inflicts, women, children and men".

He continued: "Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves."
Comments from those who responded on BBC.com were overwhelmingly favorable. (Read all of the responses here.)

But the issue is not whether you agree with him. The issue is that the leader of the latest terrorist target city has spoken his mind about what he considers the reasons why 56 people met violent death in his city. There have to be others like him, in this country. Why are their voices not being heard?


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