Decades of continued military intervention across the globe - David Cameron's determination to repeat the failed policies that breed terrorism is nothing short of insanity argues Lindsey German
How many more years will Britain continue bomb and invade countries in the name of fighting terrorism?
How many more countries will be drawn into the theatre of war?
How many more lives will be lost in the task of eradicating al Qaeda?
How many more people, especially in Muslim countries, will find grievances and take up arms against the western powers that bomb and invade them?
I ask these questions because yet again a serious political crisis has been met with a response from David Cameron which is not just inadequate, but which will have consequences diametrically opposed to the supposed intention.
Cameron said of the Algerian hostage crisis that "This is a global threat and it will require a global response. It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months."
Is that years and decades on top of the 11 and a half years already spent on the 'war on terror' since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001?
Back then, the aim of the United States, Britain and their allies, was to eradicate Al Qaeda from Afghanistan - which was rapidly achieved, although it became active in Pakistan.
In 2001, no one talked about a threat of terrorism in most of these countries. Now, ever greater areas of the world have become new sites of conflict. This is despite us being told with every intervention that the latest episode of the 'war on terror' marks a turning point and terrorism is on the point of being defeated.
Every regime change or death of opponents has been hailed as victory in this war. But the death of Bin Laden - now turned into a Hollywood film which portrays torture as a necessary weapon of war - was not the end of anything.
Albert Einstein's definition of insanity was to continue to do the same thing over and over again, even though it manifestly did not work. By this definition, the world's leaders have been gripped by a long term and deepening insanity. The fact that they cloak themselves in preposterous and pompous language does not alter that fact.
Cameron says "It requires a response that is patient and painstaking, that is tough but also intelligent, but above all has an absolutely iron resolve and that is what we will deliver over these coming years."
Toughness and iron resolve has brought us to this place, however, while patience and intelligence have been almost totally lacking. Those of us who opposed the 'war on terror' from the start predicted some of its disastrous outcomes, although few of us could perhaps have seen how many countries would now be involved.
We did however predict in 2001 that we would see war without end in the name of democracy. We did say that the war would create more terrorism around the world, not less.
We did say that our children's children would still be paying the price for this war in decades to come. David Cameron is now admitting as much. But far from recognising the roots of these conflicts, he treats terrorism as though it were some terrible disease which for reasons beyond his control is now affecting swathes of another continent.
So how do we explain where it comes from? The usual response is that Islamists hate the west and its values, which reduces it to an irrational and uncontrollable force.
Instead we should recognise that support for terrorism arises from genuine and long felt grievances to do with war, torture, refugee crises, injustice, occupation, inequality and undemocratic regimes backed by the western powers. When looked at in this way, why should we be surprised - in this era of global economic crisis and imperialist wars - that terrorism is spreading?
From Stop the War site
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- Scavenger capitalists - weekly briefing
- Look who isn't coming to dinner - weekly briefing
- The antidote to a very weak but very nasty government - weekly briefing
- Britain is hardening its foreign policy
- No one likes neoliberalism: the year that the mask slipped – weekly briefing
- The Irish Question, the EU and the debate about borders - weekly briefing
- Today’s fringe is tomorrow’s respectable racism - weekly briefing