Friday, July 22, 2005


Mayor of London commits truth; Britain and Israel aghast

From Luther to Ellsberg and beyond, the insider who speaks out ... is ... not merely deviant but heretical, i.e. a challenge to the prevailing symbolic order and through it to the social order itself. The unclothed emperor may be deviant, but it is heretical to say as much in public.
—Nick Perry, writing in "Indecent exposures: theorizing whistleblowing"

The "controversial" mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has uttered remarks that have left Downing Street "taken aback" and the Israeli ambassador to Britain "furious." What could cause such a ruckus? Well, he told the truth.

Fraser Nelson of the Scotsman reports that—

When asked what he thought had motivated the four suicide bombers who struck in London on 7 July, Mr Livingstone traced it back to Britain's historic role in the Middle East.

"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," he told Radio 4.

"In the 1980s, 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."

The United States, he said, was reaping its own harvest as "they didn't give any thought to the fact that, once he'd done that, [bin Laden] might turn on his creators".

He was careful to say that his criticism of British and US foreign policy did not amount to sympathy for the bombers. "I do not support any suicide bombings. I don't ever recall supporting an act of violence," he said. But he made it clear that he regarded suicide attacks as the natural result of political decisions. "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.

"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."

The rise of Islamic extremism across the world was, he said, the product of British policy to maintain a presence in the Arab world after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

"I have not the slightest doubt that 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 said.

They only allowed Mr. Livingstone back into the Labor Party last year. Now look what they've got on their hands—another George Galloway.

The Israeli ambassador can't tell the difference between a "defense" and an "explanation"—or a Briton from an Israeli, for that matter—

Zvi Heifetz, Israeli's ambassador to London issued a furious statement. "It is outrageous that the same mayor who rightfully condemned the suicide bombing in London as 'perverted faith', defends those who, under the same extremist banner, kill Israelis," he said.

Despite all the high-level shock, Labor Party back-benchers are said to be sympathetic—

... the mayor's comments reflected the views of some Labour rebels, who have so far refrained from using the bombings to attack the Prime Minister in the House of Commons.

"After a few weeks, it will be hard to conclude that Britain is not at more risk because of the war the Prime Minister led Britain into," one MP said yesterday. "And it will be hard not to conclude that he bears some of the blame."

And that's the primary reason that the British will be withdrawing from Iraq shortly.

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