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Woolwich attack: of course British foreign policy had a role

Posted on: May 25, 2013

In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Woolwich attack: of course British foreign policy had a role

Joe Glenton

I am a former soldier. I completed one tour of duty in Afghanistan, refused on legal and moral grounds to serve a second tour, and spent five months in a military prison as a result. When the news about theattack in Woolwich broke, by pure coincidence Ross Caputi was crashing on my sofa. Ross is a soft-spoken ex-US marine turned film-maker who served in Iraq and witnessed the pillaging and irradiation of Falluja. He is also a native of Boston, the scene of a recent homegrown terror attack. Together, we watched the news, and right away we were certain that what we were seeing was informed by the misguided military adventures in which we had taken part.

So at the very outset, and before the rising tide of prejudice and pseudo-patriotism fully encloses us, let us be clear: while nothing can justify the savage killing in Woolwich yesterday of a man since confirmed to have been a serving British soldier, it should not be hard to explain why the murder happened.

These awful events cannot be explained in the almost Texan terms of ColoneRichard Kemp, who served as commander of British forces in Afghanistan in 2001. He tweeted on last night that they were “not about Iraq or Afghanistan”, but were an attack on “our way of life”. Plenty of others are saying the same.

But let’s start by examining what emerged from the mouths of the assailants themselves. In an accent that was pure London, according to one of the courageous women who intervened at the scene, one alleged killer claimed he was “… fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan …”. It is unclear whether it was the same man, or his alleged co-assailant, who said “… bring our [Note: our] troops home so we can all live in peace”.

It should by now be self-evident that by attacking Muslims overseas, you will occasionally spawn twisted and, as we saw yesterday, even murderous hatred at home. We need to recognise that, given the continued role our government has chosen to play in the US imperial project in the Middle East, we are lucky that these attacks are so few and far between.

It is equally important to point out, however, that rejection of and opposition to the toxic wars that informed yesterday’s attacks is by no means a “Muslim” trait. Vast swaths of the British population also stand in opposition to these wars, including many veterans of the wars like myself and Ross, as well as serving soldiers I speak to who cannot be named here for fear of persecution.

Yet this anti-war view, so widely held and strongly felt, finds no expression in a parliament for whom the merest whiff of boot polish or military jargon causes a fit of “Tommy this, Tommy that …” jingoism. The fact is, there are two majority views in this country: one in the political body that says war, war and more war; and one in the population which says it’s had enough of giving up its sons and daughter abroad and now, again, at home.

For 12 years British Muslims have been set upon, pilloried and alienated by successive governments and by the media for things that they did not do. We must say clearly that the alleged actions of these two men are theirs alone, regardless of being informed by the wars, and we should not descend into yet another round of collective responsibility peddling.

Indeed, if there is collective responsibility for the killings, it belongs to the hawks whose policies have caused bloodbaths – directly, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, and indirectly in places as far apart as Woolwich and Boston, which in turn have created political space for the far right to peddle their hatred, as we saw in the immediate aftermath of the Woolwich attack.

What we must do now is straightforward enough. Our own responsibilities are first of all to make sure innocents are not subject to blanket punishment for things that they did not do, and to force our government – safe in their houses – to put an end to Britain’s involvement in the vicious foreign occupations that have again created bloodshed in London.


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1 Response to "Woolwich attack: of course British foreign policy had a role"

The acts in Woolwich were terrible.
The following outrage is understandable.
But this outrage does not help us move forward as a community.
What was the purpose behind these attacks?
There are other ways to get a point across.
Was the attack designed to provoke the exact reactions that it is getting.
Racial tensions in the country.
A population divided against itself cannot stand together in unity.
How often does the media tell us that we are a tolerant multi ethnic society?
What does the word tolerance really mean? It means putting up with something you dislike. Therefore, when the media declares – over and over again – that we are tolerant, what are they really programming within you? Are they programming you to respect other groups? No! They are programming you to hate other groups, and then reminding you how much you have put up with from other groups.
Tolerance presumes disgust, or else there would be nothing requiring toleration.
Therefore, when we promote good relations in multi-ethnic society, we should call never for tolerance, but for fellowship and unity. We should not ask people to be tolerant, but encourage them to rejoice in this opportunity to come together.
Societal friction is caused by absence of purpose in the people.
The key is not a person’s cultural background, but whether there is a common purpose for every people to express from whatever their cultural background may be.
We must seek agreement between all cultures on what the problems are and what it means to solve them.
We must rise above looking at racial differences, ethnic difference, and embrace a nobler outlook on multi ethnicity.
We must achieve unity.


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