The Spectator

Feedback | 16 July 2005

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After the bombs

Words of condemnation are not enough. Here are a couple of suggestions about how to act after the bombings of last week.

First, we must fight back by stepping up the war in Iraq. If the insurgents win, it will embolden terrorists throughout the Middle East, since it will demonstrate that the most powerful nations on earth cannot stop a relatively small number of radical Muslims. But if we win, it will cause the Middle East itself to turn towards representative government and Western values. Nothing is more important for future world security.

Second, we must encourage Muslims in this country to stand up for freedom. What about a new wristband campaign — Make Terrorism History — that would cost them little to join and would isolate dissenters? The proceeds could go to a new satellite channel which would broadcast British Muslims’ ideas about Western values to the Middle East.

This week’s arrests will not guarantee our freedom. This is a battle of ideology, of freedom versus fundamentalism, which we can only win by championing our ideas, and by showing freedom-haters the logical consequence of theirs — the ultimate loss of freedom: death.

Henry Afton
London SW11

The despicable attacks in London remind us there is unfinished business in the war on terrorism.

Iran, the world’s most prolific sponsor of terrorism (and its ideological inspiration) has been mollycoddled too long. While the EU-3 of Britain, France and Germany drag out their negotiations, always making allowance for new Iranian excuses, the power of the hardliners grows.

Terrorism must be rooted out, not appeased. Pretending the agenda of Tehran’s hardliners is anything less than the export of their Islamic revolution is a delusion we can no longer afford. Local attacks should not distract us from the truth that terrorism requires sponsoring states. When states no longer sponsor terror, individual cells will not be a problem.

Tom Minchin
Melbourne, Australia

It is not appropriate to claim, as you do on your website (‘Calm resolution’), that the terrible London bombings happened because the ‘terrorists’ ‘find the whole system of Western values troubling and disturbing’. The belief that these disasters happen because the ‘terrorists’ are trying to end our freedom and democracy and topple our ‘way of life’ is rubbish.

They have killed us and will continue to kill us because we are killing them in far greater numbers. Sanctions on Iraq alone caused the deaths of perhaps one and a half million people. The abuse of the Palestinians has been going on since 1948. You may well feel that killing Londoners is a ‘disgusting attack’, but much of the world sees the awful slaughter in Fallujah as at least as bad if not infinitely worse. To a rational man, British lives are not more sacred than other lives.

Christopher Leadbeater
Ashford, Kent

I agree that Iraq is not the reason for this heinous attack. The roots lie far deeper. Is Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ prophecy coming true after all?

Ray Hattingh
Cape Town, South Africa

I remember my fury a couple of years ago when the cover of The Spectator asked whether Americans were going to show themselves as ‘cowardy custards’ in Iraq. I hear today that Londoners are buying bicycles at four times the normal rate in order to use them to avoid the Underground. Will The Spectator be inspired to level the same unfair accusation at the British public?

Kevin Tobin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

At the recent general election the British people voted largely for warmongers (New Labour and the Conservatives). Only a small minority voted for genuinely anti-war parties (the Greens, the socialist parties). Wake up, Britain. Wake up and understand what the Spanish people understood, after they were hit in Madrid. They then, thankfully, voted out their warmongers. Only when we stop killing people in the Middle East — and stop voting for the killers — will we be safe from attack ourselves.

Leonard G. Fletcher
London E10

What needs to be understood here is that we are dealing with dogma, not reason. Islam is a religion in crisis. The mullahs and imams simply hate us in the West, despise us, scorn our decadence and want to destroy us. There is no grievance to be addressed, since we are the grievance. If we value our way of life, all we can do is fight back.

This is a cultural war we are in.

Richard Marriott
Kidderminster, Worcestershire

Much of Paul Robinson’s argument (‘Are we wasting money on defence?’, 9 July) has been vindicated by last week’s tragic events. Neither endlessly expensive hi-tech weaponry nor compulsive interference in the affairs of ‘unstable’ regimes can deter the planting of bombs on London Transport.

M.G. Sherlock
Colwyn Bay, North Wales

Paul Robinson’s arguments for ‘doing less with less’ for the army are simply reheated pacifism. If we want to avoid the mistakes of the 1930s or even those of the 1990s that led to 11 September and to the bombings in London last week, we should do the opposite of what the peaceniks suggest: start rebuilding our armed forces and make clear that we will use them both pre-emptively and nearer our enemies’ homes than our own.

George J. Bathurst
Sheffield