Why Are They Bombing London?

This post is political – no apologies. Look away now.

All my life the forces of evil have been embodied by “terrorists.” The IRA, Abu Nidal, Tigers, FARC, Al Quaida, the list is endless. All my life, the foreign policy of governments have been ranged around the war against terror, supported by the war against drugs and “organised crime.” It just goes round and round and round. It’s reached the status of a culture of our times and it’s making me sick.

Consuming the mainstream media to find answers to why people are committing acts of terror is a bit like trying to get a hearty meal out of candyfloss. The “analysis”, “commentary” and sheer weight of verbiage that pours forth about “policy” and “countermeasures” is completely disorientating. You can’t look into it for more than a few hours before you keel over with media-induced vertigo.

Like the BBC weather forecasts that tell you everything but the one thing you want to know (WILL IT RAIN!?), the subject of WHY terrorism is happening is mystifyingly avoided. Sometimes, as in the case of the IRA, it’s fairly well known, but that’s a rarity. Why are Al Quaida and large sections of the Middle East so angry?

So I looked around for some clues. After much searching, I found the answers I was looking for, and like some mystic revelation, I found I’d known them all along. They were in the words of a lecture given by Noam Chomsky at The Technology & Culture Forum at MIT 24th Oct 2001. In it, he describes the historical events and political mechanisms by which the current situation has been constructed, and that’s a good term for it: “constructed.” Not by some shadowy elite with it’s hand on the tiller, but by all of us and our willingness not to understand.

We certainly want to reduce the level of terror, certainly not escalate it.  There is one easy 
way to do that and therefore it is never discussed. Namely stop participating in it. That would 
automatically reduce the level of terror enormously. But that you can’t discuss. Well, we ought 
to make it possible to discuss it. So that’s one easy way to reduce the level of terror.

Beyond that, we should rethink the kinds of policies, and Afghanistan is not the only one, 
in which we organize and train terrorist armies. That has effects. We’re seeing some of these 
effects now. September 11th is one. Rethink it.

Rethink the policies that are creating a reservoir of support. Exactly what the bankers, 
lawyers and so on are saying in places like Saudi Arabia. On the streets it’s much more bitter, 
as you can imagine. That’s possible. You know, those policies aren’t graven in stone.