Democratic Underground

London and Terror

July 12, 2005
By Aden Nak

A friend of mine told me the other night that he was suprised I haven't written anything about the London bombings. At first, I was a bit suprised myself. Usually I don't keep my mouth closed for anybody. And I do have a lot to say. But primarily, I didn't say anything right away because I wanted to make sure I knew what was going on, and I didn't want to freak anyone out that might have friends or relatives in England. So I gave it a few days. But a day is a lifetime now. And I have more than a little bit to say.

First of all, to any fellow countrymen that may not realize they are acting like the stereotypes of "arrogant Americans" when they seek to give London advice on how to deal with terrorism, you are patiently invited to quiet yourselves. I know your hearts are in the right places, but your memories are vacant and your hubris is like a loud, vomit-laden gargle above anything you might have to say.

London endured bombings and terrorist spikes for years and years, recent years, might I add, when the IRA was particularly active. They have experienced a deeper and more frightening presence of terror than we ever have, even though no one incident was on the same scale as 9/11. I have many friends in England myself, from every possible political spectrum, and the consensus from all of them is that Americans telling Britons how to deal with domestic terror attacks borders on insulting, and is at the very least the height of self-centered arrogance.

Anyone who is about to reply with, "Why do you hate American so much?" is, at this time, cordially invited to go drink a gallon of diesel fuel. You lack the intelligence or maturity to breathe, let alone engage me in a political debate.

Now, with that out of the way (and yes, I do feel better, thank you very much), I'd like to talk a little bit about terror, terrorism, and the way it is perceived by the various peoples of this world. But most specifically by my own people, because I think that despite talking about it the most, we have the least accurate or articulate understanding of what terrorism is. That's likely got as much to do with our language, our cultural dialogue, and the way we have been force-fed ideas and verbiage, but again, I'll get to all that in due time.

First of all, the thing about terrorism is that it's a practice. That's what it is. It is not a particular political group or economic system. It is not any given culture or tradition. It's worth noting that one of the worst terrorist attacks to ever take place in America was perpetrated by a very normal-looking American named Timothy McVeigh. It's also worth noting, in the wake of the London bombings, that the overwhelming number of terrorist attacks that England has suffered have been at the hands of their unlikely fellow citizens in the Irish Republican Army. Terrorism isn't something that is unique to the Middle East, either in point of impact or point of origin.

So terrorism isn't a government. It is not a country or a nation state. It isn't an army. It isn't even a culture or a society. It's not a religion. It's not even a philosophy or a string of ideas. Terrorism is a practice. It's a tactic. It is despicable and barbarous and awful; I could break out a theasaurus and do an entire page on that if it'd make you feel better. But it's still just a tactic. In some cases, it's a political tactic. In others, a military tactic. But all terrorism really is is an ugly means to an end. It is rarely, if ever, the end itself.

Terrorism is, really, an idea. It's an idea that exists simply by having people remember it. You cannot destroy an idea by conventional means. You cannot destroy an idea with conventional weapons, either. Not even the most unrelenting propaganda can truly and fully destroy an idea. You cannot treat terrorism as an entity, in thought or in action, because you will invariably lose if you do so. You cannot treat it like something tangible, and you cannot treat it like an opponent to be defeated.

It is a quaint notion that if we were simply able to kill everyone who is a terrorist, that terrorism would be defeated. It's comforting despite it's very morbid implications, because it provides a clear resolution to a problem. I am sure that some jackoff right now is printing up bumper stickers and tee shirts that say "Dead Terrorists Don't Bomb Buildings" and complimenting himself on his wit. And that's true. A dead man cannot plant a bomb or take an innocent life. And if there were just a finite number of terrorists in the world, if we could simply kill them all, check their names off on some Universal List Of Bad Guys and then go home to our normal lives, I'd be perfectly content to do so.

But terrorism is an idea. It's a means to an end. The philosophy of just killing anyone who is a terrorist will always, always fail, because anyone can become a terrorist. It fails all the more spectacularly when our military actions push people towards acts of terrorism.

You see, the fight against this ugly concept of terrorism absolutely must be a war of mentality as well as of military. It must be a war on the conditions that breed terrorist activities. The only alternative is to literally kill anyone and everyone who might one day decide they don't like America. That's a really, really huge list. That is an impossible list. Any nation that attempted to perform such a heinous action would be more guilty of inhumanity than its attackers. So that methodolgy, to defeat terrorism through military might alone, fails.

Once again, I must pause to close the yammering pieholes of whatever half-brained simians are surely crafting poorly thought out, jingo-jackoff responses to this rant even now. I believed after 9/11, and I still believe today, that we needed some kind of military action in Afghanistan. To be perfectly honest, the Taliban had earned my relatively permanent ire several years before, and I was not especially suprised in the wake of those attacks to discover that members of the Taliban were involved. Had we properly secured Afghanistan, had we devoted the proper resources to dismantling that sham of a government, had we made more than a cursory attempt to find Osama bin Laden, we might have made some real progress in snuffing out the application of terrorism.

Instead we left Afghanistan undermanned and underdefended. We turned it back over to the very people we were supposed to be overthrowing. We did not accomplish any significant mission in Afghanistan save to physically occupy the territory there. Although we dismantled most of al Qaeda's operations there, we did not bring about any significant change because terrorism is not a location you can occupy. By failing to kill, capture or incarcerate al Qaeda's organizing leaders (and no, the guy who does the photocopying and gets the coffee does not count as "Al Qaeda's Number Three Man"), we simply allowed them to disperse. To diversify. And to bring their psychotic crusade to other parts of the world where they could acquire new recruits.

Now then, concerning Iraq... listen to that hush fall over the crowd, eh? Can anyone tell me why we are there? Anyone at all? Because I can't think of one good god damned reason we are there instead of Afghanistan. Not a one. We have not brought peace to the region. We have not brought freedom to the region. We have not improved the quality of life for Iraqi citizens. We have not decreased the number of terrorists coming into or going out of Iraq. We have not eliminated or captured one single person related to 9/11. We have not found any weapons of mass destruction.

Oh, that's the real sore point, isn't it? The weapons of mass destruction. You know, the weapons that the entire Bush Administration insisted were there. It wasn't even a question of if they were there, but how many and how powerful. It turns out that all of that information was wrong. It was wrong, and no one was willing to admit it in spite of the fact that well established, respected analysts within the intelligence community spoke up and warned us that it would be wrong. It was wrong in spite of the fact that with the exception of the United Kingdom, every other credible intelligence organization said we were insane for believing in it. To be blunt, it was wrong, our government knew that it was wrong, and they all acted as if they had no idea.

And I'm blaming Democrats and Republicans alike here. I blame the Republicans within the neoconservative movement for concocting this absurd set of arguments, I blame the rest of the Republicans for abandoning their hallowed "Party of Lincoln" because the neoconservatives had political clout, and I blame the Democrats for being the opposition party that not only presented no opposition, but willingly went along with the rhetoric. Some conservatives suggest that I can't make the argument that we all knew it was wrong because many Democrats, including John Kerry, agreed with the evidence and voted to give the President authority to invade Iraq. Well yes they did. And they were wrong to do so. But simply because both sides of the political machine were either incorrect or lying does not excuse the original lie.

I also will not put up with the "Saddam Is A Bad Man" argument. Yes, yes he is. He gassed his own people. Back in the 80s, with the weaponry the United States sold him. Now, does that make his crime any less terrible? No, of course not. However, there is absolutely no weight to the argument that his unjust regime was the reason for the invasion. Am I to believe that the entire American population suddenly became livid over a crime committed 20 years ago? So much so that we were going to overthrow him, consequences be damned? If we really wanted to topple Saddam for his regime, it could just as easily have been done a few years later, once Afghanistan was secured.

Besides which, the argument presented to the citizenry of both the United States and Britain wasn't that Saddam was a bad guy, but that he had weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of gallons of nerve agent. Toxic gases. Unmanned aerial drones that could fly to the United States and spray us with sarin gas and anthrax. Weapons capable of producing a mushroom cloud in one of our cities. These arguments were made in spite of having no evidence for them and a mountain of evidence against them. It is inconceivable to me that the men who planned this war believed that Saddam Hussein had these sorts of weapons. And yet the timetable for invasion was set around whether or not Saddam would turn these weapons over to the United Nations. Which means that war was a foregone conclusion from the moment that ultimatum was issued.

Now, why did I start talking about London, and then go on to a brief overview of Afghanistan and Iraq? Because they are very closely related, and because they show the shallow hypocrisy of the most recent justifications for running the "War On Terror" as if it's some sort of brute squad. Just last week, President Bush explained to a sea of stony-faced servicemen that the reason we were fighting in Iraq was so that we could be free of terrorist attacks at home. That by baiting Iraq with our soldiers we were drawing terrorists away from our civilian population. If London proved nothing else, it proved that this sort of double-digit-IQ approach to dealing with terrorism has absolutely no basis in truth or reality.

London was a wake-up call for those who have been trying so very, very hard to believe that everything is going to be okay if we just keep on doing what we're doing. London was a reminder that acts of terrorism have tripled since 9/11. It was a reminder that al Qaeda membership is at an all-time high, and literally has more members than any time since its inception. And it was a warning that what we are doing is not working. We are creating terrorists with every innocent Iraqi that dies, whether they die because of an American bullet or an insurgent bombing. We are causing these ordinary citizens to turn to terrorism as a tool, as a methodology and as an act of revenge.

It's as simple as this: if there are more terrorists, more acts of terrorism, and terrorists in more locations now than when we first declared this "War on Terror," then we are losing. We cannot win a war through might alone when the application of that might actually causes the number of our enemies to multiply.

Our leaders refuse to even discuss this. I personally believe they are well aware of these realities, but have no vested interest in keeping us safe.The other alternative is to believe that they are so steeped in denial and stuborn, unintelligent thought that they cannot see or accept that their strategy is a losing one. Believe whichever you like. But the ugly truth is that the men who are charged with protecting us have been given free reign to carry out their plans, and the results are an utter disaster.

London will heal. It has suffered worse at the hands of its own population, and far worse still at the hands of invading armies hundreds of years ago. But that healing does not excuse the men who carried out these attacks. Nor it does not excuse the men who in the name of safeguarding our bretheren, knowingly or incompetently made them vulnerable to attack.

Aden Nak is an easily-agitated computer technician and a woefully underemployed freelance writer. More of his personal vitriol can be found at

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