In the wake of the inhumane and stupid violence in London on 7 July 2005, our political leaders are repeating the mantra that Osama bin Laden has no discernable political objectives, and that he will not stop until the whole world is converted to Islam or is dead.
This is a lie.
Osama bin Laden has 'clear, focused, limited and widely popular foreign policy goals', including:
'the end of U.S. aid to Israel and the ultimate elimination of that state;
the removal of U.S. and Western forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim lands;
the end of U.S. support for the oppression of Muslims by Russia, China, and India; the end of U.S. protection for repressive, apostate regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, et cetera; and
the conservation of the Muslim world's energy resources and their sale at higher prices.
This is a quote from Michael Scheuer, who served in the CIA for 22 years, and who headed the CIA Counter-Terrorism Centre's bin Laden task force (1996-1999). Scheuer, who retired in Nov. 2004, wrote two recent books as 'Anonymous': "Through Our Enemies' Eyes" and "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror".
(Source: Justice not Vengeance website,)
Scheur observes that, 'Bin Laden is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world, not necessarily to destroy America, much less its freedoms and liberties. He is a practical warrior, not an apocalyptic terrorist in search of Armageddon.' (Imperial Hubris, p. xviii)
As far as London is concerned, we must accept that the 37 dead and the hundreds injured and the thousands traumatised are collateral damage in Blair's decision to follow George Bush into Iraq, Britain's meagre contribution to the uncounted thousands of Iraqi dead.
The logical thing to do to prevent further casualties is to withdraw our troops from Iraq.
Unfortunately, the bombings have set back the process of withdrawal, because to discuss it now would be seen as rewarding the action of the bombers with success, which Government feels would ensure that the technique will continue to be used. So instead they will choose not to consider withdrawal, which will certainly ensure that these atrocities will be repeated.
It is certain that foreign troops in Iraq are part of the problem, not part of the solution. There is only one real uncertainty about the troop withdrawal question, and that is - would it lead to a blood bath, an Iraqi civil war? Nobody can be certain, but the people to ask are the Iraqis themselves.
We should give the Southern Iraqis under British occupation a referendum on whether they wish for us to stay or go - and abide by their decision. If they say stay, then at least or presence has some kind of popular support and democratic legitimacy. If they say go, then we have lost (some of) the responsibility for any untoward consequences.